What is Halloween? Explain Halloween to your children

Sharing holiday traditions with your kids is one of the joys of parenthood, but Halloween can be hard to explain. No other party invites you to decorate the house with spooky images of skeletons, spiders and carved pumpkins lit from within. Here’s how to explain Halloween to kids with the help of a Halloween expert, because the story behind this holiday is wild. Admittedly, most children do not need an excuse to dress up in awesome costumes and ask the neighbors for candy, but a little historical background only adds to the fun.

To learn more about the haunted history of the holidays, Romper spoke with writer, writer and Halloween expert Lisa Morton, the author of Trick or Treat: A Halloween Story and several other frightening works. Here’s what Morton has to say about the weird and wild Halloween traditions still practiced today.

Halloween story

“Halloween started out as a Celtic holiday called ‘Samhain’ (pronounced ‘sow’),” Morton explains. Many of their traditions have been lost in time because they did not leave a written history. “We know that the Irish Celts celebrated their New Year’s Day on October 31, and that – because it was a border between years and seasons – they believed that the veil between our world and ‘the other world’ ghosts and fairies was at its peak. thinner that night. Malevolent fairies known as “sidh” (pronounced “shee”) could walk through and cause chaos by setting buildings on fire, for example , as Morton explains.

“When Catholic missionaries arrived in Ireland around the 6th century AD, they moved their celebration of saints from May 13 to November 1 in an attempt to co-opt Samhain,” Morton explains. “This original celebration of Samhain – and we know the Celts threw great banquets and told ghost stories – is where our modern Halloween takes on its spookiest side.” Several centuries later, these chilling traditions still exist in one form or another.

Then here is the story of some of the most iconic Halloween symbols.

Jack-o’-lanterns

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It all started as a joke. “The Irish and Scots loved to celebrate Halloween with pranks; one of their favorites was carving turnips (because they didn’t have pumpkins) into weird faces, sticking a candle in them, and placing the glowing gourd somewhere on Halloween night it could do. fear someone, ”Morton explains. “When the Irish and Scots came to America in the mid-19th century, they brought their Halloween pranks with them and found the perfect match in the American pumpkin.” Spooky and shiny pumpkin faces have been a part of Halloween ever since. In fact, current creative pumpkin carving ideas include textured, geometric, and even emoji-inspired designs.

What about the particular name, however? “The name” jack-o’-lantern “is derived from an ancient folk tale about a blacksmith named Jack who deceives the devil (three times) by taking his soul from him, but when he finally dies the devil doesn’t let him Hell, Morton explains. “The devil ends up throwing a glowing embers of hellfire at him, which Jack keeps in a calabash lantern to light his way as his soul wanders eternally; hence the name ‘Jack- o’-lantern. ‘ Tell this scary folk tale to your kids on Halloween night (if you dare).

Black cats

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“Black cats are part of Halloween because of their association with witches; cats were often seen as ‘familiars’ to witches or demonic helpers in animal form, ”Morton explains. “By the way, in reality, witches were often just old women who lived on the outskirts of a village and probably kept a cat for company and a mouse.” Cats just get a bad rap. But as people who know more about the facts about black cats know, these magnificent creatures make wonderful friends and are considered symbols of good luck in many parts of the world.

Trick-or-Treat

“Trick-or-treat is not as old as most people think! While there are earlier Halloween traditions that involved dressing up and going from house to house – such as “souling”, performed in Britain on the Day of the Dead or on November 2 – the fact is that the thing or treat is less than a century old, ”Morton says. For modern children (and many adults), it’s impossible to imagine a vacation without this door-to-door tradition.

However, modern trick-or-treat has a fascinating origin story. “It came as a solution to the prank game in America, which by the 1930s had become widespread and was so destructive that many cities were considering banning Halloween,” says Morton. (Yes, pranks were extremely popular long before prank videos on YouTube went viral.) Civic groups have suggested having parties to buy pranksters, Morton says. “Because it was during the Great Depression and many households did not have enough money for the Halloween festivities, the neighborhoods got together and sent the children from house to house. The first mention of treats or treats in a national magazine appeared in 1936, although it really took a few more years for the practice to take hold across the United States, ”Morton explains. Today’s children now have all kinds of opportunities, as unique options for a ride or treat include events at libraries, zoos, and popular “trunk or treat” parties with cars.

Whatever you and your family do this October 31, have fun keeping the holiday spirit alive. “I like to remind people that when we celebrate Halloween, we are participating in a festival that dates back thousands of years,” says Morton. “Halloween has become a time for us to be creative and have some playful scares that make us feel more alive as we move into the dark winter months, and I believe that’s why it’s been going on for so long. millennia. “

Expert

Lisa Morton, author of Trick or Treat: A Halloween Story

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