Friday, October 31, 2014

Holidays and Observances for October 31 2014

Halloween


Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy. The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead.  Over the millennia the holiday transitioned from a somber pagan ritual to a day of merriment, costumes, parades and sweet treats for children and adults.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

Books For Treats Day


Books For Treats founder Rebecca Morgan began offering books to her ghouls and goblins at her home in Willow Glen (San Jose, CA) in 1995. She was frustrated at candy being the primary option for Halloween treats. She wanted an inexpensive treat the kids would like. She knew she could opt for small toys, but she wanted something that would make a difference to the kids and last more than a few days.

At her local library book sale Rebecca saw the boxes of gently read children’s books for about what she was spending on candy. Aha! Since she was a bestselling author of business books she knew books had high value. “Plus,” she jokes, “I’d be helping kids learn to read, which would ensure the next generation would be interested in buying books, maybe even mine!”

She bought dozens of books covering toddlers to sixth grade, sorted them by grade level and let her trick-or-treaters choose from among the age-appropriate books. Not having kids herself, she had to research and learn how to discern the grade and reading levels.

After 6 years, she saw the response was so overwhelmingly positive, Morgan decided to take the concept beyond her home and to the community. She started Books For Treats in 2001 to begin to turn the tide from problematic candy to a treat that, as she says, “Feeds kids’ minds, not their cavities.”

A turning point came in 2009 when Morgan approached Greg Evans, the creator of the “Luann” comic strip, about having Luann give books to her trick-or-treaters. Initially, Greg said he’d already drawn the Halloween strips even though it was only July. Then the next day he told Rebecca he’d decided to change the week’s strips to include the idea of Books For Treats. Rebecca boldly asked if he’d include the Books For Treats URL, which he did! The week the strips ran, blogs and media outlets picked up the idea so tens of thousands of people visited the website and downloaded the free setup kit. This led to more people and communities offering book for treats in 2009 and beyond.

This movement has spread from her San José community to many others around the US and Canada. Books For Treats was recently given non-profit status so tax-deductible donations can now be used to help spread the word and assist other communities in starting a Books For Treats event. In 2012, the Canadian company Big Earth Media became the first international licensee and will take Books For Treats to communities across Canada.

Some naysayers tell Rebecca that she is stealing the fun of Halloween and ruining kids’ Halloween. “In fact, the contrary is true. Kids love books. Since they get to choose their book from the age-appropriate box, they are excited to have a treat that lasts more than a few seconds. I commonly hear, “We made sure to come to the book-lady’s house.”

She shares the kids’ reaction: “Kids run to the curb waving their hard-cover treat, saying, ‘How cool — I got a book!’ Parents help pick out their kid’s book and the kids compare books with their friends and offer to swap when they were done with it. I’d never had a kid raising a candy bar, running to the sidewalk yelling about it. I knew I was on to something.

“You can thrill kids with gently read books that cost about the same — or sometimes less — than the candy you've been throwing in those Jack-O-Lanterns,” Morgan says.

When asked what she thought of Books For Treats, seven-year-old Alana said, “I like books better than candy. A book lasts a long time and candy is gone in a bite! And I can sit on my daddy’s lap and read the book over and over with him.”

Carve a Pumpkin Day


Carve a Pumpkin Day is observed on October 31st. Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o'-lanterns for the Halloween season in North America. 

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world.Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

Day of the Seven Billion


31 October 2011 – Top United Nations officials today marked the global population reaching 7 billion with a call to action to world leaders to meet the challenges that a growing population poses, from ensuring adequate food and clean water to guaranteeing equal access to security and justice.

“Today, we welcome baby 7 billion. In doing so we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing for him, or for her,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press event at UN Headquarters to mark the milestone.

Mr. Ban noted that the world’s population reached 6 billion in 1998, only 13 years ago, and it is expected to grow to 9 billion by the middle of this century, or even a few years earlier – by 2043.

“But today – this Day of 7 Billion – is not about one newborn, or even one generation,” he stated. “This is a day about our entire human family.”

The world today is one of “terrible contradictions,” said Mr. Ban, noting that there is plenty of food but 1 billion people go hungry; lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others; huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth; and billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe.

“What kind of world has baby 7 billion been born into? What kind of world do we want for our children in the future?” he asked.

“I am one of 7 billion. You are also one of 7 billion. Together, we can be 7 billion strong – by working in solidarity for a better world for all,” the Secretary-General said.

In an op-ed published in The International Herald Tribune, Mr. Ban said that as the world population passes 7 billion, “alarm bells are ringing.” He noted that the meeting later this week in France of the Group of 20 leading and emerging economies (G-20) is taking place against the backdrop of growing economic uncertainty and mounting inequality.

“In Cannes, leaders should agree to a concrete action plan that advances the well-being of all nations and people, not just the wealthiest and most powerful,” he stated.

The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said today’s milestone is a reminder of how the world’s poorest – the so-called ‘bottom billion’ – are rendered vulnerable with little or no access to basic needs.

“Seven billion people face, almost on a daily basis – with varying degrees of severity – the consequences of environmental challenges, increasing poverty, inequity, wars and economic instability,” he told the event.

“But with each of these challenges comes an opportunity – 7 billion opportunities in fact,” he added, noting that these opportunities can be harnessed to reach global anti-poverty targets, to invest in youth and women, and to re-think the approach to sustainable development.

The Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) underscored some of the challenges in an expanding global community, including in promoting the rights and health of 7 billion women, men and children.

“We must ensure that, in areas of the world where population is growing fast, we raise the status of women and young girls to be able to access education and make choices for themselves,” Babatunde Osotimehin said at the gathering.

“We also owe it to the 215 million women worldwide who require family planning and are not getting it to make it available,” he said, adding it is also necessary to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery for every woman that wants to give birth.

At the same time, he highlighted the need to give ageing populations in many parts of the world a life of dignity, and to tackle the rapid urbanization and migration which many countries have to face.

The UN human rights chief also marked the occasion, stating that the 7 billionth child is, by virtue of her or his birth, a permanent holder of rights, with an “irrevocable” claim to freedom.

“But she or he will also be born into a world where some people, given the chance, will trample on those rights and freedoms in the name of state security, or economic policy, or group chauvinism,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

“If she was born a girl, she will have fewer choices. If born in the developing world, she or he will have fewer opportunities. If born a descendant of Africans in a non-African country, or as an indigenous person, member of a religious minority, or as a Roma, she or he is likely to face discrimination and marginalization, with a childhood rife with vulnerability, and a future adult life hedged in by exclusion.

“But he or she has also been born at a time of great hope,” Ms. Pillay added, noting that the demonstrations and mobilizations of civil society seen in 2011 in a sense “provide a birthday celebration for the 7 billionth person on this planet, and also serve as a warning to those who might be inclined to deprive this child, like many others, of his or her birthrights.”

Frankenstein Friday


Frankenstein Friday is observed each year on the last Friday in October. Frankenstein Friday celebrates he birth of Frankenstein and its creator. Frankenstein's monster (also called just Frankenstein) is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein.

The novel is about the eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. In popular culture, the creature is often referred to as "Frankenstein" after his creator Victor Frankenstein, but in the novel the creature has no name, and this usage of "Frankenstein" is generally considered incorrect.

Frankenstein is infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. It has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films, and plays.

Girl Scout Founder's Day


Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia.

"Daisy," as she was affectionately called by family and friends, was the second of six children of William Washington Gordon and Eleanor Kinzie Gordon. Family members on her father's side were early settlers in Georgia, and her mother's family played an important role in the founding of Chicago, Illinois.

A sensitive and talented youngster, Daisy Gordon spent a happy childhood in her large Savannah home, which was purchased and restored by Girl Scouts of the USA in 1953. Now known as the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center, or often referred to as the Birthplace, the handsome English Regency house was designated a registered National Historic Landmark in 1965.

Young Daisy Gordon developed what was to become a lifetime interest in the arts. She wrote poems; sketched, wrote and acted in plays; and later became a skilled painter and sculptor. She had many pets throughout her life and was particularly fond of exotic birds, Georgia mockingbirds, and dogs. Daisy was also known for her great sense of humor.

Juliette Low was very athletic. From her childhood on, Daisy was a strong swimmer. She was Captain of a rowing team as a girl and learned to canoe as an adult. She was also an avid tennis player. One of her special skills was standing on her head. She stood on her head every year on her birthday to prove she still could do it, and also celebrated nieces' and nephews' birthdays by standing on her head. Once, she even stood on her head in the board room at National Headquarters to show off the new Girl Scout shoes.


National Bandanna Day



Celebrating 20 Years - National Bandanna Day is set to take place on Friday, October 31st 2014.

Every year, another 23,000 young people have to deal with the challenge of cancer, whether it’s their own diagnosis or their parent, brother or sister. CanTeen believes that no young person should face cancer alone. Since National Bandanna Day started 20 years ago in 1994, over $30 million has been raised through the sale of over 5.5 million bandannas and donations. With these funds, CanTeen has provided more than 60,000 opportunities for young people affected by cancer to meet and support each other, share their cancer experiences and have lots of fun.

This year, CanTeen aims to raise $1.1 million to continue providing life-changing support to young people affected by cancer. The funds will go towards programs and services to help young people cope with the physical, emotional and practical impact of living with cancer including specialist hospital care, counselling, peer support programs and much more.

Along with the sale of bandannas around the country, this year National Bandanna Day encourages people from all around the country to “Dare to Be Brave”. This courageousness that young people affected by cancer show every day of their lives is extremely inspiring. To show your support, CanTeen asks you to be brave. Whether you’re afraid of heights, spiders, singing and dancing in public or you simply need a reason to give up coffee for a week, do it to celebrate National Bandannas Day. Post your experience online to motivate your friends and family to face their fears and encourage them to support the cause by donating.

National Caramel Apple Day


Oct. 31 is not only Halloween, but it is National Caramel Apply Day. So, you have a couple of things to celebrate today.

Do not confuse caramel apples with candy apples or taffy apples. Caramel apples are made by dipping or rolling apples in hot caramel. You may also roll the apples in nuts or other confections after rolling or dipping the in hot caramel. This method is excellent if your are making a small number of caramel apples; however, if you are making many caramel apples, then it is best to wrap a sheet of caramel around the apples followed by heating the apples to melt the caramel evenly onto it. This method makes a harder caramel on the apple.

Even though Halloween has passed, there’s no reason to get out of the fall spirit just yet. Thanksgiving is still around the corner and there is more than enough time to indulge in some sweet fall treats. One of the best fall treats there is for both health and taste is the caramel apple. While you get the sweet caramel taste, you also get all the health benefits of an apple! If you've ever wondered where this delectable treat got its roots, we’re here to tell you.

Dan Walker, an employee of Kraft food company back in the 1950s, is credited with the invention of the caramel apple. Since caramels were already a Halloween staple, all Walker had to do was melt them down and add the apple. Then, voila! The caramel apple was created. For the next ten years of so, all caramel apples were created by hand. The task became very tedious after a while. A gentleman by the name of Vito Raimondi decided it was time for an automated way to make caramel apples. He set up the very first caramel apple machine in Chicago, Illinois. The rest is, as they say, history.

Even though caramel apples can be enjoyed all year long, they are popular for holidays especially for Halloween. Caramel apples are usually eaten as treats at autumn festivals.

Granny Smith or Fuji apples are the preferred apples for making caramel apples because they are hard, crisp and tart. The softer, grainy-textured apples are not preferred even though they can be used.

National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day


National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day is always October 31st. Go ahead and guess, errr read my mind....if you can.

I'm thinking of a number from one to ten. Okay, take a guess.......what number is it??

Nope, it's ten. Sure, I fooled you. But, if you truly have psychic powers, you would know I was up to something.

The reason for this little exercise (above), was to show you that you need to improve upon your psychic powers. And, today is "the" day to increase your psychic powers.

Now, let's get on to "How" you can increase your psychic powers. There are a number of ways. And, there is no shortage of psychics, groups and websites to help you.

Here are a few ways, to improve your psychic capabilities:
  • Get out the Ouija board. Use it with some friends.
  • Practice makes perfect. Get out a deck of cards. Shuffle them well. Think of what the top card is. Then, turn it over. Keep going.
  • Flip of the coin, too. Guess heads or tails while the coin is in the air. As your psychic power increases, you should guess correctly more than 50% of the time.
  • Hone your ESP skills - When the phone rings, guess who it will be. As you go through the day, guess what people are going to say, or what is going to happen next.
Tip: Concentrating and clearing your mind of other thoughts, is essential to successfully developing your psychic powers.

I'm getting a reading in my mind that you will have a happy and fun filled National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day.


National Knock-Knock Jokes Day



When it comes to fun holidays, October 31 is one of the best holidays of the entire year! Not only is it ooey gooey National Caramel Apple Day and the "defrightful" Halloween, it’s also National Knock Knock Jokes Day!

Knock Knock Jokes
Just in case you don’t know what what one is - it takes two to knock knock. One person is the “knocker” while the other person is the “knockee.” And unlike other jokes, you don’t have to be a comedian or practical joker to tell a great knock knock joke either.

These classic non-rhyming jokes are fun for all ages. What parent, grandparent or teacher hasn't heard a knock-knock joke? Children seem to revel in telling these silly little jokes, even if they don’t make much sense.

Classic & Clean Knock Knock Jokes
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Boo. (Boo who?) Don’t cry – it’s only a knock knock joke!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Cash. (Cash who?) No thanks. I’d rather have peanuts instead!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Madam. (Madam who?) Madam foot got caught in the door!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Wendy. (Wendy who?) Wendy wind blows de cradle will rock.
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Dwayne. (Dwayne who?) Dwayne the bathtub – I’m drowning!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Dewey. (Dewey who?) Dewey have to listen to all this knocking?
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Macomb. (Macomb who?) Do you know where I left macomb?
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Annie. (Annie who?) Annie thing you can do, I can do better!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Little old lady. (Little old lady who?) Gosh, I didn’t know you could yodel!
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Anita. (Anita who?) Anita hug right about now.
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Mirra. (Mirra who?) Mirra mirra on the wall….
  • Knock knock. (Who’s there?) Dishes. (Dishes who?) Dishes the police – open up!
In honor of National Knock Knock Jokes Day, go ahead - give it your best shot! Knock knock….

National Magic Day


National Magic Day started as a tribute to the life and work of the famous magician Harry Houdini. Ironically this world famous conjurer, in what could be considered his final act, left the earthly realm on October 31, 1926. During the summer of 1927, less than a year after his death, a Houdini Day was celebrated with a commemorative trophy presented to his surviving spouse, Wilhelmina Beatrice known as “Bess.”

Since then, Harry Houdini has remained one of the most well known names in magic and the most famous member of the Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.). Eventually Houdini Day evolved into Magic Day officially founded in 1938 by the Society and wholly sanctioned by Mrs. Harry Houdini.

Known for numerous handcuff escapes, he also performed many daring and death defying stunts like the milk can escape and the buried alive stunt. His performances required a great deal of work and precision and he always upheld a high set of professional standards.

Magic and Halloween just seem to go hand in hand. While we often portray the scary side of this holiday with skeletons, vampires and zombies, it’s also important to remember the magical side of this day. Consider the witches and fairies with all their magical spells and pixie dust. And don’t forget your own personal magic expressed through the choice of a mask or costume. It’s your day to proclaim your creativity. Be bold, crazy, charismatic, beguiling and bewitching!

Think about celebrating National Magic Day with a little magic of your own. Consider learning a few card tricks to amaze your family and friends. Or simply hide the Halloween candy in your hands or pockets and invite your little trick-or-treaters to choose which one holds the prize.

Spending a quiet evening of magic at home? Why not watch a magical movie like The Illusionist starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel or a family friendly Walt Disney classic like Bedknobs and Broomsticks? And don’t forget about the great Houdini himself. There is a TV biography available entitled Houdini from 1998 and a 2005 documentary called Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, you might decide to follow in the footsteps of many magicians around the world and hold a Houdini Séance. In a tradition that began with his widow Bess, yearly séances have been held for Houdini every October 31st. Notable ones have been held at the Excaliber nightclub in Chicago and at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ironically, Houdini himself spent a great deal of time debunking psychics and mediums. Believer or not, there is no doubt about Houdini’s spellbinding abilities.

With all this magic in the air, it would be hard not to mention the magic of nature and the autumn season. Harvest time is coming to a close and we are miraculously given gifts from the bounty of nature. The fall leaves and their ever-changing colors are both fascinating and enchanting. What a show we get from Mother Earth!

Let the magic of the day and the season infuse your spirit. Let its energy influence your life, not just on National Magic Day but every day. Strive to notice the magic in everyday things and create extraordinary moments for yourself. Be joyful and take inspiration from the master illusionist himself. Like Houdini said, “Keep your enthusiasm up! There is nothing more contagious than exuberant enthusiasm.” Now that’s magical!

Samhain


Samhain had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the other world. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons--all part of the dark and dread.
Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted them to Christianity, the Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. As religious leaders, ritual specialists, and bearers of learning, the Druids were not unlike the very missionaries and monks who were to Christianize their people and brand them evil devil worshipers.
As a result of their efforts to wipe out "pagan" holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples' customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshiped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.

In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John's Day was set on the summer solstice.

Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion's supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. As representatives of the rival religion, Druids were considered evil worshipers of devilish or demonic gods and spirits. The Celtic underworld inevitably became identified with the Christian Hell.

The effects of this policy were to diminish but not totally eradicate the beliefs in the traditional gods. Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted, while the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious. Followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches.

The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st. The day honored every Christian saint, especially those that did not otherwise have a special day devoted to them. This feast day was meant to substitute for Samhain, to draw the devotion of the Celtic peoples, and, finally, to replace it forever. That did not happen, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status, becoming fairies or leprechauns of more recent traditions.

The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche, to be satisfied with the new, more abstract Catholic feast honoring saints. Recognizing that something that would subsume the original energy of Samhain was necessary, the church tried again to supplant it with a Christian feast day in the 9th century. This time it established November 2nd as All Souls Day -a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. But, once again, the practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises.
All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows (hallowed means sanctified or holy), continued the ancient Celtic traditions. The evening prior to the day was the time of the most intense activity, both human and supernatural. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. The folk continued to propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) by setting out gifts of food and drink. Subsequently, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe'en--an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year's Day in contemporary dress.

Many supernatural creatures became associated with All Hallows. In Ireland fairies were numbered among the legendary creatures who roamed on Halloween. An old folk ballad called "Allison Gross" tells the story of how the fairy queen saved a man from a witch's spell on Halloween.

Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead. Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history, or at least a story behind it. The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises. Halloween also retains some features that hearken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associated with the day.

World Savings Day


World Savings Day is observed on October 31st.

World Savings Day was established on 31st October 1924 during the 1st International Savings Bank Congress held in Milano, Italy. On the last day of the congress, an Italian Professor Filippo Ravizza declared this day the "International Saving Day". It was formerly called World Thrift Day. The World Savings Day is usually observed on October 31st except in countries where this day is a public holiday. This is because the objective is to keep the banks open, so that the people can transfer their savings into their account.

In India, World Savings Day was observed on October 31 till 1984. After that it is celebrated on October 30th because of the death of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the same day in 1984. After the Second World War, World Savings Day reached the peak of its popularity. In order to attain the goal of world savings day celebrations, savings banks started working with the support of the schools, the clergy, as well as cultural, sports, professional, and women’s associations.

The World Savings Day celebrations have the following objectives.
  • It is meant for the promotion of savings all over the World.
  • To attain a higher standard of life
  • To secure the economy
Nowadays the focus of the banks that organize the World Savings Day is on developing countries, where the citizens do not have their own bank account. Savings banks along with nongovernmental organisations organize campaigns to enhance savings in these countries and to double the number of savings accounts owned by the poor.

World Savings Day is celebrated in a variety of ways including the following.
  • Distribution of brochures, leaflets and posters to masses emphasizing the importance of thrift/saving.
  • Press articles and educational films are also employed to highlight and promote savings in many parts of the world.
  • In schools, saving campaigns are organized as part of World Savings Day celebrations, as it is very important to inculcate this habit in children since beginning. These campaigns will make children aware of the benefits of saving money and how it can help them in future.