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  • Writer's pictureMel Dick

Happy Halloween a Dreads!!!

Happy Halloween. Key West loves Halloween....everyone decorates their homes and businesses....seems like it is as popular as Christmas. As a kid, I remember dressing up, going trick or treating, bobbing for apples at school and fooling my grandmother one year with a homemade costume to the point that she didn't even recognize me. Today I decided to do a little research about Halloween. What I found was it has a long and storied history around the world, way more than I could cover in a few paragraphs.

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays. Although it's derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals, Halloween is still widely celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe. In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States, traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games. Versions of the holiday are celebrated elsewhere and In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. In England, Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5, is commemorated with bonfires and fireworks.

Pumpkins with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. Ever wonder why jack-o-lanterns have come to symbolize Halloween? The practice of decorating jack-o'-lanterns originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as early canvasses. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years. Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

Lastly, an incredible set of "dreads" captured during my early morning walk. At 6 inches a year, the average growth of a person's hair, it probably took at least 10+ years or longer to grow those dreads which were at least 6 foot long. Time to start my pony tail again!!!

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