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the hippoLick Or Treat: Costumes For the Discerning Canine and Feline
by Marjorie Dorfman

How and where did the tradition of trick or treat and dressing up for Halloween come from? Wherever that was, who says the custom cannot apply to four-legged celebrants of the holiday as well? Read on for some truth and fun, whether you have two legs or four and wish to remain masked or not.

devil dog costumeTrick or treating, especially in America, 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 (who knew their way home and could drink because they didn’t have to drive). English children who would visit neighboring houses in search of ale, food and money eventually adopted "Going a-souling". (At this time all cats and dogs remained at home and waited eagerly for their masters’ return.)

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. It stems from the fear of running into ghosts on that fateful night when spirits, both human and animal, return to the earthly world. To avoid being recognized or mistaken for another spirit (especially if one owed them money in a former life), people wore masks and gaudy costumes. (It is not known if this belief later influenced the Lone Ranger, the late glittering soul of Liberace or Little Richard of rock and roll royalty.)

dracula costume In any case, that time of year is here again. (It never seems to fail.) The leaves are starting to fall, the days are all getting shorter and the air holds a chilly magic all its own. The color orange reigns supreme and Michael Meyers of cinema fame lurks in the doorways of unsuspecting homes, waiting to strike with his long sharp knife. But Halloween’s fun too, and one word that always applies for the season whether murderous psychopaths like it or not, is costumes. So why should our furry four-legged friends be left out of the fun? Isn’t Halloween meant for everyone? Well, if it hasn’t been in the past, it certainly is now as can be seen in the wide array of costumes now available for an annual masquerade-night on the town for the discerning canine and feline!

Almost anything you can think of in terms of costumes for humans is now available for dogs and cats. Pot-bellied pigs and birds may be next, but so far they must wait in the wings (forgive pun). Consider how your dog would fare as Elvis, Batman, Dracula or Superman. Contemplate too the repercussions of Hula Hound, Pig Dog, Moo Doggie, Biker Dog, Pimp Dog and Big Daddy Dog, just to name a few. Perhaps your cat is more suited to the feline from hell or the pirate cat that sailed the seven seas? Both are there for that sophisticated, well dressed, feline prankster of yours. Character hats and bandanas for both dogs and cats are also available.

pumpkin costumePet costumes fall into seven categories: Christmas characters, Halloween characters, His and Her characters, hats, neckties and bandanas, TV and movie characters and that final all sweeping "other" category, which picks up anything left out in the other six. These include tuxes and "dog bride" outfits for the pooch who wishes to not be left out of the wedding party as well as a Santa Claus and elf ensemble and/or candy cane antlers for that all-inclusive special family photo. All can be purchased from several online sources from the madness, privacy and convenience of your own home to boot!

Does this suggest owner and pet trick (lick) or treating together on All Hallow’s Eve? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps it would be best to leave the "lick" alternative to the four legged ones. Other humans might not understand. Such actions could be dangerous because dark gods lurk and watch over us all on this night of all nights (not to mention Michael Meyers whose knife chops healthy salads at other times of the year). Of course if the dark powers that be could get a look at some of these getups, they would probably be too busy laughing to think about causing any harm.

Did you know . . .?
happy halloween

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Halloween: Ghosts, Goblins and Lore with Gore

The Pumpkin: Gourd of Gourds and King of All Things Halloween

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Here's some wonderful books about Halloween:

An American Holiday, an American History

by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Halloween: An American Holiday

Well-researched, absolutely packed with information and nuggets of fascinating lore on every page, yet the author eschews dry academic prose. The whole history behind the holiday that we celebrate every October 31. From the ancient festivities of Samhain to the parties thrown by Victorians to parades in the 30s and 40s, this book explores the significance behind this holiday.

The Halloween Encyclopedia

by Lisa Morton

Halloween Encyclopedia

Several hundred A-Z entries cover the history, folklore, symbols, rituals, artifacts, and activities of Halloween. Morton's research extends to Wiccan lore, Celtic observances, and Christian mythology, including the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.