Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween with my baby girl!

Being as this was the first Halloween that my daughter could go Trick-or-Treating, I wanted to make it fun. I started a few months ago by checking with the various neighborhood families here if they would be interested (in the Netherlands it is not really a known holiday) and many seemed up for it. We have several families with small kids around the age of my daughter and they thought it would be fun.

So I proceeded to put together some basic Halloween information (see below) for the Dutch people to get an idea of what it is all about. This flyer I passed out a few days before Halloween and asked them to put it in the window if you wanted to have us stop by.

We ended up with 5 kids, 2 baby’s in their strollers and 6 parents. We hit about 10 houses, some that didn’t even have the flyer in the window as it was just too much fun! The kids had a great time and scored enough candy to keep them sick for weeks. Next year we are going to include the surrounding streets and make this a bigger event!


Halloween in the USA
(An bit of extra information for those wondering what it is all about...)

Halloween did not become a holiday in America until the 19th century. The transatlantic migration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1849) brought the holiday and its customs to America. When the holiday was observed in 19th­century America, it was generally in three ways. Scottish­American and Irish ­American societies held dinners and balls that celebrated their heritages, with perhaps a recitation of Robert Burns' poem "Halloween" or a telling of Irish
legends. Home parties would center around children's activities, such as bobbing for apples and various divination games, particularly about future romance. And finally, pranks and mischief were common on Halloween.

There is little documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween in America, or elsewhere, before 1900. Mass­produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1950s, when trick­ or treating became a fixture of the holiday, although commercially made masks were available earlier.

In the United States, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for retailers. In the 1990s many manufacturers began producing a larger variety of Halloween yard decorations; prior to this a majority of decorations were homemade. Some of the most popular yard decorations are jack­o'­lanterns, scarecrows, witches, orange and purple string lights, inflatable decorations such as spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and other monstrous creatures, and window and door decorations. Other popular decoration are foam tombstones and gargoyles. The sale of candy and costumes are also extremely important during this time period. Halloween is marketed not just to children but also to adults. The most popular Halloween costumes for adults are, in order: witch, pirate, vampire, cat, and clown. On many college campuses, Halloween is a major celebration, with the Friday and Saturday nearest October 31 hosting many costume parties.

In 2005, 80 percent of adults planned to give out candy to trick­or­treaters, and 93 percent of children planned to go trick­or­treating. In many towns and cities, trick­or­treaters are welcomed by lighted porch lights. In some large or crime­ridden cities, however, trick­ or treating is discouraged, forbidden, or restricted to staged trick­or­treating events within one or more of the cities' shopping malls, in order
to prevent potential acts of violence against trick­or­treaters.

Those living in the country may hold Halloween parties, often with a bonfire or, in some years, the older Irish custom of building two bonfires, with the celebrants passing between them. These parties usually involve games (often traditional games like bobbing for apples, searching for candy in a similar manner to Easter egg hunting), a hayrack ride (often accompanied by a scary story and one or more
masked and costumed people hiding in the dark to jump out and scare the riders), and treats (usually a bag of candy and/or homemade treats).

The Legend of Jack­O'­Lantern

The Irish brought Jack­O'­Lantern to America. Jack was a legendary, stingy drunkard. He tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree for a juicy apple and then quickly cut the sign of the cross into the tree trunk, preventing the Devil from coming down. Jack made the Devil swear that he wouldn't come after his soul in any way. The Devil promised. However, this did not prevent Jack from dying. When he arrived at the gates of heaven, he was turned away because he was a stingy, mean drunk.
Desperate for a resting place, he went to the Devil. The Devil, true to his word, turned him away. "But where can I go?" pleaded Jack. "Back where you come from," spoke the Devil. The night was dark and the way was long, and the Devil tossed him a lighted coal from the fire of Hell. Jack, who was eating a turnip at the time, placed the coal inside and used it to light his way. Since that day, he has traveled the world over with his Jack­O'­Lantern in search of a place to rest.

Irish children carved out turnips and potatoes to light the night on Halloween. When the Irish came to America in great numbers in the 1840s, they found that a pumpkin made an even better lantern, and so this "American" tradition came to be.

Trick­or­Treat How To

  1. Kids dress up as a 'trickster' (pirate, ghost, witch, cowboy, princess, etc).
  2. Kids bring bag to hold treats.
  3. Look for house with front porch light on.
  4. Knock on door / ring door bell.
  5. When door opens, say/yell “Trick – or – Treat!”
  6. The person should give you something nice (preferably candy!).

I don't get what does ''trick or treat'' mean?

Question: When you say ''trick or treat'':
  • what do you do when they tell you ''trick''?
  • what do you do when they tell you ''treat''?
Answer: It comes from the fact that Halloween is honoring the spirits that are believed to roam the earth, and are tricksters.

Trick: are you going to play a prank on me?
Treat: Not if you give me a treat.