On This Halloween Day …

Man Tsuey Tse

I passed my driving test on Halloween, and I distinctly remember my mom saying she gave me her good luck, because at the same time as my test, a car had side-swiped her. So, for me Halloween is synonymous with freedom  — I no longer had to rely on the taxi services of my folks.

But for many, 31 October brings to mind witches, pumpkins, ghouls and goblins …it got me thinking, what else was the date important for? After a quick search, here are some interesting facts and figures to add a little more to the day besides Halloween.

  • In 1926, the famous escapologist, Harry Houdini died of internal poisoning from a ruptured appendix at the age of 52. For ten years after his death, his wife Beth conducted séances to try to see if the great Houdini could also escape from death. The last séance Beth attended was in 1936, and throughout those 10 years, no contact was ever made. According to MagicTricks, numerous Houdini séances are still held around the world each year on Halloween.
  • Many happy returns to Mr Robert Matthew Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice! Born this day in 1968 in Dallas, Texas, Vanilla Ice burst into the charts in the early 1990s with the hit single "Ice Ice Baby". A tumultuous career followed and today, swearing that he  "will never be a puppet for the [record] industry again", he is now on tour promoting his new album  "Platinum Underground", for more details see www.vanillaice.com
  • In 1984, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in reprisal for the Indian army attack at the Golden Temple, the Sikh's holiest temple, four months earlier. Two-thousand people were killed in anti-Sikh riots after the murder and many thousands more were left homeless.
  • Tv personality Sir Jimmy Saville is 80 today. Famous for his catchphrase  "Now then, now then, now then", and named in the Radio Times'  "Top 40 Most Eccentric TV presenters of all time" in July 2004, he is most well known for presenting Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It. Sir Jimmy is set to make a comeback to our screens in 2007 as part of UKTV Gold's  £15 million investment, James Newton said;  "These new commissions really demonstrate how we'll be reconnecting UKTV Gold with its roots in 2007 by bringing a new spin to some old favourites like Jim'll Fix It."

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent up to $5 billion this Halloween. But a particular state may have more reasons to party than just Halloween. Nevada was officially accepted into the Union on this day in 1864. Nevada Day, a state holiday, was traditionally celebrated on the 31 October of each year, until recent legislation deemed it to be on the  "last" Friday in October. Celebrations include a parade  —  "Nevadan's love a parade" - as well as numerous contests, arts, music, and other family-oriented activities  "un-equalled anywhere in the United States".

Happy Halloween.