A few halloween pumpkin printables. More will follow!
Trick or Treating Safety at Halloween
Trick or treating safety during the holiday is a way to insure that everyone has a great holiday, without having any problems. It is important to be alert yourself, as well as make children aware of things to be careful and cautious about. This also means using good judgment about what to do and how to do it as well as making sure you do not frighten your child.
Trick or Treating Safety for Costumes
Halloween costumes are a great way to make the most of the holiday. There are some things to keep in mind, though, when it comes to costumes and trick or treating safety. The best thing you can do is have your child try on his or her costume and walk around the house or yard for a while. This will give you and your child an idea of how easily the youngster can maneuver in the outfit. Also, it will determine if the child is comfortable for more than a few minutes in the costume.
The other things to watch for are how well a child can see and if there appears to be anything that could become a “wardrobe malfunction” during trick-or-treating. Be certain the child doesn’t have anything that could obstruct his or her vision. Additionally, make sure there is nothing that dangles from the outfit that could cause the child to trip or get snagged on something. If either of these are a problem, usually just some minor adjustments or sewing mends will correct the problem.
While on the Streets
Before leaving, make sure your child has a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Also, the costume should have some reflective tape somewhere. And be certain your child has his or her cell phone in a pocket that is easy to access but that won’t allow the phone to fall out too easily.
The child should wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, even if it goes against the look of the costume. Adults should plan out a route in advance and give each child a map of this route. Worst case, if the team gets separated, the child will have some indication of where the following stop would be to try to meet back up.
When possible, travel in groups of trick-or-treating goblins with as many chaperones as possible. Have the little ones ‘buddy up’ and make sure each child is accounted for before moving to the next house. Of course, be extra careful when crossing the streets and try to work one whole side of a street before crossing to cut down on the number of times this is done.
All about the Goodies
Since all treats must be checked over before a child is allowed to eat them, there are some tips to keep in mind about the collected loot before even making it home. To prevent your child being tempted to snack along the way, make sure she or he has a good, full meal before setting out to trick-or-treat.
Make it clear to your little one that he cannot have any treats until getting home. To help avoid the urge to sneak a snack from the bag, offer to carry the loot for him. If a neighbor suggests your child go ahead and take a cookie to snack right there, step in and tell the well-meaning neighbor you are closely monitoring your child’s sugar intake. Lastly, to prevent the chance your child may cheat and sneak a candy, bring a few from your own stash at home. That way, if the youngster won’t back down at least you know the treat you are giving him is from your own safe candy from home.
Once home, you should know the drill by now. Every single item gets inspected, and when in doubt, throw it out. Check all wrappers for even a remote sign of tempering. Any candy that has come loose from its wrapper is not an option. Any of these warning signs should result in immediate discarding.
Baked goods are rarely a great idea. Even a chef with only good intentions could accidentally make someone sick, not to mention the hazards if allergies are a concern. Accept only those goodies baked by someone you know. Fruit should be washed well and inspected for injection, puncture or slit marks. Cut up a piece of fruit before allowing your child to eat it so you can inspect the inside as well as the out.
Trick or treating safety shouldn’t be about being paranoid, just being safe and smart.
Halloween Around the World
While there are obviously parts of the globe that do not recognize or celebrate it, Halloween around the world is a traditional holiday that is considered one of the oldest in history. It is still the most popular in North America, Canada and possibly Ireland. There are plenty of other countries and regions that honor the holiday, though some of the traditions of Halloween may vary from place to place.
America – The jack-o’ -lantern was introduced by Irish settlers who brought the tradition with them. Their own folklore told the tale of a man named Jack who tricked the Devil on more than one occasion, but made the Devil agree to never claim his soul. Upon the man’s death, when the Devil could not let him enter, and Heaven wouldn’t take him, the Devil sent Jack away. Given only a coal from Hell to light the way, Jack found and carved a turnip to use as a lantern to carry this in.
The jack-o’-lantern was thus born and Irish traditionalists used the lantern in their homes to ward off spirits at Halloween. Once arriving in American and seeing large pumpkins that would work better for carving, the jack-o’-lantern was no longer a turnip.
As for the tradition of trick-or-treating, that appears to have begun in the 1950’s, though possible earlier. Costumed children began dressing in costume and demanding of residents that they hand over sweets, or sometimes money, or face the wrath of some trickery.
Canada – It is believed that Halloween traditions were started as far back as the 1800’s when the Irish immigrants first started landing there. Their Halloween customs do not deviate from the same ways Americans celebrate Halloween. They also use carved pumpkins and children partake in trick-or-treating.
China – Their Halloween celebrations are a bit more spirit friendly, as they actually encourage the spirits of their dead loved ones to return on this night. Lanterns are ignited to help the deceased find their way, and food offerings are left by their pictures. It is considered an honor to have the chance to have these souls return.
England – A different form of trick-or-treat was played out here, and may possibly the start of what became trick-or-treat for others who celebrate Halloween around the world. Children would wander the streets singing songs and door knocking to request money from residents. More recently, the British children began to bring back the tradition of door knocking on Halloween, but expecting changing it up to resemble the American style of trick-or-treating.
Ireland – This is also a place where Halloween is still celebrated possibly as much as it is in American and Canada. It is also considered the possible birthplace of the holiday. Children have their trick-or-treat festivities but the celebration continues and adults participate by having bonfires and parties.
Mexico – Like China, the dead are honored and this celebration of the dead is actually a joyous, festive occasion. Halloween (Day of the Dead) is actually just the day the celebration begins and continues for 3 days, ending on November 2, which is All Souls Day. Shrines and alters go up in homes for families hoping their deceased loved ones will return for a visit. Candy and other offerings are left as gifts to welcome spirits, and incense and candles are burned on the final day to help spirits find their way back.
Korea – To honor the dead on Halloween, Koreans visit the graves of their loved ones bearing gifts.
Austria – Another place where the dead are welcomed guests. A table light is left burning, and bread is left as an offering for any spirits of loved ones whom may stop by.
Czechoslovakia – Here, also, dead loved ones are invited to stop by. Chairs for all household members living and dead are placed out so the family can reunite.
Germany – They do not welcome spirits, but they do hide sharp utensils such as knives, so they will not be hurt by ghosts.
There are other places and methods for celebrating Halloween around the world, but these are just a few examples of the differences and similarities of many areas. There is also of course France that refuses to acknowledge Halloween, claiming it is an American holiday. Globalization has caused some time honored traditions to shift and more closely resemble the American festivities of Halloween, especially concerning the creation and placement of jack-o’-lanterns and events like trick-or-treat. Who could blame kids for wanting their families to adopt this sort of tradition, though?
Halloween Ghost Stories
The original Celtic holiday of Samhain included spirits of the dead returning to walk among the living. Ghost stories have been a part of Halloween since the beginning.
Halloween ghost stories can be told around a bonfire, or in a darkened living room. It doesn’t matter where they are told, as long as the atmosphere is spooky and the stories are scary.
The most famous American ghost story told on Halloween is probably The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The ghost in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the terrifying Headless Horseman. The Headless Horseman is the ghost of a German soldier from the Revolutionary War who had his head blown off by a cannonball. The Headless Horseman is always seen riding around the isolated glen of Sleepy Hollow at midnight, looking for his missing head, and in the story, he might – or might not – have replaced his missing head with the head of Ichabod Crane and left a Jack O’Lantern behind in its place.
Another classic ghost story is The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. Mr. and Mrs. White and their son Herbert inherit a monkey’s paw from India, which is said to grant three wishes. Mrs. White wishes for money, and within a few days, her son Herbert dies in an accident at work and she receives the money. Overcome with grief, Mrs. Herbert wishes for her son to come back from the grave, although her husband thinks it’s a bad idea.
Soon, someone is knocking at their door. Knock. Knock. Knock. Mr. White identified his son’s body, which has been buried for over a week. He knows that whatever is knocking on the door will look and be so terrifying that he can’t let him in. At the last minute, Mr. White grabs the monkey’s paw and wishes the gruesome dead Herbert back to the grave.
Some ghosts are in every culture. The mysterious “Girl in White” appears in American ghost tales as a barefoot hitchhiking girl. Whoever stops to pick her up on a lonely country road hears a sad tale of how she was abandoned on her wedding night, and just wants to get home. But by the time the driver reaches the place the girl calls home, he finds an abandoned house, and when he turns to ask if it’s the right place, the girl has vanished. In Mexico, the “Girl in White” is a beautiful girl named Consuela who dances with an eager young man at a dance. The young man rushes to tell his friends about the beautiful girl he has danced with, and they tell him that he was dancing alone. When he returns to Consuela, she vanishes into mist and he realizes that he has been dancing with a ghost.
Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story The Tell-Tale Heart is always scary, especially to those who hear it for the first time. A poor young man moves in with an older man, who is very kind and generous, but whose appearance has been ruined by illness. The young man begins to fear and hate the old man’s ugly “vulture” eye. Every night for eight nights, the young man creeps in the old man’s bedroom with thoughts of murder, in order to get rid of the old man’s ugly, scary eye. Each time, he is stopped because the old man’s horrible eye is closed. On the eighth night, a beam of moonlight falls on the old man’s face, and the eye is open!
The young man smothers the old man, to silence his cries and his extremely loud beating heart, racing in terror. The young man buries the old man under the floorboards in the kitchen.
When police come to question the young man, he is pleasant and reasonable at first, answering all of their questions. As the officers stay, the young man hears a heart beating under the floorboards. It grows louder and louder until the young man can’t take it any longer and leaps up, confessing to the murder and asking how they can’t hear the old man’s heart beating as loudly as it is.
The Druids and Celts and Halloween History
When it comes to Druids and Celts and Halloween, there is a connection that dates back eons. Of course the tales surrounding their connection involving Halloween are deeply shrouded in mystery and lore, as the holiday itself is. While there some variations in the tales, the core of the stories remain the same.
The First Halloween or Samhain
The celebrations for this holiday started in ancient, pre-Christian times as a Celtic ceremony for the dead. The holiday fell upon October 31, as it still does. It was called Samhain and marked the eve of the next season and new year. During this time period, November 1 was the beginning of the cold season, which was a time of hardship. In this era the year was divided up based on four holidays, as opposed to seasons but each division was still affiliated with a season. For this situation, the season was winter.
The winter ahead promised to be cold, long and harsh. The people would get ready by relocating their livestock closer and preparing them for the cruel season ahead. The cessation of the crop cycle was at this time, with the harvests being stored for the winter. Because of the severity of this season, and the long, dark, cold spell upon the Celts, it became affiliated with death.
The festival of Samhain became a time that people believed the worlds of the living and the dead could become one again, with the presence of spirits. Spirits could return to earth and be mischievous, like causing crop damage. The Celts also thought the priests, or Druids, could make forecasts with greater ease for the coming year when the un-living were around. Animal sacrifices would be made and fires lit to try to keep the souls at bay but help them see their way from the earth to the beyond.
Costumes were adorned during these early festivities, usually those made from the skins and heads of dead animals. The Celts would try to make predictions for one another, gathered around the large bonfire, then returned home to start their own hearth fire back again. They would use a flame from the Samhain bonfire, believing this would help to protect themselves and their homes.
Eventually, the holiday we know as Halloween became known this way after Christian missionaries set out to tamper with the ways the Celts practiced religion. The holiday really began to change following the Roman’s domination over most of the Celtic territory. Samhain was then combined with two Roman holidays.
Samhain was declared pagan as Christianity spread, and a celebration associated with the devil and all things evil. Since Druids were priests and scholars of the practice deemed pagan, these scholarly men were seen as worshipers of evil and the Devil. Christians categorized the underworld of the Celts as tied in with Hell. Many held on strong to their core beliefs as the changes were made.
First – All Souls Day was started, where the living paid homage to the dead, or souls, who had passed. This took place on November 2 of each year. All Saints Day occurred on November 1, but it was the night before All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows, that the lines between the living world and the spiritual one were blurred. This night was called All Hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween. The Celts maintained many of their beliefs and traditions involving this holiday and time of year. One change that happened was that the spirits, once viewed as simply mischievous, were considered evil. This is how the Druids and Celts and Halloween all went down in history together.
The Druids and Celts and Halloween Connected to Modern Traditions
Though the holiday saw many changes in both name and traditions, much of the modern day celebrations can be said to still be tied to original Samhain practices. For example, the Celts wore the hides and heads of animals as costumes during this event, and the use of costumes is still practiced today.
Trick-or-treating is another example of Celt traditions that live on. Since, originally, people left food and offerings to wandering spirits to appease them, people began to use costumes of spirits to go from door to door to collect these offerings. This is what became the first true type of trick-or-treating.
While customs continue to change and evolve, it is doubtful the holiday will ever transform so much that there will not be some remaining proof of the Druids and Celts and Halloween connection.