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Halloween songs, film, culture, history and other music holidays we celebrate



Halloween Songs, Halloween History, Halloween Safety, Ghost, Goblin Monster Scary Spooky Sounds, Pumpkin Facts,  Celtic History, Werewolf Protection and Dracula, Ghosts and Music Holidays


Silly Symphonies - La Danse Macabre (1929)




It ain't no sin
To take off your skin
And dance around in your bones. ~ Fats Waller

"Trick or Treat,* smell* my feet, give me something good to eat."

Halloween History



Halloween History

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (Irish pronunciation: [saun]; from the Old Irish samain). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year". Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

History of Name

The term Halloween is shortened from All Hallows' Even (both "even" and "eve" are abbreviations of "evening", but "Halloween" gets its "n" from "even") as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now also known as All Saints' Day.
It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 (which had itself been the date of a pagan holiday, the Feast of the Lemures) to November 1. In the ninth century, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were, at that time, celebrated on the same day. Liturgically, the Church traditionally celebrated that day as the Vigil of All Saints, and, until 1970, a day of fasting as well. Like other vigils, it was celebrated on the previous day if it fell on a Sunday, although secular celebrations of the holiday remained on the 31st. The Vigil was suppressed in 1955, but was later restored in the post-Vatican II calendar.

Halloween as it emerged from the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer's end), picked up elements of the Christian Hallowtide (All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day), arrived in North America as an Irish and Scottish festival, then evolved into an unofficial but large-scale holiday by the early 20th century.

Spiorad na Samhna -- Spirit of Samhain
Irish-English bi-lingual Film about Origins of Halloween from Celtic festival of Samhain. Film traces origins of Ireland's biggest Halloween Carnival in Derry back to troubled years of 1980s. It also traces origins of Halloween itself to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Dr. Jenny Butler from the Folklore Department of University College, Cork narrates this. Film uses footage from spectacular 2013 Inferno show, produced by LUXe, based in Donegal.
A bi-lingual film about the origins of Halloween won Best Short Documentary Award at the Underground Film Festival in Cork. In addition to the award, the project has learned that the film has been recommended to teachers of Religious Education in England. Ed Pawson, Chair, NATRE, National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, has described it as "an exciting resource to widen our understanding of the diversity and origins of religion, beliefs and customs today". The film traces origins of Ireland's biggest Halloween Carnival in Derry back to troubled years of 1980s. It also traces origins of Halloween itself to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Dr. Jenny Butler from the Folklore Department of University College, Cork narrates this.

Halloween music mischief night beggers night dracula pumpkin jack o lanterns celtic day of the dead

The Worms Crawl In the Worms Crawl Out

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It's just so horribly, yuckily, disgustingly wonderful. The Tune for The Worms Crawl In the Worms Crawl Out is based on "Marche Fun`ebre d'une Marionette" by Charles Gounod (1818-93)
There was an old nursery rhyme called There Was a Lady All Skin and Bone that was printed in 1810. It also contains the line "The worms crawl'd out, the worms crawl'd in." And another nursery rhyme, which can be found in Gammer Gurton's Garland's 1810 edition, that has a similar line.

There Was a Lady All Skin and Bone


There was a lady all skin and bone, Sure such a lady was never known:
It happened upon a certain day, This lady went to church to pray.

When she came to the church stile, There she did rest a little while;
When she came to the church yard, There the bells so loud she heard.

When she came to the church door, She stopped to rest a little more;
When she came to the church within, The parson prayed 'gainst pride and sin.

On looking up, on looking down, She saw a dead man on the ground;
And from his nose unto his chin, The worms crawled out, the worms crawled in.*

Then she unto the parson said, Shall I be so when I am dead?
O yes! O yes! the parson said, You will be so when you are dead.

The Hearse Song



Don't you ever laugh as a hearse goes by,
for you may be the next to die.
They wrap you up in a big white sheet,
And cover you up from your head down to your feet.
They put you in a big black box,
And cover you up with dirt and rocks.
All goes well for about a week,
And then your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle* on your snout.
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes,
Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.
Your stomach turns a slimy green,
And pus pours out like whipping cream.
You spread it out on a slice of bread,
And that's what you eat when you are dead.

Pumpkins glow
on Halloween


There are basically just three rhythms:

The following verse for students to follow the rhythmic pattern

Pumpkins glow on Halloween Halloween Halloween
ti -ti    ti - ti   ti- ti    ta    ti- ti   ta     ti- ti  ta

Pumpkins glow on Halloween the night of Halloween
ti   -   ti       ti   -  ti  ti - ti    ti  -  ti     ti -   ti  ti- ti   ta    rest

Pumpkins glow on Halloween Halloween night
ti   -    ti      ti -    ti  ti - ti   ta    ti - ti   ta    to-oo


Students try to determine the order of the rhythmic patterns which of course by the end is next to impossible. Discussion ensues about how the composer has made the piece interesting despite only using 3 different rhythms.


Pumpkin patch



Use a beanbag -- Pass On The Beat -- -- Get and use a hand drum to reinforce beat.

Add poem:

Pumpkin patch,
Pumpkin patch,
Lookin' for a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch
Here is one, round & fat, turn into a jack-o-lantern just like that!

Whoever has the bag on "that" gets to draw eyes, ears or nose (and you can go on) on a big pumpkin that you drew on the board.


We have
a magic broom
Cheryl Bradham
K - 5 Specialist


The song is in d minor and I have indicated eighth rests with a "7"and B-flat as "B*"

Melody: A D E F G A A
2 ti | ti- ti ti - ti | ta 7 - ti |
1. 4 We |have a magic | broom**.To |

| ti - ti ti - ti | ta 7 - ti |
|streak a-cross the sky.** And |

D' D' A A B* B* A A A
| ti - ti ti - ti | ti - ti ti
- ti-ti |
| tra- vel in the| dark-est night a-|

| ti - ti ti - ti | ta Z |
| laugh-ing as we fly. ** |

(Sing first verse only:)
1. We have a magic broom
To streak across the sky
And travel in the darkest night
A-laughing as we fly.

2. I hug my old black cat
We fly up to the moon So fat
we go the speed of light
Upon the magic broom.

Boom Pipes play a steady beat A D A D while singing the verse, (beginning with a four-beat introduction) until the last measure,when they play "D-A D" on ti-ti- ta.

After this final "D-A D" at the conclusion of the melody, the triangle plays four steady beats to herald the arrival of the " scary tune" which lasts for a total of eight beats and is played on all other Orff instruments.

Take out all the C and G bars and replace the B-naturals with B-flat bars, so that the instruments are set up with only the bars D E F - A B- flat. Use as many octaves as are available on each instrument.

The children may play any combination of notes they wish, but they MUST play these notes on:
ti-ti, ti-ti, ti-ti, ti-ti
ti-ti, ti-ti, ti-ti, ta.

We practice this first by playing our "invisible" bars in the air in front of us while we count:
"1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8."

Also, on the final note of the "scary tune" which the children play on Orff instruments, I observe a fermata before resuming the 4-beat introduction on the Bass Bars which leads into the repeat of the A-section song. This gives us a chance to enjoy those delightful eerie overtones before we resume the song.

After the conclusion of the "scary tune," we again have a four beat introduction using D & A on the bass bars, and we again sing the song, giving our activity an ABA form.

When we sing this version, I have the children hold their mallets above their heads like they have "antennae" while they are singing the song (a spook from outer space, perhaps?). They think this is GREAT fun and I love it because it keeps them from trying to play the "scary tune" too early while they are singing the A section song!

The boom pipes keep everyone together. Add color with untuned percussion in the rests at the ends of the phrases - flexitone, vibra-slap, cabasa, whip, guiro, slide whistle, ratchet, and a couple of bony-sounding rattles.

Intro: Boom pipes 8 beats: ADAD then continue through to the end of the verse ending in DAD.
Sing: Small percussion ** ends of phrases
Triangle XXXX
Instruments: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8

Miss White
had a fright
Amanda Bragg




Miss White had a fright,
in the middle of the night.
Saw a ghost, eating toast,
halfway up the lamp-post.

Teach poem. Stress beat and rhythm. On AM, have students play a half-beat on c-g. On AX or SX, have xstudents play the rhythm on any notes.

There, you have improvisation. Ask the students stitting and waiting to listen to the xylo to see if it is speaking the poem with the rhythm. I also have a worksheet where they can write in the rhythm.

A Carcass

Baudelaire's Symbolist Poetry





Professor Gregory Hansen was teaching Baudelaire, and suggests there's some resonance between the children's rhyme and his symbolist poetry.  Here's Charles Baudelaire's approach to a similar topic.

A Carcass

My love, do you recall the object which we saw,
That fair, sweet, summer morn!
At a turn in the path a foul carcass
On a gravel strewn bed,
Its legs raised in the air, like a lustful woman,
Burning and dripping with poisons,
Displayed in a shameless, nonchalant way
Its belly, swollen with gases.
The sun shone down upon that putrescence,
As if to roast it to a turn,
And to give back a hundredfold to great Nature
The elements she had combined;
And the sky was watching that superb cadaver
Blossom like a flower.
So frightful was the stench that you believed
You'd faint away upon the grass.
The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly,
From which came forth black battalions
Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid
All along those living tatters.
All this was descending and rising like a wave,
Or poured out with a crackling sound;
One would have said the body, swollen with a vague breath,
Lived by multiplication.
And this world gave forth singular music,
Like running water or the wind,
Or the grain that winnowers with a rhythmic motion
Shake in their winnowing baskets.
The forms disappeared and were no more than a dream,
A sketch that slowly falls
Upon the forgotten canvas, that the artist
Completes from memory alone.
Crouched behind the boulders, an anxious dog
Watched us with angry eye,
Waiting for the moment to take back from the carcass
The morsel he had left.
- And yet you will be like this corruption,
Like this horrible infection,
Star of my eyes, sunlight of my being,
You, my angel and my passion!
Yes! thus will you be, queen of the Graces,
After the last sacraments,
When you go beneath grass and luxuriant flowers,
To molder among the bones of the dead.
Then, O my beauty! say to the worms who will
Devour you with kisses,
That I have kept the form and the divine essence
Of my decomposed love!



The leading theory says that poor children in Britain and Ireland went door-to-door on Hallowmas taking food in trade for the practice of “going-a-souling,” a ritual of praying for the dead on All Saints Day. This practice actually replaced the even older tradition of people leaving food and wine outside for the roaming spirits. While that may be the start of it, that didn't happen in America, where trick-or-treating may have simply started with children trading songs for treats in the 1910s, according to old newspaper texts. The tradition didn't really spark until after World War II when popular children's magazines started discussing it and the idea entered pop culture, including radio shows and cartoons.


Celtic Tradition
St. Brigit

Learn About St. Brigit and her Halloween tradition that turned into Candelmass

The Ancient Celtic day of the dead that turns into Halloween, virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead.

Actually You can have Halloween without pumpkins!
Jack Santino is a folklorist at Bowling Green State University. His books include The Hallowed Eve and Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life." Halloween is a quintessentially American holiday. Traditions focused on accumulation and consumption may seem very American, and certainly an American-style Halloween has evolved. But the origins of the holiday can be traced back to a pre-Christian Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced “SAH-wen”). For the Celts, Nov. 1 marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the new year. They believed that the souls of the dead mingled among the living at that time. And so they associated the fruits of the harvest with death, the afterlife and the supernatural.Later, after Saint Patrick and other missionaries converted Ireland to Christianity, Nov. 1 became All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Day, and the eve of All Hallows became known as Halloween. It featured feasts, the blessing of the hearth, and the lighting of candles and bonfires to welcome wandering souls. It was and remains a family celebration in Ireland. Few early American settlers observed Halloween. It was Irish immigrants in the 19th century who were responsible for bringing many Halloween customs to the United States.
The devil wasn’t part of the Samhain festival celebrated by the Celts — or the druids, who made up their priestly caste. They made sacrifices in honor of the dead, but those sacrifices more often took the form of burned crops rather than animals. Contrary to some accounts, there was no human sacrifice. It was only when the Catholic Church tried to supplant Samhain and other native holidays that the church branded practitioners of rival religions as devil-worshippers. Beliefs in the wandering dead persisted, but the supernatural beings honored by the Celts became associated with evil. And the Celtic underworld became associated with the Christian hell.




The basic premise of the legend depicts an old Irish farmer, Jack, playing tricks on the devil and then all sorts of completely unrealistic conversations happened between Jack, the devil and God. This resulted in Jack being barred from both heaven and hell and wandering earth as a single flame housed inside carved vegetables. Folks believed that carving scary faces onto turnips would frighten away evil spirits. The tradition turned to pumpkins in America because pumpkins were more plentiful.





The carved pumpkin, lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween's most prominent symbols in America, and is commonly called a jack-o'-lantern. Originating in Europe, these lanterns were first carved from a turnip or rutabaga. Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge, the Celts used the "head" of the vegetable to frighten off any superstitions.

The name jack-o'-lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, hard-drinking old farmer.

He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk. In revenge, the devil placed a curse on Jack, condemning him to forever wander the earth at night with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkins were readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home's doorstep after dark. In America the tradition of carving pumpkins is known to have preceded the Great Famine period of Irish immigration. The carved pumpkin was originally associated with harvest time in general in America and did not become specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.
The imagery surrounding Halloween is largely an amalgamation of the Halloween season itself, nearly a century of work from American filmmakers and graphic artists, and a rather commercialized take on the dark and mysterious. Halloween imagery tends to involve death, magic, or mythical monsters. Traditional characters include ghosts, ghouls, witches, owls, crows, vultures, pumpkin-men, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, mummies, skeletons, and demons.
Particularly in America, symbolism is inspired by classic horror films, which contain fictional figures like Frankenstein's monster and The Mummy. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Candles at Halloween



Halloween Safety


United States Consumerism reports mass-produced costumes date to as early as the 1930s and really took off to coincide with the rise of trick-or-treating.

The Rougarou is a warewolf

The rougarou (alternatively spelled as roux-ga-roux, rugaroo, or rugaru) is a legendary creature in Laurentian French communities linked to European notions of the werewolf.

Rougarou remains a strong figure in Cajun folklore

The Scottish Legend Of Mass Murderer Alexander "Sawney" Bean And His Cannibal Clan They would eventually have 8 sons and 6 daughters, all of which were raised to be part of this cannibalistic cult-like lifestyle. Eventually Bean wanted to expand the family even more and encouraged the children to breed with each other and build him an army. According to the Bean family ledger, found many years later, these incestuous acts brought Bean and Agnes a total of 18 grandsons and 14 granddaughters, now bringing the Bean clan to a total of 48 inbred, cannibalistic monsters. It was about 1430 A.D. when the Bean clan finally met their match. King James I of Scotland is said to have dispatched nearly 400 armed men, including himself, and bloodhounds to hunt down Alexander "Sawney" Bean and his insane family.

Werewolf Protection

A werewolf in folklore and mythology is a person who shapeshifts into a wolf, either purposely, by using magic, or after being placed under a spell.

The Wolfman

See Maria Ouspenskaya as Maleva the Gypsy woman, Bela's mother. Maleva watches over her tormented son, and speaks Siodmak's lovely lines over his body:

The way you walked was thorny
through no fault of your own.
But as the rain enters the soil
the river enters the sea
so tears run to a predestined end.
Your suffering is over, Bela, my son.
Now you will find peace.



Cry of the Werewolf
The La Tour Museum Restored and maintained by the Society of Psychic Research New Orleans




You can only kill a warewolf with wolfbane, a silver bullet, silver knife, or stick with a silver handle. Werewolves are sometimes held to become vampires after death. [2]
Listen for the Irish / Scottish accent:

"I will find your earthbox and drive a stake through your heart!" COME HERE!

Lon Chaney turns into a Warewolf that shows the conflict between the Chruch and Gypsie Burial Traditions. The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney 1941 youtube

“Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night,
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”
- Gypsy Woman (Maria Ouspenskaya) Wolfbane Poem recited in The Wolf Man

Real - Life werewolf looking people and their families.
Lycanthropy has been recently proven to be a bonafide genetic anomaly which causes excess hair growth over the entire body. This gives the unfortunate person a furry animal-like appearance. Pedro Gonzalez, a 10-year-old boy was born on the Canary Island of Tenerife and had been given to Henry II 1547 as a gift by French corsairs. The boy's entire face -- his forehead, cheeks, nose and ears -- was covered in about four inches of dark-blonde fur, revealing only his eyes and lips. [1] But until a century ago, those suffering lycanthropy or thought to be a werewolf were hunted down and killed.

In Philadelphia on New Years Day we have the MUMMERS PARADE.


2016 Folklore - The Horrible Clown Sightings

Just in time for Halloween An epidemic of clown sightings is spreading across America – and no one is laughing any more

Creepy Clown Sightings in South Carolina Cause a Frenzy

Children claim clown tried to lure them into South Carolina woods

Spooky clown sightings unsettle Pa. towns: Why we're afraid

Folklorist Ian Brodie did an interesting short interview on it

Clown costume popularity comes amid heightened fear in Southeast Texas
Elizabeth Tucker Distinguished Service Professor of English,
Binghamton University Past President,
International Society for Contemporary Legend Research

"What's with All the Clowns Everywhere?"
It quotes Folklorist Benjamin Redford, author of "Bad Clowns,"
University of New Mexico Press.
Young people are scared, so this makes sense. Consider it an opportunity for story collecting and motif/meme education.

A Map Of All The Clown Sightings Exists And It Will Give You Nightmares

Clowns are connected on a Jungian level with what other folk animae?

Blackface minstrels (thug life), circus Indians (rampaging Injuns), bearded ladies (transexuals), hillbillies (working class rage), Siamese twins (Asians, the disabled), pinheads (Zika, the disabled), carnival barkers (the Media), magicians (jackleg preachers), thieves (banksters), tricksters and shapeshifters (politicians), strongmen, bully boys and bouncers (law and order, rogue cops) . . .

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