Halloween (October 31) in Canada today is primarily about dressing up and trick-or-treating, but the tradition actually stems from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.
Samhain was celebrated the day before the Celtic new year, November 1, a day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter. Celts believed that on October 31, ghosts of the dead returned to earth, so people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. They would also place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the spirits.
Fast forward a few centuries, and you’ll find much the same thing going on, but it’s become a social, family event, with kids trick or treating door to door.
Are you a newcomer to Canada and want to participate? Here are a few tips:
- If you have treats to hand out, leave your house lights on and put out some small Halloween decorations (like jack-o-lanterns) so kids know to come knock at your door.
- When you run out of candies, turn the lights at the front of your house off.
- Homemade or unwrapped goodies are frowned upon by other parents (and usually thrown away).
- Buying small chocolates and candies are popular, but you can also hand out less expensive items like lollipops or stickers.
- Many stores have ready-made costumes you can buy for around $20. Homemade costumes are always a great idea. A little creativity with items that you already have in your home will go a long way. Local thrift shops also often carry interesting items for Halloween, and dollar stores have inexpensive wigs, witches’ hats, masks and animal/tail kits that you can combine with regular clothes.
- Always keep safety in mind! Carry a flashlight when outside at night and make sure your costumes don’t restrict your vision!
Pumpkin fun for newcomers
Pumpkins, of course, are the ultimate Halloween decor. Learn more about the tradition of jack-o-lanterns below.
- Pick your pumpkin. Go to a supermarket or a local pumpkin patch to pick your perfect pumpkin.
- Get it ready. Wash it off if needed and wipe it dry.
- Cut the top off like a hat. Then scoop out all the pumpkin seeds and clean out the inside.
- Plan your drawing. Happy or sad, there are plenty of ways to design a pumpkin’s face. You can even find extensive stencils online that turn your pumpkin into a piece of art. Supervise your children if you let them handle the carving tool of knife.
- Make it glow. Put a small candle inside, place the top back on, and you have your very own jack-o-lantern.
Have a Happy Halloween!