Halloween Delights

Halloween Delights

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Bertoia Auctions.

"I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween." 

I wish I had said that.  The author is unknown.

Think about it.  These folks probably don't dress up and pretend to be somebody else for a few hours.  That's part of the magic of Halloween.      

And we know Halloween isn't just about kids.  An estimated 65 percent of American adults participate in the holiday.  And after Christmas, it's the second biggest retail jackpot.  

“There is nothing that gives more assurance than a mask.”
— Collette, Writer

The history of many of our holidays is obvious but did anyone talk much about Halloween?

It seems the Celts, 2,000 years ago, marked the end of summer and the start of winter with a festival called Samhein.  The Celts believed the ghosts of their ancestors came back to walk the earth on October 31.  It was the same day the spirits of those who died during the year could travel to the underworld.  Lots happening.    

Some spirits were friendly.  Some were not.  An additional plate waited at the dinner table for  agreeable Casper-like ghosts, and the path to the front door was lit for them.  Evil ghosts liked to wreak havoc by doing things like scaring people to death and destroying crops.   Some ghosts were even said to demonically possess the bodies of the living and forced them to act out in bizarre ways.

Somehow all of these ghosts, it is said, enabled Druid priests to predict the future and their prophecies boosted the faith of the clans during unforgiving weather.  

The clans also gathered at night around a campfire.  They built huge bonfires to welcome the good spirits and frigid weather.  They sacrificed animals and crops to the gods and dressed up in animal heads, and pelts and partied.  They also wore masks to hide from evil spirits (banshees)  lingering in the dark.

"There is nothing that gives more assurance than a mask," the writer Collette said.

October 31 was also the last day of the Celtic year.   

When the Irish came to America pumpkins were easier to find than the turnips they traditionally carved the center out of and placed candles inside.   They figured evil spirits were afraid of light and these lanterns helped scare the bad ghosts away. 

Nowadays, Halloween gives everybody the chance to dress up and act out their individual fantasies, if they so choose.  Flights of fancy. 

Stashed away in my storage shed, I'm sure I could lay my hands on it, is a box of tin Halloween noise makers and other flights of Halloween fancy from the 1950s.  When I lift these tin wonders out of their dusty box I'm transported directly back to childhood, the cold air, and an impatient kid getting all costumed up as she heads out the front door.   

On Sept. 19-20, Bertoia Auctions featured a selection of Halloween novelties in its Fall Festival sale.  


Bobble Head Man; candy container; Germany; 7 inches high;  $177.

Decorations, 7; black cat, drum lanterns, pumpkin noisemaker, etcs.,  $472.

Pumpkin Lady; candy container; Germany; pumpkin head with black hat; 5 inches long;  $1,062. 

Black Cat/Pumpkin; candy container; post-war piece; 8 inches long;  $1,534.

Halloween Items; hard plastic; witches on motorcycles, rocket ship,  pumpkin coach, other assorted candy containers; 5 inches to 9 inches long;  $3,835.


Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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