HOLIDAY – PARTIES
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick or treating (“trunk or treating”), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. The word “Halloween” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. Many communities have a traditional Halloween costume parade followed by a party in a park, library or mutually convenient location for everyone. Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given (such as toilet papering or egging the home). Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” is a fundraising program to support UNICEF, a United Nations Program that provides humanitarian aid to children in developing countries. The program involves the distribution of small boxes by schools to trick-or-treaters, in which they can solicit small-change donations from the houses they visit. It is estimated that children have collected more than $118 million for UNICEF since its inception. I remember when I was younger going trick or treating with an orange box to collect for UNICEF. Many schools also have a Halloween parade in which the students and even teachers get dressed in costume and prizes are awarded for best costume, etc. Generally followed by a party in the individual classrooms. Families/adults go all out to decorate their homes as well for the holiday. Some are tastefully decorated, yet there are some that are so ostentatious due to the amount of decorations they put out which seems to encompass every available space on their property and many are not appealing at all. Many adults also participate in parties and events that are geared to them and their costumes are more imaginative than even the children’s.
There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. One common game is dunking or apple bobbing in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water and the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin. A common custom includes picking and purchasing pumpkins from pumpkin patches, going on hay rides, winding your way through corn mazes, making scarecrows and more. At one time, candy apples were commonly given to children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in apples in the United States. The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Haunted attractions are entertainment venues designed to thrill and scare patrons. Most attractions are seasonal Halloween businesses. Origins of these paid scare venues are difficult to pinpoint, but it is generally accepted that they were first commonly used for fundraising. They include haunted houses, corn mazes and hayrides, and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown. Haunted attractions in the United States alone bring in an estimate $300–500 million each year, and draw some 400,000 customers. In planning a spooky and scary themed party it is best to start a few months in advance and be very creative and imaginative. Some things that work best are having a large cauldron filled with frozen grapes (for eyeballs), another large container with cooked pasta or something similar (guts, brains, etc.) to having a coffin with an actual person dressed in costume that rises and scares visitors to pieces. Even having homemade decorations can be more effective than store bought (black cats, headstones and the like).
Many times when my brother and I were younger, our mother loved to sew and made our costumes, sometimes we were matching scarecrows, ghosts, clowns, etc. but we also had a say in what our costumes were to be. I remember going as Mary Poppins, Charlie Brown, a ballet dancer, even Casper the Friendly Ghost. A few years ago I was invited to a special showing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC of the original Nosferatu, and everyone attending was to come in costume. I rented a geisha girl costume for the evening, and remembering how much fun it was even as an adult to get dressed up and going to something like this.
Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region. A traditional New England Thanksgiving, for example, consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving eve (in which the prizes were mainly geese or turkeys), a shooting match on Thanksgiving morning (in which turkeys and chickens were used as targets), church services, and then the traditional feast which consisted of some familiar Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and some not-so-familiar dishes such as pigeon mincemeat pie. The one thing that is long associated with Thanksgiving is Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The starting point of the parade is Central Park West (near the American Museum of Natural History) and ends at Macy*s flagship store in Herald Square (it is televised by NBC). The parade features floats and falloons (a combination of balloon and float) with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school or college marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy’s Parade is the Santa Claus float, which heralds the arrival of what has become to be known as the beginning of the Christmas season. There were many years that I remember my family going into the City to watch the parade live. I remember being in awe of the balloons as well as the floats. Even when I lived in Manhattan years later, on Thanksgiving morning I always got a good spot at 34th Street and Herald Square to watch the parade and take excellent pictures. To this day I still love watching it on TV (or if I am unable to watch it I tape it to watch later on). All the balloons get blown up the day before the parade (an event not to be missed by young and old). I also remember that when I was 10 years old my family took a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and had Thanksgiving Dinner at the Williamsburg Inn, and spent time exploring the Colonial Capital.
In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as “Turkey Day”). Stuffing, mashed potatoes, with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. The poor are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners.
Yet there are many people that don’t celebrate either Halloween or Thanksgiving, due to religious or other reasons. In the alternative may have fall harvest festivals with many similar traditions to both Halloween and Thanksgiving or incorporate things they feel would be appropriate.
Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularized by Saint Francis of Assisi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children. In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom and are placed in spot of honor.
We have parades, carolers going from home to home, and elaborate holiday feasts to aid in the celebration of this holiday. The right favors given to the guests shall allow them to remember the celebration always. Never underestimate the power of a clear glass bowl; fill it with flowers, glass marbles, sea shells, candy or chips. Or even make it a dish garden centerpiece or even decorate it with holiday ornaments. The proper favors given to the guests will allow them to remember that day for years to come. But parties need not be so elaborate. Sometimes simple, yet elegantly stated, is best. It all depends on what effect the host is striving for. There are a variety of activities that one could have at a Christmas party, such as the singing of carols, playing dominoes, Christmas bingo. Even a game based on the telephone theme, I refer that you have a sentence that you whisper in the person next to you ear then they pass it along until the end and then the last person repeats what they heard out-loud to see if it resembles how it started. It is always fun. Even having a holiday get together to make treats for the holidays and decorations is an enjoyable time for the guests, putting together baskets for the those need with special gifts to let them know they have not been forgotten.
I’ve even seen homes that are decorated for the holidays, some were simply and tastefully decorated and if there were awards for home decorations, they sure would be in the running. Others were so tactful and tasteless that it makes the viewer wonder what they were doing when they decorated the home.
All holiday parties or get togethers are unique into themselves, from the decorations, favors for the guests, who to invite as well as the food to be served. The menu all depends on the type of party planned, and who is to be invited, then the menu for food, activities will follow.