Halloween is just around the corner. For fear enthusiasts, the first of October might as well be the first day of a month-long Halloween celebration. But where did Halloween come from? And how can you have the best Halloween ever? We are here to make your Halloween decorating, party planning, and celebrating the best ever, with tips and tricks for the ultimate Halloween.
The History of Halloween
Halloween finds its origins in Samhain, a Celtic holiday that once spelled the end of harvest and meant that winter was coming. In the Celtic tradition, the changing of the seasons was a time when the dead could walk the earth. This became the foundation for many of the Halloween traditions that are still popular today, including dressing up in costumes and carving pumpkins.
Over the centuries, Halloween has become less about warding off literal ghosts (though scary movies about ghosts, demons, witches, and the like are still a popular part of holiday celebrations), and more about warding off stress and having a little fun. Trick-or-treating dates as far back as colonial days, when children would dress up and go from house to house, asking for money or sweets.
Trick-or-treating itself may have sprung out of the tradition of leaving food and wine out as offering to the roaming ghosts that were believed to cross into the physical world on Halloween night. Dressing up was also a way to placate the ghosts—by wearing masks, they could not be recognized as humans, and the spirits would think that they humans roaming the land were just other spirits.
Halloween really became what it is today in the mid-1900s, with community parties, parades, and games being the norm, as well as the cultural expectation that children will go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Especially during times of economic downturn, Halloween became an inexpensive way to give back and show community support.
Today’s costumes are less about not being recognized by ghosts and more about making a statement or having fun with friends. Most people will opt for something exciting or funny, rather than just a plain costume. Some people opt for the very scary, from authentic recreations of their favorite slasher movie villains, to the gruesome and morbid. If there was ever a time to get a little gruesome, though, it would be on Halloween.
A favorite in the recent years has been the “pun” costume, ranging from a One Night Stand (wearing a nightstand over your shoulders and a lampshade as a hat), to more complicated costumes like Raining Cats and Dogs (a queen or king with stuffed cats and dogs tacked to his or her cloak). These can be fun to come up with, but you may spend the entire night explaining your costume to other partygoers or trick-or-treaters.
Some of the most classic costumes include witches, wizards, and ghosts. You can never go wrong with one of these! Check out our range of Halloween costumes and accessories to help you find the perfect, easy costume that will impress your friends.
Carving pumpkins was once a practice employed to scare away evil, wandering spirits. They would carry carved turnips, beets, or potatoes, with a light inside or hang them in their windows, so as to scare away any unsavory ghosts. Called jack o’lanterns because of the story of Stingy Jack (who tricked the devil and became a roaming evil spirit), this practice dates back well before the foundation of the United States.
Today, carving a pumpkin is all about creating a great design for your porch or (if you live in a neighborhood where hooligan teenagers will try to steal your pumpkin) window. There are many different ways to achieve this, either with a template, or by using your own imagination. The classic carved pumpkin is a grinning face, with triangle eyes. You can add some vampire teeth for extra Halloween flair, or choose a much more elaborate and impressive design.
Part of pumpkin carving is having the right tools. A power pumpkin carver or a pumpkin carving kit will make the carving process much easier. For kids, you can even just provide them with paints and let them paint a pumpkin, instead of giving them dangerous knives.
Decorating for Halloween can be as much fun as decorating for Christmas. Setting up a spooky scene to frighten trick-or-treaters or just a fun, whimsical display may take some time, but for those who are Halloween-enthusiasts, the perfect time to show off your creativity is with a great yard.
Start by stringing lights around your home. Orange, dark purple, and black are the most popular colors for Halloween and they can give your home a creepy glow. Almost every party supply store has grim reapers and ghosts you can hang around your yard, in trees, or on posts, to add some extra flair. Making a graveyard is as simple as picking up some Styrofoam gravestones or making your own with some foam and some gray spray paint. Come up with a concept and go all out!
One of the most obvious Halloween traditions is trick-or-treating. Young kids love dressing up and going door to door with their siblings or with a group of friends. Parental supervision may be required, depending on your neighborhood.
Another Halloween tradition is bobbing for apples. This game is usually reserved for community Halloween parties, where a large bucket is full of water. Apples float on top and game players try to grab an apple using only their mouth.
A scary movie marathon is a favorite among many families, whether the movies are only mildly scary (safe for the kids to watch), or really scary (no kids allowed). This can even be a great basis for a Halloween party—have everyone dress up and bring their favorite scary movie.