Posts tagged history

Making History: Halloween

Halloween may go down in the books as one of your child’s favorite holidays of the year. Surveys show that children love the spooky holiday nearly as much as they love Christmas! At Stikii, what is important to children is important to us as well. Thus, we begin our Halloween Blog session. Over the next few weeks we will share with you some thoughts and information on this very special fall holiday.

Halloween is celebrated on the last day of October (October 31) and traditional activities include trick-or-treating, costume parties, ghost stories, haunted houses and carving jack-o-lanterns.  The holiday is celebrated in countries such as the US, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Puerto Rico, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Though the United States is known for its Halloween celebrations, the holiday actually originates from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. This festival celebrates the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. On this day, the ancient pagans would take stock of supplies and prepare for the treacherous winter months. The Gaels also believed that on October 31st, the window between the worlds of the living and the dead would open and the deceased could come back to life and reap havoc on the locals by creating mass illness or damaging crops.

Samhain was considered to be a magical holiday on which strange and enchanting things would occur. It has been said that offerings of food and drink were left to aid unleashed spirits, or to ward them away. Others tell tales of the Celts dressing up in peculiar costumes and roaming the neighborhoods in order to scare the spirits away.  On this day many thought they could predict the future or even communicate with the dead, and often enough, unusual behavior was observed by a normally structured and quiet civilization.

Sacred bonfires were lit in the center of town in honor of the Pagan gods and the Celts would gather (some in costumer as well) to celebrate the harvest and discuss the upcoming months. Faeries (known to us as fairies) were believed to roam the land during Samhain, dressed as beggars asking for food door to door. Those that gave food to the faeries were rewarded, while those that did not were punished by the faeries. It is from this ritual that modern day “trick or treating” originated.

In the First century A.D., as Christianity spread across the globe, the Pagan festival (Christians did not like a festival with Pagan roots) was replaced with “All Saints Day” to honor dead church saints and martyrs. However, Samhain continued to be celebrated and eventually, All Saints day was moved to November 1, and was also known as All Hallows. Since Samhain remained on October 31st it became to be known as All Hallows Eve, and now, as Halloween.  November 2nd was designated as All Souls day to hour the dead who were not saints, but now the two are celebrated as one.

Over the next several centuries, superstitions about witches and black cats were added to the folklore and legends of Halloween. Cats were thought of as evil, especially black cats, and were killed by the thousands in Medieval times, possibly contributing to the Black Plague, due to the shortage of the rat’s natural enemy, the cat. During this time, the church created the belief that evil witches existed. Jack-o-lanterns can be traced back to early Pagan Celtic peoples who would hollow out turnips, gourds, or rutabagas to hold an ember from the sacred bonfire, so they could light their home fires from the sacred bonfire. We now carve faces and other shapes into pumpkins.

Halloween was not a popular observance in early United States history, as most of the early settlers were Protestant. At the time, Halloween was considered mostly a Catholic, Episcopalian, and Pagan holiday. Colonies such as Virginia and Maryland, observed some Halloween customs. The first common events included “play parties” where neighborhoods would gather together to celebrate the harvest, dance, sing, tell stories of the dead, tell fortunes, and have pageants for children in costume.

By the mid twentieth century, Halloween turned into a secular holiday, community centered with parties city-wide, parades, and great costumes. Halloween is mostly aimed to children, but young and old enjoy this holiday, with events and parties for both children and adults.

Some modern day Halloween traditions include:

  • Trick or Treat
  • Costumes
  • Bonfires
  • Bobbing for apples
  • Jack o’lanterns
  • Ghost stories
  • Haunted houses
  • Scary movies
  • Hay rides
  • Corn mazes

Stikii recognizes Halloween as a fun time for children to dress up and be carefree. The holiday is memorable and enjoyable, just like our shoes. In the future, Stikii may even release some Halloween themed Stik-ems that would be perfect on costumed feet!  Stik-em accessories would also make for a great alternative to Hallowwen candy. When trick or treaters come knocking on your door, hand them a Stik-em and we asure you that the costumed cuties will leave with a smile on their face! For more information on Stikii shoes and Stik-em accessories, become a fan on Facebook. Visit us at www.facebook.com/stikiishoes. Our products are set to release on December 1, 2011.

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Let there be SHOES!

The first pair of shoes originated long before any one of us cares to remember and longer than any person can prove. The first historic physical evidence of foot coverings dates back to the Ice Age and comes in the form of cave paintings circa 8000 BCE. These primitive times required humans mass amounts of outdoor activity such as hunting and foraging which often required running and climbing over jagged rocks and sharp sticks. It was during this era, also, that the climate was cold and treacherous; glaciers still covered much of the earth’s surface and caused temperatures to constantly drop to dangerous levels. In order to save themselves from freezing to death, primitive created shoes not only to protect their feet but to keep them warm as well. I am sure you have all heard, at some point in your life, that the temperature of out body is often controlled by the heat around our head, hands and feet! These ancient cave paintings depict footwear as bags made of animal skin, some appeared to resemble fur boots, and in warmer climates, sandals.

Some of the first shoes crafted

The world's oldest shoe

Egyptian sandals

As the temperature began to rise and the glaciers to melt, the Egyptians became the most powerful population on the planet. I am still not too sure how they managed to build the pyramids without forklifts, cranes and all that other construction stuff. To accompany the dry weather and linens loin cloths, the shoes of this time were almost entirely sandals, basically a sole and a thong. This footwear was fashioned out of the most durable material available which was often braided papyrus for the sole and palm tree fiber for the straps.  Eventually this civilization developed the tanning process and was able to fashion sandals out of leather for comfort and durability. It was at this point in time that shoes became a sort of statement piece, but rather than fashionable, they were used to show ones power and rank. Shoes could be

Egyptian footwear styles

classified as a luxury good and not everyone could afford a suitable pair. Gold or jeweled shoes categorized the Pharaoh and his court, pastel colors were meant for dignitaries and religious communicators, red and yellow were reserved for middle class citizens and slaves, of course, went barefoot!

The population most everyone thinks of after the Egyptians are the Greeks, am I right? By

Roman/"gladiator" sandals

400 BC shoe and sandal crafting had taken a sophisticated leap and were even giving social rules to follow. There were shoes to be worn specifically outdoors and nowhere else, and some were reserved for particular occupations. Soldiers wore what we now refer to as “gladiator sandals”, young brides wore delicate ones, priests another form, actors another and so on and so forth.

The Romans were particularly war hungry and made it their life’s work to conquer all of the land surrounding the Mediterranean. I guess they were pretty smart too. With their minds set on conquest, the Romans wore sandals along with their togas. These followed classifications similar to the Greeks but were more practical, durable and sturdy and less a piece of elegance.

With the middle ages came castles, knights, dragons, sorcerers and all or that other mystical junk. Somewhere along the line all the hard work that the Greeks and Romans had put into shoe fabrication had disappeared and the new tailors of the time were slightly clueless. Eventually the “turned shoe” ( a shoe sewn inside out and then turned right side out so that the seams were less visible) was crafted and brought with it a new era of shoe design. One popular design worn during the time was called the Pouline which sort of resembled a pointed sock.  Rumor has it that this shoe was invented to hide the Count of Anjou’s foot deformity, but who knows if that is really the truth! The pointed shoe was the fashion statement of the century and as the years rolled by, the point seemed to stretch out farther to the “point” where it was difficult to even walk. Apparently some people even attached bells and outer accessories to these points to be used as a sort of flirtation mechanism….strange to say the least. Religious movements tried to ban the Pouline because of its phallic symbol likeliness.

Pouline

By the mid-15th century, there was a new shoe in town called the Duck’s Billshoe. These shoes were made of velvet or silk and were

Wooden Pattens

heavily padded and intricately embroidered. The top part was left open to show off the colorful tights that were all the rage for men to wear.  Neither of these shoes was all that practical and eventually the Patten was developed to wear outdoors in the dirt. This was basically a shoe worn over another shoe and looked like a sandal-clog hybrid. . Still doesn’t seem too practical to me.

The 1500’s brought with it new styles for both men and women. “Slashing” was ever so popular (the cutting of slits in the tops of shoes to again, shoe of hose) and puff as well. Shoes were slimmer and made to look more like a slipper and mules were introduced for men. Ribbons and rosettes were attached to add a distinguished touch. Women were crazy about the chopine, which was like the patten in that it was an over shoe, however, it was placed atop a platform to give the wearer height. During the Elizabethan Period high heels and pumps made their first appearance.

Chopine

The 17th century was a time for politics, and with these movements came boots and wooden-heeled shoes for the males. These shoes went perfectly with stockings and breeches and really showed off the muscle tone and shape of one’s legs. For women, small, dainty feet came into style and they would bind them with their own hair to keep them from growing. These tiny feet fit perfectly into six-inch heeled slippers made of silk, satin and velvet. They were exquisitely detailed with lace and beads and a different pair was worn to match the chosen outfit for the day.

In the 1700s, durable and practical shoes came back into style so that men could continue gallivanting around without the concern of foot pain. Shoes were usually black, shiny, pointed with a medium heel topped off with a large brass or silver buckle that had absolutely no purpose besides looking great with a wig. Women still loved stylish, detailed and fancy heeled shoes until the French Revolution. After this milestone heels disappeared and expensive silk was replaced with affordable and practical leather.

The 1800s women work comfortable shoes that allowed the feet to breath and move quickly and boots came back in style. Men’s shoes took a conservative turn and riding boots became the fad of the times. Laced up shoes made the footwear fit better and made wearing easier and more enjoyable. We still see the laced style today!

English laced boot

In the early 1900s women were not to show any leg and were left to wear black leather boots, or, if wealthy enough, fine, handmade heels with a pointed two were acceptable. Men, who were often adorned in tuxedos, wore conservative shoes in shades of black and brown. Patent leather pumps and splats were reserved for formal events. The first sneaker was developed by Ked’s in 1917.

The 20s were all about optimism and art and with that came shoes with STRAPS for women!! T-straps and bar shoes were popular for a night on the town.  Men wore two-toned shoes of either a white + black or tan + white combination. Fringed tongues and Oxfords hit the market as well.

STRAPS!

Not too much changed with shoes in the thirties, and much blame for this can probably be placed on the Great Depression. The loafer did, however, make its first appearance at this time. In the forties, due to war, leather was not readily available and women’s shoes were made out of material such as snake-skin or mesh. Heels were limited to one inch and came in only six color choices. Men wore Oxfords, moccasins and saddle shoes.

Two-toned Oxfords

With the fifties cam the invention of the stiletto and heels were now light weight and available in a multitude of colors so that they could match every outfit perfectly. Teens loved wearing lacy white socks with saddle shoes or loafers and ballet flats became a stylish accessory. Men loved clean tennis shoes and suede bucks.

Women's saddle shoes

The sixties brought with it patent leather Go-Go boots, colored suede, and Cuban heels. If you were a hippie, nothing but moccasins or sandals ever touched your toes. In the 1970’s, shoe wearing was a sort of free for all. Anything was acceptable from platforms to flats to earth shoes to boots…..women filled their closets with anything they could get their hands on….even disco shoes! MEN also wore platform shoes…what?

Go-Go Boots

Men's Disco platform shoe

The 1980s was a very materialistic time and shoes often meant business. Women wore sling backs and pumps and men wore brogues and loafers. For the non-corporate occasion ankle boots and neon colored pumps were must haves.

From the 90s on, many different types of shoes have been introduced. Tennis shoes are multi-colored fashion statements with males and women have gotten the notion that attaching anything to a shoe is a fashion statement, from spikes to Swarovski crystals. Every style from the past seems to be reintroduced in a circular cycle. We have seen the Oxford and the gladiator sandals come back in style countless times. Funky shoes are cool to really grab attention and are not limited to seeing fish swimming in platforms, shaped heels or glitter.

With Stikii comes a new type of shoe….a shoe that you can design yourself with countless accessories. Self-expression is the big trend of the times as are accessories, budgeting and comfort.  Stikii aims to combine both of these into a fun shoe that we home will be around through the fads and styles of shoes in the years to come.

Stikii Shoes!

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