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October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween, Stingy Jack!

by Heather

Halloween! It’s always been a big holiday in my family, when I was a child, and again, when I had children of my own. Hey, those kids are grown, but it’s still 1027472-2-samhain-goddess-the-crone a big holiday. Coming through childhood with the Scottish and Irish, my home was filled with legends and fun, and my grandmother was convinced that the Irish alone were responsible for Halloween. She was just a little bit off.

Wheel samhain word tag med smallSamhain, an old pagan festival, was a night during which people gathered to light massive bonfires to ward off ghosts. It was the one night a year when the dead might rise. But Christianity came to the British Isles, and while many a good Christian scratched his head over the pagan rituals, Pope Gregory III knew how to win without fighting a battle; he made Portrait_of_pope November 1st All Saints Day, and therefore the night before was an eve . . . you know, all hallow’s eve. And so, in time the pagan ways died down and Christianity flourished, but the old ways never fell from favor. All Hallow’s Eve remains a spooky night—one in which we wonder if indeed the spirits of the dead might rise!

Now, to add to this, there was a fellow named Jack.


Rumor had it that Jack was a saucy fellow. (Arrogant, maybe?) He was known as Stingy Jack, because he wasn’t about to share. He found himself drinking with the Devil one night, and he didn’t want to pay up. He tricked the Devil Jack-o-lantern_jpginto climbing up an apple tree, and then he put crosses all around the trunk of the tree. Not only would he avoid paying his bill, but he made the devil promise not to take his soul if he let him down. Stingy Jack lived many years—continuing to be a stingy trickster—and then he died. He went to heaven, where St. Peter took one look at his record and said that there was no way he was getting into heaven. Jack decided to go see his old friend the Devil, but the Devil said that he’d vowed not to take his soul—and he would not.

Jack was forced to roam the earth forever with no real place to go. He set a candle in a turnip and traveled the world, forever doomed to find a place where his soul might reside.

 Now, because Jack might be out there running around, people started putting lights in their turnips or whatever they had available so that they could ward off Jack! Naturally, they became known as Jack-O-Lanterns. The custom traveled to America where there was an abundance of pumpkins (bigger and more convenient than turnips,) and so, carving out a pumpkin—and often giving it a nice scary face to ward off Jack and other lost or risen souls—became popular in America.

Stingy-jack-with-headline1God knows, we do love a good holiday. It’s the American tradition! So, what else could we do besides Jack-O-Lanterns?

The earliest costumes for the holiday go back to the late nineteenth century in Scotland where people began to dress up as “guisers.” The first costumes were usually those of ghosts or spirits—a way to fool the real ghosts and spirits and keep them at bay. As you know, when customs get to America, we like to broaden them. This Halloween you’ll see gorgeous costumes as well as witches, warlocks, vampires, ghosts and more. You’ll see “sexy” costumes popular with teens and young adults, and you’ll see fun costumes—like the whole gamut of the Fruit of the Loom . . . fruit. You might even see a mustard bottle Mustard or two. We like dress up here.

Candy? Oh, yeah, you got it! Trick or treat? Give to the spirits, lest they find you as nasty as old Stingy Jack!

However you look at it, Halloween is now fun. Not to weigh in too heavily on food, but there are always bad eggs out there trying to make something bad out of something good. Go forth and be merry—and be careful of course!

PethalloweencostumesHolidays are good for the American economy. Hallmark needs those holidays, and they do a darned good job with them, as do other companies--haunted houses abound to scare and delight.

 So, it’s all good—or as good as we make it. I love Halloween. I’ll be out there. For me? It’s dress up and head to a wonderful Asian restaurant, Mr. Chu’s. Mr. Chu is Chinese, and his beautiful wife is Japanese. The clientele are Jamaican and Bahamian, American, Cuban-American, and every other kind of American you can imagine. Doesn’t matter where we’re from—the holiday is now universal—or universally American. The food is outstanding. 20111030_223555Oh, and it’s a karaoke party. Should be fun and silly.

Where the holiday originated is intriguing—keeping it going is always what we make of it!  

So what are your plans for the night?




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Fun story, Heather! I'd never heard of Stingy Jack. Always wondered about the name Jack-O-Lantern.

Don't have much in the way of plans this year. We usually have treats for the neighborhood children. It's a very small community, and there is a tradition of parents going around with their small children. The older ones have parties and generally make a lot of good healthy noise. Fun.

I love Halloween! Given the weather, tonight I will be dressed as Sorcerer Mickey. We decorate the front yard (alas, Tom refuses to let me get any of those inflatable things ;)) and blast the Halloween Music so that you can hear it around the block - starting with the Trick-or-Treaters at 6 pm. One year I was late and half a dozen neighbors came over to make sure everything was okay!

This years' collection is "Halloween Dance Party" - it's going to be great!

If you want to make your own Dance Party mix, I will be back and post the tracks I chose.


If I don't do this now, it might not happen at all, so here are the songs from my Halloween Dance Party Mix:

Thriller: Michael Jackson

Addams Groove: M.C. Hammer

Ghostbusters: Ray Parker Jr.

Devil With A Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly : Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

Men In Black: Will Smith

Bad Moon Rising: Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Superstition: Stevie Wonder

Magic Carpet Ride: Steppenwolf

The Devil Went Down To Georgia: Charlie Daniels Band

Monster Mash: Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

Werewolves of London: Warren Zevon

The Time Warp: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast

Wild Thing: The Trogg

Boogie Wonderland: Earth Wind & Fire

Doin' the Zombie: Chubby Checker

Ballroom Blitz: Sweet

Disco Inferno: The Trammps

Haunted House: Jumpin' Gene Simmons

The Witch Queen of New Orleans: Redbone- The Essential Redbone

Charlie Brown Pumpkin Dance Remix

Heather, NOBODY knows how to have a good time like you do!

The version of Stingy Jack focuses on his Scottish way of pinching a penny. Let's keep those ethnic stereotypes alive!

Thanks for the dance mix, Kathy. I resorted to buying CDs, which I play while handing out the treats---dressed as Dr. Death in my white lab coat. Still haven't created the crime scene out front yet---too cold! Will get out my chalk and my bones and start as soon as things warm up around here.

Never heard the Legend of Stingy Jack before! Another bit to add to the Myth..:)

I'm ashamed to admit that I just looked at a calendar to see when Halloween was. Oh! Today! Our trick or treaters have declined greatly - I think we had 4 last year - so we didn't even purchased candy. I love Halloween, but I live with my mother and she hates it (her birthday is October 27 and she always felt shortchanged). I like to hand out candy, sometimes dressed up, and I have a couple of CD that I'd play with the speakers pointed out the windows. I'll probably be working late tonight anyway. Ho hum.

I bought 4 gigantic bags of candy from Costco, and I may still run out. We live along the route to Haunted Hempstead, a street whose residents go completely insane for decorations, hiring actors, constructing sets that would do the movie industry proud. The police close the streets to cars and patrol on horseback. People we barely know call us to ask if they can park in our driveway. I'll accompany the kids, but they're almost too old for a mom escort and just want to be with their friends.

My big question is this: should I try to abstain from sugar today, allow myself a piece or two of candy, or just go whole hog and eat 12,000 calories in chocolate and nuts?

Happy Halloween! Bobby Norfolk tells and recorded his version of "Wicked John and the Devil" -- so good and memorable that when I'd play it for my Am. Lit. students, I'd have to remind them at test time the "The Devil and Tom Walker" was the one they were being tested on. I just went to iTunes, and he has several titles there. I think that story is on the "Why Mosquitos Buzz . . ." one.
I told stories at Halloween events Thursday and Friday and went to a Halloween concert Saturday -- appropriately spooky music selections, including an arrangement composed by a local musician, "Boo at the Zoo," which had themes from "Bewitched" and "Addams Family" and "Munsters" (I had to ask someone to identify that last one for me; I knew I'd heard it but couldn't place it). Tonight, no plans really -- I have some candy but don't expect treaters here. I'll wear my "Hand over the candy and no one will get hurt" t-shirt out and about today -- oh, and tomorrow will be half-price candy!

I love when Trick or treaters come! The cute little kids, I mean. Not the teenaged thugs. But cute teenagers, I guess, are fine, too.

But I made the big mistake this year of getting candy I like. Snickers. Almond Joy. Silly silly me.

We'll try to get home from work early so we can greet them!

Harley, go crazy and enjoy the treats. The walking should help . . .

Halloween is the busiest day of the year (OK, Friday night the combination of Halloween parties and GAME SEVEN OF THE WORLD SERIES WON BY THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS was VERY busy) for Domino's. I will be, as I have been for the last 24 Halloween's, a pizza guy. At work right now, I am wearing my Ghostbusters Dr. Venkman shirt, and since I have all these nifty computer tools around, I will shortly have a department of Parapsychology ID badge to go with it.

It is going to be cold tonight, witch will cut down on the slut wear (darn!) Saturday I drove past a party (private school kids, one of their alums is the ultimate Halloween actor Vincent Price) There were three girls doing a not very good job as Playboy bunnies/hotties and a guy in his robe with a pipe. Overall, pretty good. Last week's parties included a third or forth grader in an Umpalumpa costume that was worthy of a drama department.

A few years ago I delivered to a "pimps and hoes" Halloween party. I have no idea what got into that mother's mind before hand, but the ass cheeks hanging out of the the denim mini skirt meant the guest I saw, understood completely. Mom was less than amused.

Have a good time everybody.

For those of you who see me on Facebook. That is me, Halloween 1981. It was the 80's everybody had hair.

Harley, you are so focused and fit, I think that candy is actually afraid of you! I love the music list! Yeah, just stolen. Yesterday was big with the kids around here--and Saturday night. Took my nephews to the Zooboo yesterday and it was so cute, but I lost them and Metro Zoo is immense, and while the day started off pleasant and cool, it ended up with storm warnings and flash floods, so hot a little hairy. Still loved seeing my little munchkins in there matching skeleton jamy-costume and zombie make-up! Taking them out again this afternoon before taking off with friends for Chu's.

Happy Halloween, i know you and your family LOVE dressing up no matter what the holiday or event... and i love watching it all! I'm hoping the weather isn't like last night here in Miami and that all the trick or treaters will be able to get out and get thier fill or treats! We love seeing the neighborhood kids dressed up and so exited! Love the stingy Jack story, i've never heard it before! You are always so well informed and give me great laughts and stories. Have a GREAT time tonight...

Great story Heather! Happy Halloween! Our neighborhood did Trunk or Treat last night so we were out in the rain. Left the umbrella at the barn so we got soaked - my kids had a blast! Hope you have a great Halloween too!

Since nobody comes to my house out in the middle of Amish country, I have usually gone to my best friend's and been the candy distributor. Dressed in costume.

This year, due to her pending divorce, I am planning to walk around with her and her children. Somebody has to protect her, in case the soon-to-be-ex stalks her.... So, no costume either.

Thanks for the play list, Kathy. I wonder how many of those I already have? LOL!

Debby, you are a good friend! Stay safe!
*Blatant self promotion: since I already mentioned Bobby's "Wicked John" maybe it's only fair that I point out my Halloween story "Black Bubble Gum" -- and "Mary Culhane" is pretty scary also . . . on iTunes with sample tracks http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/frog-and-friends/id344525625

My daughter in TExas reports the churches in her town run "Trunk & Treat"---everybody parks their car, opens the trunk full of treats, and the costumed kids run from car to car. Hey, whatever works, right?

It is great to bring the kids around for a friend! How nice. It's strange here in Miami. They do a lot of malls and downtown areas with the shopkeepers giving out candy. It was years ago now (I might have even been a kid!) but there was so much candy that had been tainted that people became frightened of bringing their kids around. (They had razor blades in apples, too.)It's safer at malls.

Trunk or Treats are huge here! I was at three of them.

In the car tonight LOUD

Tubular Bells
Music from the Shining
X-Files Theme
Bad to the Bone
I Did a Bad Bad Thing

These playlists are fantastic!

Storyteller Mary, walking does help, but I'd have to walk from here to your house to work off the candy I'm capable of consuming.

well I heard the Jack legend for the first time on the history channel but they left out the soul selling part and just said he was eccentric, but the version you wrote sounds alot like a Russian story that Zhenia told me that was actually recreated in the Jim Henson storyteller series. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0710992/plotsummary

Keep the play lists coming!
I heard the story first from my mom, but I have a feeling that a lot of legends in many countries are an awful lot alike!

Studied angels once for a book, and sometimes they correspond to Greek, Roman, and Norse gods and godesses, which I found really interesting!

I just hope the trick-or-treaters don't drown this year.

Jan--OMG! Yes, it was soaking yesterday. They say that today might be more of the same. Thinking people will take the little ones out early evening, so hopefully, for the wee ones it will be good. Meeting Franci at 4 with the little guys, so hoping they have fun! We're doing Coral Gables.

Last night, wow!
But, we didn't get snow!


Love the story, and the playlists. Hope the weather cooperates.
Have a happy halloween1

Tonight? Well, my favorite zombie queen, I will be with you! I have my witch hat all ready to go. Might even bring a friend or two if they decide to make the trek.

Happy Halloween to one woman who knows how to celebrate life in all its diversity!

Piks, great if you bring a friend or two!

Here's what I'm hoping, too. A close friend's daughter who is also a dear, close friend works at another venue this evening. She likes candy--but likes soupy dumplings from Chu's much better. So . . . hoping to make her night with soupy dumplings!

I have to work. I get out of here at 8pm, too late to trick or treat.


Well . . . .

There are a zillion movies to see tonight. From old Hammer films to new slashers.

Curl up with chocolate! Treat yourself.

I'm thinking their might be a spooky on demand Psyche on or something that might not scare me too much when I get home tonight!

Loved your story and the interesting facts from history. Have a great Halloween.

I love the animals in costume! The Stingy Jack story was new to me!

There are few trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood anymore. I don't remember the last time any kids came to my door so I didn't buy any candy for home. (Candy for the office - now, that's a whole different story! They know that my candy jar will be full!) I am in CT and we had that nor-easter/snow storm over the weekend. Although here on the shore there wasn't a lot of snow, the roads and sidewalks were still icy this morning, and I imagine they will still be that way this evening, more reason for youngsters to stay in.Only two of us in my office are in costume today, although other departments went all out. I really enjoy dressing up for Halloween and I'd do it even if nobody else in the office did, as is often the case.
This year I am dressed as a sort of "goth/punk" - wearing black shirt and black pants, black dog collar around my neck, black nail polish, black lipstick and VERY black eye makeup, dangly (black, with purple/pink highlights) spider earrings, a pink&purple messy (punk-style) wig with a black spider hairclip, black socks covered with purple and pink skulls, "combat boots". Actually, they are my heavy duty snow boots that are more like hiking boots and I hate wearing them because they are SO heavy! I made the sacrifice for today, though. I started off the morning at Physical Therapy, and of course I was in costume for my PT session. I hope I never feel that I am too old to dress up for Halloween!

I wish I could participate in the Trunk and Treat events some of you mentioned! Sounds like great fun!

Thanks to Mother Nature delivering a foot of snow and 80% of the town without power trick ot treat has been postponed until next Sunday. The town hosts a wonderful party on the village green and the kids have a ball ringing the doorbells of the homes and businesses on the green. Those of us who don't live there donate the candy to those who will be answering their doors to the marauding hordes. Always a fun time.

Unfortunately we get no children at our house on Halloween. I miss seeing the costumes.
Tonight I will be safely ensconced under blankets on the sofa watching all the episodes of American Horror on FX ondemand. I'm hearing great things about it and can't wait!

Thanks for the interesting bit o' history, Heather. I knew about the pumpkins warding off spirits but I didn't know about Stingy Jack. Did you know that a black cat only signifies bad luck when he looks at you then dashes off. Cats are familiars and able to see things human eyes cannot.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, but alas I am still at work. Hopefully not for long. If the weather remains wet and spooky - I'm thinking about a marathon of horror flicks and a cup of hot chocolate...or maybe some TrueBlood. ;-)

Harley, you are welcome to walk here anytime ;-)
Heather, Kindle just offered me $1 on any one of 100 titles and now I'm hooked on your _The Evil Inside_ (how much trouble am I in?)

Kendall and I did Halloween at the Tucson Breast Center where he hooked up with Xena the Warrior Princess. Photo here: http://reenharringtoncarter.blogspot.com/b/post-preview?token=cmUFXjMBAAA.xPPZDeEuW4BbGeIfl-cZ3A.XM7Q7kEpZwSKhIhBzpsfjg&postId=4760215274233716145&type=POST

Oops - sorry about that Heather. Here it is!

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