Halloween is celebrated on October 31ˢᵗ always, and is known as an Observance, rather than a Holiday. It is a patchwork holiday that has evolved through the ages, and is actually several holidays rolled into one. It combines Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals, and European folk traditions.
At this time, Halloween remains a fun holiday for kids, often associated with local harvest carnivals, candy, pumpkins, costumes, trick or treating, and pranks! It has a dark history that is often overlooked!
Below is a cute video called: Singing Pumpkins 3D Animation Halloween 2006
Here are a few fun facts about Halloween:
It is not a federal, bank, or school holiday!
Started with the Celts over 2000 years ago to celebrate the end of the harvest called Sow wan, and the start of their new year when the ghosts of the dead walked the earth! Celts wore costumes.
Merged with a religious holiday on Nov. 1ˢᵗ called All Saints Day or Hallowmas to honor martyrs and the deceased faithful. The night before was known as All Hallows Eve, which later became known as Halloween.
Both early holidays focused on the dead and the focus on ghosts remains to this day.
Brought to America by Irish immigrants during the potato famine in the 1840's. They brought with them the fun practices of bobbing for apples and playing tricks on neighbors. They used masks to keep their identity unknown.
In the 1930's the practice of going door to door, saying trick or treat, and receiving candy was adopted, to stop the wild pranks and troublemaking.
Black cats, bats and owls, evil spirits, witches, rituals, and vampires are all associated with the darker side of Halloween.
Pumpkins carved into all kinds of designs are the main home decoration at this time! Kids' contests abound for the most glorious pumpkin creation!
Candy Corn, Black jelly beans, Candy, Corn stalks, Corn mazes, Hay rides, Parades, Costume parties, Harvest carnivals, scary monsters, slimy concoctions and goo, cold toes of parents, zeal and excitement, are also associated with Halloween!
Photo courtesy of: Dawn Mason Riazi
Pages could be written about this holiday and all of the traditions. It's a fairly tame fun holiday today. Be careful when you trick or treating, though. Use the sidewalks, trick or treat with your younger kids, encourage your older kids to go in groups, use flashlights, and always throw away any treats not prepackaged. Encourage your kids to allow you to examine their candy to make sure it is safe to eat! Be safe out there!
Healthy Diet Habits for Halloween
This is a funny section to write because I am not sure that there is a healthy way to enjoy this holiday, when candy and treats abound. As parents we encourage healthy eating and keep sweets limited. It's difficult to let kids trick or treat and then ask them to dispense with part of their candy; that just does not seem fair. Yet we send such mixed messages.
I would encourage:
Letting your kids indulge in a few treats right after trick or treating, and then limit your kids to a certain amount of pieces per day. Keep their stash out of site and in your control.
Serve their candy treats with something healthy like a glass of milk or a healthy snack first, and then have kids brush their teeth.
Encourage them to only keep their favorites.
Pull the chewy candy with all the food colors and throw it away.
Set the limits beforehand to stop complaining. Spin it positively.
Buy your household candy at the last minute to avoid overindulging before Halloween. You know you eat it!!! This is huge!
Consider handing out non sweet treats that are healthier, so you do not end up with lots of extra candy leftover.
Do not buy your favorite candy bars to hand out. Consider buying your least favorite candy to avoid temptation!
Stay away from day after candy sales when candy is very cheap. Slowly back away!
Do not send your extra leftover candy to your grown up kids. My mom has actually spent the money to send her candy to me, because she could not bring herself to throw it away!
Throw your excess candy away! I know it is extremely wasteful, but it is hard to encourage donating it to anyone.
Consider buying back your kids candy, if they are motivated by money.
These are just a few Halloween ideas that you can try. It is a tough call though, and often parents just give in and let their kids indulge to their hearts content. They realize that this is not a healthy diet habit. It's an isolated sweet feast, in an otherwise healthy life, and don't make a big deal of it. I am not so sure that that is wrong.
For great tips and poor tips for dealing with the candy overload see my Halloween Treats Overload page! You can conquer this Halloween nightmare!