Everyone thinks that Halloween is an American tradition, but did you know that Halloween actually originated in Ireland?
Halloween originally started as a Celtic pagan festival, which marked the end of the ‘light half of the year’ and welcomed in the ‘dark half of the year’. In Ireland, the tradition was to light bonfires to welcome ancestors, while masks were worn to ward off evil spirits….hence the ‘spooky creature’ look!
The cut-out pumpkins also originated in Ireland, although, at that time, turnips were used. It was only when the Irish emigrated to America and brought their traditions with them that the pumpkin became more popular because it was larger and more plentiful.
So, how can you ensure that you give your kids a ‘spooktacular’ this Halloween?
Take the kids for a walk through the neighbourhood with a sheet of items to look out for such as a ghost, a pumpkin or a black cat. If your kids are very young, draw the items so that they can all join in and get them to tick them off once they’ve spotted an item!
An American classic! Get the kids dressed up in their best Halloween gear and accompany them around the neighbourhood – sandwich bags in hand – as they knock on doors and eventually return home laden down with sweets!
Make it a real neighbourhood event! Invite your neighbours round for a ‘spooky supper’ based on the American pot luck idea, where everybody brings a slow-cooker dish, lasagne, soup or pie and everyone joins in. The kids will love it and you’ll get to know your neighbours too”
Some kids can get a bit freaked out by all of ghoulish goings-on, so make sure you have them howling in laughter – and not in fear!
Here are our top tips….
- First of all, give them plenty of warning…make sure that they understand that something is happening and that the house will soon be decorated with strange items
- Take the mystery out of the spooky decorations by getting them involved. Let them dig out a pumpkin if they’re old enough, or make simple paper chain bats
- Make a game out of ‘spotting’ new decorations around the streets – lanterns in windows or witch-like decorations
- Keep your activities simple until your children are older. Dressing up and bobbing for apples are perfect for young kids.
- If you have older children who want to go ‘trick or treating’, make sure you pre-arrange with known neighbours and friends so that you can ensure there are no unpleasant surprises.
- Better still, have your own trick or treat or fancy dress party in your own house! Hide sweets and treats and around the house, and purchase some sparklers or other small fireworks so that you can keep everything under control.
- If you have to go to a fancy dress party, arrange for your child to get dressed up with some other friends so that they know who is behind the disguises. This will ensure that there’s no upset.
- If you have small kids, turn off the door bell once they’ve gone to bed so that they’re not disturbed by trick or treaters.