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It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin
Dear Mr. Pumpkin,
It's almost the end of the month of October. Do you know what happens on October 31 each year? It's Halloween. And that's the time when you get very popular. How does it feel to be so special on that day?
It's a strange holiday, don't you think? Kids dress up in all sorts of costumes of animals, cartoon characters, superheroes, and princesses, just to name a few. Sometimes, though, the costumes can be scary, such as ghosts or witches or skeletons.
After dressing up in costumes, we go "trick-or-treating." That means we walk around and grown-ups are supposed to give us a lot of candy. If they don't, we play a trick on them. People decorate their homes and yards with black cats, bats, witches, and other creepy-looking things. And that's where you come in – a carved pumpkin.
It must seem strange that a kid like me is writing a letter to you, a pumpkin. I'm sure that you haven't received many letters before. Well, I'm not just any kid ... because I always want to find out the true meaning of things. I asked my dad about Halloween and he sure did have a lot to tell me. And I discovered that you're just not any pumpkin – because you were carved for a specific reason.
By the way, what happened to all your teeth? Did you eat a lot of candy and then forget to brush them? Is that why most of your teeth fell out and you only have a few left? Remember, brushing your teeth is very important! My parents make me do it every night before I go to sleep.
Getting back to the reason for my letter ...
Do you know how the celebration of Halloween started? Well, I would like to tell you all about it. A long, long time ago, there was a group of people called the Celtics. They lived in countries such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England. Do you know where those countries are, Mr. Pumpkin? They are located just west of the continent of Europe.
The Celtics had religious priests called the Druids who were actually magicians and wizards. They had many wicked beliefs and practices. The Druids believed in using all forms of evil spirits to do bad things. They believed that on October 31, Samhain, their lord of the dead, would call out from the dead for all the evil spirits to come back to visit their living relatives. These spirits would roam around and go back to haunt the homes where they used to live to scare people. Why would anyone want to scare the people they love--especially their family members? That seems very cruel to me!
In order to stop the evil spirits from haunting their homes, people would put out special food or treats for them. If they did not put out any of these treats, the evil spirits would get angry and play a mean trick on them to hurt them. That is how the phrase "trick or treat" began. "Give me a treat or you will be tricked!" is what those evil spirits would say.
As the years passed, people began to think of more ways to scare off these evil spirits. No one wanted them around, so they decorated their homes with frightening objects, such as ghosts, to scare them away. That's actually how haunted houses started. People even dressed up in horrifying costumes to scare off these spirits.
Farmers used scarecrows in their fields to scare crows away from eating their crops. Soon, people began using scarecrows to scare away evil spirits as well.
I found out how black cats became a part of Halloween, too. The Druids worshipped black cats. They believed that they could turn themselves into black cats by magic and then do evil deeds. So, people became afraid of black cats and no one wanted them around.
I love cats — even black cats. They are so soft and cuddly. I think that it was very bad to treat black cats like that. Don't you agree?
You may be wondering about bats and witches and how they became a part of Halloween. I found out that some people believed that the devil, who is an evil spirit, took the form of a bat and flew around at night on Halloween. People also believed that witches worshipped the devil and flew around on magic broomsticks at night.
There is also a popular game played during this season called "bobbing for apples." I felt sad to find out that it came from the same beliefs and wasn't really about having fun. People would kneel around a tub full of water and try to catch the floating apples with their mouths. They believed that the first person who caught an apple without using his hands would be lucky for a year and the evil spirits would not hurt him. It looked like a fun game, but it wasn't — because people were desperate to win so that they would not be harmed!
Mr. Pumpkin, you are probably wondering how carved pumpkins became a part of Halloween. This practice was started to scare away evil spirits, too. I'm sure that is not a surprise to you! Have you ever heard of a jack-o-lantern? There was a fairy tale about a man named Jack who was not able to go to heaven or hell when he died. He was forced to roam the earth in darkness carrying a lantern until it was Judgment Day — the day he would be punished. People were afraid of Jack so they began to hollow out (or remove the insides of) turnips and pumpkins and then carve evil faces on them, and sometimes put lights inside, all to scare off Jack. As years passed, people carved evil faces on pumpkins hoping to scare off evil spirits, just as they used scarecrows and scary costumes.
As time went by, people continued practicing these beliefs. Their beliefs turned into traditions that were passed on from generation to generation and eventually became known as Halloween. People traveling to the United States of America brought these traditions with them and soon they became a part of the American traditions that continue today.
So, Mr. Pumpkin, that's how Halloween started. It really isn't a holiday about kids dressing up in costumes and getting candy. While it seems like a fun day and night, full of games and candy, the real trick is how kids (and adults and pumpkins) get tricked into participating in this "holiday." But, I'm smarter now and know better. This year, instead of carving you with an evil face, I'll carve you with something much better. I'm sure that you will like it!
Excerpted from "It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin"
Copyright © 2016 Soraya Diase Coffelt.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin,
About the Author,