Costumes and Masks
An Illustrated Celebration Of Fun, Food, And Frolics From Halloweens Past
Twelve Months of Kentucky Ghosts
Kentucky storytellers Roberta Simpson and Lonnie Brown compiled this collection of spectral tales, each linked in some way to a significant holiday.
For Halloween, they recount the cautionary tale of "Graveyard Pumpkins" growing near the Smith Woods in Adair County. Instructed by their father to gather two pumpkins for jack-o'-lanterns, two children harvest a pair of gourds from a vine that has crossed the boundary from the back pasture into a neighboring graveyard.
"They cleaned out the insides of their pumpkins and carved smiling faces on them. Then they placed them on the porch and left to go trick-or-treating.
"When they returned, they were shocked and frightened by what they saw. They faces on their jack-o'-lanterns had changed! They were now wearing expressions of pain instead of happiness..."
Sad consequences follow.
Sixteen more holidays and more than two dozen other scary stories are gathered here, including "Mother's Day Tea Party," "The Ghost That Hated Labor Day," "Columbus Day Ghost," "A Veterans Day Civil War Tale," "The Christmas Pie," "New Year's Ghost" and "Grandma's Pumpkin Pie" for Thanksgiving.
All Soul's March
by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1994 All rights reserved.
In the crisp chill of October night costumed children toddle down darkened lanes, their tittering voices fending off silence.
They come dressed as ghouls and monsters, aliens of outer space and starship captains from the 25th century. Masked as heroes and demons, wild animals and crazed villains, our youth knocks upon the doors of strangers demanding treats.
In Ireland, once upon a time, it was the adults who dressed up as imps and fairies on All Hallow's Eve, painting their faces and shrouding their bodies.
This was the year's end, the close of summer, and the spirits of all who died of late were said to wander the night looking for some person or animal to inhabit on their way to the afterlife. It was possession the spirits were after and possession the Celtic people wanted to avoid.
The bonfire, set by a Druid priest, would scare off the last of the spirits and the residents then concluded the exercise with a harvest celebration.
Early Christians costumed themselves as well on the eve of All Saint's (or Hallows) Day, better known as Halloween. Some would dress themselves up as patron saints for the feasting and celebration.
Two days later, on All Soul's Day, some Christians took to the streets to go "souling." This was in medieval Europe, mind you, and the villagers went door to door asking for "soul-cakes" -- squarish biscuits flavored with currants. The more cakes you gave them the more prayers they would offer up to heaven for your dead relatives. They chanted as they paraded:
Soul! soul! for a soul-cake;Prayers for the dead were considered quite valuable back then because they helped speed a soul's passage through limbo and into heaven. The more prayers they received the shorter the journey.
Pray good mistres, for a soul-cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for them that made us all.
Halloween came to America following the potato famines in Ireland during the 1840s. Irish immigrants settled in New England by droves, traditional holidays and customs packed tightly in their bags. But by the turn of the century October 31 had evolved into Mischief Night for young American boys who ran through the dark tipping over outhouses, slapping people with bags of flour, hoisting vehicles to rooftops and leaving a trail of litter and unhinged gates in their wake.
"Trick or Treat," the little ones now cry, offering no prayers for the dead or ghostbusting for the household. Nor are they blackmailing us with threats of egg-stained siding and toilet-papered shrubbery. Instead they come to us costumed in the faith that on this one holy night candies are free for the asking..