Ain’t it a Scary Halloween with Sean and Carrie

Ain't it a Scary Halloween with Sean and Carrie Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Happy Halloween from Thou Shalt Not Suffer!We're talking about Halloween's origins and the past influences coming through into our modern traditions with Sean and Carrie from Ain't It Scary with Sean and Carrie. In this super fun episode, we gab about our favorite Halloween traditions, such as trick or treating, wearing costumes, and bobbing for apples. We reflect on the social and cultural generational shifts driving the nuances, fears and creativity of celebration adaptations over time. We talk about it all. This Halloween, you'll want to turn the lights off and ignore the neighborhood kids so that you can listen to this episode.Ain't It Scary With Sean and Carrie PodcastSign the Petition: MA Witch Hunt Justice Project at Buy Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, by Nicholas RogersEnd Witch Hunts Movement Share your ideas and feedbackSupport the show

Listen in Your Favorite App

Listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts:

Show Notes

Happy Halloween from Thou Shalt Not Suffer!
We’re talking about Halloween’s origins and the past influences coming through into our modern traditions with Sean and Carrie from Ain’t It Scary? with Sean and Carrie. In this super fun episode, we gab about our favorite Halloween traditions, such as trick or treating, wearing costumes, and bobbing for apples. We reflect on the social and cultural generational shifts driving the nuances, fears and creativity of celebration adaptations over time. We talk about it all. This Halloween, you’ll want to turn the lights off and ignore the neighborhood kids so that you can listen to this episode.

Ain’t It Scary? with Sean and Carrie
Sign the Petition: MA Witch Hunt Justice Project at
Buy Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, by Nicholas Rogers
End Witch Hunts Movement
Share your ideas and feedback


[00:00:10] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to a fun and informative episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Halloween Podcast, in an episode that asks why we trick or treat and wear costumes. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
[00:00:21] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack Skellington.
[00:00:24] Josh Hutchinson: Today, we're joined by fellow podcasters, Sean and Carrie of Ain't It Scary with Sean and Carrie.
[00:00:30] Sarah Jack: This is a fun chat about Halloween traditions.
[00:00:33] Josh Hutchinson: You'll really enjoy this one.
[00:00:35] Sarah Jack: 4 podcasters who love Halloween talking all about it.
[00:00:39] Josh Hutchinson: And you can join in on the fun.
[00:00:41] Sarah Jack: Climb up into the wagon for an enjoyable podcast hayride.
[00:00:45] Josh Hutchinson: This episode is a real treat.
[00:00:48] Sarah Jack: Throw on your costume, grab a candied apple, and get cozy for this one.
[00:00:53] Josh Hutchinson: We'll talk about all things Halloween with our wonderful guests.
 We are excited to announce the Massachusetts Witch Hunt Justice Project, which seeks recognition of all of Massachusetts' witch trial victims.
[00:01:06] Sarah Jack: The Massachusetts Witch Hunt Justice Project proposes that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts restore to good standing those convicted of witchcraft and issue an apology to all who were accused and suffered the consequences of accusation.
[00:01:22] Josh Hutchinson: This effort follows on the heels of the exoneration of Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. by Massachusetts in 2022 and the exoneration of 34 individuals by Connecticut in May, 2023.
[00:01:34] Sarah Jack: Please visit to find out how you can volunteer.
[00:01:40] Josh Hutchinson: Lend your voice and effort to speak for people all but forgotten to history.
Sign the petition today. The link is in the show description. Thank you.
[00:01:49] Sarah Jack: He's skeptical, she's spooky. Together they explore the unknown, unsolved, unbelievable, and just plain weird on their podcast, Ain't It Scary with Sean and Carrie. With their passion for history and the truth, they bring their different perspectives to today's episode team up. It's about to get scary with Sean and Carrie and Josh and Sari. 
Sean and Carrie, we're so glad you're here.
[00:02:15] Sean and Carrie: So glad to be here. We first got in touch with you guys, I think, when you were just getting started. And I feel like you had a part in the exoneration recently of the witches here in Connecticut and uh, well, non witches, the victims here in Connecticut. And it's been great to watch your podcast grow, it feels like grow past its original remit now, witches all over the world and modern day witch hunts and some really interesting but important stuff. Whereas we talk about stuff that might be interesting, but it's often not very important, at least not in the immediate sense.
[00:02:53] Sarah Jack: I love your format. What you guys do, there's not another team out there that can do it just like you. How did you guys decide what you guys were going to be talking about? Cause you have a great area that you cover.
[00:03:06] Sean and Carrie: It actually, it took us a few years for getting into making Ain't It Scary. You know, COVID, lockdown, you get to talking about some really weird things, and we were always talking about history, and we were always very honest with each other with our interests right from the beginning, so he knew I loved scary stuff and weird stuff, so we would always be talking about that, and we loved to travel, so we would always hit up a ghost store whenever we'd go somewhere, and then from there, we've just always been really interested in true crime and history, for sure. I think I brought my interest in the paranormal to Sean, because he doesn't really believe in it, but he still enjoys the stories and all that, the history aspect of it. 
Yeah, and we felt it out a little bit as we go, like sometimes a particular, you know, you're doing a story on D. B. Cooper, and you're like is this scary, though? And it's it's weird enough. We don't know this guy. All right. This fits in the remit or I'll be doing something on a, you know, on Nero or something. It's this isn't really horror movie stuff. Am I still in the remit of the podcast? But Carrie's let me get away with it so far. 
I feel like it would be scary enough to be on Nero's bad side, so that's... 
Yeah, oh yeah. 
Yeah we were just in lockdown and decided we have some of this audio equipment around, let's give it a shot. We had bonded over our love of podcasts before then, and yeah. And it ended up pretty well. It took a while to get started, for sure, but then after that, we just really committed to it. 
Yeah, my educational background's in production and stuff, and so is Carrie's, just on different sides, yeah. And so it was a natural thing to just take the conversations we were already having and put them on the internet.
[00:04:55] Josh Hutchinson: And so great that you did. I'm so glad about your show. It's so entertaining, but educational and a really fun ride every episode.
[00:05:07] Sean and Carrie: Thank you very much. 
Thank you. And I think we even started off a little more upbeat. I think we've tackled some really intense subjects over the years now. But we always try to keep it relatable in a way and not with the true crime stuff, not be too leery and into the weeds of the gross stuff. I'm always trying to be respectful because you are telling someone else's story, but then when you have Jeff the Talking Mongoose or some crazy ghost story or whatever, you could have a little fun with it once in a while.
[00:05:41] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I see you've been doing vampires lately.
[00:05:45] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, we've had two weeks of historical vampires. Historical vampire inspirations with Vlad Dracula and then this week was Elizabeth Bathory. And uh, really, really interesting people who lived in a really, you know, a tough time to be a person. 
Probably didn't make it any easier on themselves or anyone else, though.
Oh no. I wouldn't have wanted to necessarily have either one of them in my life, but I think we both learned some surprising things about both of those people. And, next week, I think we'll learn surprising things about their connections, or how tenuous their connections are to Dracula, which is going to be our topic next week. and Try and keep up this vampire thing, I don't know, all the way to Halloween if we can.
[00:06:29] Sarah Jack: Awesome.
[00:06:31] Josh Hutchinson: Perfect.
[00:06:32] Sarah Jack: And what are the platforms people can check your episodes out on?
[00:06:36] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, if you're looking for Ain't It Scary with Sean and Carrie, you can find it. Hey, if there's a podcast platform that you can't find it on, let me know, because I've tried to hit all of them: Apple, all of the usual platforms. All the pod catchers should be there. 
Google Podcasts. 
Anyways, Google, yes. And at You could also listen to any of the episodes there if you wanna really go desktop with it.
[00:07:01] Sarah Jack: So one of your episodes I loved from last year was your Halloween history.
[00:07:07] Sean and Carrie: Thank you. Then that was something that we had wanted to do since the very beginning. That was on our, when you sit down and you're going, "I'm going to make a podcast," that was definitely one that we wanted to do. But there was a lot to it. So I had to do a lot of research for it.
There are some topics from that original list of 50 ideas that we still haven't gotten to. It's we want to really do it right, though. 
But the yeah the Halloween, it took us a while to take the right swing at it. 
Yeah. We did our Salem Witch Trials episodes first. That was like our first, I think our first big Halloween series that we did. And then, yeah, we wanted to do, it's just such an interesting history and it's got so many unexpected connections across history. So definitely something worth looking at.
[00:07:53] Josh Hutchinson: I definitely recommend everybody check out that episode from October 30th, 2022, I believe. And that's the History of Halloween on Ain't It Scary with Sean and Carrie. And I learned so much from that episode, and I'm hoping that we can pick your brain a little tonight and get some golden nuggets out of there. I'm sure there's plenty there. The episode was full of them. So what can you tell us about the very beginning of Halloween history?
[00:08:27] Sean and Carrie: Absolutely. So yeah, there's no real start date as these things go. They just appear in time. And the thing that we can really trace back the most to today's Halloween in the past is to the Celts, the Druids. These are people that lived in early Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, that whole area. And they had a really nature-based lifestyle. They were a nature-based religion. It was a pagan religion based on nature. And they were farmers and they lived on the land, so they were very connected to the earth. 
And the original Halloween was one of their pagan traditions to celebrate, Samhain, is what it was called and still called by pagan practitioners today, and that's really to mark the onset of winter and basically when the harvest was done. Back in the day, we've always had dramatic climate changes and weather changes, and at this point in time, at that place in the world, you really had two halves of the year. You had the summer half. And the winter half. It was really much more like six months, six months, and this was to celebrate the onset of the winter half of the year, where you would bring in the harvest and hibernate and not be harvesting and farming as much. So it was really their New Year a lot of those things that we associate with this time of year, those harvests and cornucopias and all that fun stuff, really comes from that this was a harvest, like a pagan harvest celebration to mark the end of that time of year.
[00:10:24] Josh Hutchinson: So I imagine there was a lot of feasting then.
[00:10:28] Sean and Carrie: Lot of feasting, obviously they would save what they could, but they would also, it was like a communal feast. It was very symbolic, because they were sharing it with their ancestral dead, as well. They felt like this was the time of year where they could really connect with those who had passed away before them. And so it was marked with these feasts where they would commune with the dead, symbolically, in a way. And so they would have part of the harvest set aside just for this big party, and part of it would also be offerings for the dead.
[00:11:05] Josh Hutchinson: After the harvest, it's a time of plenty. Of course, you have to plan ahead and not starve yourself at the end of the year, but it's a time of plenty, and you're looking at this bleak season coming up. So you've got to get out there and live it up while you can.
[00:11:22] Sean and Carrie: Absolutely, and I'm sure they had some raging parties where maybe they had a little too much of the harvest, a little more than they meant to, but yeah, it was the time before things were about to get hard with winter, and they're living much closer to the land. A lot of people wouldn't survive the winter. A lot of people would starve, if they hadn't planned out, or if their crops hadn't produced that year. This was a really major time to try and connect with the earth and make sure that they were all, all good with the good vibes of the earth and their ancestors to try and watch over them in this very difficult time of the year.
[00:12:04] Josh Hutchinson: I want to party with a druid, have a nice druidic rave. That would be killer.
[00:12:10] Sean and Carrie: Raise some standing stones? Absolutely.
[00:12:12] Josh Hutchinson: Oh, yeah. Beat some drums in there. Get those vibrations going.
[00:12:17] Sean and Carrie: Yeah. There would definitely be a lot of music. There would be, a big thing was bonfires. They were really big about the firepits, which we're bringing back nowadays. But, because their religion was just so based on nature, it wasn't even like the same kind of idea of a Christian God or anything like that. It was, the world is their god. So because the sun was growing weaker in the colder months, and especially as they got closer to that time of the year, they really saw it as like the sun is a god ,and so what they would do is this like begets like idea of if we make these big bonfires, and we have this big light, hopefully that'll have the sun make sure that it doesn't leave them forever. Cause that was always one of their fears was that the sun would rise again. So they figured if we put up these fires, the sun will like that, and it'll want to stick around, pretty much. It sounds a little wild to us today, because we understand what the sun is, and that it will come back, hopefully.
But, yeah, I guess any religion can be wild in the eyes of someone else, but it's really cool how these traditions, harvest bonfires and like sitting around the fire pit having s'mores in the fall. That's such a fall activity, and they were doing that centuries before Jesus was even around, very BC.
When did the fear and the spooky start? 
[00:13:49] Sean and Carrie: There is that, probably in our perspective today of they're connecting with the dead and their ancestors, that's spooky, but they wouldn't have seen it that way. It's very much like something like Dia de los Muertos, where it's more of a reverence. Part of the spookiness, I would have to say, came from the Christians, those good old Christians assimilating pagan traditions to try and, you know, like, well, they're already celebrating this, so we can figure it into our feast calendar and try to get them to join Christianity but not have to give up all of their traditions, and so they really went deep into the idea of a time of the dead, because they couldn't really call it the same way that it was, which was like a harvest festival paying tribute to the harvest, which was like a godlike figure.
You can't do that in Christianity, so they changed it to All Saints Day and All Souls Day. That was the time of what would be called Hallowmas, November 1st and 2nd. And so the Saints Day would be to mark the saints, especially in Catholicism, obviously, and then All Souls Day would be for the spirits of those who had passed already. I mean, Catholics do everything a little spookier, I feel like, so that sort of brought a little bit of a less of a celebratory tone and more of a mourning, like a sad tone when it came to All Souls Day. And then the dead really got involved, the idea of the dead got involved in the tributes. There would be a lot of prayers. People started baking soul cakes to you couldn't make sacrifices anymore to the dead, because that was pagan. So you could bake these cakes and make them as offerings, which became our treats that you would give out on Halloween. Yeah, I think Catholicism really brought a dark, I'm not trying to be critical, but like a darker kind of more mournful tone to it, and that just naturally became spooky. 
Carrie, do you think it'd be accurate to say that it's always been about being closer to death, but that our attitudes toward death have changed? 
I think that's exactly it. Yeah, I think as science and as time has gone on, as we've understood things more, death has become less of a constant in people's lives. Obviously it's constant in everyone's lives, but even through the Victorian era, people were having funerals in their houses, like people would be around death very often, right up close to it. And they were more used to it. So I think it makes more sense that as time has got on, we still have these traditions that are spooky or morbid, but they've become, in our perspectives, spookier and more morbid, because we're less familiar with death. And I think we're more scared of it, because it's much more of an unknown. People live a lot longer. People get well after getting a cold, knock on wood. Back in the day, if you caught a sniffle, that could be it. And people would have 10, 12 kids, because they were assuming that a few of them would not make it to adulthood. I think as we've dealt with the death much less in our day to day lives, that's made the sort of death rituals much creepier to us, because I think it freaks us out more.
[00:17:25] Josh Hutchinson: Think that's such a really good point. Now death is also a little sanitized, because so much of it occurs in hospitals and hospice that, you know, you're on in a hospital bed in hospital clinical conditions, it's all clean and peaceful and you're not in a home with your loved one being the one as the only one there for you.
[00:17:53] Sean and Carrie: Often you would be, like, as the loved ones, you would be the ones cleaning the bodies, dressing the bodies. You would be very much right into it, and probably from a young age. So people were much more, I guess, inoculated to the creepy factor.
Carrie has a fascination with this, not a creepy or prurient fascination, a fascination with this very prevalent Victorian tradition of the corpse photograph that they would take, especially after children had died, they would take a photo of the little child's corpse. 
And you see these in antique stores and stuff sometimes. It's just a photo of a body, but you wanted to keep what that child looked like. Cause maybe people only got one portrait in their life at that time. And it was the easiest to take pictures of the dead, especially children, because children squirm around, they move around and those cameras, you would have to stay stock still for up to 10 minutes at a time for one picture. So often these parents didn't have pictures of their children at all, which to us sounds crazy because you could just take out your phone and take a picture.
But that was usually the best time where they could get a picture, or else you're not getting one and you just have to sort of based on your memory. So to us, that sounds horrific, like, oh, a picture of a dead body. To that grieving parent, that's the only image they would ever have of their child. And they wanted to have that image more than just never having a picture of them. So yeah, the traditions they had back then, they sound really extreme to us or very morbid or creepy, but to them, it was much more normal.
[00:19:36] Josh Hutchinson: You've talked about the Celtic influence on Halloween. One thing that interested me from your show was the Roman additions to Halloween. I wasn't aware of that.
[00:19:51] Sean and Carrie: I hadn't been either until I started looking into it, because you've got the Celts, you have the Christians and the Catholics, there has to be some sort of bridge there. And that was really the Romans. Everyone had different traditions going on, but the Romans, it's interesting because so many cultures had this sort of festival, the mark of the end of the harvest and the beginning of the cold seasons, because seasons don't really change, they change every year, but they haven't, they don't vary wildly. They're like, okay, next is when it gets dark and cold, and then it'll get warm and sunny again. So those were things that people would have celebrated since the beginning of time, because that was another common thing that we all had.
We all experienced when it got cold, and then we all experienced when it got warm again. So the Romans had their own festival, also November 1. The day's obviously a little wibbly wobbly, because the calendar is a newer thing than a lot of these traditions. But this would be the end of the harvest season for the Romans, and this would celebrate the goddess Pomona. They were very much into these feasts and festivals for their gods and goddesses, paying tribute.
I think it was even more deeply into the culture than even the Celts, because I think they were a little more disparate. They weren't as organized, maybe, in some of their beliefs. But the Romans in government and everything, and in the town you're praising the gods and goddesses. And this was the deity of the orchards and the harvest, and so they would have to pay tribute to her, because you want the harvest to be good again next year, so you want her to be happy with you. So you would have feasts of plenty, and that would be apples, nuts, and grapes, and orchard fruits, because orchards were a big thing in Rome and you know in that area and and so you'd have this big feast and then put everything away for winter and those are the kinds of things that they would dry or try to preserve for for the harder seasons so yeah the Romans brought that sort of fall girl energy into it with picking apples and like the idea of those kinds of harvest elements.
Yeah, pumpkin spice lattes. 
They are the Romans are like the pumpkin spice latte of these traditions. It's like they're very much into like... You know, it's, it's autumn like, like, they're very, they're very into that they bring the harvest energy into it. So it's not really super spooky with them, but it's a very harvest based and very autumnal, their their traditions. 
It wasn't super Roman. Not a single person or animal got murdered in that whole, 
No, because it was all about crops. You just, you're just eating, you're eating your offerings.
[00:22:46] Josh Hutchinson: Wow. No gladiatorial war simulations.
[00:22:50] Sean and Carrie: No, it was a pretty peaceful, it was a pretty peaceful celebration. 
[00:22:53] Josh Hutchinson: yeah, that's, 
[00:22:53] Sean and Carrie: until, Constantine and then the Christians came in and they were like, you can't do this. But yeah. 
Although I think once the Coliseum went up, basically every holiday was marked with a couple of people getting free.
That's true.
[00:23:05] Josh Hutchinson: yeah, a few hungry lions and a few unfortunate people.
[00:23:10] Sean and Carrie: There's really these interesting through lines throughout all of them. There's always going to be a feast. It's always marking a transition time and often because it's this transitory time where we're going into darkness and coldness and then bringing in often that has to do with marking the dead because the darkness is the unknown, is death, is all of these things.
And so that's why they would believe that we were closer to the dead at that time. And people had a very significant relationship with at least the concept of their ancestors, I don't know, through, through the early Christian times, I would say. 
Not to be a podcaster on another podcast talking about another podcast, but in, in,
uh, In Dan Carlin's awesome fall of the Roman Republic thing, death Throws of the Republic, he calls it, he talks about how Julius Caesar would've grown up in a house where you just have the faces of all of your, you have an ancestor, Roman, you just have the faces of all of your dead ancestors, their death masks painted all over the walls of this room with lines showing, who's related to who, but they're all looking at you every day. Yeah, what are you going to do? 
[00:24:20] Sarah Jack: Oh yeah.
[00:24:21] Sean and Carrie: I think in this digital age, I think a lot of people are trying to get back to that connection because so many of us, you know, you go back a few generations and then it's just lost and you, because a lot of us are immigrants, whether, we came from other countries to America or went somewhere else, we've lost those ties that they had so deeply.
So I think we're trying to get back to that, but yeah, because they had such close links to their ancestors and they had a lot of word of mouth of what they were like, and they were literally all around them often with statues and things like that, they would be paying tribute to them. And this was the time of year when they would do it.
[00:25:02] Josh Hutchinson: And bringing the apples to the party, that was a nice contribution to bring in the bobbing for apples, and now we have the candied apples.
[00:25:13] Sean and Carrie: Yeah. And the apples, they started with Rome. That's where it comes from. It comes from, I'm sure if there were apples around in the Druid times, they had it then too, because that was part of a crop in the harvest. But the idea of bobbing for apples and that being part of the tradition, and, I feel like that's yeah, so apple picking starts with the Romans and then you're, you start playing bobbing for apples around Victorian times, so they're still incorporating apples and they're just finding fun new ways to do it. And I think this would be called snap apple at the time was bobbing for apples. I guess you try to snap into it. 
For the Victorians? 
[00:25:57] Josh Hutchinson: Okay.
[00:25:58] Sean and Carrie: They set a lot of our modern, not just for Halloween, even, but they set a lot of our kind of traditions in stone, right? For a lot of holidays? 
A lot of holidays, yeah. But the biggest source of, specifically, our American concept of Halloween really starts with the Victorians. Obviously, because we had freedom of religion, that's why I think it became so popular here, because it wasn't, I mean some countries probably didn't allow it for a very long time 'cause it has these pagan roots. But we, we had this freedom of religion and that starts and we have the Revolutionary War, and then in the Victorian era the, they're feeling very close to death. The Victorians are notoriously very morbid. And they start to have actual Halloween parties and things like that where it's not samhain or like a pagan festival, but it's like a fun time to, they were like matchmaking events. You'd go and court your beau at the Halloween party in Victorian times.
[00:27:00] Josh Hutchinson: It's funny because we often think of the Victorians as such stuffy, prudish people, but they would let their hair down and go wild at these parties.
[00:27:10] Sean and Carrie: Absolutely, and funny you mention that because a lot of the reason we think that is because the most of the first photos we have that are surviving today, most of them are from the Victorian era, and they're all very serious, and they look really grumpy, and that's because often enough, they're trying desperately not to move an inch.
And you can't smile for 10 minutes straight, or else your face starts hurting, and then you drop your smile, and then you're all blurry in the picture. You had to be ramrod straight, and so you would just have a dead face, basically just trying to get the picture taken. And so we have an image of them being very grumpy and serious, but that's because they couldn't be like joshing around in pictures or, like grinning and smiling like we would today because they had to pose for so long.
So that's not really how people were. People were serious and people were cheerful and, just like nowadays. It's just that The evidence we have of them looks like they're all so serious. There's no candids because you would have had to wait 10 minutes to finish cheersing your friends at the bar or whatever it was you were trying to take a picture of.
Yeah, so the pose was just trying to just relax your whole body and just stare for 10 minutes. I'm hoping that this picture would come out because it was also very expensive. So that's why we have that impression of them. But they were, humans be humaning all the time. They did wear a lot of clothes.
I think that's the other reason we have that impression. I probably would have been cranky about that too.
[00:28:48] Josh Hutchinson: Now, when did the really wild side of Halloween, the mischief and tricks come in?
[00:28:57] Sean and Carrie: It's interesting because. Tricks and treats come through all throughout time even from the Celtic times and from the early Christian times of baking the soul cakes and giving those out. The idea of giving out tricks or treats or going from person to person or house to house to get these treats, that's from the beginning of Halloween, because you would try to, to go way back, you would wear disguises and try to outwit some of the spirits. And that was some of the fun stuff. So you would go from house to house trying to run away from things and lead the spirits away from town. And for your troubles, you would often get a treat, and then that would turn into offerings to the spirits. Now the Irish, they had a really big hand in trick or treating, actually, in our modern concept of trick or treating, and it was actually Irish immigrants.
Irish immigrants make everything more fun. 
It must be said. 
And they, if the Victorians were like the era that had the most influence on what became Halloween as we know it, I feel like the Irish immigrants were the people that really had the most influence on American Halloween, because they had this really deep connection to their Celtic ancestors, so they still had some of those traditions, and they brought them over from their homeland. And even after Christianity, they're stubborn. They still want to do these traditions and they started marking that time of year. It became more and more popular and and yeah, revelers, Irish revelers would go from house to house, they would be singing songs on Halloween and they would be given ales or treats as they went from house to house singing their songs.
They really brought in trick or treating, they brought in the the it's arguable, but possibly the idea of the jack o'lantern. Jack o'lanterns were probably turnips that were carved and lit up to, to light the way. Again, it's dark early, you have to have a way to, to light the trying to get the spirits away from town and so they, they don't all descend on everyone, you want to bring them away, so you have these little turnips lit up and that'll guide their way. So that's probably something that came from Ireland. 
So you're carrying a turnip from house to house and people are giving you free beer? 
Yeah, that's pretty good. 
Yeah, Irish Halloween doesn't sound spooky particularly, but it sounds fun. It sounds like a good time. 
So they really brought that tradition to America and then it became something that kids did really mostly after World War II is when it became a kid's holiday.
[00:31:45] Sarah Jack: That's interesting. When you just mentioned the kids, I was thinking about how technology, is reaching children younger and younger. So I was like, oh, how did they pull in the Halloween fun younger and younger back then?
[00:31:58] Sean and Carrie: Yeah it was always something, interestingly enough, young girls were very, young girls have always been witchy. We've always been making potions in the backyard and things like that. We always have liked witchy stuff. And one thing that girls have always liked to do is, who am I going to marry? Whether you're doing mash or the little like paper things, fortunes, there's always been that, and so young girls around Halloween time would gather together at midnight because this is the time where we're closest to the spirit world and you can maybe get some answers about things, and they would try to do some divinations to find out who they were going to marry. Maybe the spirits would be, close enough that they'd be willing to tell them. So young girls really brought in that aspect of it, and they've always been interested. And then after World War II, we had so many kids because the baby boomer generation, uh, the youth population really sharply increased.
And that's because the spirits were such successful matchmakers? I guess.
[00:33:04] Sarah Jack: Yeah.
[00:33:05] Sean and Carrie: I guess so. And, you know, the holiday had become less spooky. It wasn't Victorian times anymore. And it had become more of a party holiday after Victorian times. Young girls had always been interested in the witchy aspect, so it just naturally became a kid centric holiday. Once there were so many kids, they all gathered together and started adopting these traditions. 
And then there was money to be made, right? And the rest is history. Yes. Now we got to sell Halloween costumes and then the ball's rolling. Not that that's a bad thing. I love Halloween. Honestly, I love Halloween.
[00:33:43] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I wouldn't mind if Halloween went on a little longer than it does. I think definitely by Labor Day you should be in Halloween mode if not, Fourth of July, start getting ready for it.
[00:33:57] Sean and Carrie: Preaching to the choir, I think our first Monster Mash might have, it might have still been August.
[00:34:01] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, very good.
[00:34:05] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, kids were also dressing up in costumes and at least as early as the 20s were some of the earliest mentions of actual kids costumes for Halloween. There was a, an article in Ladies Home Journal in 1920 that talked about some kids Halloween costumes, which I just love reading about because again, kids are always going to be kids and so what they're interested in is, it's always just fun and what they want to dress as. And in this article, they mentioned two Charlie Chaplins in the same group and a gingerbread man, so it's like this sort of fairy tale character. And then I just love the two Charlie Chaplins is having two Ironmans. That was what was popular. That's what kids liked. So it's a fun way to look at history as well. Yeah, kids are always going to be interested in their stuff and they're always going to want to dress like it.
[00:34:58] Sarah Jack: Is there an era between that fun piece where the kids got to start shaping the holiday and the satanic panic? What was the shift? Is there something in the middle there or did we just go straight into that?
[00:35:11] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, we didn't go straight into it. I think it's, when it comes to the Satanic Panic, which we've talked about on our show, it's very much the political leanings of the country. We're seeing some of those things now again, the same sort of, we're talking about baby eating again. It's, it comes in waves. 
And Halloween, because it deals with fears and, you know, spookiness and fears of death, especially, it often gets associated with our general fears as a culture. Kids were starting to wear costumes and stuff in the twenties. Then in the forties and fifties, they're starting to make it a more kid centric holiday. It really spreads across the country as kids go trick or treating on Halloween. That didn't happen until the 50s and 60s. By the 60s, you have it pretty much across the country that people know what trick or treating is and they're going trick or treating. 
I think you needed the invention of the fun sized candy bar to really fully optimize.
You joke, but like widespread entertainment, media, TV, commercials, things that can be targeted as, at kids. they get brought into this holiday of oh candy. Okay. So we can make this targeted at kids, have them be like, mom, get me this candy. You can have commercials for that now. Mid century, you're seeing more of the widespread celebrations. And then in the 70s, just like with the rest of the country, there's a lot of unrest after Vietnam. There's a lot of political strife. There's the youth generation versus the older generation, those sorts of feelings. And that's when some of the backlash begins. And that also incorporates the satanic panic and those kinds of fears.
And in the 70s, you have the first murder associated with Halloween candy which is Ronald Clark O'Brien. Now this is a bit of a trivia, no one's ever been poisoned or, anything with Halloween candy by a stranger. That has never actually happened. There's never been an injury from razor blades and apples. Very dubious as to whether there has ever been a stranger giving out razor blade apples. 
Sure, but O'Brien, here's one Irishman who was no fun at all.
[00:37:33] Sarah Jack: Oh 
[00:37:35] Sean and Carrie: because of this murder who, just to go into it quickly, he was a very sick man who poisoned his own son in Halloween candy to try and get insurance money. But it became an urban legend, the person poisoning the candy, you better check your candy because there could be poison in it. That's when you start getting the sort of darker side of Halloween in terms of the darker side of the fears of the entire culture at the time. 
Cause the razor blade thing has.
Never happened. 
Never happened. 
Yeah. There's been a couple of things where, could this kid have had some sort of drugs? And usually it might've been some thing where they just got into a relative's stash or whatever. And, but no, no kid's ever been poisoned that way, but it became a fear, became parents warning their kids, parents checking their kids' candy, and that was just exactly at the time where we started ramping up to the Satanic Panic of the 80s. So it's really just culture building it on itself. And it's so interesting to see how it has its tentacles in everything, the Vietnam could be directly related to like Halloween PSAs, which you wouldn't think that, but, it's a logical step of the feeling of the entire country turns into the fear associated with this holiday.
And I think the seventies. 
There's just a fearful time, there's a lot going on. There's serial killers still, they, from our research, they feel like they were running rampant, I don't know. 
Yeah, exactly, yeah. A lot of the serial killers you know about are from the 70s or the early 80s, the economy was on fire, the world had a lot of weird things going on tensions going on. Crime felt The Cold Ward, it was very high. It was a weird time, and so everything just became a little weird. Yeah. Everybody was really afraid of everything. I wasn't alive, but it feels like everybody was really afraid of everything. Yeah.
And even if you were a little religious, my, my parents were not, but I still remember they, they reacted to fears even when I was in, I guess this is like the 90s, early 2000s, very early 2000s, but I remember having, you could go to the police station and get your candy x rayed if you really wanted to. They would always check every piece, make sure anything that had been ripped open, whether it was accidentally or whatever that got thrown out. So they were very paranoid too, and I think it's such a kid-centric holiday. It has to do with kids running around and having fun and being spooked and things like that.
But you also had Stranger Danger. So you're going to stranger's houses and asking for candy, but don't ask for candy from that stranger in the van, a lot of mixed messages, but, and because things were similar in those ways, I think they just got associated with each other. And so Halloween became more of a scary holiday, based on like strangers and things like that, where it hadn't really been before. But that also had to do with kids not really roaming around freely as they did in the 70s and 80s, as time went on, it became much more reined in, I think.
[00:40:55] Josh Hutchinson: And now today it's conspiracy theories and fentanyl in the candy.
[00:41:02] Sean and Carrie: Well, Fenton, yes, and that's a big thing, and a As far as there's nothing for this year, but as of last year, there wasn't any actual fentanyl poisonings and candy or anything like that, but that's just the new razorblades and apples. I, yeah I used to work for a local news station and you get a lot of that kind of stuff rippling through the 
Like they're giving out edible gummies to kids. So if you think about why would anyone ever do that? First of all, that costs money, presumably. And then second of all, why do you want to get kids high on edibles? What good does that do? How is that interesting? What does that do for you? No one would ever really do that. And no one has really done that. Kids have gotten into their parents' stuff, and there have been reports of that around Halloween, but there's never been reports of someone giving out pot brownies to trick or treaters just because they wanted to. It's always been, like, relatives and things like that. 
Yeah, there's no wrapped Jolly Ranchers that are actually made of fentanyl or anything like that people have to 
But you'll see that on Facebook. I'm sure my mom will post something like that this year. 
But it seems and I'm sure these fears play into this phenomenon, but it seems the trunk or treat is all the rage now.
Yes, much more popular. 
That's the new evolution is the, they'll all just gather in, all the kids gather at the school parking lot or something and and take candy from people. I guess as long as the end result is you get to see your friends and wear a costume and eat some candy. 
It feels like it's done real, real quickly just on the parking lot.
Yeah, it's not quite the same adventure. That's for sure. 
[00:42:40] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. I would miss the old days of walking for seeming like miles and not caring because you're fueled the whole time.
[00:42:51] Sean and Carrie: Exactly. Trunk or Treat was really past our time, too. That's, I only started hearing about that when my cousin who just graduated college or college, high school was in elementary school. That was the first time I ever heard of that. And I think As kids become more independent in other ways, like with social media, having phones, and they, parents can't necessarily control that aspect of their lives, I think they want them, along with those paranoias about missing children and stuff, they want them roaming around less, and so they want to have an eye on them whenever they're doing trick or treating and things like that. So that's where the trunk or treat comes from. 
I have no idea what you're texting about, but do it in my sight.
[00:43:33] Josh Hutchinson: Yes.
[00:43:35] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, it's interesting how the freedom aspect along with the youth culture, it took a steep rise of trick or treating spreading as a tradition throughout the country. And I speak of American culture just because it's so prevalent with Halloween as it is today. It does happen in other countries. But we're number one when it comes to Halloween, we're really into it. So as the freedom rose for kids where they would just bike around, or they would be able to wander by themselves, then that hit a point where, around the 70s, somewhere in there, it just got, there was too much paranoia, there was too much fear, and that, the freedom started to decline to the point where now, yeah, I think trunk or treat is probably more prevalent than trick or treating nowadays, at least from what I've seen in the last couple of years, but we were in a condo, yeah. 
I was going to say, I hope not, cause for the first time we're in a house on a street. 
I've invested in a lot of candy to give out. So I really hope we get trick or treaters. But yeah, it's definitely gone down in recent years because of these organized events, and I think that has to do with, again, directly, you can chart Satanic Panic to Trunk or Treat, and I think it, you can make a straight line there as to, point A to point B.
[00:44:52] Josh Hutchinson: And then you throw in the pandemic and that throws everything for a loop.
[00:44:57] Sean and Carrie: That's like a new kind of paranoia. They could be giving you bacteria now. And, I think 2021 was the first year where I saw anyone really going trick or treating after, really last year or more, but, you know, UV lights. And um, yeah, it's spraying down originally with the groceries, spraying down the wrap, like the wrapped bag with the Lysol and then letting it sit.
And, it's just another thing to be afraid of. 
And Oh, that month when we were leaving our, all our groceries out on the deck for a little while first. 
Yeah, Yeah, I saw a lot of the UV lights for Halloween and things like that after COVID because it just, it's another way we adapt the tradition to fit our current fears.
[00:45:46] Sarah Jack: Yeah, that year for a trick, my son was like eight. And so everybody was shooting their candy down these
[00:45:54] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, I
saw that too. 
[00:45:56] Sarah Jack: on their, 
[00:45:56] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, but Halloween will always make you creative. So there's also the good side of it. There will always be people that want to give treats to kids on Halloween because it makes them happy. And so they're all, there will always be positives with it. But yeah, I think this holiday more than any other, we really uniquely adapt it to our culture, especially in terms of what we're afraid of, because that's what the holiday's about, and so I think it really reflects where we are socially and culturally, every decade or so you can see how it changes to fit those social and cultural changes.
Although it's funny, kids, and this isn't just, I'm not like, kids today, but kids, but when I was a kid, there was a year that we were all Power Rangers, there was a year that, it's not like we're always dressed in, dressed as things that scare us necessarily. You're just like the coolest thing you can think of is everybody gets to be somebody else for the night on Halloween. Yeah. So that's another aspect of it too. And we'll be Bonnie and Clyde this Halloween. That's our plan. Yeah. 
[00:47:00] Sarah Jack: Oh. Oh. 
[00:47:02] Josh Hutchinson: awesome.
[00:47:03] Sean and Carrie: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Thank you.
Although we will be posthumous. Yes. They will be dead. You gotta do that with them, I think. But yeah, costumes will always be a thing, but now that there, there are other concerns. There are people wearing costumes into movie theaters and doing bad things. That's our talk. So the, those fears get adapted and some, now you can't wear masks certain places on Halloween and stuff like that, which makes total sense safety wise, but that wasn't something we were concerned about till we were concerned about it.
[00:47:37] Josh Hutchinson: One trend that I'm seeing in Halloween is more travel, especially to places like Salem. I know they had their record year last year with over a million visitors in October, and it's a town of 40,000 or something. And it broke the toilets. So
[00:48:00] Sean and Carrie: Yeah, it's a small city and we love going there because we're only a couple hours away. I usually like to go a couple times a year because it's just a really cool town, even subtracting all the witch stuff, but that's just great frosting on top of the cake for me. But I think it's interesting how culture does inform these things, because I think it started really skyrocketing in terms of insane attendance rates around the time of, weirdly enough, like Hocus Pocus's around 25th anniversary for the movie, because they have a lot of movie-related celebrations and stuff in town, and people started realizing you could go see the the places where they filmed in town for the film Hocus Pocus. I think the people who grew up watching it on Disney Channel, like I did, millennials, now we had the money and the resources to travel to a place because it was in a movie that we loved as a kid. So I think all of that sort of wrapped up together in around like 2015 ish.
And and then, crazy enough, with lockdown, people got really stir crazy after that. And I, I know a couple of people that work in tourism in Salem. My friend Elise runs, just got to give her a shout out there, but she said after COVID, you would think it would go down the attendance rates and it's skyrocketed.
Even more than anything related to Hocus Pocus or anything like that. The last couple of years, 2021, 2022 have just been stratospheric. You can't even drive into town barely any day in October anymore, which you used to, it would be busy, but you would be able to drive in and park somewhere. But now you can't do that. 
You know how a couple of years ago you didn't know a single person who had been to Iceland and now every fifth American person you meet is like, Oh, have you been to Reykjavik? It's the coolest place.
It's like word of mouth too. Yeah. Oh, I went to Salem and it was like Halloween town for Halloween, and so you gotta go. And then everyone else that's, oh, like I, I have money and I have a car now. I could probably do that. 
So many people who go you guys must love Salem. I went there last year for the first time. What a crazy place during October. So I think it's having a moment, for sure. 
And I started going yearly around 2015 or so, which is that time that I mentioned, but that was also the time where I happened to be living on my own and Planning my own weekends away. And while I wanted to go to this place that my parents brought me to as a kid, I didn't really understand it then, cause I was like seven years old at the witch museum. But now I wanted to experience it as an adult and appreciate it. On my own time I think a lot of people have had that same thing the last few years, especially with Salem, because at least locally, it's much more easy for people we know to just drive over there.
But even other places have become destinations as well, and I really think it's just because of, certain, generations are really interested in certain things. And my generation likes spooky Hocus Pocusy stuff, so they go to Salem.
[00:51:22] Josh Hutchinson: My parents love to go down to Tombstone for Halloween. They have Helldorado days
[00:51:29] Sean and Carrie: Oh, that
[00:51:30] Josh Hutchinson: they can cosplay as dead cowboys and things like that. So it's a pretty awesome.
[00:51:37] Sean and Carrie: I would love to go to Tombstone generally, but around Halloween is, that sounds like a great idea. I always tell people now that they should go to Salem twice because it is cool to see the October of it all, but you can't even get into museums. Like at that time of year anymore, I say go twice. Go like in the spring, like off season and actually go to the museums and enjoy it without a thousand people in every store. And then go and just experience that Halloween stuff and don't worry about tourism just to experience the celebration because they're very different vibes and very different things.
It's a town that has confronted its, it's very public, ugly history in such a way that it has turned inside out into the most liberal, groovy town you've ever.
Which of course is attractive to a lot of people wanting to party, I'm sure. 
So it's yeah I really enjoy our time there.
And they got a cool comic book store, too. 
Yeah, that helps.
[00:52:37] Josh Hutchinson: Oh, they do. We were there in May and fortunately May's a good time, especially if you're there in the middle of the week, you can get into anything you want to the middle of the week. And May was my experience where I was there in October in 2016. And yeah,
[00:53:00] Sean and Carrie: So crazy. Yeah.
Like, just imagine that I guess probably like times five now. The, just the attendance rates have been astronomical. But yeah, it's a totally different experience. And you're, you go for the history and the actual town itself off season. And then in October, you're going for that Halloween experience that you can only get there.
[00:53:23] Josh Hutchinson: Right, and a lot of people have gone from doing the haunted house to staying in a haunted hotel for Halloween.
[00:53:33] Sean and Carrie: Yes. And that's something that you would think people don't want to stay in haunted rooms. But certain rooms in certain hotels, you have to book years in advance. Salem, just to have a hotel in town, you have to book a year in advance for Halloween season now. It used to just be Halloween that you would have to make sure you had reservations. So now you End of September to early November, you need to book a year in advance if you want to go. And if you want one of the purportedly haunted rooms in the Hawthorne Hotel, then, yeah, good luck.
But there's also more places that offer those sorts of experiences, like the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. You can... You can go there and sleep in a room that people were murdered in. And those kinds of historic kind of escape room-y but real situations have become a lot more popular as tourist destinations in the last few years. 
And those Lizzie Borden people actively seem to advertise to the like, clicky machine ghost adventure set, yeah. They know where their bread is buttered and ghost hunters love going there. 
I would love, I would, I, I haven't been, only Carrie has, but I would love to stay at the the Lizzie board. 
I haven't stayed, but I've done the tour and it was very educational.
[00:54:53] Josh Hutchinson: I would like to stay there just out of Morbid fascination with the case of, was she an axe murderer? Am I staying in the axe murderer's house? This is interesting.
[00:55:07] Sarah Jack: I know a couple episodes you can listen to find out, Josh.
[00:55:10] Josh Hutchinson: Oh, yes.
[00:55:12] Sean and Carrie: I think I think people have always... It's both a little morbid and maybe the rush reminds us that we're alive, and I think people have pulled pranks since the cavemen's times and people have told scary stories since we had language and we've told ghost stories and stories about monsters and things like that since we've had language.
We've always liked to be a little scared. Controlled scared. Watching a horror movie, you know that's not happening to you. Telling a scary story, you know it's not actually happening around the campfire. So it's like a controlled dose of fear. To sort of, you know, give you that little adrenaline boost, but also reassure you that you're in no real danger. And I think stuff like what it's called dark tourism, the, these sort of spooky tourist places or ghost tours or things like that you're getting close to it, but you're still in control of the fear. And I think that can be very attractive to some people who enjoy that. It's like going on a roller coaster.
Carrie, if I may steal a story from you, an anecdote when you were very young, you, your uncle had a bust of Frankenstein, of, sorry, Frankenstein's monster on his desk, and you were fascinated and frightened, and you terrified me, but I would always sneak into the room and I was only scaring myself. It wasn't that people said I couldn't go into the room, but I would sneak in like I wasn't allowed and I would peek at it and then I would run away, 'cause it was so scary. But you kept creeping in 'cause it was fun to be scared by the bust in a controlled way where you knew once you ran away. Yes.
That's how and I know it's not Frankenstein, but he looks scary. And so it's a little shot of, Ooh, that's scary. And then you run away.
It's not Frankenstein. It's the monster. The creation. 
But I think kids are like that, which is also why they respond to Halloween. And I think people, humanity has always been like that. And that's why we all respond to Halloween, even nowadays. 
That's very much what our podcast is about, too. 
Ain't it scary?
[00:57:22] Sarah Jack: Yeah.
[00:57:23] Josh Hutchinson: Is there anything that you wanted to cover that we haven't talked about today?
[00:57:29] Sean and Carrie: Good question. Yeah we've really gone through all of history, haven't we? My goodness. Yeah, halloween, as it is today, as the Halloween that we're talking about is such a uniquely American holiday and American experience. And this version of Halloween has leached out into other countries now, whereas people, kids dress up and they go trick or treating now in places like the UK and Australia and things like that.
Obviously, there were traditions that we brought with us, but I think because we were such a country of immigrants, and because we were founded on the principle of freedom of religion, that's why all of these traditions from the Celts and the Romans and the Catholics and all these different Americans traditions were allowed to coalesce into this really unique holiday and it's not based on any specific religion. You can be pagan and celebrate Halloween in America, but you could just be nothing and celebrate Halloween. You could be Christian, you could be Jewish, you could, it's not like Christmas which, has its own way of modifying for anyone. But even more Halloween is for everyone. And it's just, it's a really interesting melting pot of all of these traditions that were brought into this country. So I think it's underrated in terms of history. I think you look at Halloween and first of all, this massive timeline of, ancient culture to now, but you also see a real timeline of America and what's important in our culture and what has been important in our culture and how those things have changed, especially related to both our fears and our children the youth of America, because it's such a youth based holiday now.
And so it's just a really fascinating way to, to look at history and look at our culture in a way that you wouldn't expect necessarily, because, you grow up and it's normal to you and it's always there. But when you really take a look at it, you see a little bit of everyone in it. 
Especially 2 Charlie Chaplins, and 2 Iron Man.
And to Gingerbread Man. 
[00:59:45] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer
[00:59:49] Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
[00:59:51] Josh Hutchinson: And subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:59:54] Sarah Jack: Visit
[00:59:57] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends about the show
[01:00:00] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to end witch hunts. Visit to learn more.
[01:00:05] Josh Hutchinson: To support the show, Make a tax deductible donation, purchase books from our bookshop, or buy merch from our Zazzle shop. Links are in the show description.
[01:00:15] Sarah Jack: Have you considered supporting the production of the podcast by joining us as a super listener? Your super listener donation is tax deductible. Thank you for being a part of our work.
[01:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great Halloween and a beautiful fall.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: