Vien R. Guenther
Why Halloween is Celebrated plus Easy Decorating Ideas
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
So, I admit I like Halloween, it is fun decorating, buying chocolates and seeing cute kids in costume. It's no wonder the record amount American spent on Halloween reached $9.1 billion in 2017. Crazy I know, but do we all know why we celebrate it? We are so focused on costumes and decorations, parties and candies and chocolates for Trick-or-Treating that we might not even know why it is celebrated. Someone will probably say, "who cares, it is fun!" Indeed, but if you are interested where Halloween originated and why, read on.
THE PAGAN FESTIVAL
Halloween was known before as "All Hallows' Eve", the eve of All Hallows' Day. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Sah-ween), the Gaelics' end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, held from October 31 to November 1. It is said that it is the time when the "door" to the otherworld opened for the souls of the dead and other beings, such as fairies, to come into our world. People would light a bonfire and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Wearing costumes while collecting food for the feast is said to help disguise oneself from harmful spirits.
The pagan festival was transformed after Christian missionaries used their tradition and incorporated it into Christian ways, successfully spreading Christianity. In the eight century, Pope Gregory II designated November 1 as an All Saints Day, to honor all saints and martyrs. All Saints Day incorporated some of the Samhain's traditions. Scottish immigrants brought the tradition of Halloween to North America in the 19th century, and by the 20th century it was celebrated by all the people of all social and religious status.
JACK O' LANTERN
Traditionally the symbol of Halloween used in Ireland and Scotland was by carving a turnip. When the Irish and Scottish emigrated to North America, they used the local pumpkins which were larger, softer and easier to carve. Carving a pumpkin was originally associated with harvest time; it was not until the 19th century when carved pumpkins became a tradition in the Halloween celebration - they were call "Jack O' Lanterns".
Jack O' Lanterns were traditionally used to light the way during the night of the pagan festival (made out of curved turnips as mentioned above). Through the years Halloween tradition evolved, from decorating haunted attractions and wearing popular fictional character costumes (other than the traditional supernatural figures). Instead of giving food for "trick or treating", chocolates and candies have since became the tradition.
HALLOWEEN IN OTHER COUNTRIES
In other countries, Halloween is celebrated in different ways. In Poland they pray out loud as they walk through the forest, to give comfort for the dead. In Spain they ring the church bells to remind people of the "All Hallows' Eve". Christians carry out a vigil, prayers and fasting prior to the feast day. A visit to the graveyard offering flowers and candles to the departed is also observed.
- DECORATING -
CARVING A PUMPKIN
I like decorating, but carving a pumpkin is beyond my, or my husband's expertise and we are not going to try. Taking the guts out of a pumpkin and drilling holes in it is good enough for us. The easiest way to do that is by using a power tool. Just chop off the top, take out the innards, drill a few holes and...tada! For variations, you can change the size of the holes. Easy breezy!
Our Jack "O" Lantern is not spooky enough at night but hey! we try our best. We got a nice comment from kids so we were happy.
What I like best is decorating the table. I love browsing craft stores (Hobby Lobby & Michaels) and finding something that is quite interesting such as these witch shoes (photo below). Finding them at a discount price is even better.
Putting together the Halloween stuff that I collected is a fun thing to do. Even if we don't have guests, or kids of our own, I decorate the table just to get the vibes of the occasion.
I make my own crafting too of course when I find the time. Browsing Pinterest can get you plenty of ideas. I like the easy ones that don't need expertise. Here are some of them. I'm not an artist so pardon my effort. For outdoor decorating, the left photo is just some jars wrapped in tea cloth, cut out black paper for the eyes and mouth and a tea light. Right photo is just some leftover lumber from Hermann's projects. I spray painted them white and cut out some faces out of thick black paper.
Another easy decorating is done by printing out some Halloween themed words and framing them. Examples below.
What about food? Baking goods for the kids and decorating them is part of the fun. You can't go wrong with cup cakes. You can buy them if you don't have time but I bake my own to make them extra special. Decorating them need not be a hardship as you can see.
So there!...I hope it gave you some ideas to make your Halloween fun not only for kids but for adults as well. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Check this short video for more.