Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween In America

With Halloween coming up I thought it would be a good time to share an interesting article from The History Channel...

"As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there.

It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday."

For Halloween videos, games, and other interesting articles (including Historic Haunts) check out History Channel's Halloween page: HISTORY CHANNEL HALLOWEEN

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Myrtles Plantation

I would like to share a very interesting read about the history The Myrtles Plantation:


This ghost photo of "Chloe" is one of my all time favorites:

For those interesting in visiting The Myrtles, here is the official site:


I would love to one day take a trip to St. Francisville...ghost equipment in tow!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paranormal Activity

I’ve been following the possible nationwide release of the movie Paranormal Activity.

Premise: “Soon after moving into a suburban tract home, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) become increasingly disturbed by what appears to be a supernatural presence. Hoping to capture evidence of the haunting on film, Katie and Micah set up video cameras in their home, but they are not prepared for the terrifying occurrences which follow.”

All of the buzz has been about how damn scary it’s supposed to be. Of course I wanted to see it, but it wasn’t playing in Birmingham. Through promotion they set up a site and claimed that if over a million people requested it, it would be shown nationwide. Well, they got their million requests, and it opens everywhere on October 16th. Yay!

I do have one concern though…the entire movie took only 7 days to make, and was done on a budget of $11,000. Sounds very Blair Witchy to me. Yes, I’m still bitter about the whole Blair Witch thing.

Visit the official movie & trailer site: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

Ghost Lab

A new ghost show premiered on Discovery channel last night, Ghost Lab. For those not familiar, here is the premise:

“With the help of the latest technology, two brothers have uncovered some of the most powerful results in supernatural research to date — including a recording of Civil War soldiers talking. Meet Brad and Barry Klinge, Texas natives who in 2007 founded Everyday Paranormal, an investigation team that has explored more than 70 locations and set a new standard in supernatural research with some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment housed in a decked-out traveling “ghost lab.”

Traveling the country, the 24-foot car hauler can provide 200,000 watts of electricity to power audio-, video- and photo-analysis stations; flat-screen televisions; and an interactive touch-screen smart board. The lab houses surveillance video cameras capable of shooting 300 feet away in total darkness with a 180-degree peripheral view; temperature, humidity and dew point data loggers; various digital cameras, including thermal-imaging cameras; audio recorders; and more than 8,000 feet of video cable. This on-site high-tech lab enables investigators to analyze data on the premises in real time, helping them to more narrowly focus their investigations on known hot spots.
Join the Klinge brothers, along with some of the world’s foremost specialists in science measurements, as they devise and test cutting-edge theories during their investigations, in Ghost Lab. The all-new series premieres Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.”

I’m going to need to see it a few more times before I form a definite opinion one way or the other. It seems they are out only to prove to the world the existence of ghosts. I’m not sure this can be done, as non-believers are hard (if not impossible) to sway. No matter what you show them, unless a ghosts strolls up and sits on their lap they will never believe.

Unlike Ghost Hunters, who operate under the assumption that everything can be debunked until well, it can’t, and only then can a place be labled haunted, the Ghost Lab team quickly blurts out, “This place is SO haunted!”

While I think the “Era Cues” theory is interesting, and might could be well applied (especially in an intelligent haunting), I didn’t appreciate the fact that it was mentioned over and over – basically being crammed down my throat. They were trying too hard to sell the idea.

I was also a little skeptical about the high quality EVP’s they collected. Those are NOT that easy to come by, yet they are belting out clear as day Class A EVP’s like it was nothing. I just don’t know. Let’s see what the next episode brings.

For more information about Ghost Lab visit this Discovery Channel page: GHOST LAB