Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Superstitions: The Origin of Slasher Sue?


This week at YA Confidential, we wanted to get the proverbial bloody head rolling in anticipation for one of our favorite days of the year:

HALLOWEEN

It's a time when one quarter of all candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased ($2 billion! Can you say ka-CHING?!), and it's the third biggest party day (behind New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday). But did you know Halloween—or All Hallow's Eve, All Saints Eve, Samhain, The Feast of the Dead, or El Dio de los Muertos, if you prefer—actually came by way of the Celts some 2,000 years ago as a last hoorah with the spirits before the long, cold winter set in? Did you know instead of trick-or-treating for Tootsie Roll Pops and Nerds, kids used to bug their neighbors for Soul Cakes (think Christmas fruitcake meets Mardi Gras king cake) in exchange for prayers to dead relatives?

Maybe you knew all that.

However, Halloween isn't just about plastic fangs, superhero costumes, or fake cobwebs that don't come out of your bushes no matter HOW hard you try. Halloween is where a lot of our superstitions originate. All Hallow's Eve is said to be when the lines between the living and the dead are the most blurred, so the connection to spirits is greater, hence being super super careful about things like broken mirrors, walking under ladders, and stepping on cracks. You've heard of those bad luck omens, right? (And if you haven't, I bet at one time or another your mom probably steered your little toddler-self away from any crack-strewn sidewalks for fear she'd end up in one of those claustrophobic back braces with an itch she couldn't reach.)

But there are some beliefs from back in the day you probably haven’t heard too much about because, well, I like to think our heads are screwed on tighter now. Specifically, the beliefs I'm referring to deal with young women trying to identify their future mates by doing the most asinine things and then trying to make sense of it all. Like tossing apple peels over their shoulder to see if the peel resembled the initials of their future love. Or eating a walnut-hazelnut-nutmeg mixture before bed with the hope of dreaming about their very own Edward Cullen, only less sparkly. And that whole bobbing-for-apples thing? Nowadays, that seemingly innocent Fall pastime is a given for humiliation and laughter (and probably communicable diseases, but that's neither here nor there). But back then it was more likely an elbows-throwing debacle because whoever successfully bobbed the first apple, also took home the "I'm getting married first" prize. And along the just-plain-freaky lines, girls would stand in front of a mirror in a dark room and instead of saying "Bloody Mary" three times, they'd hold a candle up to their face, then look over their shoulder expecting to see their prospective spouse's image.

For real.

There are more like these, but I wanted to spare you. Still, all these retired traditions and superstitions make me wonder if the girls who thought they could see their crush's name written in a bowl of egg yolk floating in water, eventually evolved into the naïve, TSTL (Too Stupid to Live) characters we see today in campy horror films. I call them Slasher Sues. You know who they are: the girl calling out, "Who's there?" when she's alone, the power's out, and there's creepy footsteps down the hall; the girl making out with her boyfriend in the woods when there's a serial killer on the loose; the girl who wedges herself into a tiny bathroom when there's not a window in sight and only a Venus razor that should've been thrown out weeks ago. * headsmack *

As we gear up for Halloween (and NaNoWriMo!), let's take a moment to remember all the good, bad, and downright creepy things the day represents. And tell me – what's your favorite Slasher Sue situation? Are you superstitious or do you say "Pshaw!" in the face of bad luck?


Agent Cutta Mutha OUT.

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