Did you know that Halloween is the second most-commercial holiday in North America? When you think about it, I guess it shouldn’t come as much surprise, after all who doesn’t love dressing up and eating candy? Not to mention the cuteness of little kids going door to door trick-or-treating. In the States alone sales from candy, costumes and decorations total nearly $6 billion annually.
You know what that means? This holiday is not just for the little ones… it is for the big kids and the young at heart as well.
If you haven’t made any plans for Halloween yet, it isn’t too late! Try one or all of these ideas:
- Go on a haunted tour of your town, visiting historical buildings and places said to have ghost sightings and paranormal activity.
- Have a pumpkin carving contest with your neighbours or invite friends over for an afternoon of carving, roasting pumpkin seeds and watching scary movies.
- Host a haunted tea party or book club where the theme is anything spooky.
- Throw a costume party and have everyone vote for their favourite.
- Dress up in costume to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
A little Halloween background
Believed to have originated around 4000 B.C., Halloween is surrounded by celebration and superstition. It began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when bonfires would be lit and people would wear costumes to ward off roaming spirits. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, a day to honor saints and martyrs, and this day incorporated many aspects of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve, which was eventually shortened to Halloween.
Over time, Halloween became less and less about religious practices and eventually evolved into the secular holiday we know today, comprised of community activities, child-friendly events, and celebrations for all ages.
Fun Facts and Trivia
- The Story of Jack. There is a Celtic folk tale of a man named Jack who played tricks on the devil. The devil responded by sending Jack to purgatory with a burning lump of coal. So that he wouldn’t have to hold the burning coal, Jack made a lantern out of a turnip and placed the coal inside. He used this as a lantern to light his way. This myth was brought over to North America by Irish families fleeing the potato famine and since turnips were hard to come by here, they used pumpkins instead to guide lost souls and keep spirits like “Jack of the Lantern” away.
- Respect the Witch. The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman” and wiccan were actually highly respected people at one time.
- An Elusive Full Moon. Despite being a popular symbol of the night, a full moon is actually quite rare on Halloween. The last one occurred in 2001 and before that there hadn’t been a full moon on Halloween since 1955. We will need to wait another 4 years for the next one, occurring in 2020.
- Light the Bone Fire. Back in the days of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the winter. Druid priests would throw cattle bones into these fires and this “bone fire” eventually became “bonfire”.