Halloween Family Fun
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Kids & Teens
The traditional Halloween celebrations come round every October 31st,
and these days those who enjoy the festivities the most are the
children. Halloween is a time to dress up in fancy dress and take to
the streets trick or treating. Some families go to a lot of trouble
decorating their homes and front yards in a ghostly and eerie Halloween
Halloween is a traditional Celtic festival, and has survived
through the ages most strongly in the Celtic communities in Ireland,
Scotland and Wales. From there, with emigration, Halloween has spread
around the world, most notably to America. In recent years, the spread
of popular American culture has introduced a further expansion of
interest in Halloween to fresh places, such as Asia and Western Europe.
The original Celtic celebrations were pagan festivities related to
the changing seasons as winter approached. Traditionally it was a time
when the living could communicate with the dead, and magic was abroad.
The early Christian church, as with many pagan festivals, absorbed
these celebrations into the Christian calendar. All Saints Day, also
known as All Hallows Day, was set down for November 1st. All Hallows
Evening, the night of October 31st, became known as Hallow E'en, later
just Halloween, and the time for the traditional celebrations.
Halloween celebrations were a community event, and there was
usually a bonfire and fun games. The apple harvest was in full swing,
and games such as trying to eat an apple on a string or floating in a
barrel of water without using your hands, were popular. Children would
go from door to door to gather fruit, nuts and other goodies for the
festivities, which was the origin of the "treating" visits of today. In
most places, especially in Scotland, the children would sing or put on
a performance in return for the treats they collected. Today the treats
collected are more likely to be candies and sweets, and sometimes
Halloween "tricks" were originally secret and often witty pranks
played on some adults by children, with the blame being placed on the
mischievous spirits that were said to be abroad on Halloween. This
practice was especially popular in Ireland. At some stage long in the
past, tricks and treating merged into a choice: give a treat or become
the victim of a trick. This unfortunate development led to such
practices as throwing eggs at houses and soaping windows, and worse.
Today these excesses are rare.
Halloween parties are often held with a haunted house theme
decoration. To the delight of children, Halloween menu items often
include tomato soup renamed as vampire soup, spaghetti dishes renamed
with cemetery humor as worms, and the ever-popular breadsticks tipped
with sliced almonds and known as witches fingers. With so many
pumpkins being made into carved jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin dishes such as
pumpkin pie are often a feature of Halloween menus.
Over the last few years, the magical themes of the popular Harry
Potter books have added fresh fun to costumes and decorations for
children's Halloween parties.
Halloween costume parties have also become popular events for
adults as well in recent years. They are a great excuse to dress up and
have fun. It seems the trend today is for any costume to be acceptable,
not necessarily just the traditional witches, vampires and ghosts of
Halloween. Costume design inspirations are now drawn from many sources,
such as recent movies and television series. Some costumes are just
witty, such as the seasonally appropriate theme of a leaf blower,
consisting just of a leaf suspended from the brim of a cap where it can