Just as we eat big meals at Thanksgiving, or give presents to loved ones at Christmas, Halloween has its own special traditions. They vary per person. Some people celebrate time-honored traditions that have been passed down through the generations, other people who might be new to Halloween are developing their own traditions. I have a few of my own personal traditions which I will share with you, as well as some of the more common ones observed by most North Americans.
Trick or Treat
Obviously one of the most common practices is North America on Halloween is to give out candy or go trick or treating. If you're luck enough to be a child you can go trick or treating, or in other words, go door to door collecting candy. Besides giving them a good stomach ache and a year's supply of candy, trick or treating plays an important role in a child's development. It helps build their confidence, strengthen their bond to the community and it stimulates their imagination. Even though I generally dislike children, I make a note of it to dress up my house and hand out candy. I do this for a handful of reasons, like how I want to keep the holiday going, but I also want kids to feel comfortable in our neighborhood. I'm not crazy about them screaming at the top of their lungs, littering on my lawn or getting in the way of our car when we're pulling out of our driveway. Let's face it, the kids here are growing more stupid by the second, but that's no reason to make them feel unwelcome in the neighborhood. I figure handing out candy and making Halloween a blast teaches them to respect me and lets them know that "hey, a person lives here, so stop fucking around!"
Something that isn't practiced as much as it was in my youth are the "rules" of trick or treating. Newspapers and local television stations would always have advertisements encouraging kids to stick together; not eat their candy until they get home and it's been inspected; walk on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street; and lastly, to go trick or treating in groups or with a parent. You know what kids do now? They don't trick or treat at night any more, they start right after school and maybe go until sun down...that's weird. They also don't walk. Parents seem to be more crazy controlling and will drive them door to door, or drive alongside them. That makes no fucking sense. If you're going to drive alongside them, then get out of your fucking car and walk with them. People talk a lot of shit about kids eating unhealthy food this time of year, how about we criticize parents for being too god damn lazy! It's okay to eat candy, so long as you're active. So you know what parents? Get active. Set a good example.
Having mentioned that, it seems parents don't even want their kids to go out for Halloween anymore. I can only assume this is because the new generation of parents are a little whacky. I said that they drive their kids door to door on Halloween, well they'll also drive their kids to school even if it's just down the block. The school parking lot got so cramped and dysfunctional they had to hire a cop to show up every morning and direct traffic. It's so ridiculous that there's even a provincial day that encourages kids to WALK TO SCHOOL. I get that the internet has done more than bring us together, it's also encouraged mass hysteria with the multiple bogus urban legends that get circulated on Facebook. I mean, how many people actually believe that Justin Beiber has died for the umpteenth time? Answer: too many people.
It's sad that there actually people out there who believe the razor blade in the apple legend is true, when apparently there haven't been any such records in existence in any city. Parents live in fear of their own community and that's only going to fuck their children up even more so. I can only hope that the next generation of parents are much more laid back and realistic, and hopefully trick or treat will be here to stay.
Obviously the second most common practice for Halloween is decorating the home. Not many people observe this practice in my city any more. In fact, out of 350 houses in my area perhaps 30 of them have some kind of Halloween decoration put out. I'm hoping that this number increases on the actual day of Halloween but it's unlikely. There has been a sharp decline in decorating for Halloween and for Christmas. This is in part because of the economy. The 1980's has been described as a consumer-driven decade in North America and I know now that my childhood Halloweens were amazing because of this mass-consumerism. Now it's nothing like the 80's, with thousands of people being laid off every year, there aren't many people who can afford to buy decorations or run them. Our hydro bills will be increasing to astronomical rates. Even the eco-friendly LED string lights will cost money to run.
Aside from costs, I also think that people are becoming tired of Halloween. Maybe it's too much effort to dig out the Halloween decor when you know Christmas is only two months away. I found a poll the other day asking if people were going to wear costumes this year. Something like 20% said yes, 20% said they don't even celebrate the day, and 30% said no. The rest were undecided. Unfortunately that poll doesn't reveal whether or not people actively celebrate or decorate for Halloween, statistics that I would be interested in seeing.
For Halloween, I like to put up a lot of lights. I have a weird fetish for lights. I had so many novelty lights when I was a teenager, like disco balls, traffic lights and lava lamps. I sold and got rid of half of them but some are still lingering around at my parents house. For Halloween lights I have two full bins. TWO FULL BINS. That's a lot, and I've already gotten rid of some of them. I still have to purge a few dead sets (why don't stores sell replacement bulbs any more, like wtf?) and maybe replace a few if I ever find something nice enough. I also like to put out my pumpkin lights and vintage Halloween blow molds - kids seem to love them. This year my fiancé and I would like to decorate the front entryway as a sunken pirate ship but cost and time will determine whether or not we're successful. I have a few pirate decor items including a pirate skull that's eyes pop out lol. I'll post pictures of the actual decor on Halloween day.
Obviously another very common practice. It's not Halloween without a Jack O'Lantern!!! Every year I get nostalgic and dive into one of these little round orbs. The smell is fantastic. I'm reminded of many fond childhood memories whenever I stick my hand into a pumpkin and grab those gross, slimy innards. My mom use to make roasted pumpkin seeds which I now do for my fiancé. With the ever-growing popularity of Pinterest, there are a million different ways you can carve or decorate your pumpkin, including painting and costuming a pumpkin. My favorite is Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Clock seen here. I'm not sure how many pumpkins we will be putting out this year or how they will be decorated. I think maybe I'll do one with a pirate ship on it and get all fancy. A great alternative to pumpkins is carving turnips and hanging them around the house. : )
Another tradition is to hold or attend a Halloween party. Halloween parties can just be a simple gathering between friends (in or out of costume) with Halloween themed activities, or it could be a community event. I attended a party at the local museum which gave out candy, played music and showed horror movies. That was rad. Some people throw Halloween costume balls, which is something I would love to experience! In recent years I've found that Halloween parties and dances are some of the most common ways to celebrate Halloween in countries that don't nationally observe the holiday, so if you happen to be in a country that doesn't celebrate Halloween, try throwing a Halloween party for you and your friends! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Choose a theme
- It could be an Edgar Allan Poe party, a pirate party, a murder mystery party, the options are endless! You don't even have to buy all your decorations online, choose a colour scheme and purchase balloons and streamers from local party suppliers, and check out all the amazing DIY crafts on Pinterest to see what you can make at home! Check out Martha Stewart's Paper Hang Ups they are simple and easy to make!
- There are plenty of scary movies, video and board games which you can play at your Halloween party. You could also share scary stories or pieces of Halloween literature with your friends. I attended a Halloween poetry contest, that was pretty cool and a great idea for a party activity. You could also run a costume contest giving awards to the best dressed, most scary or best handmade costumes.
I have plenty of my own Halloween traditions. One of my newer traditions is making my own costume, as I have discussed in recent posts. I really like making my own costume because it provides me with a creative outlet and I have something special that no one else does. It's something of my own creation! I love it. When I'm not pouring my creative juices into my costume I'm working on making my own Halloween decorations. I love DIY crafts and there's an abundance of DIY Halloween projects online, but I usually just come up with my own. In high school I created a life sized Jack Skellington. He's lived in my parents shed ever since and this year they're finally throwing him out after he's had mice living inside him for ten odd years lol. One of my more common traditions is baking around Halloween. I've always made cupcakes for Halloween but this year I'm on a strict diet so I'll have to try making gluten free Halloween cookies. Depending on how they turn out I will be sharing the recipe on Halloween day!
My newest tradition is playing Puppeteer, a game for the PS3. My fiancé bought this game last fall and we played it while I was house sitting for my Grandmother in October. I adore this game! It's really very special. I'm a huge fan of Little Big Planet and Puppeteer bares similarities to LBP. It centers around the adventures of a headless puppet named Kutaro. Kutaro needs to get his head back as well as save the souls of all these other little puppets whose souls have been taken by the Moon Bear King. It's a platformer that plays out more like a theatrical performance as it features changes in set and various cut scenes. It's really a lot of fun, there's something magical about it just like Halloween, and better yet there's a Halloween world (see below). I already had the craving to play this game again a few weeks ago. It's very easy to play and can be completed in a few hours. It's so much fun and it really gets me in the mood for Halloween!
What are your Halloween traditions?