While some may question the origins and legitimacy of Halloween, it apparently is one of America’s favorite holidays. In 2019, according to the National Retail Federation’s consumer survey, 172 million Americans plan to participate in the holiday. So where did this tradition come from and why is there such devotion to it?

The holiday is believed to have originated with the celebration of Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival, observed between sunsets on October 31 and November 1. According to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Celts began the Halloween tradition of wearing costumes, often animal skin to hide themselves from spirits, and masks to impersonate ancestors who had preceded them to the spirit world.

Revelers went from house to house performing silly acts in exchange for food and drink, possibly an extension of an earlier custom of leaving refreshments outdoors as offerings to supernatural beings. This likely inspired today’s trick-or-treat traditions.

Some believe the day has pagan roots. Christian leaders stepped in to transform pagan holidays, and in the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. In some parts of the world, Christians attend services and visit graves. The celebration of Halloween became more popular with Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1800s. Anoka, Minnesota, may be home to the United States’ oldest official Halloween celebration. In 1920, the city began staging a parade and bonfire to mark the day.

Still a Halloween skeptic? Consumers are expected to spend $8.8 billion on Halloween. Beyond the billions in candy and decorations, there’s this: 29 million people plan to dress their pets in Halloween costumes.

Not Your Mainstream Beauty Pageant


In Malawi, contestants at the first Mister and Ms Albinism Beauty Pageant in Lilongwe get ready on Saturday before the start of the show.

LILONGWE, MALAWI – Malawians have crowned a Mr. and Ms. Albinism during the country’s first ever beauty pageant for albinos, held in the capital Lilongwe. The Association of People with Albinism organized the event as part of efforts to destroy myths which have led to attacks on albinos in Malawi and other African countries.

There were cheers and ululations when beauty contestants with albinism strutted their stuff at a first-ever competition in Malawi.

In a country where they face stigma and the threat of attack because of how they look, some 20 contestants demonstrated that albinism can be beautiful.

Patience Phiri was among them.

“I am here because I have ever experienced the threat. Even my real friends I chat with, they have even said I am money. This has really affected my family because they are there, just to protect me,” Phiri said.

People with albinism in Malawi have been attacked because of false beliefs that their body parts, if used in magical potions, can bring good luck and wealth.

More than two dozen have been killed since 2014 and more than 100 are missing.

Twenty-three-year-old Chikondi Kadzanja won the Ms. Albinism Malawi title.

She told VOA that she will use her position to help end the attacks.


Crown winners of 2019 Ms Malawi Albinism -Chikondi Kadzanja (right) and First Princess Hilda Mcheso poses with lead judge Tamara.

“What I am going to do now is firstly to bring awareness to communities, especially the rural communities that hold negative attitudes, myths and misconceptions about persons with albinism,” Kanjadza said.

Twenty-four-year-old Burnet Phunyanya won the Mr. Albinism Malawi title.

He says his task will be to motivate albinos to be self-reliant.

“I am going to stand still and help persons with albinism. First of all making them to trust in themselves, trust their ideas, and believe in themselves,” Phunyanya said.

Pageant organizers plan to hold the event every year.

Fussy Old Bat

Australian woman sues neighbours over barbecue use

A woman in Western Australia has tried to stop her neighbours from using their barbecues by suing them in court.

Perth woman Cilla Carden claimed that their activities – among them barbecuing and smoking -as well as their noisy children, breached residential laws.

She sought legal orders to prevent the alleged nuisances from continuing.

A tribunal, and the state’s highest court, rejected her claims as unreasonable and lacking in evidence.

Her list of demands also included orders for a family living next door, and another neighbour, to reduce their patio lighting, silence their pets and to replace plants in the common garden.


She alleged that wafting smells of cigarettes and barbecues had caused “undue offence” to her in her home in the Perth suburb of Girrawheen, according to a Supreme Court of Western Australia judgement published in July.

“They’ve put [the barbecue] there so I smell fish – all I can smell is fish,” Ms Carden, who is a vegan, told Nine News on Monday.

“I can’t enjoy my backyard, I can’t go out there,” she said.

‘They are living in their home as a family’

The State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia rejected her demands in a case hearing in February – including a request for her neighbour’s children to be quiet when playing outside.

“The Tribunal does not accept that [the parents], by allowing their children to play in the backyard… use the patio for small scooters or toys, constitutes reasonably a nuisance,” the tribunal said.

“What they are doing is living in their backyard and their home as a family.”

The tribunal also noted that the same family had already moved their barbecue prior to the hearing in an attempt to appease Ms Carden.

“[They] have not allowed the children out at night, have not used the patio at night, and have not turned on the lights for several months for fear of reprisals from the applicant,” the tribunal said.

Ms Carden challenged the tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in March.

In handing down his rejection in July, the judge noted that she had submitted close to 400 pages in her appeal.

“The volume of material that she has produced… suggests that these matters have to an extent become somewhat overwhelming,” Chief Justice Peter Quinlan said.

Ms Carden told Australian media she plans on taking further legal action.