In honor of Halloween, here is a festive version of two truths and a lie! Which of these hair-raising Halloween facts is based in real life, and which did I make up? Tune in the November 1 episode of The Witching Hour to hear the results!
ROUND ONE – TRADITIONS
Tradition 1: As a German preparing to celebrate Halloween, you might make a point to make sure your decorations are in order, that you have a full bowl of candy for potential trick-or-treaters, and that you have hidden all of the knives in the house, so that in the event that the dead return to walk the earth, they don’t have any weapons available to accidentally hurt themselves–or you.
Tradition 2: If you ever find yourself in the small Illinois town of Elmhurst on Halloween, you might just be offered a “crummy bum,” which is a kind of sweet cake made from the leftover pumpkin innards from pumpkin carving. The cakes are typically hand-sized and made in festive moulds like bats, witches hats, and–you guessed it–pumpkins, and served with apple cider.
Tradition 3: In some neighborhoods of America, kids are giving up candy in favor of receiving money–to be donated to charity. The tradition began in a small Philadelphia neighborhood and has rapidly expanded since, bringing in over $118 million nationwide.
ROUND TWO – SUPERSTITIONS
Superstition 1: As an average Medieval peasant, you cower in fright at the sight of a bat, knowing them to be common choices for a witch’s familiar. Even more bone-chilling was the sight of a bat fluttering over your head on All Hallows Eve. But the worst case scenario came into fruition when a bat flew into your house later that night. You immediately send for a clergyman to rid your home of spirits, as only an undead resident could have allowed the animal inside.
Superstition 2: Another source of worry in your life as a Medieval peasant is the spider, also an animal used by witches to carry out their ghastly deeds. One night, as you toil away on your embroidery, you happen to catch sight of a spider falling into your candle flame. You shiver, knowing that witches are sure to be nearby. When All Hallows Eve arrives, you notice a spider on your daily walk. This comforts you, as you know a departed loved one is keeping watch.
Superstition 3: As a Medieval peasant, you value horses above all else, using them for labor, transport, and in times of desperation, meat. However, you shudder at the thought of seeing a pure white horse with no rider on All Hallows Eve, as it would mean imminent death for whoever was first to spot it in the distance. The horse had arrived as an escort to the beyond, and it always claimed a rider.
ROUND THREE – RITUALS
Ritual 1: In order to divine the name of your husband, you peel an apple in one long strip of skin and throw it behind your shoulder. When you turn to look at where the peel landed, you study its shape, as it is supposed to have landed in the first letter of your future spouse’s name.
Ritual 2: Not being able to discern a shape from the apple peel, you move on to the next ritual. Going into your bathroom, you turn off all the lights and stare into the mirror, hoping to see the face of your future husband peering over your shoulder. But be careful! If you see a skull, you know it means you will die before getting married.
Ritual 3: After only seeing your own reflection, you try the last ritual. Stripping off your socks, you name each of your toes after a potential suitor. Then, you go outside and run around in the dark. Whichever toe gets pricked by a thorn or burr first indicates which man you will marry.
ROUND FOUR – CRIMES
Crime 1: In 1956, a Halloween party turned sour when a man dressed as Charlie Chaplin was bludgeoned to death outside of the venue. Over the course of the investigation, the police used fingerprint evidence to link a thirty-two year old man to the scene of the crime. The thirty-two year old admitted to being a hitman hired by a woman to kill the man dressed as Charlie Chaplin. The woman was the man’s husband, and in the process of their divorce, he had been given full custody of their three children. The twist? There were two men dressed as Charlie Chaplin at the party, and the hitman got the wrong one.
Crime 2: In 1998, a man and his girlfriend were on their way to pick her son up from a party, when a group of teenagers threw eggs at their car. The man got out of the car to tell the group to stop, but one of the teenagers withdrew a gun and shot him in the head. The seventeen year old responsible was charged with murder and sentenced to twenty years. Every Halloween, he receives a card in the mail from the victims mother that reads, “I’m glad you’re still there.”
Crime 3: In 1974, a father and his son returned home from a long night of trick-or-treating. Before putting him to bed, the father allowed his son one last piece of candy: a Pixy Stix. After eating the candy, the son began vomiting. His father took him to the hospital, but the boy died in transit. Police investigation revealed that the father poisoned the candy with cyanide in order to collect life insurance on his son.