Compiled by Robyn © October 2007
Halloween is celebrated on 31st October and is not common in
Why celebrate Halloween? Many people speak out against Halloween as being evil. As a child, I lived overseas in a strong Christian American community. All the children from our church went ‘trick or treating’ and this is one of my favourite childhood memories. As with many other of our celebrations (such as Christmas & Easter), Halloween is pagan in origin. The church attempting to divert the interest in pagan customs added a Christian celebration to the calendar on the same date as these pagan celebrations and adapted many of their rituals. Briefly, Pope Boniface IV, took the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, and designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honour saints and martyrs. The celebration was also called All-hallows and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honour the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
I explained Halloween something like this to my children - In days gone by, people used to have some strange ideas about things, for example, people used to believe that the earth was flat because they didn't know any better. Well a long time ago, the Celts used to believe that during the changing of seasons, on the night before winter, the spirits of people who had died came to visit them. Some of them were scared and so they dressed up in costumes so that they wouldn't be recognised and offered treats so that they would be left alone. Pumpkins or other vegetables were carved out in scary face lanterns to scare away any ghosts. Then one day, the pope of the Catholic Church decided to make some other special holidays around that day, that were less scary, and were all about honouring the spirits of people that had died. All these celebrations together became known as Halloween. My children and I have made our own special ritual to honour all the people we know who’ve died and will make a point of remembering them during that time. We are also going to celebrate the fun part of Halloween which I’ve explained to them are traditions that have been passed down through generations. Some of our ideas are below.
Whether you feel comfortable celebrating Halloween or not is up to you. I have such fond memories of this that we are going to incorporate it into our October thematic units and have all the fun we can, particularly trick or treating! For those of you who haven't done this before, the children dress up in fancy dress and go around knocking on neighbours doors saying “trick or treat?”. The neighbour has to choose one. If they choose treat, they have to give the children treats (you take a big basket with for your collections), and if they choose trick, the children have to have a trick up their sleeve to play on them. The neighbour will usually give treats anyway. The trick is something like throwing plastic spiders at the person, at least that's what my sister and I did.
FUN ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS
If you are having a kids Halloween party or decorating your house for trick or treating here are some cool suggestions, spooky enough but not too spooky!
Make your own Jack O'Lantern (or just buy one already carved from Pick n Pay!)
Balloon Ghosts - cut the handles off a white plastic packet. Cut slits almost the whole way up to the sealed edge. Blow up a white balloon. Tape the sealed edge of packet around the bottom of the balloon (untied side). Using a black marker draw a ghost face onto the balloons (we are making friendly ghost faces). Tie up to the ceiling with string. These ghosts fly really well.
Cut out bones and connect with brass fasteners to make skeletons to hang up for decorations (at the same time you can learn about the bones) See template and directions from Enchanted Learning.com
Make your own costumes and masks for dress up
Egg Carton Bats and Spiders
Make your own bats, spiders and spider webs to hang around the room using egg boxes, pipe cleaners and string.
Glittery Spider Web picture
Draw a spider web with glue on a piece of black paper. Sprinkle glitter on the glue and shake off excess. Let it dry and hang up your spider web pictures for decorations.
Woollen Spider Web Picture
Using the glue, squirt lines on the paper in whatever spider web design you want. Lay the wool on the glue lines and set it aside and let it dry. Add a few small plastic spiders if you like!
Halloween Party Eats
In separate clear cups, put some gummy insect sweets into a chocolate pudding. It looks yucky but it is a really tasty treat!
Put any scary gummy sweets- animals, skeletons, eyeballs etc. into custard for dessert.
Two of my favourites as a child were pumpkin fritters and pumpkin pie! I was happy to find this recipe that I am going to try out for Halloween, yummy.
3/4 cup pumpkin
2 tablespoons molasses
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, separated
milk combined with 1 can of evaporated milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons Myers rum
Separate eggs. In a clean bowl beat egg whites only until slightly foamy.
In a measuring cup, add 1 can of evaporated milk. Add regular milk until level in measuring cup reaches 1 1/2 cups total.
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except egg whites. Beat one minute. Gently fold in egg whites.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C and continue baking for 30 more minutes.
Links to more Halloween theme units for kids
Related Theme Units - This is a great time to do units on topics such as bats and spiders.
Skeletons or bones are also a good one. Many schools follow these themes during this time.
Links to Halloween information
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