Halloween! I love Halloween! I know, I know, some don’t; there’s a divide between those who see it as a cool time of spooky movies, haunted house parties, awesome costumes, and delicious candy, and those who see it as too commercial, a money grab for dumb costumes and over-sugary treats, and a night where you have to turn out the lights and hibernate downstairs ’til the brats stop ringing your doorbell!
Well, I’m in the former group. It’s really the tradition of Halloween that I love. I remember as a little girl getting excited weeks before, and carefully planning and creating my perfect costume! I also remember many Halloween nights spent wearing a parka or raincoat over that awesome witch / gypsy / cheerleader / cowgirl / costume…ah, the joys of fall trick-or-treating in Canada!
So whether you’re totally into Oct 31st, or maybe not so much, did you ever wonder where some of those Halloween traditions come from?
Like Jack-o-lanterns? They actually originated in Ireland with turnips instead of pumpkins! Based on a legend about Stingy Jack who made deals with the Devil, but apparently wasn’t wanted in Heaven either, so he was condemned to wander the earth as a ghost for all eternity. He was gifted a lump of burning coal, which he carried around in a carved-out turnip to light his way!
How about ghosts and costumes? Well, during the Celt end-of-harvest festival, marking their new year and the coming of winter, they believed that this was also a time when ghosts would wander the earth. As such, the Celts had to get creative to avoid being terrorized by these evil spirits. To fake out the ghosties, people would don disguises so they would be mistaken for the spirits themselves, and be left alone.
As far as free candy (and I think everyone can agree that free candy is awesome), we again have those crazy Celts to thank! A theory proposes that during the festival, they would leave out food and drink to placate the souls and ghosts and spirits traveling the earth that night. Eventually, many of the “non-dead” people began dressing up as these otherworldly beings, in order to get their own goodies!
On that note, a final word on the whole trick-or-treating thing. Safety is paramount. For parents taking the little ones out, please consider:
non-toxic, hypoallergenic makeup and facepaint is a better choice than a mask, which can impede vision
make sure the costume doesn’t have trip hazards or make walking difficult, and add reflective tape stripes if possible so cars can see
watch for gum and hard candy treats, these can be a choking hazard for young ones
If the older kids are heading out without mom or dad:
- make sure they’re in a group of 3 or more
- discuss with them the routes they plan to take
- make sure they have a flashlight and cell phone
- agree on the curfew time
- no eating anything until they get back home!
Have a happy and safe Halloween everybody!!