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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween is Not Just for Children

If you ever thought Halloween was just for kids, think again.  Vancouver, British Columbia,  Halloween is almost more important than Christmas, not only for children, but for every age group from 3 to 65.

Created from a mixture of  traditions, originally meant  to frighten away the spirits of the dead, Halloween is now an excuse for people to "let their hair down,"  (relax and stop acting inhibited) dress up in all kinds of wild costumes,and wander the streets of the city laughing, and acting silly.

The wonderful thing is that not one person will "bat an eyelash." look at them strangely)  Walk downtown today or tomorrow and you will see some strange and wonderful looking people dressed in anything from vampire costumes to toothpaste boxes. They will look like they are having a wonderful time, and you'll smile because their joy is contagious.

Halloween Magic 

Halloween is a magic time for many Canadians, young and old. It is one of the few times of the year when  normally reserved Canadians allow themselves to forget they are responsible, hard working people, and to remember and let out some of their childhood feelings of joy and wonder.

Canadians are not a people who wear their feelings on their sleeves, or who party in the streets, so Halloween is an excuse and an opportunity for us to do just that. In many countries, this is called "carnival", or "joie de vivre", or simply public partying. In Canada, it is called Halloween, and people have come to look forward to it the whole year long. 

Getting Ready  

Preparations for Halloween begin almost a month before the big day. From the beginning of October, schools build their entire art and craft programs around the theme of Halloween.   Witches, ghosts, bats and pumpkins appear on every classroom window.

Children read Halloween stories, plays and even poetry and write their own ghost, or horror stories.   Teachers and parents bring hundreds of children out to pumpkin patches on the outskirts for the city. Here, children all choose their own pumpkins to take home and carve.


By the first week of October, children, teenagers, "twenty and thirty  somethings", and even  parents have  begun to plan the costume they plan to wear on October 31st. Teenagers and young people between  the ages of 20 and 40,  who will be attending several parties, or night club crawls, often put together three or four costumes.

Some people put together strange pieces of clothing from their own cupboards. Others make their own costumes. any fill the aisles of thrift stores like the Salvation Army or Value Village looking for something "just right." Still others spend a large amount of money and go to costume shops. All you need is an imagination.

Decorations and Pumpkin Carving

At home, parents and children begin decorating their own homes with all the symbols of Halloween in their traditional black and orange. Nowadays, families go even further putting decorating their yards with cemetery headstones, hacked up bodies dripping with fake blood, murderous looking criminals, zombies or Frankenstein like statues glowing an eerie green in the dark,  tree branches draped in filmy, but very visible spider web fabric.

Parents and children, or entire groups of teenagers hold pumpkin carving parties. Organizations stage pumpkin carving contests with prizes. Walk around any neighbourhood with children, and you will see front steps adorned with five, seven or even 10 beautifully carved pumpkins all lit up to look as spooky as they can be.

Then, of course, there are the school parties, and the Stanley Park Ghost train, which runs for almost a month. On the weekend of Halloween itself, almost  every community centre in Greater Vancouver has some kind of "safe" family Halloween event planned with games, spooky themes, and lots of sweets.  Vancouver itself has haunted house tours, cemetery walks and even fright nights at Playland. - an amusement park. 

Trick or Treat!! 

Finally, as soon as it begins to get dark on October 31st,  children of all sizes and shapes dressed in superhero, scary, cartoon character, hero,  princess or scary costumes will go knocking on doors shouting out "trick or treat," as their parents, flashlight in hand, watch them carefully  from the gate, or the street.

These days, when people open their doors to greet the kids, they will hand out chocolate bars and packaged goodies instead of candy kisses, homemade popcorn balls, or apples.  There have been too many scares for parents to allow their children to accept anything that is not tightly sealed and packaged.

By nine o'clock, things should have almost stopped. Occasionally, a group of 12 year olds wearing nothing but a face mask will come knocking on doors with their hands out for candy. At my house, the rule is no costume, no candy.

Safety Tips for 
Trick or Treating 

For parents who are new at the process of "trick or treating" there are some basic rules.
  • Don't knock on doors unless you see at least one or more lit pumpkins. 
  • Have your children walk and knock on doors in groups as well as carry flashlights. They will be safer
  •  Kids should wear something bright and reflective. Drivers need to see them
  • If a homeowner allows children to choose their own treats, kids should limit themselves to one. 
  • If you see that pumpkin lights have been put out, the home has run out of candy. Don't knock on the door. 

By nine o'clock, the trick or treating should be all over. It's time to go home. 
So,  if you are reading this and live in North America, carve a pumpkin, put a candle in it and put out on your front porch. Buy some candy, and open the door to trick or treaters.

Get yourself a costume, dress up your children, and go out trick or treating. Attend a community centre party. Ride the ghost train, or tour a haunted house. Enjoy the party, and have fun.

Let me know what YOU think about Halloween. I would like your opinion.  Just click on the comment box. 

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