Originally Published: October 16, 2016 6 a.m.
DID YOU KNOW?
Halloween is steeped in tradition. Halloween season also is a time of year when superstitions take root and add to the spooky and often silly nature of the holiday. The origins vary, but the following are some common superstitions to consider as Oct. 31 draws near.
• Some believe that bats flying around a house on Halloween – either indoors or outside – is a sign that spirits lurk nearby.
• Black cats have long been thought to be companions of witches or “familiars,” demonic animals gifted to them. While some think it’s bad luck for a black cat to cross your path, in Ireland, Scotland and England, black cats symbolize good luck.
• One Halloween superstition states that if you walk around your home backward three times and then counterclockwise three times before the sun sets on Halloween, you will ward off nearby evil spirits.
• Legend has it that you will have good luck if you sleep facing south the night before Halloween.
• Apples can help people determine if they will live long lives. On Halloween night, you have to make an unbroken apple peel, which will estimate how long you will live. The longer the peel is, the longer you’ll live.
• Another superstition suggests that if you spot a spider on Halloween, the spirit of a deceased loved one is watching over you.
Trick-or-treat safety tips
Every year children anxiously count down the days until they are able to put on their costumes and head out into the neighborhood in search of candy. Although Halloween is meant to be a fun occasion for the young and the old alike, it can also be unsafe.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that studies indicate Halloween is in the top three among holidays that produce the most visits to hospital emergency rooms. Finger and hand injuries account for 17.6 percent of injuries, and children ages 10 to 14 sustain the greatest proportion of Halloween injuries. Trips and falls also account for a high number of injuries.
To make Halloween a safe holiday, children and adults can heed these suggestions.
• Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. Although kids might want to wear shoes that match the costume, shoes that fit well and are comfortable are a safer bet.
• Go trick-or-treating in groups. Children should not be allowed to go out in search of candy alone.
• Be visible. Since daylight saving time begins shortly after Halloween, there are fewer hours of daylight for trick-or-treating. When Halloween falls on a weekday, children have to wait until after school to venture out, and it can quickly become dark. Therefore, make sure that children are equipped with flashlights and put reflective tape on their costumes so they will be more visible to fellow pedestrians and motorists.
• Stick to the sidewalks. Children should stay on sidewalks and cross the street only at established crosswalks.
• Do not enter homes. Unless a child is with an adult and the home is owned by a trusted friend, kids should not enter homes for treats.
Pets need watched closely during Halloween
While Halloween can be fun for adults and children alike, the family pet might not look forward to Oct. 31 as much as the rest of the family. When trick-or-treating time arrives and the doorbell gets its annual workout, pet parents should take steps to ensure their dogs, cats and other companion animals stay calm.
Candy, and chocolate in particular, poses a large risk. That’s because chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two different types of stimulants that can wreak havoc on an animal’s central nervous system. Hard candies may be swallowed and become lodged in the throat or digestive tract. Artificial sweeteners are harmful to animals, too.
To help keep pets safe, it is best to consider the following tips for Halloween.
• Keep pets indoors for the day. Animals that are frightened may run away or grow disoriented and get lost. Also, you never want your pet to be the victim of a Halloween prank.
• Don’t take dogs trick-or-treating. Although you may have a calm, well-mannered dog, the crowds in the neighborhood may excite man’s best friend, whose behavior might be difficult to predict.
• Skip costumes for pets. It may stress out the animal, so avoid pet costumes.
• Be mindful of holiday decorations. Strings of lights, fake spider webs and other decorative items can be tripping hazards for pets, while electronic devices could pose a safety risk.
- Metro Creative