Curious about the history of Halloween? Wondering what costume to choose this year? Or maybe you have a party you want to get out of. This ultimate Halloween guide has all the information you are searching for.
Halloween Fun Facts
According to the US Census Department, over 36 million American children (ages 5 to 13) will trick or treat door to door on Halloween night.
Many people in the United States carve pumpkins to light up on Halloween. Chances are that you will be getting a pumpkin grown in Illinois unless you purchase one grown at a local farmer because Illinois leads in US pumpkin production by a huge margin. Consumers will use up over 1 billion pounds of pumpkin as jack o' lanterns, in pies or other ways just this year alone.
The nearly 2500 costume stores and rental shops across the US make dressing up for Halloween easy in fun. Kids and adults alike frequent these Halloween gift and costume shops to make this holiday one of the most popular in the United States.
The Origins of Halloween Trick or Treating
Halloween is my favorite holiday hands down. One of my favorite things is having all the kids dressed up in their adorable costumes coming to our door saying 'Trick or Treat'. We almost always go all out decorating our house for Halloween so the kids love venturing up the driveway just to see the decorations including the spiders on the doorbell and skeletons coming up from the ground. They always know they'll get a good treat at our door too! In fact, my husband is at Wal-Mart right now stocking up on Halloween candy. Last year, we had nearly 300 kids stop by our door and I expect even more this year.
Apparently the tradition of dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door to beg for treats goes back to the Middle Ages. The costumes are said to be a Celtic tradition which placates evil spirits. The handing out of food originated in Britain and Ireland where poor people would go door-to-door on November 1st. They would be given food in exchange for their prayers for dead souls on November 2nd. This practice was known as 'Souling'. The practice of trick or treating in America is believed to date back to the early 1900's and it became a more widespread activity in the 1930's. Whatever the origins, I am glad that this is one tradition that has caught on for the long term. Happy Halloween and be sure to check out these Halloween safety tips to keep your pets, children and yourself safe this year!
The Real History and Origins of Halloween
Halloween is a holiday that has always been soaked in myths, mystery, magic and urban legends. It's celebrated in several countries, but is most popular in the United States and Canada. And, it is probably one of the most misunderstood holidays that is celebrated today.
Over 2,000 years ago, the Celts lived in what is now Ireland, northern France and the United Kingdom. Their new year began on November 1, the day marked the start of the cold winter ahead which was associated with death. On October 31, they celebrated the new years eve with Samhain, which has evolved into our ghoulish Halloween celebrations over the years.
The Celts And Samhain
The Celts believed that on this night, boundaries separating the worlds of the living and dead became blurred together and ghosts and spirits of the dead roamed the earth. They believed that these manifestations from the other world caused damage and trouble, but that their presence gave the Druids, or priests, more power to predict the future.
To celebrate Samhain, sacred bonfires were built, crops were burned and sacrificed animals to their Gods. They would adorn themselves in costumes generally made from the skins and heads of animals. Hearth fires were extinguished before the celebration and re-lit from the bonfire to provide protection.
Roman Influences On Samhain
The Celtic territory was conquered by the Romans in 43 A.D. and during their 400 year reign, two Roman festivals were combined with Samhain. Feralia was celebrated at the end of October to commemorate their dead.
The second festival was in honor of Pomona, the goddess of trees and fruit. Pomona's symbol was the apple, which probably explains the tradition practiced today of bobbing for gourmet apples.
Christianity Influences Halloween
Christianity had spread to the Celtic territories by the 800's and the day was designated as All Saints' Day, often called All-hallows Day. Samhain was changed to All-hallows Eve and through the years became simply known as Halloween!
A third holiday was added in 1000 A.D. called All Souls Day, celebrated on November the second. These celebrations were honored in much the same way as Samhain, with bonfires, parades and various types of costumes.
Halloween Comes To America
Halloween came to America with European immigrants, although there was very little celebration in colonial times. The holiday became widely popular in the mid 1800's when millions of Irish immigrants came to America. Combining both English and Irish Celtic traditions, Americans began celebrating the holiday and wearing costumes.
The custom of trick or treating, is believed to date back to the parades of All Soul's Day. During the celebration, the poor citizens would beg for food. Many families would hand out pastries, called soul cakes and in return the citizens would promise to pray for their dead relatives. Eventually, children began to visit homes and would often be given food gifts, ale or money!
While the Celts considered the presence of ghosts and spirits on Samhain a good thing, they also didn't want to be recognized. So, when they left their homes at night, they would wear masks in hopes that the spirits would mistake them for spirits or ghosts. And, bowls of food would be placed outside to deter the spirits from entering the house.
The Halloween Jack O Lantern
The Jack O' Lantern evolved from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack. The story goes that Stingy Jack and the Devil had drinks and of course Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for them. He tricked the Devil into changing into a coin to pay for their drinks and being stingy, decided to keep the coin. He placed the coin in his pocket along with a silver cross and the Devil couldn't change back.
Eventually, he decided to free the Devil but made him promise that he would leave him alone for a year and not claim his soul if he died. When the Devil returned the following year, Jack tricked him into climbing a tree to pick some fruit and carved a cross into the tree trapping the Devil once again! He released the Devil on his word that he wouldn't bother Jack for another ten years.
Not long after that, Stingy Jack died and according to the legend, God wouldn't allow him into heaven. The Devil was mad at Jack for the tricks he'd played on him, but he kept his word and wouldn't claim his soul and let him enter into hell. He sent Stingy Jack off into the night with a burning coal. Jack carved out a turnip and placed the coal inside and he became known as Jack of the Lantern.
Throughout Scotland and Ireland, people started carving scary faces on potatoes and turnips, these lanterns would be placed in windows to scare away any evil spirits including Stingy Jack! When these immigrants came to American, they found that pumpkins were plentiful and made much better Halloween Pumpkin Jack O' Lanterns!
I like most all things vintage and I think old antique Halloween postcards are really cool. I suppose it must have been common in the "old days" for people to mail out Halloween postcards. I don't know anyone who does it today, but I am sure there are still those who do. These days people buy greeting cards, which are similar to postcards, but Halloween greeting cards aren't as popular as they are for other special days and Christmas holiday gift celebrations. In fact, I may even send out my first Halloween greeting cards this year!
Halloween Party Invitations
10 Funny Excuses to Stay Home From Halloween Parties
1) Odd Costumes, Loud Music, Crazy People - No Thanks?
It's not unusual to not want to go to that Halloween bash (again) this year. Sure, last year you managed to drag yourself to the party but this year you're just not feeling it. It happens, more often than you'd think. Really.
So what should you tell the host (and the guests) when they ask you why you won't be attending? Here are a few ideas that you can use this year. Next year though, you're on your own.
2) You have to babysit. All night.
This excuse works if they're asking you weeks ahead of time, why you won't be attending. This excuse is especially believable if you have younger brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews.
If you use this one, you're sure to win a few sympathy points. Plus, it's completely admirable that your caring and compassionate self would selflessly take on such a daunting task that night.
Caution: It might not be a bad idea to actually hang out with the little rugrats this night, just in case. But that's going to be your call.
3) You're scared of Halloween. Deathly afraid, actually.
It's okay to have your phobias, everyone does. So who is to say that you aren't scared of Halloween? It seems perfectly reasonable to have a fear of a night where goblins, ghosts, and skeletons come to life and waltz the streets nearby.
Your fear is completely rational and if you're lucky, they'll stop inviting you next year too.
I know it sounds goofy but I'll come out and say it. Remember how I used to be afraid of the vacuum in college? It's a lot like that. I'm afraid of Halloween and I want to stop hiding it from you. I'm sorry if this ruins your party.
Hope it's fun,
4) Your mom told you that you can't go.
This one worked in middle school and it certainly never loses it's touch. Since your mother ultimately rules your life from now and forevermore, of course you're going to obey her when she tells you that you can't go out on Halloween night - even if you are 27 years old.
Caution: Just make sure that they don't actually know your mother.
5) You're allergic to costumes.
Have you seen the costumes out there nowadays? Who knows what those things are made of, I mean there is some weird stuff they use now. All those man-made materials are sure to trigger an allergic reaction to those, er, allergies that you have.
And if you come near anyone even wearing anything of the sort, well, you don't even want to think about what would happen.
I just got back from the doctor today. Remember last week when we went into the costume shop and I got all red and poofy? Well maybe you didn't notice it, but I definitely did. Well it turns out that I'm allergic to Halloween costumes! I guess I won't be going to anymore Halloween parties. Sorry.
6) You're not feeling well.
This excuse is best used on the night of the party. It's the old, "I don't feel good" excuse that you used for school back in the day. Who are they to object, they don't know how you're feeling. For all they know, you probably ate too many Halloween treats and now you're paying for it.
Note: This excuse works for almost anything. Just make sure you practice your 'sick voice' beforehand. Bonus points for texting.
7) You didn't get the invite.
So they call you up and ask why they haven't heard from you - didn't you get the Halloween party invite? Well, no actually you didn't. You did think it was a little odd that they didn't invite you this year though. Seeing as you brought all the good Halloween cookies last year and all...
If the party is still coming up, well then you already made other plans since you didn't hear from them. If the party has passed, then you're really sorry that it didn't work out and that you aren't that mad anymore about it.
8) It's your cousin's birthday.
Man, wasn't it so unfortunate that cousin Ricky was born on Halloween? That was so nice of him to let you out of his birthday party early last year (and missed opening birthday gifts!) so that you could attend your friend's Halloween party instead.
Well, this year you weren't as lucky. In fact, you felt bad that you'd be skipping it two years in a row so you wanted to make sure you made it to his birthday this year - seeing as he is family and all.
9) You only celebrate Halloween every other year.
It's a rule that you made up long ago that you would only celebrate Halloween every other year, and since you went last year then this is your year that you stay home. Your reasoning behind the rule is personal, however, so you'd rather not share. That should keep them from asking you why for a while, and maybe even scare them off a little bit.
Caution: That gives you an excuse for this year, but next year, just so you know - you're stuck going.
I got your Halloween invitation. Sorry I can't make it this year - because I celebrated Halloween last year.
Hope it's fun anyway,
10) Your horoscope said you shouldn't.
You know that fortune teller that you may or may not have mentioned a while ago? Well she told you that you should listen to your horoscope when it strongly suggests things. And your horoscope says for Halloween night that you should stay home. You'd feel really uncomfortable if you brought bad luck to the party and even worse if something bad happened to you there.
You wouldn't want everyone to witness it and everything, you know? Plus, you can still always send Halloween treats over.
The truth: You don't feel like going out.
Honesty is the best policy
These excuses are pretty lame - and that's the best that you've got to work with! So when they call up or when you talk to them, just tell them that you think you'll just stay home and relax this year. Not that the party wasn't fun last year, because it definitely was (cough, cough), but you're getting old and all - so maybe you'll just take it easy and pass out candy.
Then next year, maybe you'll have it at your house. Hey, you never know.
10 Most Popular Halloween Costumes for Boys
- Halloween Fun Facts
- The Origins of Halloween Trick or Treating
- Halloween History
- Halloween Party Invitations
- Halloween Party Games
- Halloween Party Games
- An "Un"Scary Halloween Party
- 10 Funny Excuses to Stay Home From Halloween Parties
- 1) Odd Costumes, Loud Music, Crazy People - No Thanks?
- 2) You have to babysit. All night.
- 3) You're scared of Halloween. Deathly afraid, actually.
- 4) Your mom told you that you can't go.
- 5) You're allergic to costumes.
- 6) You're not feeling well.
- 7) You didn't get the invite.
- 8) It's your cousin's birthday.
- 9) You only celebrate Halloween every other year.
- 10) Your horoscope said you shouldn't.
- The truth: You don't feel like going out.
- Honesty is the best policy
- Easy DIY Halloween Home Decorations
- Halloween Decorations for the Yard
- Halloween Candy & Dessert Recipes
- 10 Most Popular Halloween Costumes for Boys
- How to Make a Chocolate Chip Cookie Costume for Halloween
- Top 10 Most Popular Halloween Costumes for Babies
- The Pumpkin
- Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Carving Tips
- Halloween Safety Tips
- The Best Halloween Candy to Give Out
- Top 10 Halloween Crafts For Kids
- #1) Styrofoam Pumpkin Garland
- #2) Kids Handprint Ghosts
- #3) Pillowcase Trick or Treat Bags
- #4) Painted Halloween Pumpkin Contest
- #5) PlayDoh or Foam Cookie Cutter Creatures
- #6) Black Pom Pom Cats or Spiders
- #7) Black Halloween Bats
- #8) Mummy Candy Holder Craft
- A fun idea from Parents.com
- #9) Spooky Spider Craft
- #10) Any Pumpkin/Jack o' Lantern Craft - Presented by Lifestyle Editor from Parents Magazine
- Best Scary Movies For Halloween
- Flying with Witches Story