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Fri, Oct. 18

AROUND THE BLUHMIN’ TOWN: What Americans spend on Halloween is scary

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Are you scared? If I told you that Americans spend a whopping $9 billion on all things related to Halloween, would it cause you to shake in terror? That translates to a mere 75 bucks per person on spooky holiday decorations or costumes, not to mention another $30 on candy! Hey, I have spent my quota, and for any grandson who might be reading this — I am now over-budget.

My youngest grandson, Brandon, has a fascination with all things spooky. The inside of the house has spiders, webs and goblins hanging on every window. My eldest grandson, Sean, has been the master of haunted houses. For five years, he has created the scariest haunted house in his garage that is complete with sound, props and coffins. When grown men walk through his maze of horror, they usually come out screaming with a maniac chasing them with a chain-saw. Oh yea, Halloween is one long scream.

Boo! Are you a little bit frightened? Better get with the program, because there are lots of reasons to be afraid. Halloween has always been closely associated with the dead. Starting in the fifth century, “All Saints Day” was an observance in honor of saints with one weird twist — it was also the day that disembodied spirits came back to possess the living. The poor spirits had only one chance of an afterlife and that was to intermingle with the living, in hopes of possessing a body. People don’t want to be possessed! So to scare the roaming “body snatchers” away, folks dressed up in terrifying costumes and parading around their villages to drive evil spirits away. Sound familiar?

The early days of “trick or treat” started around the ninth century, when people passed out cakes and candy to beggars on Old Saints Day. In return, the beggars would pray for the souls of dead relatives. It was believed that the dead might be stuck in limbo and needed lots of prayer, so people who passed out “treats” were given prayers in exchange.

Let’s just say (since this is a family newspaper and children might be reading this) that Halloween wasn’t always a fun, harmless little holiday. It was a seriously, terrifying day of devils, demons and witches.

’Tis the season of spookiness, which gets me in the mood to make myself a big, Bloody Mary. Oops, I mean scare up the ghost of Bloody Mary. Stare into a mirror, in a dark room by the light of 13 candles, while

chanting “Bloody Mary” 13 times. The vengeful spirit will then appear. The problem is that once you see the demon, she will either: 1) scratch your eyes out; 2) kill you or 3) drive you insane. Maybe pour a stiff drink and hope for No. 3.

Enjoy the day of devils, ghosts and witches. Eat candy. Watch the kids as they stroll up your walkway in their scary costumes. If you see witches congregating, pour yourself a drink, eat more candy, and lock your doors. Boo … until next time.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at

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