Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy. The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead.  Over the millennia the holiday transitioned from a somber pagan ritual to a day of merriment, costumes, parades and sweet treats for children and adults.
According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related "guising"), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favor of a more commercialized and secularized celebration. Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although most no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows' Eve, the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannon, cider, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.
trick-or-treat-HalloweenHalloween is a night when children dress up and go door to door trick or treating. It is great to pretend for a few hours that you are someone else. It is like we can all make believe like we did when we were young children. Boys will dress up in a Superman or Spiderman costume. The Ninja turtles costume are also very popular for boys. Girls dress up as princesses from Disney movies. Popular for both boys and girls are The Power Ranger costumes from the television show. About 25% of the adult population are expected to dress up for Halloween.
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas."
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.
When I was growing up my mother didn't allow us to go trick or treating. She would host a party with our neighbour kids at some point around the Halloween time period. We would go apple bobbing which was always lots of fun. There was candy and other goodies for all to enjoy. If my memory serves me right she would make a fruit punch. I remember that we had a punch bowl and glasses that hung around the edge of the bowl. There was a big ladle and I enjoyed serving people the punch.
applebobbingWe lived in the country so our neighbours didn't live next door like they do in the city. Parents would have to bring the kids to our house and there would be a set time that the party was over. My mother had rules when you attended our house that had to be followed. She had no problem with letting a parent know that if the child was out of line they would have to go home. It never happened because the kids had a lot of respect for my mother as they knew that her rules meant that they were loved.
My parents raised beef cattle. They would buy young calves and feed them until they were ready to go to market. Every fall they would go to Western Canada and attend auctions where the ranchers would sell their calves. Sometimes they were not home on October 31st. One year my mother's mother who we called Nanny suggested that I come into her place for Halloween. She wanted me to go out trick or treating in the small town of Goderich. I went out to the streets around where she lived. I didn't like trick or treating. There were street lights on so it was not pitch black like in the country where I lived. I asked her if we could go back to her house. She was surprised that I didn't want to stay out longer.
When my daughters were young we lived in a condo complex. They liked handing out candy to the trick or treaters at the door. I decided that I should take them around the complex trick or treating. Like myself halfway through the complex they said that they wanted to go home. They didn't like the dark either even though they had grown up in the complex since they were born.
At the end of the 90's, Halloween moved more indoors. One of the reasons was to make it safer for children. Malls will open and offer trick-or-treating events. Kids in costume get candy and coupons. They have games, activities and clowns will be in attendance to make it more special. Many neighbourhoods have parties like my mother did when I was younger so there is less chance of mischief and to protect the trick or treators.
It is estimated that about 25% of American adults will dress up for Halloween. Some will have house parties to celebrate the occasion. Spooky costumes are the most popular purchase for an adult party. Retailers rake in lots of dollars from people decorating the inside and outside of their homes and costumes.
In Canada, adults between the age of 18-34 are expected to spend $75.00 with $25.00 of that money on a costume. There is pressure to have the best candy which raises the cost for the consumer.
Dressing up and having fun is what will make your Halloween night delightful!
Snapshot_20121127_7 (2)Robert and Bethany Jobb
Out Motto: "The Best Is Yet To Come!"