The origins of Halloween: carved pumpkins are one of the many typical traditions at Halloween.

Where does Halloween come from and what are the traditions?




Towards the end of October the days become shorter, the mornings get foggier and it gets dark a lot earlier. However, this dull grey weather is no reason to feel down as Halloween is just around the corner. For children in particular, the 31st of October is a great opportunity to dress up in spooky costumes and to go trick-or-treating. This time of year, isn’t only for children as adults also enjoy dressing up in spooky costumes and throwing Halloween parties. Halloween is becoming increasingly more popular. However, where does Halloween come from? What are typical Halloween traditions such as "Trick or Treat"? In this article, you'll find all the information you need about Halloween. There are also some tips and ideas for creating unique Halloween costumes as well as terrifyingly beautiful decorations and delicious Halloween food and snacks.

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Where does Hal­loween come from? What does the word ‘’Hal­loween’’ mean?

The word "Halloween" comes from "All hallows' eve" and it means ‘’hallowed evening’’, which refers to the evening ("eve") before All Saints' Day, a Christian festival on which all the saints are commemorated. All Saints' Day is celebrated on the 1st of November, so Halloween is on 31st of October every year.

Halloween traditions: a family using jack o’lanterns as a Halloween disguise.

Where does Halloween come from: since when has Halloween existed?

There are various theories about the different Halloween traditions. Some of the traditions and origins originate from pre-Christian or Celtic traditions. Some evidence points to a link with the Samhain festival, a harvest festival and a festival for the dead, which takes place on the 31st October. The month of October traditionally celebrates the transition to wintertime following the harvest festival. It was believed that ghosts were able to enter the world on this day and people used to wear costumes and masks to keep them away.

Other researchers, however, confirm that the Christian origins of Halloween are linked to All Saints' Day on the 1st of November and All Souls' Day on the 2nd of November, which are two important Christian holidays. On All Souls' Day, people commemorate the deceased and decorate graves with candles or lanterns. According to some traditions very religious people used to dress up to hide from the wandering souls of the deceased.

Whether or not the modern version can be traced back to ancient traditions of the 19th century, where it was mainly celebrated in the British Isles and Ireland. Emigrants then brought Halloween traditions to the United States, where it quickly became popular. Since 1990, Halloween has also become increasingly popular outside the USA and is now celebrated in a lot of countries.

The origin of Halloween: going trick-or-treating is one of the most popular Halloween traditions.

What is trick-or-treating?

On Halloween children dress up in different costumes and go trick-or-treating. They ask their neighbours for sweets. If someone doesn’t give out any sweets, then a trick will be played on them. This tradition has been around since 1911, but it has also existed in various forms long before this date.

Christianity and pagan traditions have also influenced Halloween; however, it is difficult to distinguish between the different influences they have had. Even the Celts placed sweets in front of their doors on Samhain to appease evil spirits.



In the Middle Ages, it was traditional for children and the needy to dress up between Halloween and All Souls' Day and go from door to door singing, asking for money or food in exchange for prayers ("souling"). They were often given a so-called "soul cake". These little cakes symbolised the souls, which were released from purgatory.

"Mummering" or "guising" are similar traditions that were practised throughout Europe without religious motives. For guising in Scotland and Ireland children dress up and go from door to door, but they traditionally receive small rewards in exchange for rehearsed performances such as singing, small dances or plays.   

Children enjoy going trick-or-treating on Halloween, but at least one adult should be present to supervise the children. If teenagers are going out on Halloween with their friends’ parents should inform them beforehand about what is allowed in order to set some boundaries. Halloween pranks can be fun, but the pranks shouldn’t end up injuring anyone or damaging anyone’s property.

Where do jack-o'-lanterns come from?

The traditional jack-o'-lanterns also derive from an old Irish tradition. The pumpkin lantern decorated with a grinning face is said to be able to ward off evil spirits and even the devil. The candle in the carved-out pumpkin is associated with traditional grave lights on All Souls' Day, but in the present-day form it can be traced back to the following tale:

According to a legend, this tradition goes back to a crook called Stingy Jack or Drunk Jack. He cleverly tricked the devil several times and at the end of his life was granted neither entry into heaven nor hell, which is why he must walk the earth restlessly for eternity. The devil took pity on Jack, as he had to make the long journey back to earth on a dark and cold night. So, he gave him a glowing piece of coal from the burning fire in hell. Jack carved a container out of a turnip he had taken with him as he then used it to transport the glowing coal. This is how the first Halloween lantern came about.

Halloween costume ideas – a group of party guests dressed up in different Halloween costumes.

Last-minute Halloween costumes: 5 ideas for quick and easy Halloween costumes

Are you going to a Halloween party and you still haven’t got a costume? In the following article, there are some ideas for quick and easy Halloween costumes, if you don’t have a lot of time to look or put a Halloween costume together. With some matching accessories and scary face paint, you can turn everyday clothes into individual Halloween costumes in no time at all. We'll show you five ideas for last-minute Halloween costumes that are quick and easy to make.

Last-minute ideas for Halloween costumes
Make your own Halloween costumes for children: a cat costume, a witch costume and a pirate costume.

How to make your own Halloween costumes for children

Spooky Halloween costumes for children don't need to be expensive or complicated. You can use some items of clothing that your child most probably already has in their wardrobe and then a little bit of Halloween face paint. This is a fun and creative way to help get children involved with making a Halloween costume. In the following article you will find some inspiration and various ideas on how to make your own Halloween costume for children as well as step-by-step instructions on how to make your own non-toxic children's face paint.



Halloween costumes for children
Halloween-Deko basteln: Verschiedene Halloween-Bastelideen auf einem Tisch.

Making decorations for Halloween with children: ideas and inspiration for spooky Halloween decorations

Bat, ghost or pumpkin decorations are perfect for any Halloween party and they can be used for a variety of decorations and creative ideas. They are ideal for window decorations, garlands and lanterns. Halloween decoration ideas help everyone to get excited for Halloween and they are also a lot of fun and a great way to help keep children occupied on a cold or rainy autumn day. In the following article you will find various Halloween craft ideas for different age groups.



Making Halloween decorations with children
Carving pumpkins: Halloween pumpkins on some steps in front of a house.

Carving a pumpkin: step by step guide on how to carve a pumpkin for Halloween

It's hard to imagine Halloween decorations without grinning pumpkins and they are an absolute classic when it comes to getting creative at Halloween. They are also great fun for children, who enjoy getting involved and creative. In the following article you will find tips on the best way to carve your pumpkin and the best way to preserve it. We will also show you which edible pumpkins are most suitable for carving and how you can use the pieces of pumpkin and the seeds to minimise waste.



How to carve a pumpkin for Halloween
Halloween recipe ideas: sweet and savoury Halloween themed food and snacks.

Quick and easy Halloween recipes: 5 delicious ideas for Halloween themed food and snacks

A Halloween party wouldn’t be a Halloween party without some scrumptious food and snacks. With the help of some spooky themed recipes, your Halloween buffet will be the talk of the town. In the following article, you will not only find recipe ideas for sweet and savoury Halloween themed food and snacks but there is also a recipe for a non-alcoholic Halloween punch with a spooky twist.



Halloween recipe ideas

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References:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/101029-halloween-costumes-ideas-history-science-nation

(accessed on 01/08/2022)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/the-history-of-trick-or-treating-and-how-it-became-a-halloween-tradition

(accessed on 01/08/2022)

https://www.spotahome.com/blog/halloween-traditions-in-europe/

(accessed on 01/08/2022)

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