Happy Halloween 2020

The dark history behind Halloween

(Source: Business Insider.com)

The word ‘Halloween’ was first popularized in a poem.

Scottish poet Robert Burns helped to popularize the word “Halloween” with his 1785 poem of the same name.

So where does the name itself come from? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it’s actually two words smushed together. “Hallow” — or holy person — refers to the saints celebrated on All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. The “een” part of the word is a contraction of “eve” — or evening before.

The day’s morbid traditions go back to ancient times

Historians have linked Halloween to Samhain, the Celtic festival of the summer’s end celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

According to Celtic mythology, the veil between the Otherworld and our world thins during Samhain, making it easier for spirits and the souls of the dead to return.

People would make offerings of food in order to get on the good side of these spirits and departed ancestors, according to the Mirror.

Allhallowtide, which includes All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and the subsequent All Souls’ Day, was initially celebrated in the spring, during the early years of the Church.

Pope Gregory IV switched it to the current date in 837, according to Britannica. His reasons were unclear, although influence from Celtic factions of the church and the fact that it makes sense to commemorate death during the fall are possibilities.

Bobbing for apples used to be more than just a splashy party game.

Halloween has come to be most closely associated with the pumpkin, but apples have played an important role in its history.

After all, apples make numerous appearances in Celtic mythology and are often connected to the Otherworld.

Bobbing for apples remains a popular party game.

The reason? Well, the practice used to be considered a form of divination performed around Halloween, according to NPR. That’s right — people would dunk their heads in a vat of water and try to bite into floating fruit in a quest to figure out their future spouse.

Ladies would mark an apple and toss it into the tub. The thinking was they’d be destined to whoever pulled it out of the water.

Jack-o’-lanterns symbolize a fateful deal with the Devil.

Otherwise, you might end up like Irish folk figure Jack O’Lantern.

Modern day, intricately designed pumpkin creations certainly make for impressive decorations. But back in the day, folks in Ireland dubbed their carved, fiery turnips “jack-o’-lanterns” thanks in part to an ominous legend.

One night, a conniving local drunkard named Jack trapped the Prince of Darkness in a tree by hacking a sign of the cross into the bark. In exchange for letting Satan climb down, Jack had him vow to never claim his soul.

Jack proceeded to act like a jerk his whole life. When he died, he sure as heck was not allowed in heaven. So he tried to return to his old pal, the Devil. But Satan upheld his end of the deal, hurling a piece of coal from hell at the dead man for good measure.

Left without anywhere to go, Jack placed the blazing coal in a turnip to use as a lantern. The dead man then set out, doomed to wander until he can find an eternal resting place.

Trick-or-treating has ancient precedent — but the candy part didn’t come about until much later.

Modern day trick-or-treating is a confluence of various traditions.

Ancient Celts dressed up as evil spirits in order to confuse demons, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

In medieval England, “soulers” would go around begging rich folk for “soul cakes” on Halloween. Instead of threatening to play tricks, however, they’d pray for peoples’ souls in return for the cake, according to “The Compleat Teacher’s Almanack.”

Throughout medieval Europe, mummering — dressing in disguises and visiting neighborhoods while dancing, playing music, and doing tricks — was popular on major feast days.

TIME reported Irish and Scottish immigrants brought “souling” to the States in the 1800s. But modern day trick-or-treating didn’t catch on in the US until the 1920s.

The practice was pretty controversial into the 1950s, though. According to the American Journal of Play’s “Gangsters, Pranksters, and the Invention of Trick-or-Treating,” many adults raised “stern objections” to trick-or-treating over the decades, as it was often viewed as a form of extortion.

The “Bloody Mary” ritual has unclear origins (and various practices).

Late folklorist and UC Berkeley professor Alan Dundes wrote an article titled “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety” about the various origins and practices of the “Bloody Mary” ritual, also known as “Mary Worth” and “Mary Whales.”

Many versions of the ritual include the elements of a girl peering into a mirror (often in a bathroom), darkness, blood, chanting, and the appearance of the cursed “Mary.”

Black cats have been associated with the supernatural for hundreds of years.

Black cat costumes are particularly popular on Halloween.

“In the Middle Ages, black cats were often portrayed as the famliars of witches, which is likely to be the origin of the distrust with which they are regarded in America, where early Puritan settlers rejected anything associated with the Devil and witch,” Chloe Rhodes wrote in “Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A Book on Old-fashioned Superstition.”

According to History.com, it was also believed in the Middle Ages that witches transformed into black cats to conceal themselves.


After this interesting and fascinating information about ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ I wish you and your loved ones:

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A Loyal Friend – A Riddle


As a baby I’m so cute

I don’t come with a button that says ‘mute’.

I’ve got four legs, no wings, no beak

And when I’m a baby I still ‘leak’.

**

As most of us, we got a tail

We can whine and growl and also wail.

No matter how we look, we all are stark

We can roll over, give paws and also bark.

**

We can have mix or pure in our blood

We can be high class elite, or simply ‘mud’

We can be the size of a tree or a tiny sprig

or by all means, a pony, or a guinea pig.

**

When we’re little our owners are often dizzy

They’re on their toes, we keep them busy.

When we grow up, the stress will end

And we’ll become a ‘man’s best friend’.

**

We can protect, support, or we can ‘stop’

we work in avalanche, in narcotics or become a cop.

We’re your true jack-of-all-trades

Even though we never got grades.

**

Maybe you have one of us in your home

Let them sleep in your bed and freely roam.

I’m sure my secret’s not anymore ‘in the fog’

You already guessed – I am a dog!

*****

(Copyright Aurora Jean Alexander – October 2020)

Picture courtesy of Pinterest.com

Summer 2020

The sun burns hot, but there’s a breeze

in the yard I can hear the hum of the bees.

The ocean, it never is very far away

the sun is shining, here I want to stay.

**

Temperatures are hot, the air, it sings

We know already what the next day brings

more blue skies, more light and sun

Southern California is home and fun.

**

This summer things are different though

the danger is omnipresent, that we know.

But still, I need the sunshine and the air

I’ll go outside and I take care.

**

The sunsets still are so one-of-a-kind

I have a hard time to get them off my mind.

The colors, the clouds, and the palm trees

swaying in the summer breeze.

**

And even when the times are hard

when we are in crisis and hold up our guard

There’s still the beauty of nature to roam

outside our window, in our hearts, we call it home.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, July 2020)

Picture Courtesy of Google.com

 

A Small Hunting Friend – A Riddle


I’m gorgeous, and I’m useful, colorful and small

even though my feet are short, I’m still good at brawl.

My main food is insects, small reptiles, mammals, and more

from carrion I keep away, I prefer a wider soar.

**

I’m unusually fast in moving, the wind carries me around

When I hunt, I’m very silent, but when I court, I make my sound.

I’m known to be quite talkative, my cry can be heard from far

to every student of ornithology, I’m a famous star.

**

We are migratory fowl, in fall we are moving South

we spend the winter in Central America where we live in routh.

Back home up north ’till Canada, we return to breed our young

we sing, we dance, and so we court, we all act as sprung.

**

We breed in caves, in old trees, and sometimes we use a nest

but to be honest, we don’t like to build, nestboxes are the best.

There we raise a couple youngsters, sometimes they’re also more

normal it is we have six babies, but rarely only four.

**

I mentioned we are useful to many farmers in the countryside

we hunt vermin, critters, insects on their ground from far and wide.

we protect the crop with what we eat and they love our call

That’s why they love us hunting there, even though we’re only small.

**

From Canada to Texas we are widely known and often seen

we’re not endangered, that is good, and we have never been.

I know it’s hard to guess my identity and that’s the game

That’s why I’ll tell you – American Kestrel – that’s my name.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, May 2020)


 

Picture courtesy of: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-kestrel

 

Spring 2020

Once again the sun shines brighter

The weather gets warmer, the flowers they smile

there’s light outside and a soft breeze shows

Spring in California definitely has its own style.

**

Geese and ducks keep their endless chatter

Flowers start blooming on the ground and the trees

the air starts filling with honey aroma

carried around by the ‘bumbles’ and bees.

**

The calm wintertime that never gets cold

it comes to an end when new tourists attack

California is growing again

people from far away they’re all gonna be back.

**

To me spring, it means to write in the park

it means sunshine and swimming in a blue pool

it means friends and warmth and smiles

and it means working on an outside stool.

**

Writing is easier when it’s done under the sun

when the sunbeams are warming the very slight breeze

the words are flowing from the pen to the paper

these beautiful spring days – how much I enjoy these.

*****

(Copyright Aurora Jean Alexander, March 2020)

Picture courtesy of: LonelyPlanet.com

 

A Trace Of Danger In The Mountains – A Riddle


I am death on four paws

I have no smell and no race

My food is meat in the raws

I’m not betrayed by a trace.

**

I’m not in danger to go extinct

My color protects me in every case

I solely live on my own instinct

I have a territory, not a personal space.

**

I’m a silent lethal danger,

I’m always hidden and calm

I can’t be discovered by some stranger

when I approach you, say your last psalm.

**

My prey is often bigger than me

but I’m smart and I’m strong

Your size it can’t save you, you’d see

don’t believe to outrun me, you are dead wrong.

**

I do exist from Canada in the North

through the Americans all the way

in the Andes in the south and so forth

where I am I always find my prey.

**

I’m gorgeous and secret I sneak on silent sole,

respect me, I’m hidden and I don’t feel shame

I’m not by many names, but I’m no evil soul

Call me Moutain Lion, Puma or Cougar – and it is my name.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, February 2020)

Picture courtesy of ThePressDemocrat.com

 

Winter 2020

Gray it is, the sky above

what we need are scarf and glove.

Boots are a necessary thing

we can barely talk and sure not sing.

**

It’s wintertime, the world is white

a gush of wind feels like a bite.

Snow is falling, romantic to behold

but in truth it is heavy and cold.

**

Danger lies in the cold air

snow is wayward, that I swear.

cold and wet turns into ice

snow beauty comes with a high price.

**

Many people enjoy the glory in white

skiing, iceskating, snowboarding are right.

But carelessness turn into cries and moans

screams, tears and too often broken bones.

**

Avalanches, rockfalls, accidents and drives

every winter cost numerous lives.

Not many respect the white snow’s cold breath

as dangerous, uncontrollable death.

**

But if we’re careful and observe the line

we can read on the very next warning sign.

Then snow and winter, no matter what clime

can be to all of us, a wonderful time.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, December 2019)

Picture courtesy of: https://www.yourhealth.net.au/

A Strong F(r)iend – A Riddle

 


I have four legs but I got no tail

I’m strong and square, not a bit frail.

I got huge, I mean, enormous paws

and no nails I got – no, I got claws!

**

Even though I walk on four

I can also stand on two – no more.

It’s always good for showing off

I look even worse, and hard and tough!

**

I’m a loner, no herd, no pack

I can sleep on my stomach and on my back

I’m a hunter, but still I’m omnivore

I can mutter, grummle, hum and roar.

**

There are many sorts of our kind

We all are dangerous, of the same mind.

We might look cuddly, that is said

but don’t trust us for a second, or you’ll be dead.

**

Science has proven, after lots of to probe

You can find us all over the round globe

From far South American to all up North

where I’m roaming back and forth.

**

We show up in different size

in many colors also quite disguise.

Brown and black, with spectacles and white hair

Yes, you’re right – I am the bear!

*****

(Copyright, Aurora Jean Alexander, December 2019)

Truly Grateful – A Poem For Thanksgiving 2019

For many things I’m grateful,

one of them is health

I don’t need to leave it fateful

health to me means wealth.

**

Part of being wealthy is family and friends

having a home is also great to me

It’s important that love never ends

and that I’m truly safe and free.

**

So many people don’t have anything to eat

They barely have water and the bit they have is unclean

Where I live in nature is giving and still neat

I have clothes to wear and the grass is green.

**

I’m grateful for my education for the chances given to me

I’m thankful I can travel in planes and in my car

How glad I am that I have music, I can hear and I can see

that I have my dreams, moon and sun and wind and star.

**

Life has given me so much to thank for

civilization, technology, a home and pets

what else do I need, what to I want more?

I am lucky, with me and my three cats.

**

It’s time for saying prayers

to be thankful and feeling blessed

And to send our thanks to the One

and see them properly addressed.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, November 2019)

 

Picture courtesy of Klusster.com

 

 

5th Halloween Poem Contest – And The Winners Are…

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The jury has decided!

Today I’m writing representing the Jury of the 5th Halloween Poem Contest 2019.

The winners of the contest are:

Halloween by Donna Matthews

Don’t let them in by MacKenzie Tastan

The Witching Hour by Valerie Cruz

(The winners are listed in order of their submissions)

Thank you so much for your amazing poems, winners! You will get an email today.
______________________________________________

Our three winners of the contest can choose one of the offered e-books.

Signed Paperbacks with a T-Shirt of Hiding from the Light – OR – Winter’s Ghost – OR – The Painting written by Raymond Walker
E-book of A Horse by Any Other Name: A Doctor Butterbaugh Mystery – OR – E-book of A Girl and Her Dog: A Short Story – OR – At the End of the Rainbow – OR – What you wished for, written by Sherry Perkins
E-book of “Soul Taker” – OR – ‘Sundance‘ written by Aurora Jean Alexander

CONGRATULATIONS!

It was a difficult decision for the jury. But we had a lot of fun and want to thank all poets for their wonderful poems.

______________________________________________

Thank you, Raymond Walker and Sherry Perkins for their jury work and offering one of their books to the winners. I appreciate your help and support!


Now, please permit me a word on my own account:

The Halloween-Poem Contest has brought us all a lot of work and fun and many wonderful Halloween poems, showing how much talent there is around.

However, it also showed us, with this year having the lowest number of participants, that our poets have shown all their skills within the Halloween theme. 

After five years of organizing the Annual Halloween-Poem Contest and hosting it on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest,’ I think it is time for something new.

It was five years of fun and I wanted to thank everyone, all participants, and in particular all jury members from the first to the last contest, for making this a wonderful experience for me! Thanks so much for all your work, your help, your support – and the wonderful books you offered as prizes in the five years! You all are amazing, not only as authors but also as wonderful friends!

Good Bye Halloween-Poem Contest. It was great.

A. J. Alexander