Friday, May 27, 2011


Business of Halloween 2010

   After a very scary 2009, U.S. retailers might breathe a bit easier this year because Halloween spending is set to bounce back to 2008 levels, according to data compiled by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

   About 148 million Americans will celebrate the holiday this year, and the average person will spend $66.28 on costumes, candy, and decorations—up from $56.31 last year. Total expenditures for the holiday should reach some $5.8 billion, a billion dollars more than 2009.

   "We do think that consumers will be looking for creative ways to celebrate Halloween. While not breaking the bank they are investing a little bit of money into their fun this year," said NRF spokesperson Kathy Grannis.

   Costumes consume the biggest part of the United States' Halloween dollars ($23.37 per person), followed closely by candy and decorations.

What an Average American Will Spend on Halloween in 2010

• Halloween Costumes: $23.37

• Halloween Candy: $20.29

• Decorations: $18.66

• Greeting Cards: $3.95

   When it comes to costumes, the NRF survey found that about 40 percent of Americans will be dressing up—a total of almost 120 million kids, adults, and pets.

   "We're expecting to see more people dress up in costume than ever before," said Grannis, noting costume variety has increased dramatically.

   "We're seeing costumes of every type in stores right now and also more types of stores selling costumes," she said.

   Grannis reported that in 2010 both kids and adults are leaning heavily toward traditional costumes such as princess and pirate getups.

   But 2010 will bring trendy costumes as well, even if they don't make the annual top ten costume lists.

   "We still hear from hundreds of thousands of people who have indicated that the nontraditional, Lady Gaga-type costume is something that they will be experimenting with this year. We've heard reports of disgruntled airline-employee costumes, from the incident this summer," Grannis said.

"I think pop culture will again play a very large role in how people decide to dress up."

Ten Most Popular Adults' Halloween 2010 Costumes

1. Witch

2. Vampire

3. Pirate

4. Nurse

5. Wench/Tart/Vixen

6. Cat

7. Zombie

8. Fairy

9. Athlete/Batman (Tie)

10. Dracula

Ten Most Popular Children's Halloween 2010 Costumes

1. Princess

2. Spider-Man

3. Witch

4. Pirate

5. Disney Princess

6. Action/Super Hero

7. Ghost

8. Pumpkin/Vampire (Tie)

9. Batman

10. Star Wars Character

Halloween costumes aren't just for people—a surprising 11.5 percent of U.S. pets get into the act as well. This year the lion's share of costumed U.S. pets will appear as either pumpkins (10.3%) or devils (9.7%).

 Halloween Cards

   Americans give about 35 million Halloween greeting cards a year, with the most popular variety being grandparent-to-grandchild.

 The first Halloween cards that can detect in the U.S. were produced in 1908.

Halloween Sugar Rush
   There are some 36 million potential trick-or-treaters (children aged 5 to 13) in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

   In 2009 the average American consumed 24.3 pounds  of candy, much of it during the Halloween season, according to census data.

Great Pumpkins

    Far from the pumpkin's native Central America, chilly Illinois produces most of the United States' pumpkins.

   Illinois produced some 429 million pounds  of pumpkins in 2009, while California and Ohio each produced at least a hundred million pounds according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Together the nation's major pumpkin-producing states grew 931 million pounds  of pumpkins, worth about $103 million.

   Fall 2010 saw a new "world's heaviest pumpkin" crowned, which was harvested earlier this year and confirmed by Guinness World Records. New Richmond, Wisconsin farmer Chris Stevens grew a 1,811-pound  behemoth, which is on display until Halloween at the Bronx Botanical Gardens in New York City. The fruit has a circumference of more than 15 feet.

   About 90 percent of a pumpkin's weight is from water. While growing, a champion pumpkin can add 40 pounds a day and reach roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.


Statue commemorating the wine horse festival

  Caravaca de la Cruz in Murcia,Spain is the fifth most holiest site for Catholics and is surrounded by fascinating legends.
   Caravaca de la Cruz is situated just a short distance from the city of Murcia in the Province of Murcia, Spain and is a fascinating place to visit. It is a site of great importance in the Catholic Church and has a long and varied history. Caravaca de la Cruz is the fifth holiest city in the world for Catholics after Santiago de Compostela, Rome, Jerusalem and Santo Toribio de Liébana. The town celebrates an Annus Sanctus every seven years, the most recent being in 2010, a time of jubilee and when plenary, solemn and universal indulgences are granted to all those who make the pilgrimage.

Legend of the 'Vera Cruz'

   There is a legend of how the town came to get its name. According to the legend, during the time of Muslim occupation of the town around 1232, an imprisoned priest was to hold a Mass in the presence of the Muslim king of the region. The priest said “all that is lacking is a cross” and at his words two angels appeared carrying a cross with two arms. The Muslim king was so impressed by this miracle that he and all his subjects converted to Christianity. The most accredited version of this story was written by Father Gilles de Zamora, historian to King Ferdinand.

   It was later recognised as the "Vera Cruz" by the Catholic Church, an authentic relic of the cross Jesus Christ died on. Today, the cross is still kept in the Vera Cruz Sanctuary. At one time it was guarded by the Order of the Templars and later by the Order of Santiago. Hundreds of pilgrims travel to the town every year to see the cross.
   This Spanish festival begins with a procession in the Iglese early in the morning as a cross is submerged in a silver urn which is filled with wine & surrounded by local Spanish flowers which soak up any overflow

Caravaca's Wine Race

   One of the great fiestas in Caravaca de la Cruz takes place in May. It re-enacts another legend associated with the town. The legend says that during the time of the Templars, the knights were besieged in the castle by the Moors. They had run out of water and a group of knights volunteered to undertake a dangerous mission. In the dead of night, they saddled their horses and loaded them with wine skins; they then crept out of the castle, through enemy lines to a nearby fountain. When they got there, the fountain was running with wine instead of water. The knights filled the wine skins and covered them over with their cloaks. On the way back through enemy lines, they were spotted and had to race back to the castle at top speed on their horses.

   So every year, on the 2nd May during the town’s Holy Festival, this great horse race is run again with around 60 horses taking part. The horses are covered in beautiful cloaks that are embroidered by the women of the town.  They  race from the bottom of the town up to the castle - Castillo.  The men run alongside the horses to encourage them. The first horse to reach the castle is the winner.

   There are many interesting things to see in Caravaca, not least the castle which looms over the town and the Sanctuario de la Vera Cruz. There is a Fiesta Museum which has full details of the wine race, including some of the beautifully embroidered cloaks worn by the horses and outside the town is the Fuentes del Marqués, a natural spring with pleasant walks around it.

   So, why not join the pilgrims and visit Caravaca de la Cruz, a Holy City that is surrounded by legends