Happy Halloween

History of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31.  The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.
Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

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Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

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The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

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Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

The history of Halloween has evolved.  The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the “trick” element. In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal “tricks” and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general.

reprinted from HalloweenHistory.org

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Now that you know a little of the history, remember that there are those people or individuals who take Halloween to a more sinister level. They use the pagan roots of the holiday as an excuse to torture and maim small animals, commonly black cats but also dogs, birds, rabbits and any other household pets. Please, to keep your pets safe, keep them indoors tonight, especially your black cats. Be a responsible pet owner and provide the safe haven they need.

Washington State…not DC

Only 4 more states in the countdown.  Washington state is a yes. I am able to count that because of my new job. No sooner did I get back from Alaska and I was back on a plane winging my way to the home office in Seattle, Washington. Even with work, I was able to get in a little sightseeing but it wet my appetite for more.

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My impression is that the locals don’t appreciate what they have. When I said I might plan my next vacation there , everyone tried to discourage me. They complained about the weather, the crime, (Seattle seems to have a lot of homeless people on the streets) but I was struck by the beauty that surrounded Seattle and I want to see more.Seattle 048 copy

While in Seattle I made a point to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass. www.chihulygardenandglass.com Chihuly Garden and Glass is a new art experience showcasing the most significant works of internationally acclaimed artist and glass pioneer Dale Chihuly.Seattle 118 copy

But in Tacoma, Dale Chihuly led an effort to bring glass to Puget Sound. Today a $48 million Museum of Glass calls Tacoma home.

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Tillicum Village is a replica Native American Village located on Blake Island in Puget Sound. About 8 miles by boat from the bustle of Seattle, you can reach this destination only by boat. Recommendations are for a tour as even ferries don’t reach the island.

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Of course while in Seattle I still need to visit Pike Place Market. Although it is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the U.S. it really burst onto the scene when it was featured in a series of advertisements promoting entrepreneurial spirit. I think someone might even have written a book about it. A circuslike atmosphere includes street entertainers and (this is the famous scene) fishmongers tossing whole salmon  while shouting “low flying fish!” the equivalent of “Fore!” on a golf course.

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Down on the waterfront is another spectacular sight. The Great Wheel. The Seattle Great Wheel was built in less than a year, but its story goes back much further than that. Seattle businessman Hal Griffith had envisioned a Ferris wheel in the city for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until he realized he could build one on his own pier that his dream became a reality.Seattle 058 copy

The Seattle Great Wheel opened to the public on June 29, 2012. Since then, it has become an icon of the city and a destination for tourists and locals alike.

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Remember highway 101 from my post about Oregon? Well it’s in Washington too and it circles Olympic National Park.  The park carries a rare dual designation of  World heritage Park and International Biosphere Reserve! The Olympic mountain range stretches through the park where Mount Olympus climbs to 7828 ft., the highest peak in the range.

A deer and Mount Olympus (7980 feet / 2432 meters) are seen along Obstruction Point Road, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Jefferson County, Washington, USA.

An speaking of national parks, I can’t forget Mount Rainer National Park and Mount St Helens or the North Cascades National Park.

Once again I have run out of time. I’ve hit my self imposed limit of 400-500 words. That can only mean I have many Washington Vacations to look forward to.

New Tally: 20/27

Here comes Santa Claus , here comes…

It isn’t even Halloween! We still have to get through Thanksgiving! But Taunton, the Christmas City, is already beginning to prepare for the big display on the Taunton Green.

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In a way I can forgive them. They do go all out when they decorate and often they have to build some of the displays to avoid repeating too many from the past.  They try to make it new and different each year.

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I think Taunton usually has a “lighting Ceremony” the first week in December but more and more surrounding communities are lighting up in mid- November, even before Thanksgiving!

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Last year was the first time I noticed the way the display seemed to grow. Before I never paid any attention. I’d just be driving home one night and there it was, all lit up… Just like magic !

They are building something around the fountain again but the design is different. This green and white thing showed up Friday. I’m making guesses in my head as to what this will be. Maybe a drum? Will they build another Jack-in-the- box?

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Last year I had my doubts as I watched this huge box get built in the middle of the green. I really thought it was going to be ugly. In the end it wasn’t bad at all.

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I don’t think it was as nice as the year they surrounded the fountain with angel heralds but that’s just my opinion.

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Now that I’m working from home I’ll be able to sneak down to check on the progress better than in years past.

It’s going to be fun watching the scene unfold.

Animal Antics

Have you all heard of or seen the “People of Walmart” emails and posts that float around the internet? Well, a Walmart in Florida had a switch on the typical tacky dressed customer. This customer needed some serious dry skin treatment. This guy really had a bad case of alligator skin!

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APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — A 6-foot alligator made an unwelcome appearance at the front door of a central Florida Wal-Mart. The incident happened Sunday morning in Apopka, outside Orlando. The gator stopped in the entryway, causing the automatic doors to open and close until employees locked them. Orlando television station WKMG (http://hrld.us/1b5psYE) reports Apopka police officers tried to lure the gator away as customers gathered to watch and take pictures.

The gator took off toward the nearby woods. Officers searched the area but couldn’t find it.

No one was injured.

Didn’t anyone think to call the Gator Boys?

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Oh No! Cat Lover Alert! Does Petting Your Kitty Stress It Out?

Could petting your cat really stress the animal out? Headlines started appearing last week about a study that supposedly showed just that.  Luckily one of the study’s authors stepped in with a calming update. Stating that the study had been misinterpreted, Rupert Palme of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, assured cat owners that they “can carry on stroking their four-legged friends without worry.”

As an example of how petting can stress out a cat, here are some pictures of my cats after a “petting” session.

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I can tell they are very stressed out…can’t you?

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Ladies, we are not alone!

A new headline:

Hot Flashes in Cold Waters? Killer Whales Undergo Menopause

This rare evolutionary trait may enable older females to help offspring survive.

According to the article, Killer whales  have been revealed to be one of only three species whose females are known to undergo menopause—living on long after their reproductive years in order to help their offspring, particularly their sons, survive the rigors of young adulthood and later to help raise their grandchildren. It is a rare evolutionary trait, shared with humans and pilot whales.

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The article goes on to say that they haven’t really  been able to determine if the whales actually suffer from hot flashes.

And that’s the latest from the world of Animal News! 🙂