The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 27, 1996 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, October 27, 1996
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Page 13
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SUNDAY 7, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL Life MILESTONES / B4 ALMANAC / B7 CROSSWORD / BB B V AFTER A FASHION What used to be a kids' holiday has been overrun by grown-ups, corporations PATRICIA MCLAUGHLIN Universal Press Syndicate Treat, or trick? Halloween'has become almost as commercial as Christmas. Universal Press n the old days, when Halloween was still mostly for kids, you could be a ghost or a witch or a hobo or a gypsy or a cowgirl or a monster or a fireman. You could be scary or ugly or cute. You could be anything. You don't have that latitude anymore, as a woman I know discovered A last year to her chagrin. She'd been complaining of chronic datelessness, so her brother had invited her to his Halloween party to meet some guys. Then he gave her endless grief when she * showed up in whiteface, bowler, toothbrush mustache and too-big suit as Charlie Chaplin's little tramp. What was she thinking? he wanted to know. Didn't she know costume shops were full of sexy costumes — fishnet- stockinged upstairs maids and witches in unitards and petticoated medieval wenches and low-necked lady vampires? How many guys did she think were looking to meet a cute girl'with a mustache? Halloween has grown up. It's celebrated by adults as much as by kids now, so the rules have changed: You have to make sure your costume conveys the proper impression, just like every other day of the year. 'The Celts who inhabited France and the British Isles started Halloween way back. This time of year, they used to build big bonfires and burn animals and even people in them to appease Samhain, the cruel god of death and darkness, so he'd let the sun come back in the spring and bring their world to life again. When the Romans showed up and took over, they celebrated a day of the dead and a feast of the apple goddess around the same.time. Later, Christian missionaries recast this blend of pagan holidays as the eve of All Saints Day — All Hallows' Eve, which smushed together into Hal- lowe'en, then plain Halloween. The holiday still has all their fingerprints on it, but in turn-of-the-millennium America, it is — naturally — mostly about shopping. Not just plain, ordinary shopping, which some people are starting to turn up their noses at as boring or greedily materialistic, but themed shopping. Mike Bernacchi, who teaches marketing at the University of Detroit Mercy, says Halloween isn't just a day anymore; it's a whole shopping season, perfectly timed to provide "wonderful transportation from the back-to-school buying season, which is the second- biggest shopping season, to the Christmas season, which is the biggest." He says Halloween is now "the second-biggest consumptive holiday, right behind Christmas." He says it's close to edging out New Year's Day as the second-biggest party day of the year, right behind Super Bowl Sunday. It's far and "All these products are being made available to keep our economy thriving and to entertain us." Gabrlele Edgell spokeswoman for Selling Halloween magazine away the biggest day for confectionery sales. He predicts $800 million worth of candy will change hands this year. It's No. 1 for costume buying, No. 1 for paper and plastic accessory item sales, No. 2 for holiday decorating, right behind Christmas. Half of all Americans decorate their homes for Halloween. There's a whole magazine, Selling Halloween, for the Halloween industry — retailers who sell costumes, masks, decorations, paper plates, party favors, etc. Ad Age says this Halloween will account for $170 million in advertising. It is, Bernacchi says, a triumph of modern marketing: creating a mood, a reason, a motivation to buy, where, once, there were just a lot of little kids trucking around in homemade costumes. Her industry's achievement, according to Gabriele Edgell, whose company publishes Selling Halloween magazine, has been "taking a season that really didn't have a lot of product, and creating lines of product that will get the consumer into the store." OK, it's not the steel industry or the auto industry but, as she says, "all these products are being made available to keep our economy thriving and to entertain us." And next year, when Halloween falls on a Friday, there will be even more of it. -V IN THE HOME Invite your favorite little goblins to a pumpkin hunt MARY LOU ODLE KSU-Saline County Extension Agent• Family and Consumer Sciences "Trick or Treat." That's Halloween's slogan, but where does this mysterious custom as strange as witches come from? _ Historians tell us Halloween celebrations date back to the time of druids; ancient soothsayers of Northern France and the British Isles. As Christianity spread, druidism influence receded, but some of their observations were assimilated into the customs of the people. One custom was the lighting of bonfires on Oct. 31 to frighten evil spirits'. The people of the time begged for firewood and other materials to keep fires going and to frighten away bats and black cats, elves and fairies they believed stalked nearby. Through the centuries, this custom continues and the children stalk the streets near their homes asking not for firewood but for treats to satisfy a sweet tooth. They dress -in strange clothes to fend off evil spirits as they journey in the dark. Another of our customs is derived from the Romans. After they invaded Britain, they linked some of their celebrations with those handed down by the druids. Bobbing for apples One that remains popular today is that of bobbing for apples. As the Romans peeled apples, they watched curls fall from the peelings hoping they would form the initials of a fu- ture loved one. Today, we still bob for apples and then twist the stems reciting the alphabet with each turn. When the stem comes off on a certain letter, it is said to reveal the first initial of a special someone. > In America, Halloween was not widely celebrated until after 1850. Today, as youngsters dress in costumes of pretend, most never guess that the customs they continue carry with them beliefs of long ago. The safest way to celebrate Halloween is to have a Halloween party for your favorite ghosts. Invite the parents to join the fun and plan some fun games. Small pumpkins are readily available, so plan a pumpkin hunt. Num- ber each one of the pumpkins and then put the same numbers in a bowl. Have the children draw for numbers. Hide the pumpkins around the room. Each child must find the pumpkin with the number he has drawn. Let the child take the pumpkin home. Pln-the-nose-on-the-wltch Pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin or pin-the-nose-on-the-witch are games kids enjoy. Design a pumpkin or a drawing of a. witch without a nose. Make paper hoses with tape on the back. Blindfold the kids and give a small treat to each after he has pinned the nose. Give a special larger treat to the child getting the nose closest to the correct spot. A Bat Cave Game uses several sizes of cans and balls or bean bags. The small ghosts try to get the bean bags or balls into the cans or caves. Prizes are given to each participants. Ghost musical chair is similar to a cake walk. Have the chairs numbered and in a circle. There is one chair for each child playing. Play Halloween music as they march around the chairs. When the music stops, draw a number: that is the chair the ghost is sitting on and whoever is on that chair has to get off his lap and gets a prize. Halloween parties can be fun for young and old alike, so invite grandma or some special senior citizens to share in your party along with the TCOSTUMES Finding the fright stuff to wear The average off-the-rack spook costume at Wal-Mart costs $13 for kids and about $20 for adults By KIM FRANKE-FOLSTAD Scripps Howard News Service NAPLES, Fla. — It's not that there are going to be all kinds of witches and ghosts and ghouls out walking the streets on Halloween night. It's not that it's suddenly going to be dark at 6 p.m., or that once again a toothy jack-o'-lantern will be staring eerily from your neighbor's porch and straight into your bedroom window. It's not even that they keep advertising a Halloween slasher movie marathon while you're eating breakfast and watching "The Brady Bunch" in the morning. • No, you could handle all that. Admit it: What's really, really got you scared to death about Halloween is deciding what costume to wear. ','. Granted, it's not easy coming up with something v: tew and special every year. Mummies, zombies and poltergeists have been done to death. And who wouldn't like to drive a stake through the heart of His or her old vampire costume? 1 Yet, rietailers say even folks with a serious case of the been-there, done-thats will find that with a little creativity — and a little cash — Halloween can be ipore fun than frightening. Dorri McDonald, manager of a fabric and crafts store, says her customers start checking out costume ideas as early as August. "People are mysteriously creative at this time of the year." While her store carries a selection of ready-to- wear costumes, props and decorations for Halloween, it's the idea of making a more original costume that suddenly attracts many non-sewers to the store. And thanks to simple patterns, hot glue guns and a helpful staff, almost anyone can create a dream costume. "We're not going to make their costume for them, but we'll help them find what they need to do it and show them how to do it," McDonald says. Spotted fur for Dalmations or cows Handmade costumes can be as inexpensive or extravagant as you want them to be, she adds. The store stocks fabrics and patterns for just about any kind of costume you can imagine — from black and white spotted fur for a Dalmation or cow costume to shiny metallics and lames for potential princesses and dancing girls. The selection of patterns also is varied enough to fulfill almost any child's — or adult's — fantasies. There's always old favorites such as Batman, '50s outfits and a variety of ghouls, ghosts and goblins. High on kids' lists this year are masks and anything that's just plain scary, according to costume retailers. Adults are more interested in theme groups, such as "The Addams Family" or the Scarecrow, Lion, Tinman and Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." Movie themes also are popular in store-bought costumes, says Stacey Murphy, a Wal-Mart manager. "Star Wars" and "Toy Story" costumes continue to be hot for kids, and characters from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" are big with their parents, Murphy says. Kids go for "Goosebumps" characters Characters from the "Goosebumps" book series for kids also are selling well. The average off-the-rack costume at Wal-Mart costs $13 for children and $20 for adults. Some can double as sleepwear or for dress-up play. The store also sells enough fake blood, detached limbs and oozing eyes to make a John Carpenter movie. And for kinder, gentler trick-or-treaters, there are frothy tutus and other frou-frous. But whatever your course, remember that it's more about creativity than cost, advises Val Touchton, a craft store manager. While vampires and witches are a dime a dozen this time of year, she's still contemplating this year's the most memorable costume idea she's come across: the mother making a costume for a girl who wanted to be a "dead cheerleader." That may seem a bit too far over the edge, but it is different, and that counts. "You're not going to get a prize for buying a Poc- ahontassuit," Touchton says. Scripps Howard News Service Children's trlck-or-treat costumes can be homemade, store-bought or a little of both. SUGGESTIONS? CALL SHERIDA WARNER, LIFE EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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