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From the Publisher's Desk – I may have a few tricks up my sleeve (Oct. 28, 2015 issue)

Hmmmmm, I choose “trick.” Is it a card trick? Can you pull a rabbit out of a hat? Can you make someone disappear? I think I will make this my response on Halloween when confronted with the phrase “Trick or treat.”
Isn’t it amazing how children can disguise themselves, go to a strangers door, hold out a plastic pumpkin bucket and receive candy? Having grown up on Spivey, mom always had to bring me to town to go around with my cousin Karen.
Costumes weren’t elaborate like they are today. I can’t even remember what characters I portrayed, but more than likely I wore one of those cheap, plastic face masks. You know the kind. They were a thin shell with the front painted as your character. The thing was held on your face with a thin rubberband stretched around your head. My hair usually got caught in the rubberband before the night was over and would pull out a small wad. The mask also had very small nostril holes. By the time I huffed and puffed from door to door, the inside would be steaming up and running down my face.
I guess there is no starting age for Halloween participation. I know some parents take children early, even before they can eat the candy received. Maybe the parents use the child as a gimmick to get candy for the adults. Trick or treat retirement age varies. Take me, for instance. I was tall for my age. I was forced into retirement when a little old lady came to the door, handing out to everyone but me. “I’m sorry honey,” she said. “I just give candy to the little ones.”
As an adult I usually get invited to Halloween parties. My problem is costume. A rubberband mask is not fancy enough for adults and I just can’t get my creative juices flowing on what “I want to be.” I’m surprised I actually made a career decision in college with so many choices out there.
So, why do children say “Trick or treat?” What does it actually mean? The practice of donning a costume and asking for treats from your neighbors dates back to the Middle Ages, but back then it wasn’t a game.
During the medieval practice of souling, poor people would make the rounds begging for food. In return, they offered prayers for the dead on All Souls Day.
Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening,” which was the evening before All Hallows’, sanctified or holy, Day or Hallowmas on November 1. In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, and All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.
Modern trick or treating is a custom borrowed from guising, which children still do in some parts of Scotland. Guising involves dressing in costume and singing a rhyme, doing a card trick, or telling a story in exchange for a sweet. The Scottish and Irish brought the custom to America in the 19th century.
It appears as if the practice didn’t really take hold in the U.S. until the mid-1930s, where it was not always well received. The demanding of a treat angered or puzzled some adults. Supposedly, in a Halloween parade in 1948 in New York, the Madison Square Boys Club carried a banner sporting the message “American Boys Don’t Beg.” By 1952, the practice was widely accepted enough to be mentioned in the family television show “Ozzie and Harriet.”
Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.
According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight. I am tempted to try that one. If you see me walking backwards through the neighborhood, I’m not trying to do the “Moonwalk” dancing technique.
Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. I don’t know if that includes the purchase of pumpkins for Jack o’ Lanterns or not. If I had an acre, I would plant some of those. It is ridiculous what price tag comes with a tiny little gourd that will rot in a few weeks and get thrown out.
I have never carved a Jack o’ Lantern. I think maybe it’s time I give it a try. What’s the worst thing that can happen by gouging a face onto a surface that’s not smooth with a large butcher knife held high in the air for the initial attack? On second thought, I’m not missing anything, including my fingers.
I had fun watching the youth get creative with their pumpkins at Erwin Presbyterian Church Sunday night. I offered to help some but they refused. Wonder why?
I may just hide in my house, lights out, candy bag in lap and discarded wrappers scattered on the floor.
“Sorry honey, I only give candy to adults named Keith.” I have Samhainophobia. Look it up. It is the fear of Halloween.