Medications can Cause Sun Sensitivity

Check out this video on medications and the sun.

Let’s Talk Turkey

Then there’s the myth of how the presidential pardon of a turkey started with Abraham Lincoln when his son begged his dad to save the animal. Actually, it did not. The tradition goes all the way back in history to 1989, when President George H.W. Bush officially pardoned the first one. According to a perhaps apocryphal story, in 1863, Lincoln’s 10-year-old son, Tad, supposedly became fond of a turkey given to the family for a holiday feast. Tad named the turkey Jack and begged his father to save the animal. Lincoln did. The only problem with that as a Thanksgiving story is that Tad’s plea was to save the Christmas turkey!

 

And, finally, you may hear people say that turkey makes them tired. No, it does not. Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is thought to have a sedative effect. As it turns out, turkey does not have any more tryptophan than other foods, including chicken, and even if tryptophan did induce tiredness, there is not enough in turkey to do so. So if you are tired after eating Thanksgiving dinner, do not blame the turkey.

Thanksgiving Becomes a Holiday

If you think Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving annually since 1621, guess again. Nobody at the time thought of it as the start of a new tradition, and there had been similar gatherings elsewhere earlier. Historians know there was another feast in the colony in 1623 but it was held earlier in the year. Different colonies celebrated their own days of thanksgiving during the year.

In 1789, George Washington declared Thursday, Nov. 26, a Thanksgiving holiday, but only for that year, and it was not connected to the Pilgrim feast but rather intended as a “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Enter a 19th century author, poet and magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. She was editor of the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book for 40 years, from 1837 to 1877. Hale, who was highly patriotic, read about the 1621 feast of the Pilgrims and became captivated with the idea of turning it into a national holiday. She published in the Godey’s Lady’s Book recipes for turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and started traditions that had nothing to do with the colonists. She began a lobbying campaign to persuade President Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving an official annual holiday, using her magazine to build public support by writing an editorial every year starting in 1846. She also sent letters to all governors in the United States and territories. In 1863, Lincoln did set Thanksgiving as an official holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed to move the annual Thanksgiving holiday to the third Thursday of November. Why? To help the economy by making the Christmas shopping season a little bit longer. There was so much opposition to the move, that two years later he changed it to the fourth Thursday in November.

Why We Celeberate

There is an enormous amount of misinformation about the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday as we celebrate it today, this includes when, how and why it became a tradition. What Americans think they know about the history of Thanksgiving does not always measure up with the truth. For example, it is generally believed that in 1621, the Pilgrims invited Wampanoag Indians to a feast in Plymouth Colony to celebrate their first harvest, and a good time, with turkey and pumpkin pie, was had by all. Well, maybe, and maybe not. Historians, including those at Plimoth Plantation, a living museum in Plymouth, Mass., say that they do know there was a feast that year shared by the colonists and Wampanoag Indians, and Squanto, who had learned English, served as translator. But the one historical account of the actual dinner says venison was served and some sort of fowl, but it does not specifically mention turkey. Pumpkin was available, but it is not likely the colonists whipped up a pie. Furthermore, sweet potatoes were unknown to the colonists, and cranberries may have been served but not as a relish.

 

There’s a lot of misinformation about the Pilgrims, too. American kids learn that the Pilgrims came to the New World in search of religious freedom, and they dressed only in black and white, and wore buckles on their shoes. No, no, and no. The Pilgrims left Britain in search of religious freedom, but found it in Holland in the early 1600s, where they found a high degree of religious tolerance. The reason they wanted to come to the New World and establish a colony was to preserve their English identity and for economic reasons. Also, they did not wear buckles on their shoes, and Pilgrim women dressed in colors, including red, green, blue and violet, while men wore a variety of colors, too.

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Walk Safely

  1. Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  2. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  3. Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  4. Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  5. Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to
    the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  6. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  1. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  1. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  2. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  3. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  4. When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween

  1. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  2. Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  3. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  4. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  5. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Halloween Superstitions

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

 

Did You Know?

One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Today’s Halloween Traditions

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween events around Southern California

Check out these fun Halloween events happening around Southern California during the month of October. And if you know of an event in your neighborhood, share in the comments below!

The 17th Door Haunted House
The 17th Door is an immersive and interactive haunted house. Visitors will be required to sign a waiver because the actors can touch you. This attraction is recommended for ages 15 and older. For more information, visit http://the17thdoor.com/

Boo at the Los Angeles Zoo
Every weekend during the month of October, the L.A. Zoo will have Halloween activities that you can enjoy with your family, including crafts, spooky caves and fun photo opportunities. The event is free with paid zoo admission. For more information, visit http://www.lazoo.org/boo/.

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort
From Sept. 11 through Nov. 1, Disneyland offers family-friendly tricks, treats and attractions. Valid park admission is required. For more information, visit disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/halloween-time-at-the-disneyland-resort/.

Knott’s Scary Farm
Knott’s Scary Farm offers several attractions sure to give you a fright, including mazes with themes like “Pinocchio Unstrung” and “Tooth Fairy.” There are also three “scare zones” where you may be terrorized by clowns, the walking dead or ghosts. Knott’s Scary Farm is open now through Oct. 31. For more information, visit knotts.com/scaryfarm.

Haunted Hayride
A Southern California Halloween tradition is back to scare up some screams. Visitors are confronted by demonic forces and dark presences frantic to strike at their favorite hayriders. For more information, visit losangeleshauntedhayride.com

Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios creates a terrifying event every year based on horror films and TV shows. The attractions include movie-quality mazes featuring “The Walking Dead,” “Insidious,” and “Alien vs. Predator.” There are also multiple “scare zones,” so be prepared for chills and frights at each corner. For more information, visit halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2015/.

 

Halloween Comes to America

 

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween 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 these 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 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

October Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost/

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
    • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.