This October, my neighborhood is filled with yards transformed into elaborate graveyards. Apparently I didn’t get the memo, because the scariest thing I have on my house is the drooping string of Christmas lights, which have been hanging there since ... 2016.
Speaking of Halloween traditions, did you know that the game of “bobbing for apples” was at first used to figure out who would be next to marry?
The practice of bobbing for apples originated during the Roman invasion of Britain, where, much like a bunch of strangers merging their saliva in a bucket, the Romans and the Celtics merged their traditions of welcoming in the new year (Nov. 1) and welcoming in the new harvest (marriage) and casting out demons (um… Halloween.)
With only teeth and tongues in play, the first person to nab an apple was traditionally the next to be married. Sort of like throwing the bridal bouquet. Or diving head first into the primordial soup.
I wish I had known this when I’d gone up against Fiona “Fang-face” Frederick, who bit into an apple before I could. Indeed, she did get married first.
But I got divorced before she did. So, in a sense, I win?
Also, can you guess the name of the first person to carve a Jack-o-Lantern?
If you guessed “Steve”, you’re right.
Kidding. It was of course a drunkard known as Stingy Jack. Irish legend has it that he tricked the devil into paying for his drinks, and then tricked him again by trapping him in a tree with a bunch of crosses. He convinced the devil not to take him to hell. But when he died, he was also denied entrance to heaven, because he was, well, a drunkard and stingy. Caught between two worlds, he became lost in the dark, so the devil gave him a carved out radish with a light inside to find his way.
I have a theory that Stingy Jack still lives, and he is my neighbor, who is super stingy about his lilacs. Apparently, my neighbor has a problem with people sneaking into his yard to chop them down in order to make a cheap bouquet. To be fair, I only did it once, and it’s because I don’t like to spend money on flowers.
Wait… am I Stingy Jack?
Did you know that a man named Stephen Clarke holds the record for fastest pumpkin carving in the world, coming in at an astonishing 16.4 seconds?
I have two thoughts on this fact. First, this is one world record I don’t think should go on a Tinder profile, because do you want to date a man who is so adept at carving and gutting things with a knife? And second, I think my son actually holds the record because he stabbed a pumpkin and immediately got bored. That took like 1.5 seconds.
And I’m just going to put this out there: Pumpkins are a fruit. You’re welcome for blowing your mind.
There are strange laws around Halloween. It’s illegal to use Silly String in Hollywood on Halloween.
And if you live in Alabama, be careful about your costume. It is illegal to dress as a priest or a nun.
So for those of you who received the “Tarts and Vicars” invite for my party in Alabama, please disregard. And to that guy who planned on dressing as a pregnant nun… well, you know who you are.
Moving on to my favorite part of Halloween: the candy. Did you know that 30 million pounds of candy corn are produced every year?
In my mind, there are two types of people in this world: those who love candy corn, and those who have no taste buds.
Trick-or-treating evolved from a practice called “souling” or “guising” where the poor would go door-to-door and offer poems, songs or dances to the wealthy in exchange for food.
I say this is one tradition we should bring back. When your doorbell rings this Halloween, I challenge you to demand a song or dance. And then tell the kids to make a bowl with their hands and offer up a ladle of soup.
Report back to me with your findings.
Whatever your traditions may be, enjoy the mischief-making. Me, personally, I plan on dressing as a black cat and walking zig zag down as many streets as possible.
You’ve been warned.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.