Goblins, Ghosts and Witches, Oh My! Happy Halloween, October 2014

It’s nearly Halloween, and if you’re thinking about buying candy or pumpkins more than reading Federal government documents, it’s understandable. All the same, it would be regrettable if you missed reading some very relevant Federal government documents before preparing for your Halloween celebration.

halloween

(Image courtesy of CPSC: Click on image to enlarge)

Whether you are pulling together a costume for yourself or for kids, you need to make sure the costume is safe to wear. There are a few basic tips to follow when you get ready for trick-or-treating, according to the CPSC’s Halloween Safety: Safety Alert.

  • Decorate costumes with reflective tape
  • Carry bright flashlights
  • Trim or hem long costumes to avoid tripping
  • Choose flame-resistant material
  • Wear good walking shoes
  • Prefer cosmetics over masks when possible
  • Wear masks and headgear that are securely tied and do not obscure the wearer’s vision

The FDA recommends getting professional help to avoid eye damage if you plan to wear decorative contact lenses as part of your costume. The safe costume tips from these documents are good hints for choosing Halloween party gear, as well.

The CPSC also recommends that you stick to safe houses, make sure your children walk (and don’t run), and that you check children’s candy before letting them eat any, in case of evidence of tampering (although the history of Halloween candy tampering is spotty). Food safety overall is always a concern at Halloween, and reading the FDA’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents is good preparation for anyone responsible for children attending Halloween parties and celebrations.

Those revelers staying in one location will want to follow guidelines given in Halloween Fires. House parties at Halloween frequently feature candles, bonfires, firepits and the like. The US Fire Academy says Halloween is a night when fires spike, with “a 63 percent increase in the daily occurrence of incendiary or suspicious structure fires for October and November. ….the peak in incendiary and suspicious structure fires on Halloween is slightly lower than the peak on July 5th but higher than New Year’s Day” (p. 12). Many of the fires on Halloween (and the night before Halloween, known as Devil’s Night), are the result of arson, and accidents play a role as well. Be aware and know the exit locations at the party you’re attending. If the party you are holding or attending has includes fire as part of the fun, have fire-extinguishing equipment nearby.

And if you’re planning to stay at home for Halloween, heighten your sense of the holiday mood and read some of the spooky traditions of Halloween in The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows, from the Library of Congress’ Folklife Center. You can learn about the origins of Halloween, originally a Celtic festival of the dead called Samhain. Samhain was the biggest holiday of the Celtic year, and served as a new year. The Celts lit bonfires for the dead to create a barrier between them and the living. Supposedly, the bonfires guided the dead back to the netherworld at this time of the year when the Celts believed the border between the dead and the living was thinnest. This brief monograph also covers how the Catholic Church appropriated Samhain from the Celtic natives to become All Hallows, and eventually Hallowe’en (Hallows evening). If you finish reading the piece wanting to know more, the author links a selected bibliography of resources on Halloween and related topics at the end of the text. You get to learn a bit of history and appreciate the author’s poetic text also. He closes the piece by noting that traditional American Halloween activities “…reaffirm… death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a holy and magic evening.”

There are records available for the electronic versions of Halloween Safety: Safety Alert and Halloween Fires in the Catalog of Government Publications. You can find the records for these documents in your local Federal depository library.

How can I access these publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Government Book Talk Editor and Senior Marketing and Promotions Specialist for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

One Response to Goblins, Ghosts and Witches, Oh My! Happy Halloween, October 2014

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