A Trick with a World Treat

FUN It’s nearly mid-October! Which means that anyplace you go, at least in the United States, you’re inundated with cinnamon-scented, ’tis-the-season tidings. But, let’s get to one of the best holidays first: Halloween. And let’s save some endangered species while doing it up. Here at National Geographic we’re on a mission (always) and we have a sneaking suspicion that many of you will like this one. Meet Mission: Animal … Continue reading A Trick with a World Treat

Monday Funday Photo of the Week: Halloween History

As a fresh way to kick off the work week, My Wonderful World is now bringing our readers a Monday-Funday Photo of the Week.  Designed not only around aesthetics, this photo sharing start-to-the-week is also about facilitating geographic discussion on current events and relevant topics. 

2011-10-27_92243_humor.JPGA holiday favorite for many Americans, the geography, economics, and history of Halloween is a largely untold story of much more substance than costumes and candy.

Samhain, the alleged precursor to Halloween, was a celebration of the Celtic New Year that took place as many as 2,000 years ago. According to an article written for National Geographic News by James Owen, the festival marked the end of the Celtic year, when the harvest was gathered and animals were rounded up. As for early forms of costumes, it was during this celebration that, the hides of cattle and other livestock slaughtered at this time were ritually worn during festivities that likely hark back to even earlier pagan beliefs. Samhain may have also been the start of tying fear, death and the afterlife to our modern-day conception of Halloween. According to Owen, Samhain night was also a celebration of the dead–the one time the spirits were believed to walk among the living. Under the emergence of the growing popularity of Christianity, the pagan-influenced celebration was changed during, the seventh century [when] Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. (from National Geographic News)

It wasn’t until the 19th century that European immigrants brought Halloween to the United States, and the celebration really gathered steam in the 1800s, when Irish-American immigration exploded. Historians believe that Anoka, Minnesota, may be home to the United States’ oldest official Halloween celebration. Beginning in 1920, the city began staging a parade and bonfire. Nearly 100 years later, the tradition is still very much alive in the United States and still growing in popularity.

A record-breaking 161 million people plan on celebrating Halloween in 2011, the highest in the National Retail Federation (NRF)‘s nine years of surveying Americans about their Halloween habits. This averages out to mean that seven in 10 Americans, or 68.6 percent, plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent last year, according to NRF.  To this fact, “the average person will spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes, and candy, which is up from $66.28 last year. Total expenditures for the holiday should reach $6.86 billion.”


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Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

GeoFeature_UNICEF1.JPGIn 1950 a group of school kids in Philadelphia used milk cartons to collect $17 for kids on the other side of the world, and Treat-or-Trick for UNICEF was born.

To date UNICEF–the United Nations Children’s Fund–has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, and it is working toward a day when ZERO children die from preventable causes.

The Halloween campaign continues to be an essential fundraising project for UNICEF. Since 1950, participants have collected over $144 million for children in need! This year, join in this beloved holiday tradition.

1. Log on to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to order your donation boxes or learn how to create your own.

2. Register your All Hallows Eve holler-fest to receive a free Halloween party planning kit.

3. Trick-or-Treat online to enlist friends and family outside of your neighborhood to contribute to your efforts.

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Five For Friday: Halloween Edition

1) Kids: Do you love maps
AND have an artistic eye? If so, the 2009 Barbara Petechenik International
Map Competition
is for you! Organized by the
International Cartographic
the competition is a showcase of maps created by kids around the world. Each member country of the ICA
is allowed to submit five entries, from
which a handful of winners will be selected. Winners will have their maps distributed to organizations like UNICEF and
ESRI Children’s Books for use in greeting card designs, book covers, and calendars. This year’s theme: “Living in a Globalized

Geography is being written back into the cause and effect of world affairs with
help from Paul Krugman, a recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Through
his work in the “new economic geography,” an economic discipline that places
geographical analysis at the center of its study,  Krugman provides a refreshing look into how
place affects the world economy. He is
also a blogger
for the New York Times, and in his most recent post breaks down his work for ”laymen”

With the election fast-approaching, our eyes and ears are overwhelmed with
images of maps and debates about place. But what happens when the “experts” on electoral mapping get it wrong? Well
Steven Colbert, a political commentator for Comedy Central, makes fun of them. Watch this funny clip
(approximately 3:30 minutes into the full episode) on The Colbert Report about how NBC’s electoral map mistakenly
identified North Carolina as Virginia…OOPS!

Continue reading “Five For Friday: Halloween Edition”