Monday, October 28, 2013

Canadian Halloween History

Halloween is only three days away. I remember my Halloween days. they were a lot more fun than today, at least in my opinion.
We made our own costumes. Princesses, superman, cowboys and ghosts were big back then. We trekked through our neighborhood with all our friends, and our pillowcases (yes, I'm that old) shouting trick-or-treat. Some people asked us inside to perform a trick. Usually we sang a song and got our treats. 
Then some idiot put needles in an apple and the whole atmosphere began to change. We had to check all the apples and candy brought home for needles or other things
Now we buy our costumes, which in my opinion are not always age appropriate. And fewer children traipse through the neighborhood yelling trick-or-treat.

With Halloween approaching I thought I'd share the history of our Canadian Halloween, which I researched.
Halloween has Celtic origins. In pre-Christian times, many people believed that spirits from the underworld and ghosts of dead people could visit the world of the living on the night of October 31st. These spirits could harm the living or take them back to the underworld. (Hmm - maybe the beginning of the zombies?) To avoid this, people started dressing up as ghosts and spirits if they left their homes on October 31st. They hoped this would confuse the ghosts and spirits.
Halloween was also a time, when spirits might give messages to people. In some areas, it was  traditional for unmarried girls to pour molten lead into water. the shape that the lead took when it hardened was seen as a clue to the professions of their future husbands. Halloween traditions were brought to Canada by Irish and Scottish immigrants. Halloween is now celebrated in a range of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

Halloween is celebrated in Canada on October 31st every year. It is a day to mark the single night in the year when, according to old Celtic belief, spirits and the dead can cross over into the world of the living. I believe this is the night b people try and contact Houdini.

Some people hold parties and children mat trick-or-treat in their neighborhood, or one of the busier, larger neighborhoods. Today it isn't unusual for parents to drive their children to areas where they think they will get the best 'loot.'

Some people put a lot of effort into decorating their homes, yards and driveways. they may even construct life-size replica graveyards or dungeons. Today you can also buy a lot of these things from larger stores. Other people organize costume parties for adults and/or children. Popular activities at parties include watching horror films and trying to scare the guests.
There are special foods associated with Halloween. These include packaged candy, toffee apples  roasted corn, popcorn and pumpkin pie. Halloween beer, which is made by adding pumpkin and spices to the mash before fermenting it, is also available in liquor stores.
Children also take part in a long-standing Canadian tradition of 'Trick-or-Treat for Unicef.'
Pumpkin carving contests, pumpkin art tours, a reading marathon and symbolic Walks for Water are just a few examples of the educational and fundraising activities schools and children develop to help provide thousands of children in developing countries with basic quality education.
There is a wide range of Halloween symbols. These include black cats, spiders and figures such as ghosts, skeletons, witches and wizards. Pumpkins, graveyards, cobwebs, haunted houses and the colors green, orange, grey and black are also associated with Halloween. these symbols are used to decorate homes and party venues and are seen on costumes, gift paper, cards. cookies, cakes and candy.

Anyone want to share their memories of Halloween or maybe a favorite costume they made?


  1. Hi, sweetie! My mom would make homemade popcorn balls, not the marshmallow kind. She would cook a candy syrup and pour over popped corn. We'd butter our hands and smash and mold the popcorn into large balls. Then, we'd wrap in plastic wrap with a bow. The neighborhood kids loved them. Okay, I did too.

    1. I remember those. I loved them. We didn't make them but I always hoped I'd find a house that did. And the kids out halloweening always passed on tips on which houses to go to - like the lad who made the popcorn balls.,

  2. Halloween is such a fun holiday. I remember groups of us going up and down the streets together and nearly everyone passed out treats. We usually just wore masks, or sometimes didn't bother dressing up at all. Oh, and of course we had to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

    1. Of course - Charlie Brown. I think they still show It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown don't they?

  3. How lovely to be taken down memory lane, especially as many things the Canadians do, we do here in the States. Vicki, we had the homemade popcorn balls, too. I dearly loved them.

  4. t's fun to remember all the fun things we used to do. I'm not surprised that if you live in the States we do a lot of similar things.

  5. It's nice to see that Canada and the US have adopted this same tradition and that it has such a wonderful history to it!

  6. When my kids were young I'd tell them I'd create a costume to make them any character they wanted to be. Usually it was fairly easy for me, since I can sew. I made costumes for a bear, a rabbit, another bear, Batman, Robin, a princess, etc. The most challenging one was from a cartoon my oldest boy loved called "Dark-Wing Duck", and he wanted to be the villain, "Megaduck". I made him the gold jumpsuit, with white gloves, black boots, a red belt, and a red hat that had an electric plug sticking out the top (I covered cardboard with aluminum foil and anchored it in the hat). My husband said only one parent recognized who he was, but that one Dad yelled out to his family, "Look everyone! It's Megaduck!" Husband said our son beamed from then on, and couldn't wait to tell me when he got home. Ah, memories...

    1. How cool and what a great memory for both your son and husband. Hope you have great pictures.