With Halloween just around the corner I thought it was time to share ideas and tips for taking outstanding Halloween Pictures. Especially for those of us that are not professional photographers, yet have a love of taking pictures (as I do).
Did you know that Halloween is America’s second largest picture taking day of the year, just behind Christmas? Like Christmas, Halloween is a once-a-year event, so you should make sure to take all the pictures you can to capture what will be wonderful memories of this great holiday. Plus, pictures allow you to share your Halloween memories with family and friends. What a great way to watch your kids grow over the years! It’s just nice to be able to look at Halloweens past.
Everyone loves to bring out the photos to show off, show to friends and family and just take out to browse through and relive fond memories. Halloween pictures and video excite the memory of Halloween’ past. The spooky costumes, creepy decorations and trick or treaters at the front door.
A Halloween photo shoot can be scary, sweet, devilish or sexy. Some tips for taking great mysterious photos include taking your pictures at dusk for an eerie feel, instead of after dark where the light might make it very hard to avoid red eye and other photo blunders, and using a flashlight in a jack-o-lantern in lieu of candles.
Capture the magic memories of childhood forever by taking pictures every year of your children’s costumes. Do a theme shoot, even if they have different costumes, by including a similar prop for each one. Some ideas include having each of the kids hold a pumpkin that each individually carved, a homemade decorated trick-or-treat bag or a photo of last year’s costume to show how much they’ve grown. If your children are dressed similarly, such as a sister witch with a brother wizard and the youngest in a black cat ensemble, include props such as cauldrons or smoke machines to make the picture more authentic. Another idea for a Halloween photo shoot every year with kids is to tell the story of how they get ready. For this, at least do a before snapshot, another halfway through the makeup and finally the finished product. Keep taking pictures throughout the night to create a scrapbook journal of the memories.
Get your family involved by doing a group picture. Do different themes every year, such as favorite super heroes, or dress everyone in the same colors. Other family costume ideas include dressing up as a family of the same animal, cavemen, a famous family or even royalty. Dad can be the king, mom can be the queen, the kids can be princesses and princes or knights and dragons. Pose accordingly with swords drawn or on makeshift thrones. If you have a balcony at home, take pictures of the princess looking down at her knight. Get grandparents involved as wizards and fairy godmothers.
Ideas for a Halloween photo shoot that will include everyone in your family and friendship circle once again include choosing a theme every year. In September, have a vote to decide which one to use; that will give everyone time to find or make their own costumes. Go out on the town as a group and take pictures in front of your favorite haunts, whether it is a restaurant, park or pub. For example, have all the women dress like guys and all the guys dress like girls. Take pictures of them dancing together and at least one final snapshot of the group at the end of the night.
Have some spooky fun with your Halloween photo shoot by creating some haunting pictures. Try out different light-bulbs to turn the room an eerie green or a blood red. Have people stand so that just their shadows are in the picture, reflected off walls or furniture. To create a picture that looks like you captured an authentic spirit, try setting the exposure to 8 seconds and then have the subject remain in the shot for 5 seconds and then duck out. This makes it look like the person is fading away like a ghost. Play around with the subject moving at different speeds during your Halloween photo shoot to get the visual effect of a moving ghost.
The glowing pumpkins, the trick-or-treating, the ghoulish costumes—all are best shot after dark when the lighting can get pretty tricky. Today’s cameras, and even some smartphones, are up to the challenge, if you do take the time to do more than point and shoot. It’s a time of color, emotion and lots of interesting subjects (including scarecrows, mazes, various decorations). I always look for different angles in taking most of my photography, so that they don’t look what we normally see.
It’s easy to be distracted by the flashy parts of a time like Halloween but it’s often when you step back, take a look around and notice the smaller details that you find the ‘money shots’. Times like Halloween are filled with all kinds of smaller details and photo worthy moments including decorations, carving the pumpkin, people getting dressed in costumes, sleeping kids at the end of parties, bags full of treats at the end of the night, the ‘fangs’ in Aunt Marie’s mouth, before and after shots of parties, close ups of food etc.
Halloween parties are a great time to get your camera out for some candid photos of your friends and family having a great time dressed up in all manner of costumes. And even taking different types of group pictures.
The type of images that come to mind when I think of Halloween are fairly dark and spooky ones – candles in pumpkins etc. After all, the real action of Halloween seems to happen after dark. As a result you’ll want to think carefully about the light sources for your shots.
Use a tripod: One reason why so many low-light shots don’t come out well is because it’s really hard to hold a camera or phone still long enough to take a crisp shot. Using a tripod takes that factor out of the equation. Also, try using the camera’s self-timer mode to avoid the movement that inevitably occurs when you press the shutter button. A fast lens will let more light through so you can take your pictures faster, reducing the potential for blur.
To really capture the mood of these situations you’ll want to avoid the stark and bright light of flash photography (or will want to at least pull it back a few stops and diffuse it) and so you’ll need to switch off your flash and do one (or all) of three things to some extent: (1) increase your ISO – the larger your number the more sensitive your image sensor is to light and the darker conditions you can shoot in without having to slow down shutter speed. On the downside you’ll get more grainy/noisy shots; (2) slow down shutter speed – choosing a longer shutter speed lets more light into your camera. On the downside you’ll see any movement in your shots blur (which might add to the spookiness of the image but could also ruin it). Consider using a tripod if you lengthen your shutter speed; and (3) use a larger Aperture – this widens the hole in your lens and lets more available light in. It will also lessen the depth of field in your shots. If you have a DSLR with a few different lenses is to use the ‘fastest’ lens you own as it will let you choose larger apertures.
Another strategy that I’ve heard of some doing at this time of year is diffusing the flash on your camera with colored cellophane to try to lessen its impact upon your shot and also to give the light it produces a glow that might add to your shots – Red might be a good color to try. You’ll probably want to test this before the big night as getting the right density of diffuser will be critical.
Photographing Jack-o-Lanterns is particularly tricky as to get the full effect of the glowing inside the pumpkin is a bit of a tightrope walk between overexposing and underexposing due to the light and dark patches in the shot you take. Instead of just one candle inside it is probably worth using two or three to give a little extra light. Also take a number of shots at different exposures and you should get one or two that give you the impact you’re after.
Kathy Kiefer Click on photos to view slideshow ⬇︎
Halloween is all about fun and treats, parties, dashing through a chilly evening to collect candy, and of course, the costume. Kids’ costumes are easy to select from online outlets to big box store racks. Adult offerings are a bit trickier, and many can be quite elaborate and expensive, depending on the type of party.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I loved dressing up when I was younger and now I love seeing children all dressed up going trick-or-treating. Even though Halloween is a less than a month away, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to be, if you haven’t done so already. In my experience it’s not wise to wait until the last minute because costumes will start to sell out and many decorations that you desire using. Last thing you want is your child to be bummed out on Halloween!! If your child is not sure what he or she wants to be this year, I have listed some great costume ideas!!
FROZEN – For kids, costumes from the year’s big box office hits are always popular. This is the year of Frozen! Elsa and Anna costumes to be some of the most popular choices for girls this Halloween, and the Olaf costume hoodie for boys as well. These princesses are spunky and independent, and the fearless girls are identifying with, and loving these positive role models.
NINJA TURTLES are a popular choice year after year for all ages, but with the movie reboot having been released this year, we expect the new, officially licensed, movie–based turtle costumes to be a huge hit for boys especially this Halloween for some unknown reason. These new styles feature realistic looking green skin detailing and coloring, and masks with defined noses, just like the turtles in the movie.
GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY – This movie was a blockbuster hit, and it is expected that matching kids costumes to mirror that popularity this Halloween, particularly for the kids is the Rocket Raccoon costume. He’s a fun/spunky character, and animal costumes are top sellers year after for kids to begin with. It’s a winning combination! For the girls there is a Gamora costume, the perfect strong heroine in a jumpsuit – for those girls who aren’t looking for the traditional princess-type Halloween character.
SUPERHEROS – Superheroes will always be a top kids costume selection. For boys, the “muscle chest” type styles always do the best, and expect Captain America, Winter soldier, and Rocket Raccoon to be the year’s biggest sellers. For girls, female versions of traditionally male superhero characters might be big trend this year. These fun costume “remixes” feature tutus, and are the perfect mix of bold/spunky and feminine/flouncy! Expect to see Girl Hunks, a Girl Captain America, and a Girls Buzz Lightyear to be among the most popular.
GRUNGY GIRLS STYLES AS OPPOSED TO CUTESY GIRLS STYLES – Of course many young ladies will still opt for the traditionally pastel/girly styles, and among these include the Care Bear and My Little Pony tutu style dresses to be the biggest sellers. But this year more than in Halloweens past, girls are leaning towards “grungy,” edgier styles and colors. Examples include costumes like our gothic ragdoll, voodoo doll, and zombie cheerleader. Along with this gothic twist, more kids are getting into the “Day of the Dead” costume trend that was just for adults in years past. Girls are enjoying everything from the gems and flower embellishments, to the funky skeleton makeup effects that tend to accompany this kind of dress-up.
Knit “Homemade” Looks for Babies/Infants – This knit/crochet “do it yourself” aesthetic is a popular baby/infant choice both on Halloween, and (perhaps surprisingly) year-round, because scheduling themed “newborn photo-shoots” has been a huge trend among parents this year. We carry full costumes/baby buntings like a little snowman, caterpillar, carrot, etc., but we also carry knit “accessory” kits that usually include a diaper cover and a hat. Popular examples of this accessory pack include our infant police officer and infant cowboy looks. We also sell just hats, in cute styles like feathery owls. TOO cute!
UNIQUE ANIMALS – Traditional animal costumes like puppies and bears will remain Halloween staples, but we’ve seen an increase in “unique animal” kids costume sales. We are the exclusive retailer of several of these animals, including dolphin costumes, frog costumes, a bull costume, giraffe, snake costume, and squirrel costume, among others! Some other ideas for those that love to dress up their pets could include. The list is out and if you’re a dog you are probably waiting with baited breath to find out what kind of costume are they going to put you in this year. The National Retail Federation said that Americans will spend $350 million on pet costumes and the costumes run the gamut from predictable to far-out.
Let’s start with what’s new. It is my understanding that the Minion Pet Costume is new, along with Wonder Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Darth Vader, Captain America and Ghost Busters. Some of these are old hat for humans, of course, but they fall into the latest fashions category for dogs. The trend seems to be that people will buy a pet costume to complement what the owner is wearing. So don’t be surprised if you see a family of Ninja Turtles and one of them has 4 legs.
The top 10 according to The National Retail Federation are: (1) Pumpkin; (2) Hot Dog; (3) Devil; (4) Bumble Bee; (5) Cat; (6) Batman Character; (7) Superman; (8) Witch; (9) Ghost and Pirate (tie); and (10) Star Wars Character. People really like to dress up their dogs like food. Big sellers so far this year are the hot dog and taco. Pugs seem to be the dog of choice for these costumes. You can’t go wrong with Star Wars costumes. If you have a favorite sports team, let your dog be the cheerleader or star quarterback. Many team options are available but be warned they do sell quickly. Icons of the music industry are a huge hit like the Elvis costume. For some reason people like to embarrass their dog!
Just be careful your dog can’t swallow any part of the costume and that they can see where they are walking. Remember chocolate is a killer for dogs. Stick to dog treats. After all, your dog is still a dog, even if he’s dressed like Elvis.
It appears that adults are putting a lot of thought into Halloween this year. Some trends include: (1) Younger adults are more likely to be in costume; (2) Married couples are more active in Halloween activities (costumes, candy-buying, decorating, etc.) than singles; and (3) 5 percent of pet owners plan to dress up their pet for Halloween.
Many costumes can be put together through coordinating pieces that share color palates, textures, or themes. Halloween is one of those times when unlikely colors can come together with stripes, polka dots, lace and other accessories to create a trendy look that doesn’t appear homemade.
Americans are expected to spend like foolish ghouls this Halloween, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. Overall, $7.4 billion is projected to be spent on Halloween goodies in 2014.
Spice up your yard with a simulated plane crash or get your pet a costume. But whatever you do, don’t let this spooky day be boring. There are a lot of unique costumes, pumpkins and haunted houses in the world, so I wanted to share some ideas.
Witches, zombies and vampires will be taking over this Halloween. Also, the most popular haunting trends for 2014 include like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent”. People have become accustomed to highly realistic special effects in their entertainment media, such as movies and television programs and video games “Particularly hot are young adult fiction and movies like ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘The Maze Runner’ and Veronica Roth’s ‘Divergent’ series. Halloween is less than two weeks away. Many people are still debating what treats to give out, costume choice, and even if they will wear a costume. What is trending for Halloween this year? Kids’ costumes are easy to decipher- just go to any store. Treat trends are harder to follow, especially healthy offerings, or non-food items.
I am hearing that many homes are planning to hand out a non-candy snack like fruit or pretzels, rather than snack size candy bars on Halloween. Treats given out should be factory wrapped for safety, or non-food items should be washable. The days of lovingly creating homemade delights for the general public has disappeared due to the acts of a few despicable individuals who poison or booby trap giveaways.
Depending on your budget and expected volume of trick or treaters, here are some offerings that are a bit different and fun. You can even have different baskets for boys or girls, close friends/neighbors vs. general kids, or older vs. younger kids. (1) Packs of mini play dough. Little ones love molding, sculpting, rolling, and designing with this classic toy. The fun lasts a lot longer than a candy bar; (2) Inexpensive Halloween themed toys that come in multipacks from the dollar store, box stores, teacher stores, or craft outlets. Select straws, slide puzzles, hair decorations (for girls), or gummy type creatures; (3) Miniature bottles of water or all natural juice boxes (kids get always thirsty when out trick-or-treating); (4) Light-up glow sticks, which can usually be found in a packs of 10 or 15 at craft or box stores for only $1. These are also a safety help; (5) Spooky pencils and erasers, and mini activity books are all good options; (6) Toothbrushes. Big kids might turn their noses up to this, but young kids may think new toothbrushes are fun. Dollar stores are a great source. Ask your dentist’s office for toothpaste samples, as well; (7) Mini packs of raisins or other dried fruit snacks; (8) Inexpensive little books or activity pads from thrift stores, garage sales, or the dollar store; (9) Leftover birthday favors, hair decorations or other “junk drawer” goodies you would sell for a quarter at a garage sale; (10) Temporary tattoos and/or stickers; (11) Small bags of microwavable popcorn; (12) Fruit leather (made with 100% fruit); and (13) Dollar store crayon packs and coloring books. Tape one of each together ahead of time or place in 2 separate baskets.
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.
Halloween also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the feast of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots. Yet there are many scholars that maintain that Halloween has solely Christian roots.
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 or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Halloween” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve. Today’s Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots, and others which may be rooted in Celtic Christianity. Halloween is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain which is derived from the “Old Irish” for “summer’s end” and was held on or about October 31 – November 1. Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and Welsh literature. The names have been used by historians to refer to Celtic Halloween customs and are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween. Samhain/Calan Gaeaf marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of the winter season. Today’s Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween falls on the evening before the Christian holy days of All Saints’ Day on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2, thus giving the holiday on October 31 the full name of All Hallows’ Eve. These three days are collectively referred to as Hallowmas and are a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven. On Halloween, in Italy, families left a large meal out for ghosts of their passed relatives, before they departed for church services. In Spain, women, on this night, made special pastries known as “bones of the holy” and put them on the graves of the churchyard, a practice that continues to this day. North American almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th century give no indication that Halloween was celebrated there. The Puritans maintained strong opposition to Halloween, and it was not until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century that it was brought to North America in earnest. Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds. Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. Jack-o-lanterns are traditionally carried by those in disguise on All Hallows’ Eve in order to frighten evil spirits. A popular folktale associated with the jack-o’-lantern, is said to represent a “soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell.”
In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween; immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. Subsequently, mass marketing of various size pumpkins in autumn, in both the corporate and local markets, has made pumpkins universally available for this purpose. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century. The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including Christian eschatology, national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature and classic horror films. Imagery of the skull in the Christian tradition serves as “a reminder of death and the transitory quality of human life” and is consequently found in momento mori and vanitas compositions; skulls have therefore been commonplace in Halloween, which touches on this theme. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween’s traditional colors.
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). In Scotland and Ireland, children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Ontario, Canada reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood. An American historian and author wrote the first book length history of Halloween in the US; “The Book of Halloween (1919), and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America”. In this book, the author touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; “Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Halloween customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries”. While the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.
Halloween provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing. A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tail gaiting), occurs when “children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot,” or sometimes, a school parking lot. In a trunk-or-treat event, the trunk of each automobile is decorated with a theme (an example would be children’s literature, movies and others). Because the traditional style of trick-or-treating was made impossible after Hurricane Katrina, trunk-or-treating provided comfort to those whose homes were devastated. Trunk-or-treating has grown in popularity due to its perception as being more safe than going door to door, a point that resonates well with parents, as well as the fact that it “solves the rural conundrum in which homes [are] built a half-mile apart”.
“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. In Canada, in 2006, UNICEF decided to discontinue their Halloween collection boxes, citing safety and administrative concerns; after consultation with schools, they instead redesigned the program. I remember going trick or treating with an orange box to collect money for UNICEF when I was younger.
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 patches. 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. While there is evidence of such incidents, relative to the degree of reporting of such cases, actual cases involving malicious acts are extremely rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant because of the mass media. At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free X-rays of children’s Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering. Even in some areas today, there are places that will still x-ray the treats.
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 bring in an estimate $300–500 million each year, and draw some 400,000 customers, although press sources writing in 2005 speculated that the industry had reached its peak at that time. This maturing and growth within the industry has led to technically more advanced special effects and costuming, comparable with that of Hollywood films. During Hallowmas, many Christian believers visit graveyards in order to place flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones. The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly among countries that observe it. In Scotland and Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in costume going “guising”, holding parties, while other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. In Brittany children would set candles in skulls in graveyards. Mass transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand as well as most of continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.
Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, in the United States the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses. Dressing up in costumes and going “guising” was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween by the late 19th century. Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick or treating was becoming popular in the United States. Many times when my brother and I were younger, our mother loved to sew made our costumes, sometimes we were matching scarecrows, ghosts, clowns, etc. but we also had a say in costumes. I remember going as Mary Poppins, Charlie Brown, a ballet dancer, even Casper the Friendly Ghost.
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