October 31st Halloween

Well, if you haven’t heard by now, today is Halloween. It is a part of a three day celebration in the Christian world where we remember the dead, saints, and martyrs. The Western Civilization actually prefers to call it All Hallow’s Day, though it also goes by Allhalloween, All Hallow’s Eve, and All Saint’s Eve. It seems to have originated from a pagan Celtic harvest festival called Samhain, which Christians renamed Halloween.

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Of course it has the trick-or-treat tradition along with costumes, turning pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns, gathering around bonfires, bobbing for apples, pulling pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling of scary stories and watching horror movies. The religious world celebrates with the lighting of candles on grave sites to honor the departed.

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Of course over the years we don’t do the bobbing for apples anymore because of the possibility of passing germs. The original association was a type of celebration for the apple harvesting season. And you’d better be careful with the bonfires, make sure you get a permit or it may be your last Halloween as a free man.

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We may have gotten a little carried away with the costumes and decorations and certainly gone way overboard on the haunted houses, but it all should be in good fun. In many ways, the real world is scarier than the world created during Halloween.

Another tradition not widely celebrated is the abstaining from eating meat on Halloween. It is know as Vigil Day where one only eats fruits and vegetables, and probably candy… though a lot of candies have meat byproducts in them.

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How to celebrate – Go out trick-or-treating. Create a fun, and safe, atmosphere for kids to enjoy themselves (and adults as well). Throw a Halloween party observing as many of the holiday traditions as you can.

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October 30th National Candy Corn Day

The perfect candy for fall and Halloween, candy corn. It has been around since the late 1800’s, created by George Renninger in Wunderle, Germany. It is made from corn syrup, sugar, water, marshmallows, fondant, and originally carnauba wax (which comes from the leaves of palm trees). Where they came up with palm trees in Germany one can venture to guess, but today candy corn is made on machines not requiring the wax.

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Over the years candy makers have learned how to add shapes, colors, and non-traditional flavors to come up with different combinations for the candy corn lover. The original candy corn taste however has not changed since the very beginning, in fact the exact same ingredients are used (except for the palm leaves).

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They have even added little pumpkins to the mix. They obviously go for as much realism as they can in both shape and color. While the shape does not change the taste it does add to the flavor of the season.

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And I’m not exactly sure what these things are but they at least have the right colors! Back to the original yellow, orange and white, and they look a little fluffy too!

How to celebrate – Make some candy corn of your own. Make it whatever shape you like. Buy some candy corn for Halloween, it’s great for trick-or-treaters but make sure you get the prepackaged individuals sizes. Why not try for the world’s largest candy corn kernel!

October 29th National Cat Day

Try to tell a cat owner that a dog is better than a cat. It’s not gonna happen. Yes, a dog can fetch, roll over and play dead. A cat could too but it just doesn’t want to. It knows it’s good and feels no need to prove it to anyone.

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Take Diga who can perform 20 tricks in less than a minute!

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Or Sophie Smith who is the cat with the longest fur.

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And Ludo who is the world’s longest cat.

Well, you get the point. If you want to learn more Click Here!.

Cats are great in their own right, you just have to understand them (they do not have to understand you however). Just learn to play by their rules and you will do fine.

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National Cat Day has it’s own website, www.nationalcatday.com and is supported by Petco and Blue Buffalo.

How to celebrate – Take your cat to lunch (it might be a bit messy but your cat will enjoy it). Dress up like a cat and see if they think you are a long lost relative (they still won’t care but you might get a nudge of recognition). Buy your cat a toy and watch them play with the box it came in (just like human kids).

October 28th Frankenstein Day

It is fitting that the last Friday in October should be Frankenstein Day. It was created by Ron MacCloskey in 1997 when he also created “The Franky” which he proudly gave to the person who best promoted the classic Frankenstein. He picked a Friday because it started with FR just like Frankenstein.

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Frankenstein was created by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in 1818 completed by the time she turned 21. I’ll bet she was a real fun date! It is set in the fictional Transylvania, though Shelley herself was English. Most of us know the story well enough by now. The monster created in a castle on a mountain during a lightning storm.

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Of course Frankenstein wasn’t really the monsters name. He was named for Victor Frankenstein, the doctor who created him from spare parts he found laying around. An arm from Bill, leg from Rudy, brain from Abbey Normal (sorry, couldn’t resist). Since all his body parts came from so many people he probably would have a name like Billy Joe Hamilton Marcus III.

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So many people have made money from the original book. The movie industry, costumers, audio recording artists, and so on have all made a pretty penny off something so ugly. But then, we all like to be scared, at least a little bit, and in the day Shelley had created one of the most frightening creatures ever to exist. It is remarkable that even after all these years the imagination of one woman could still stir the the hearts of so many over 150 years later.

How to celebrate – Do your best to promote the Frankenstein monster, “The Franky” is still being awarded! Read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. Watch one of the many “Frankenstein movies.

October 27th National American Beer Day

Like so many other American products these days, the largest breweries sold out to other countries. The three largest, which I shall not name, are now owned by a Belgium company, a South American company and a Russian company. All that said, America still ranks only second to China in beer consumed every year.

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Today, most American made beers fall into the “craft brewery” category. They are normally made with limited distribution leaving the largest non-American companies to fill the shelves of the local grocery chains. At one time, there were over 2,100 breweries in the United States. There may still be about that same number but they are small, perhas putting out an even better product.

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in 2009 roughly 196 million barrels of beer were produced in the US. They still produce just as much but the profits go over seas instead of into America. I have to assume the American beer entrepreneurs either just got too tired, or too rich to care anymore. I frankly was shocked today to find out that Oreo cookies are made in Mexico! So, I guess the beers ought to be made there as well.

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American beers break down into categories. The American pale ale, Pennsylvania porter, American IPA, Steam Beer, Amber ale, cream ale and Cascadian dark ale. The only larger hold out is the Boston Beer Company better known as…

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Wasn’t the original Samuel Adams one who fought for lower taxes in America? Let’s hope they keep fighting before they are taxed out of America as well.

How to celebrate – Enjoy a good American beer while you still can. If you don’t care, which I guess you won’t if you drink enough beer, have one of the more popular brands and support foreign companies. Compare beers and see which you think is best, there is a flavor for everyone.

October 26th National Mincemeat Pie Day

Mincemeat pie. Ever heard of it? It seems to have been lost to history in the mid 1900’s either because it was too difficult to make or because the American diet did not lend itself to the dish. Prior to that, the dish was a favorite of many, particularly in Europe. In fact, it comes to us all the way from medieval times (The era, not the attraction).

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In fact is was one of the best dishes one could be served as a Knight. It was rich with meat and sweet like a dessert. It allowed the participant to eat both the main course and the last course at the same time. Since it was made of meat (Usually a ground beef though pork, mutton or any chopped up meat could be used). Suet, a substance made from the fat near the loins and kidneys of animals. (It is a powder today) And finally whatever fruit was in season at the time.  Generally raisins, apples or pears were used (And still are) though cherries, grapes or anything else you might have handy could also be used.

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Mincemeat Pie was a real feast back in its day. The crust was like a bread and the mix of meat and fruit was a tasty treat. Just like the popularity of Egg Nog has been reserved for the holiday season when you do see a mincemeat pie being served it is generally a holiday dish. Oh, and normally a healthy portion of brandy, or rum, is added to the dish just for flavoring… and maybe to tempt the consumer a little more.

How to celebrate – See if you can find any place near you that serves mincemeat pie and go try some. (Medieval Times does not serve Mincemeat Pie) Fix a mincemeat pie for your family from the recipe provided. Go to a Middle Ages Society reenactment and see they serve mincemeat pie.

October 25th Chucky, the Notorious Killer Doll Day

With Halloween coming up soon you would sort of expect a day like this to come along. There is really very little less creepy than a doll that doesn’t look just right. The older they are, the more demented they look. Whether it’s because of age or just the way they made them back then is hard to say.

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Dolls are kind of like clowns, you either love them or hate them but if you hate them, they will seem evil. They have become a popular target for movies and books helping them to seem even more evil than they might have been before.

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Still, if you have ever visited a museum that has dolls, take a closer look at them. They seem to have a life of their own. The dolls of today are cute and normally made of plastic, but the dolls of yester-year, made out of porcelain, always make you look at them twice. It seems to have something to do with the eyes. They look real, like maybe there is truly someone trapped inside the doll.

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And when the paint, and porcelain itself, cracks, the most lovable dolls begin to look haunted. It may also have something to do with the smile on their faces. It looks like they are up to something that maybe you don’t want to know about. If they have been repaired they may be even worse.

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And then there are those that actually believe these dolls are evil. I have to ask the obvious question, if a doll bothers you that much why do you keep it? Of course then you’d have to figure out why the bad guys always have to explain what they are doing before they do it giving the good guys time to figure out how to counter it. Or why when you hear a really strange sound do you feel motivated to go see what made it? Or if you are running from something, why go upstairs where you truly have no escape?

How to celebrate – Enjoy Halloween and eats lots of candy forgetting about evil dolls. If you prefer, watch Chucky (but don’t take it too seriously). Go check out a doll collection and see if you find any that could be “haunted”.