Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Trick or Treat!
As someone who recently turned (gulp!) 30, I've been over the whole "trick or treat" scene for quite some time. Sure, I still like to whip together a cheap costume and go out with friends to celebrate, but as far as buying candy to give away - or dressing up the apartment with spooky holiday decorations - ehhh, not so much.
This year, however, I'll be taking a group of kids trick-or-treating...and honestly, I think I'm just as excited about the big day as they are. I mentor for a Muslim family, teaching them English and about U.S. culture. So what better way to fully introduce them to American society than to help them pick out crazy costumes and take candy from strangers? I'm just hoping they set aside some of that sweet trick or treat stash for me. I'll even take the candy (as long as it's wrapped!) that looks as though a "crazed madman tampered with it." Yes, I'm a child of the '80s and vaguely remember all the Halloween candy scares of that era, most of which percolated after the infamous Tylenol poisonings. Yeah, yeah...Sorry Mom. I know I kept handing you all that candy to taste-test for me back on Halloween of 1982. But I digress.
Anyway, it looks like I'm not alone in my enthusiasm for the upcoming Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation, consumer Halloween-related spending will surpass $5 billion this year - with more than 60 percent of respondents planning to celebrate in some way. In addition to the kids, one-third of adults are expected to dress up, while one-in-ten celebrants also plan to buy costumes for their pets. However, judging by some of the Halloween pet get-ups I've seen (see above), it's no wonder dogs sometimes bite their owners.
Here are a few more fun facts, courtesy of National Confectioners Association, to help get you into the Halloween spirit.
* The celebration of Halloween started in the U.S. as an autumn harvest festival. In pioneer days, some Americans celebrated Halloween with corn-popping parties, taffy pulls and hayrides.
* In the late nineteenth century, with the large influx of Irish immigrants into the U.S., Halloween became associated with ghosts, goblins and witches.
* Jack-o-lanterns are an Irish tradition. In Ireland, oversized rutabagas, turnips and potatoes were hollowed-out, carved into faces and illuminated with candles to be used as lanterns during Halloween celebrations.
* The word “witch” comes from the Old Saxon word “wica”, meaning “wise one.” The earliest witches were respected dealers in charms and medicinal herbs and tellers of fortunes.
* The pumpkin originated in Mexico about 9,000 years ago. It is one of America’s oldest known vegetables. Pumpkins generally weigh from 15-to-30 pounds, although some weigh as much as 200 pounds. The majority of pumpkins are orange, but they also can be white or yellow. They are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and potassium, and their seeds provide protein and iron.
* 93 percent of children will go trick-or-treating.
* Bite-sized chocolate candies are the post popular type to be included in Halloween activities (76 percent), followed by bite-sized non-chocolate candies (30 percent).
* Kids say their favorite treats to receive when trick-or-treating are candy and gum, while their least favorite is fruit and salty snacks like chips.
* Ninety percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' Halloween trick-or-treat bags.
* More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces — enough to circle the moon nearly 4 times if laid end-to-end.
Another piece of advice - if you do decorate the house, I suggest you avoid including yourself as a prop. YouTube shows that idea has backfired spectacularly on more than one occasion.