History and Fun Facts about Halloween
Halloween wasn’t always the silly child-centered holiday that it is today. It had some ritualistic, religious and serious roots, beginning as early as the 1st century AD. Read on to learn more about this increasingly less-spooky holiday including how it began, what it is today and how to make the most of Halloween this year.
Who Originally Celebrated Halloween?
It is thought that the Romans and the Druids were the original celebrators of Halloween. The Roman celebration took place on October 31, and was held in honor of the goddess of fruit trees, Pomona. An ancient gathering of Priests in England, the Druids, later added the lord of the dead, Samhain, to the list of honorees on October 31 and November 1. These groups of people believed that on October 31, there were hoards of ghosts, spirits, witches, goblins and evil apparitions surrounding them. The celebrations of Romans and Druids were centered around a day of sacrifice, while surrounding themselves with cats, which were believed to be holy animals.
Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?
In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church decided to make the pagan holiday into a Christian holiday. It was at this time that the purpose of Halloween became a day to remember and pray for saints that had passed away. They renamed November 1 All Saint Day, and October 31st became the All Hallowed Evening.
What Year Did Halloween Start?
Halloween first began around 10 AD, in the area that now belongs to the country of Ireland. As mentioned above, the Druids celebrated the holiday on October 31st because this date marked the end of the harvest season, which they considered to be the end of their year. The end of October for them was what New Years Eve is throughout the world today.
Where Did the Name Halloween Come From?
The name Halloween was originally used long after the day had been celebrated as a pagan holiday. The Roman Catholic Church adopted the celebration as a Christian holiday in the 7th century, and from thereon called the day before All Saints’ Day (November 1), All Hallows Eve. The origin of the words All Hallows came from Middle English Alholowmesse (or All-hallowmas), which meant All Saints’ Day. This word was modified to All Hallows, and thus, the day before All Hallows, or All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Eve.
How to Make Halloween Decorations?
1. Halloween Ghosts – Make the head of the ghost first by crunching up a ball of toilet paper. Cover the toilet paper with a tissue, gathering the tissue underneath the ball and tying it with a piece of string or a rubber band. Turn the ghost over and hang from the ceiling or rest on the table. Scary!
2. Glowing Ghosts – Place an activated mini glow stick inside a balloon and inflate the balloon. Cover the balloon with a white napkin or white pillowcase. Secure the white cloth to the balloon using string or double-sided tape. Hang outside somewhere so that the decoration eerily moves in the wind.
How Can I Make an Alcoholic Punch for Halloween?
1. Sewer Punch – Mix 1 bottle vodka, 7 cups fresh orange juice with lots of pump, 2 liter bottle or dr. Pepper or Coca Cola, Ice. Serve with ice in a punch bowl. The mixture is a filthy shade of brown and will gross out all your guests!
2. Bath Scum Punch – Mix 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate (mixed with proper amount of water, 2 liters Sprite or 7 Up and 1 bottle vodka. Remove ½ gallon of rainbow sherbet from the freezer. Thaw and stir the sherbet until the mixture turns brownish grey and disgusting. Return the ½ gallon to the freezer to refreeze before the party. Just before the party, place the bowl in its location and add scoops of the sherbet so that they float in a grayish mass on the top of the punch. Serve while solid.
What are Some Good Halloween Games?
1. Witch Hunt
How to play Witch Hunt? Cut out paper witch hats and hide them around the house. Cut out enough hats so that each child can find between 3 and 6 hates. Color one of the hats a different color. The person that finds this hat wins the grand prize. Give out another prize for the person who finds the most hats. Give out small prizes to all the children playing the game.
2. Icky Food Guessing Game
How to play the Icky Food Guessing Game on Halloween? Prepare 5 paper bags by lining them with plastic bags inside. This will keep the food from seeping through the opaque paper bag. Put one food in each of the bags.
Bag 1: mashed bananas (brains),
Bag 2: peeled grapes (eyeballs),
Bag 3: wet pretzel rods (soggy bones),
Bag 4: spaghetti – cooked (intestines),
Bag 5: dried orange peels (dried/dead skin).
Let children take turns guessing what is in each bag. For an extra challenge, make the children remember which bag contained which item. At the end of the taste, the child that has written down the correct foods in the correct order wins a prize.
How to Make Halloween Treats?
1. Witchcakes – These scary treats are chocolate cupcakes with witch-like decorations on top! They’re a great treat to make for a children’s party. Make a batch of chocolate cupcakes and frost with green frosting before the party. If possible, overfill the cupcake papers so the top of the cupcake has a dome shape. Provide kids with chocolate sprinkles (eyebrows), chocolate chips (eyes), candy corn (nose), black licorice strings (hair) and chocolate sugar cones (witch’s hat).
2. Mac and Cheese Bites – Everyone enjoys macaroni and cheese. It’s easy to make these little bites before a party. Simply make your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe and fill a pre-sprayed muffin tin with the macaroni mixture. Mix a beaten egg and one 12oz can of evaporated milk together, and pour over the top of the macaroni and cheese that has been placed in the tin. Cook for 45 minutes. Top with a scary spider or pumpkin adornment.
Halloween Playlists for Parties
The typical Popular Halloween Songs:
1. Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett
2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
3. The Munsters Theme – Jack Marshall
4. The Addams Family – Andrew Gold
5. Little Red Riding Hood – Sam the Sham
6. Dracula’s Wedding – Outkast
7. Putting on the Ritz – Taco
8. Living Dead Girl – Rob Zombie
9. This is Halloween – Nightmare Before Christmas – Danny Elfman
10. Psycho Theme – Psycho
11. Halloween – Dead Kennedys
12. Halloween Theme – John Carpenter
13. Twilight Zone Theme – Twilight Zone
14. Hells Bells – AC/DC
15. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
How to Throw a Halloween Party?
1. Make a list and check it twice (of invitees)
2. Sent out invitations (use a website like evite.com for easy RSVP tracking)
3. Decorate with crepe paper, balloons, ghouls, hired zombies, plates/utensils/cups in festive colors, fake spider webs, dim lighting, candles
4. Play big group games (bob for apples, Ouija board, scary ghost stories around a campfire)
5. Plan menu. Small finger foods are easiest. See above for a couple of great ideas. Include a large punch, one with alcohol, and one without to ensure that all guests are happy. See above for some disgusting punch recipes
6. Have background music or a Halloween sounds CD playing in the background to fill quiet moments. Make a scary playlist before the party to keep guests enjoying the night (Michael Jackson’s – Thriller is required). Encourage dancing.
7. Have a costume contest with prizes awarded to scariest, most elaborate and most original attendees
Classic Scary Movies to Watch on Halloween
Psycho: The most shocking movie of all time is still Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Actress Janet Leigh claimed she never took a shower after making it. I have had students bring notes from parents asking to be excused from seeing it for my Introduction to Film classes.
Jaws: People stopped swimming in the ocean in June of 1975 because they were convinced there would be a shark attack. The odds of driving home from the theater and being killed were higher.
The Cat People: Finally, it’s Val Lewton’s The Cat People, a film noir that scares cats and people alike. It is all darkness and screaming, but even though it was made in 1943, it remains a classic that even film scholars watch with a bit of trepidation.