I've always thought that the Mexican tradition of Dia De Los Muertos (The day of the dead) was pretty interesting. I copied and pasted the explanation from this website. It's a big long, but worth the read
Ever wondered why you hear so much about the "Day of the Dead" celebration in Mexico? Do you think the traditional Mexican observance is as big as Halloween is in the United States?
Well, it's actually bigger - and much deeper in meaning and tradition. Much preparation must take place, like the building of intricate and ornate altars, the making of specialty foods and candies, candle making and gift wrapping, the arrangement of flowers, cleaning of family grave sites.
It is a holiday with a complex history, and therefore its observance varies quite a bit by region and by degree of urbanization. You must understand, it is not a morbid occasion, but rather a festive time involving the entire family and community.
The ancient indigenous peoples of Mexico believed that the souls of the dead returned each year to visit with their living relatives - to eat, drink and be merry with their loved ones. In modern times, children who have passed on are remembered on November 1st, All Saints Day, with toys and colorful balloons adorning their graves. The following day, All Souls Day, adults who have died are honored with displays of the departed's favorite food, as well as ornamental and personal belongings. Flowers, particularly the zempasúchil, or marigold, and candles, are placed on the graves where family members can come and "commune" with the dead.
To understand it fully, it's necessary to look into the distant path of the indigenous people of Mexico.
The original celebration can be traced to many Meso-American native traditions, such as the festivities held during the Aztec month of "Miccailhuitontli", ritually presided over by the "Lady of the Dead" (Mictecacihuatl), and dedicated to children and the dead.
In the Aztec calendar this ritual fell roughly at the end of the Gregorian month of July and the beginning of August, but in the post conquest era it was moved by Spanish priests so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (in Spanish: "Día de Todos Santos.") This was a vain effort to transform the observance from a profane to a Christian observance.
The Aztecs believed that after a person died, his/her soul would pass through nine levels prior to their final destination, Mictlan - the place of the dead. They also believed that a person's destiny was founded at birth and that the soul of that person was dependent on the type of death rather than the type of life lead by that person. How a person died would also determine what region they would go to. Once they arrived to their specific region a person's soul would either await transformation or linger, awaiting the next destiny.
Specifics of the celebration vary greatly within the various regions of Mexico, but one of the most common customs involves the construction of elaborate altars to welcome the departed spirits home. Vigils are held, and families often go to cemeteries to tidy up and decorate the graves of departed relatives. Festivities also frequently include traditional foods such as pan de muerto(bread of the dead), which can conceal a miniature skeleton, or sugar skull.
Food, in fact, is considered an indispensable part of the celebration. The foods offered in the memorial are different according to the wishes and social status of the deceased. Typical foods include: bread, fruits vegetables, and sweets. Other delicacies available for the celebration include the sugar skulls (bought from the bakeries with the names of each on of the members of the family who are alive and of the deceased), candied fruit and pumpkins, tamales and maize dough cakes, as well as enchiladas and chalupas.
In the city of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, the local commercial bakery brings in young men from Santo Domingo Comaltepac, "the village of the master bakers" for the annual Day of the Dead, solely to bake massive quantities of pan de muerto, special loaves of bread. The Indian bakers of this valley's surrounding barrios produce three types of bread, each differing by the amount of egg and type of spice used, and according to the preferences of the families. The bread can be formed into different shapes and is commonly decorated with sugar. Bread is always placed on the altar and can not be removed until the visit by the dead.
A loaf of bread is also traditionally given to visitors who come home during the time of celebration . The must common shape sold in the Mexico City bakeries is round and decorated with a cross in the shape of bones covered with sugar.
remember the guy who makes his own haunted house, who I talked about in day 1 of thirteen days of halloween? Here's the 2011 version of his haunted house. It's my favorite of any of the ones he's done so far.
you've got to give a hand to those people who think of really clever halloween costumes. I unfortunately wasn't able to find many examples of them on the internet but here's a few.
1. I don't have a picture of this one, but my friend made it up and I thought it was hilarious. AN IDENTITY CRISIS. To achieve this you buy a pack of those 'hello my name is' stickers, put a different name on each one and put them all over your clothes.
2. This one is courtesy of Jim from The Office: FACEBOOK
We've all heard that black cats are bad luck. But why? Even as little kids we think of the image of the black cat running across a dark alley or the cat hissing on top of the fence. Well here's the explanation as to why the black cat is considered unlucky. I found this explanation at this website
Today I found out the origin of superstitions surrounding black cats including why a black cat crossing your path is considered bad luck.
Black Cats weren’t always the butt of superstitions, feared, or even considered bad luck. In fact, in early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC, cats (including black ones) were the rock stars of the animal world, held in high esteem; to kill one was considered a capital crime. It wasn’t until the middle-ages in Europe that the black cat’s rock star status started to go downhill as they began to be associated with so-called witches. The hysteria of witches practicing black magic had just hit Europe and alley cats were often cared for and fed by the poor lonely old ladies (funny how some things never change) later accused of witchery.
Their cat companions, some of which were black ones, were deemed guilty of witchery by association. This belief was taken up a notch when a folklore involving a father and son in Lincolnshire in the 1560′s started making the rounds. The pair were said to have been traveling one moonless night when a black cat crossed their path and dove into a crawl space. Naturally, they did what any guys would do, they threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house, who at the time was suspected of being a witch. The next day, the father and son came across the same woman and noticed she was limping and bruised and believed that to be more than just a coincidence. From that day on in Lincolnshire, it was thought that witches could turn into black cats at night.
The belief of witches transforming themselves into black cats in order to prowl streets unobserved became a central belief in America during the Salem witch hunts. Even today the association of black cats and witches holds strong during Halloween celebrations, despite the holiday’s religious beginnings. Thus, an animal once looked on with approbation became a symbol of evil omens in some parts of the World.
However, in some cultures, the black cat is still revered and a symbol of good luck even today. The Scottish believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity, while Pirates of the 19th century believed if a black cat walks towards you, it’s a sign of bad luck, but it’s good luck if it walks away from you. In the English Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride!
I've always wanted to go to halloween horror nights at Universal Studios in Orlando Florida. Apparently it's one of the best halloween/scary events any theme park puts on in the USA. So if you ever have the chance you should go because it would definitely be an experience to remember
I know there's a lot of really scary/gory halloween movie out there that a whole lot of people love. But, personally I'm not a fan of super scary stuff unless I'm the one doing the scaring. So here's a few really good classic halloween movies.
Possibly my favorite of the bunch: Hocus Pocus. Because who doesn't love a little bit of humor mixed in with their Halloween movie.
Casper the Friendly Ghost-also a good classic that came out when I was a kid
The Addams Family
One that everybody knows: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
I'm sure you guys, like myself, have always been at least somewhat curious as to some of the stats that are associated with trick-or-treating. 41 million trick or treaters from age 5-14. Keep in mind this isn't counting kids both older and younger, so that's a whole lot of kids
$ 2 billionspent on Halloween candy in 2009
The three most popular candies being: • Candy Corn • Mini Snickers
• Mini 3 Musketeers
1.5 billionpounds of pumpkins are grown and sold in the US every year
Coolest halloween town names: Transylvania Country, N.C Cape Fear Tombstone, Arizona Pumpkin Bend, Arkansas Skull Creek, Nebraska
Sorry guys I haven't been near a computer in the past day or two. So here's day 2 of Thirteen Days of Halloween. Carving a jack-o-lantern has been one of my favorite halloween traditions, only second to scaring people. Here's the history of the jack-o-lantern and here's the link to the sight I got it from plus some really cool jack o lantern carvings.
The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel, and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern". On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.
Hey guys here's the start of my 13 days of halloween series where I post some fun fact/cool halloween thing every day until Halloween.
For my first day I figured I'd introduce you guys to a youtube account that I found somewhat recently. These guys have been making their own haunted house for the past few years. I've got a lot of respect for them because I've always wanted to make a haunted house but have never had the time/resources/skill to make one. Here's their youtube channel and a video of the behind the scenes of last years haunted house.
This is a poem I found on a facebook sight devoted to German Shepherds (don't judge) and somebody had written this poem. I take no credit at all for this, I just thought it was really cute. Here's the facebook page if you want to take a look at some of the other poems and pictures of Shepherds
I haven't shared this poem that I wrote in a long time....it is about what happens when WE die and cross over to the other side, to see our beloved dogs again. I thought it would go well with the lovely story of Meredith and her beloved Abbey that I just posted a bit ago...I DO believe all of our pets go to Heaven...dogs, cats, all of them...we will see them again. Please feel free to share to your profiles if you wish. ♥
I was standing in the middle of a field with all the dogs from my life
as the dewdrops danced gently on the flowers…
As the sun began to rise, to envelope us all,
kissing us with its light, peace slid around us to endower,
The feeling of being one, with nature and beast,
those running pieces of my heart on four paws began to surround me,
Their happy yips of joy, their yodels and cries,
I gazed in sheer amazement and wonder to watch as they ran free….
Look here mom, look at me, see me again so full of glee,
running, twirling so swiftly in a dance,
They were healthy and whole, and no longer sick or old,
their youthly beauty had me quite entranced.
They all focused on my wet eyes to see if I looked,
saying “watch me as I show off for you”…
And it was like days of old as I threw that stick high,
and my laughter would sound as they flew…
Across those verdant pastures we traveled as one,
to see them all together for the first time was bliss.
I savored each second of companionship I’d lost, my heart was mending,
For in an instant I had regained all those I had missed.
Next we saw a sparkling lake of azure blue…
with a mountain nearby where we heard the cry of an eagle..
Swooping and soaring, patrolling his avian kingdom,
an unfurling of wings that was almost unbearably regal.
There were creatures of every single shape and size,
each one of God’s creations was happily represented,
They lived together, no sadness, no fear, and no hunger,
in peace and harmony forever extended.
I roared with laughter as my furkids ushered me to the area
where there were angels stationed,
For their one single purpose (and they did it with love)
was to play fetch with the dogs of this heavenly nation.
For God had provided perfection for all His beloved creatures from earth,
He’d promised the faithful and true an afterlife extending.
This heavenly existence, this peaceful paradise, for each and every beast,
included happiness that was never ending.
When they left us on earth, we weren’t completely alone,
for they would leave behind a piece of their loyal heart that is true.
And they would take with them a piece of ours
as a payment for a lifetime of love given as their due.
Our dearest friends were provided for,
as they waited for the completion of their hearts again.
For although they may wait for us for days, months, even years to be reunited,
they wait because Man is a Dog’s Best Friend.
This exchange of love when their old lives were fading,
Once broken hearts are even now beginning to perfectly mend,
For now we are together, our hearts are complete,
to spend eternity in Paradise with our dearest friends.
Just as a heads up I'll be doing a 13 days of halloween thing this year. It'll be starting on October 19th and I'm really excited. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays from when I was a kid. So get ready for some cool stuff.
And even better I'll be doing the 25 days of Christmas, like last year. It got good feedback and I'm super excited for that.