Sunday, October 21, 2012


   Halloween is coming up, and it’s good to be prepared. If you’re handing out candy (there’s a list on how to confuse trick or treaters) that’s fine. But for those who are roaming the streets, you can’t do it with casual clothes on. But what if you don’t want to spend a large amount of money? Here are the top 10 easiest Halloween costumes to make. Also, please remember that all face paint should be non-toxic.  


    For this infamous blood-sucker, you’ll need white face paint, a set of fake vampire teeth, a comb, and a button-down shirt. A tuxedo is optional. First, you should gently put the face paint on your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead. Get none in your mouth, eyes or nose. Because Dracula is seen as civilized, put gel in your hair and comb it backwards, like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. Then, put on the tuxedo/button-down shirt, to further convey the image of a groomed person. Finally, put on the vampire teeth.


   This is a bit hard, but nevertheless can be done in about five minutes. You will need blue or green  face paint, a stick (make sure not to poke your eye out!), a pillow, and a shirt that looks somewhat like what a medieval villager might wear (that’s the hard part). The shirt should look somewhat like the sepia shirt Shrek wore. Start by putting on the shirt. Rub the face paint on your forehead, chin, cheeks, and nose. Make sure none gets in your mouth, eyes or nose. Next, put the pillow under your shirt. Ruffle your hair, to make you look more barbaric. Finally, wield the stick (act like it’s a club).


   Get an old long-sleeved blue shirt you don’t care about (it can’t have any writing on it), a red sheet you don’t care about, and a computer connected to a printer or a piece of paper with the Superman shield on it. Cut out the Superman shield or print it before cutting it out. Cut a hole big enough for your head to fit through in the red sheet. Tape the shield to the shirt, and then cut the sheet so it looks like a cape. Put on the cape.

The Blob

   This one is especially easy. All you need is a purple sheet that’s large enough to cover you that you don’t care about, and scissors. Cut two holes for your eyes in the sheet, and get in. When using, do not crawl like the Blob. Make sure you do not trip in the costume.

The Joker
Joker Costume Comic-Con

   You will need a green wig, white, black and green face paint, and a purple suit and green pants. Put on the garments. Apply the red to the area around your lips, the black around your eyes, and the white to the majority of your face. Put on the green wig. Remember to act evil.


   Find some tattered clothes some red face paint. Put on the clothes, and put little lines of red face paint on your chin and around your mouth, but make it look as realistic as possible. Mess up your hair so you look as unruly as possible. Lean your head forward and droop your arms forward. Glare at anyone who passes by you.


   This one is easy. All you’ll need is a few Monopoly $500 bills, a suit, a comb, a button-down shirt, a tie, and elegant shoes. Part your hair on the right side of your head. Put on the button-down shirt, and continue with the tie. Put on the suit, and stuff the Monopoly money in your pockets. If you can, get a wacky tie. When someone gives you a small amount of candy, offer them a Monopoly bill and say confidently, “I’d like some more.”

Headless Man

   For this ghoul, you’ll need an old button-down shirt you do not care about, black gloves, fake blood, and black pants. A fake knife is optional. Unbutton two or three buttons to make a hole large enough for your head. Put on black gloves and black pants before putting on the shirt. If you are right-handed, hold your “decapitated” head in your left hand and your sword in your right. You might want to put a fake circle of blood around the bottom of your head to make you look even more decapitated. Remember to stay safe while wearing this!


   The most basic type of Halloween costumes is probably the ghost. For this one, you’ll need a white bed sheet you don’t care about and some scissors. Cut off a small amount from the bottom so the sheet is not dragging on the ground and you’re not tripping on it. Cut two holes for the eyes.


   And finally, we come to the mummy. All that is needed is about three rolls of toilet paper. Green face paint is optional. First, cover what ever part of your face that is not being covered with toilet paper (The best place is the eyes, for which you should paint around the eyes) with green face paint. Cover your body from head to toe in toilet paper. You should have shorts and short sleeved shirts on as to not peek out of the toilet paper. After you are done, put on sandals.


    Known variously as Samhain, Summer’s End, All Hallow’s Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, and Snap-Apple night, Halloween is among the world’s oldest holidays. Rooted in ancient pagan and Christian festivals that celebrated the inextricable link between seasonal and life cycles, Halloween has transcended its cultural roots and is currently celebrated in various forms all over the modern world. Halloween as it exists today is an exciting array of dichotomies as it delights both children and adults, prompts private religious observance as well as public exhibitionism, and blends personal imagination with mass marketing. A day full of magic and mystery, Halloween has not only survived, but it has thrived during epic cultural, religious, economic, and industrial changes throughout its long history.

Roots in Ancient Celtic Festivals

    The essential elements of Halloween, such as costuming, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, telling ghost stories, and attending community parties can be traced back 2000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (SOW-in or SOW-an), which means “summer’s end.” As the second major seasonal festival of the year (the first was called Beltain, celebrated around May 1st), Samhain marked the death of summer and the beginning of the Celtic New Year (Rogers 2002). As a moment of change, Samhain was viewed as a night of magic and power. In a time where there was little distinction between the diminishing sun and the possible extinction of life, Samhain was an intensely sacred festival that marked the boundaries between summer and winter and life and death (Skal 2002).
    The Celts (which included people from northern France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany) believed that on October 31st the Lord of Death, Saman, would call together all the souls that had died the previous year to travel to afterlife during the Vigil of Samhain. Ancestral ghosts and demons emerged from sidh (ancient mounds or barrows of the countryside) and were free to roam the earth, harm crops, and cause trouble (Bannatyne 1990). The living would often disguise themselves in ghoulish costumes so the spirits of the dead would think they were one of their own and pass by without incident. The masked villagers would also form parades to lead the spirits out to the town limits. In addition to masks and costumes and, arguably, as a precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating, the Celts would also offer food to Saman to persuade him to more be temperate as he judged their ancestors. Additionally, the Celts would lay out food for their weary ancestors traveling to the other world or to appease spirits who were looking for trouble.

    Because these roaming spirits were thought to hold the secrets of the afterlife and the future, Celtic priests, or Druids, thought that divinations could be read with more clarity on this particular day. The priests would light large fires to both strengthen the Sun god and to make divinations by throwing a horse or cat (sometimes in a wicker cage) into the fire and watch the burning entrails. At midnight, they would begin to worship Saman, who would be the ruler of the earth for the next six months (Thompson 2003). Because the Celts were an oral culture, some speculation remains whether the Druids actually practiced human sacrifice and the Roman accounts (like Julius Caesar’s reports) are accurate or just instances of Roman propaganda (Skal 2002).

Goddess Pomona

Roman Festival of Pomona

    When the Romans conquered the Celtic lands just before the birth of Christ, they both assimilated and added to ancient Celtic Samhain symbols and rituals. For example, the festival of Pomona, which celebrated the Roman Goddess of the harvest Pomona (or Pomorum) on November 1st, contributed the feast of nuts and fruits to Samhain’s own autumn celebrations. Apples, in particular, were associated with Pomona and were, for the Romans, a symbol of love and fertility. The Druid belief that the eve of Samhain was the most potent night for prognostication seems to have merged with aspects of the festival of Pomona in that dozens of Halloween divinations began to use apples (and nuts) to predict one’s spouse (Thompson 2003). The Celtic and Roman traditions not created a night devoted to the dead, but also a night for divination and romance. With the dawn of the first century A.D., these pagan traditions would encounter a new, powerful religion: Christianity.

All Soul's Celebration

All Saints and All Souls Days

    After Constantine officially declared Christianity legal in the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire. Realizing they would have more success in converting others by assimilating existing powerful pagan rites and symbols into Christian rituals rather than obliterating them altogether, shrewd Church leaders gradually appropriated Samhain and Panoma celebrations into the Catholic rituals of All Saints and All Souls Days. In fact, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day (or All Hallow’s Day, in England) from May 1stto November 1st to coincide with the pagan festivals. The eve of All Saints Day, October 31st, became All Hallow Even, then Hallowe’en, and then Halloween. In addition, a French monastic order called the Cluniacs created All Soul’s Day to commemorateall departed Christian souls (not just the saints') on November 2nd (Rogers 2002). Taken together, the three days were called Hallowmas, (“hallow” meaning “sanctified”or “holy”) (Thompson 2003).
    In many respects, these Christian rituals remained the same as their pagan counterparts with a few important derivations. For example, like the ancient pagans, the Church encouraged their congregation to remember the dead--but with prayers instead of sacrifice. In addition, instead of appeasing spirits through food and wine, members of the congregation would go house to house carrying a hollowed out turnip lantern whose candle symbolized a soul trapped in purgatory and offering prayers for the dead in exchange for “Soul Cakes.” Poor churches could not afford genuine relics of the saints and instead held processions where parishioners dressed as saints, angels, and devils, resembling the pagan custom of parading ghosts to the town limits (Bannatyne 1990). Bonfires were also lit, not in homage to the sun, but to keep the mortal enemy of the

All Saint's Day

new religion away: Satan, a concept arguably incompatible with the polytheism of the ancient Celts. The Druids were seen as witches (wiccas or “wise ones”), and a fourteenth-century text called Malleus Maleficarium (The Witches Hammer) created a link between witchcraft and the devil that produced a mythology so powerful it lasts even today (Rogers 2002). By the end of the Middle Ages, Hallowmas was among the most important liturgical movements in the Christian year.

The Reformation and Halloween

    It was on Halloween in 1517 when Martin Luther began a reformation that would radically limit celebrations of Halloween in Europe. As subsequent Protestant sects began forming throughout Western Europe, many Catholic rituals--including Hallowmas--were banned (Skal 2002). Yet, just as the Celtic Samhain was assimilated with the Roman festival of Ponoma and merged again with Catholic custom, the English Protestants appropriated several elements of Halloween in an autumn festival known as Guy Fawkes Day. This day celebrated the Protestant triumph of a Catholic plot led by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Protestant-sympathetic House of Lords when Parliament met on Nov 5, 1605 (Rogers 2002). Guy Fawkes was publically hanged and then drawn and quartered for his role in the plot, and it became popular to re-enact his punishment through the festive parading of a scarecrow figure through the streets (Rogers 2002). The eve of Guy Fawkes Day became “mischief night” and, instead of begging for “soul cakes” in commemoration of All Saints Day, boys dressed up in costumes to beg for coal to burn their effigies of Guy Fawkes, the Pope, or other unpopular political figures. But in countries that maintained a strong Catholic tradition, such as Ireland and Scotland, Halloween rituals flourished largely untouched by the Protestant Reformation (Skal 2002).

Halloween in the New World
The existence of Hallowmas in the early American colonies depended on the religious fabric of each emerging colony. Whereas Maryland and Virginia were settled by Catholic and Church of England followers who imported Hallowmas symbols and feasts of the Old World, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Hampshire, and Connecticut were populated by rigid Puritans who viewed the Catholic and pagan overtones of Hallowmas as anathema to Puritan philosophy (Bannatyne 1990). Ironically, while the Puritans felt praying for the souls of the already predestined dead was redundant, they held a fascination of witchcraft and divination, and their witch-hunting zeal forever established one of Halloween’s most enduring symbols. In addition, Puritan New England practiced other remnants of Hallowmas such as fortune-telling games (predicting future spouses) and the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day (Rogers 2002).
    The American Revolution created a society more tolerant of religious diversity and, consequently, Halloween celebrations became increasingly secular and centered in the community rather than churches (Bannatyne 1990). While Halloween maintained its association with the harvest and changing seasons, it was also becoming more gendered. For example, while young males were creating mischief such as blocking chimneys, ruining cabbage patches, unhinging gates, and unstable-ing horses, young women typically stayed close to home on “San-Apple Night” to divine a future mate by bobbing for apples or divining from apple peels (Thompson 2003). Still, both genders enjoyed telling ghost stories, which likely derived from both the Druid belief that the ancestral dead arise on this night and the Christian directive to honor the souls of the departed at Hallowmas.

Immigration in the Early Nineteenth Century

    Fledging Halloween festivities after the Revolutionary War in America were given new life by an unprecedented number of immigrants between 1820 and 1870, particularly the Irish. Indeed, wherever the Irish went, their rich Halloween folk beliefs were eagerly embraced by Americans. The Irish reinvigorated embryonic American Halloween traditions and added a renewed emphasis on masquerades, house-to-house visits, and the symbol of Halloween itself, the Jack O'Lantern. Though there are many renderings of its origin, the Jack O’ Lantern is most often said to have been named after a man named Jack who trapped the devil in a tree. Jack agreed to let the devil go if the devil guaranteed that Jack would not go Hell after Jack died. When Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven since he was a cruel and sinful man in life, but Jack was also denied entrance into Hell because of the pact he had made with the devil. However, the devil gave Jack a burning ember from the fires of Hell which Jack placed in a turnip or carrot to navigate the dark places of the earth. When the Irish came to America, they found pumpkins plentiful and better suited as lanterns (Thompson 2003). Other immigrant groups added their unique traditions as well. For example, the Germans and Scots enriched American witchcraft mythology , and African Americans contributed elements of Voudon (sometimes called voodoo) to American Halloween traditions.

Victorian Era Romanticization

    The emergence of both the Victorian periodical and postcard at the end of the nineteenth century helped create homogeneity among the disparate ethnic Halloween traditions--at least among the educated middle and upper classes. However, while Victorian periodicals created a synthesis of sorts, they also tended to romanticize Halloween as a genteel holiday and as a night of romantic divinations and parlor games (Rogers 2002). In addition, Victorian ghost stories became less concerned with actual ghosts and more concerned with romance and passion. As Victorians attempted to throw better parties than their neighbors, they added pomp to their celebrations that had little to do with Halloween (Bannatyne 1990). Ancient Halloween rites were all but lost as the focus became more and more the province of children, matchmaking, and kissing games.

Halloween in the Twentieth Century

    As mass-marketed periodicals (such as The Ladies’ Home Journal) and other various mass media continued to advertise the “perfect Halloween party,” Halloween became a bona fide North American holiday in the 1920s that was an economic boon for businesses and candy manufacturers alike. As commercialization continued in the early twentieth century, civic groups such as high schools and rotary clubs began taking over some of the domestic rituals of Halloween and promoted it as an event for everyone. As cases of mischief increased, particularly during the Depression, more Halloween tricksters were being “bought off” with candy. For example, packaging for Ze Jumbo Jelly Beans contained the message: “Stop Halloween Pranksters.” In 1939, the magazineAmerican Homes was the first mass-marketed periodical in the U.S. to use the term “trick or treat” as a distinct property-protection strategy (Skal 2002).

   During WWII, some Halloween celebrations were canceled due to sugar rationing, but soon trick-or-treating would reach its commercial heyday. Like the consumer post-war economy, Halloween in the 1950s grew by leaps and bounds. Candy companies, with plenty of sugar available again, launched national advertising campaigns directly at Halloween, and soon trick-or-treating became a national practice (Skal 2002). Americans continued to add a distinctly commercial slant to Halloween with    Hollywood scary movies, greeting cards, and decorations. During the 1960s, however, rumors of tainted treats and razor blades in candy, as well as a cyanide-laced Tylenol scare in 1982, frightened both parents and children. Though actual tampering of Halloween candy has been extremely rare, fear still lingers today (Rogers 2002). Yet, Halloween, as it tends to do, recovered, and today is the second largest national holiday behind Christmas.
    Halloween is no stranger to controversy even in the twenty-first century, but the energy of Halloween has always been targeted by those who wish to control it, from the early Catholic church to the various political and religious groups of today. Yet, Halloween has managed to achieve national status without federal sanction (such as July 4th and Christmas) because it’s a celebration of the potential of what humans want to be--and, if only for one night, what they would not otherwise be (Rogers 2002). Historically Halloween endures because it allows its participants to both embrace and defuse their fears (Thompson 2003). From the ancient Celts who worshipped the Lord of the Dead to help them visualize the afterlife to the little vampires and fairies trick-or-treating at your door, Halloween’s adaptability is the reason it remains—after nearly 2000 years—the most bewitching night of the year.


   People have dreamed up monsters that go bump in the night since the dawn of time. Whether it be to frighten children into behaving, or to explain fear of the unknown, these monsters on the list are terrifying to amusing. And they show how powerful the human imagination can truly be. Enjoy!

Baba Yaga

   In Slavic folklore – the wild old woman, the witch, and mistress of magic. She is also seen as a forest spirit, leading hosts of other spirits. She is thought to be a Hideous, evil witch with iron teeth. She is said to have an unquenchable appetite, but is still as skinny as a skeleton. She travels in a mortar with her knees touching her chin and pushes herself around with a pestle. Her home is said to stand on chicken legs and either spins around or keeps its back to the forest. She has three servants: the white horsemen, the red horsemen, and the black horsemen. When asked she will say these are my red sun, my bright dawn, and my black midnight.
   There are so many variations of the Baba yaga legend that it’s not even certain if she’s evil or a wise woman. Some say she eats innocent maidens, and some say she helps. Either way it was worth putting her on here since she probably started as a tale to keep wayward children in line.


   The Kraken is one monster that has roots with a real animal and how a sailor’s mind and imagination can make nightmares. The Kraken is a giant, monstrous squid (or octopus by some accounts) who was able to wrap its tentacles around a ship’s hull and capsize it; the unfortunate souls would then drown or be eaten by the beast. In 1752, when the Bishop of Bergen, Erik Ludvigsen Pontoppidan, wrote his Natural History of Norway, he described the Kraken as a “floating island” one and a half miles across. He also noted: “It seems these are the creature’s arms, and, it is said, if they were to lay hold of the largest man-of-war, they would pull it down to the bottom.” – Monstrous.com
   In the ’30s, ships were attacked by Krakens three times, and the squids got the worst of the attack from the propellers, leading scientists to believe the giant squids mistook the ships for whales.


   The word ‘Wendigo’(pronounced wehn-dee-go) comes from the Native American Algonquian language, meaning ‘evil spirit that devours mankind.’
   The Wendigo is a terrifying beast, but because they are so swift, it is extremely difficult to get a good look at the monster. Most are tall, have long limbs, and are extremely thin (because they are always hungry). Most have no hair at all, but those that dwell in extremely cold climates can sometimes be found with snow-white, gore-stained fur or matted, bloody hair. Its maw is filled with sharp yellowed fangs, and its hands and feet end in razor-like talons. The Wendigo’s twisted lips are flecked with blood, and their long tongues are a disgusting dark blue. Its eyes are one of its most frightening aspects, which range in color from glowing red to bright yellow.
   The lore on this beast is enormously diverse, all of which emphasize its size. The Wendigo is so big that the human mind is unable to fully comprehend it, and the beast’s sheer size is enough to make the human heart stop. The Wendigo is a hideous, abhorrent beast. Its needle-like teeth are made all the more disturbing by its lack of lips (some say that the creature’s hunger is so great that it devoured its own lips!).
    Although vaguely human in appearance, it is nonetheless what most would call terribly deformed. Its enormous eyes are yellow and protuberant like an owl’s (although some say that the eyes are pushed deep into the sockets, and all that one can see is the terrible yellow glow). They are far larger than human eyes, and are said to roll about in blood. It has massive, paw-like hands that end in talons that are a foot long, while the beast’s feet are said to be three foot in length and have but a single toe, tipped with a dagger-like nail. The Wendigo uses these to slash and tear at its victims. Some legends say that the Wendigo may be missing toes, due perhaps to frostbite


   The Bogeyman has been scaring children for centuries. He (in this Lister’s opinion) has many forms and can be whatever scares the child the most. Who doesn’t remember having your parents check under your bed and in your closet because you just knew in your heart, that he was lurking somewhere, waiting to get you. The Bogeyman is a perfect example of ‘Fear of the Unknown’ – that something you can’t see is out there, in the dark, waiting for you.


   The Basilisk name comes from the greek meaning “King” because it was said to have been the king of snakes, the most deadly and no one could quite describe it because to look upon it meant death for the beholder. But the best description they have for this creature was: head and legs of a rooster, tail of a snake, and body of a bird. Its wings were said to either have been covered by feathers, or by scales. It was said to have been born from a spherical, yolk less egg, laid during the days of Sirius (the Dog Star) by a seven year-old rooster and hatched by a toad. Its likeness, for some reason, is used as ornamentation on many medieval churches, capitols, and medallions, and also used in Middle-Age manuscripts. It also has the name of basilicok or cockatrice.

Knut Ekwall Fisherman And The Siren

   Sirens were Niaids (sea nymphs) who lived on the multiple islands according to legend, and would sing to passing ships, entrancing the sailors to smash their ships into the rocky coasts, drowning. They were thought to have been Persephone’s playmates and were turned into the monsters of lore by Demeter for punishment over not saving Persephone when she was abducted. There are multiple descriptions but the basic one is a bird/woman hybrid who played instruments or sang. In later descriptions they were thought to be either seductive, beautiful women or mermaids. Odysseus from Homer’s Odyssey escaped them by having his sailors stuff their ears with beeswax and had himself tied to his mast. A German variation of the Siren is the Lorelei.


   In Ovid’s tale, Medusa, the Gorgon, was originally a beautiful priestess in Athena’s temple when she was raped by Poseidon. Athena was enraged and punished poor Medusa to be the hideous monster with snakes for hair, and a visage so terrible that a mere glimpse of her would turn a man to stone. She was beheaded by Perseus, who was sent to retrieve the head by King Polydectes of Seriphus.

Skin-walker or Yeenaaldlooshii
3757345 F520

   A skin walker is a human who is able to shape-shift into various animal forms through witchcraft. Skin-walkers are generally considered frightening, evil, dangerous, and difficult to kill.
the word “yeenaaldlooshii” is a Navajo word that means “with it, he goes on all fours.”
   One Navajo writer on Monstropedia was quoted: “They curse people and cause great suffering and death … At night, their eyes glow red like hot coals. It is said that if you see the face of a Naagloshii, they have to kill you. If you see one and know who it is, they will die. If you see them and you don’t know them, they have to kill you to keep you from finding out who they are. They use a mixture that some call corpse powder, which they blow into your face. Your tongue turns black and you go into convulsions and you eventually die. They are known to use evil spirits in their ceremonies. The Dine’ have learned ways to protect themselves against this evil and one has to always be on guard.”


   Lovecraft’s terrifying, almost god-like creature that has an almost “coming soon” feel to it. He is described as a truly horrible monster with a body that is a combination of an octopus, a dragon, and a human. It is said to be “dead but dreaming” in the city of R’lyeh, a place of non-Euclidean madness that is sunken in the depths of the pacific ocean. It was said to have been a high priest of the Great old ones – unnatural alien beings who ruled the earth before humanity formed, worshiped as gods by the few misguided people. It is said that they are a horrible nightmare, and will return causing worldwide insanity and mindless violence before finally displacing humanity forever.
   “While psychically sensitive humans have been contacted by Cthulhu through telepathy (which is assumed to be the “language” of the Old Ones), the only reported sighting by a human in recorded history occurred on March 23, 1925. This was twenty-two days after R’lyeh rose above the water, only to sink once more shortly after when the merciful stars’ shifting position caused Cthulhu to resume his death (the conditions required for R’lyeh to rise are also required for the Old Ones to live). This was reported by Gustaf Johansen, the only remaining crew member of the Emma. He later died under mysterious circumstances in his hometown of Oslo.” – Urban Dictionary

The Devil or Satan

   The reason I put the devil on the top of the list is because his many forms have been used since the dawn of time to frighten children and adults in many ways keep them in line. His forms are found in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Khemet (Ancient Egyptian), Syncreto-Paganism, Neopaganism, and the new age movement in Varying degrees of evil. His basic principal in religion and lore is as a scapegoat (no pun intended) for people bad or “evil” acts. He – in many religions – is always there, waiting to attack good, moral people and even possess them into doing things against their nature and in some cases take their souls to hell to burn for eternity. Whether you believe in the devil or not, you cannot dispute the stories that are told of him are very terrifying and the people who heard them through history were most likely petrified over the very though of him.