Halloween has its origins in the ancient All Souls’ Day, when the dead were thought to return to earth, and has morphed into a $6 billion commercial holiday in the United States, second only to Christmas.


Halloween has its origins in the ancient All Souls’ Day, when the dead were thought to return to earth, and has morphed into a $6 billion commercial holiday in the United States, second only to Christmas.

Halloween is a mixture of pagan, Celtic and Catholic traditions, but more than anything, it is one big national theme party.

Halloween trivia and tips

Trick or treating

Trick or treating probably dates back to All Souls’ Day parades in England, where poor citizens would beg for food, or to the custom of leaving food outside homes to appease ghosts. In some cultures, children had to perform a trick before getting a treat, and in others, treats were given to avoid being tricked.

• Teach children to only approach homes that are lighted and to avoid cutting across lawns and driveways.

• Trick or treaters should obey all traffic rules.

• Children should be taught to be wary of neighborhood pets that may feel threatened by groups of costumed kids.

Costumes

To avoid being recognized and harmed by ghosts, early Celtics and Europeans would wear masks if they left their homes after dark.

• Keep costumes light and bright so children can be seen. Trim with reflective tape. Be sure that children’s vision is not obstructed by costumes, face paint or hats.

• Sweat pants and shirts can form the basis for inexpensive, wear-later  costumes.

Jack o’Lanterns

In Irish legend, the first jack o’lantern was a carved-out turnip with a lump of coal to light the way. Later, scary faces were carved into turnips, potatoes or beets to frighten away evil spirits. In the New World, pumpkins proved to be the perfect jack o’lantern vegetable.

• Specially designed carving tools are safer than kitchen knives, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. As an alternative, drill holes with a small drill or use metal cookie cutters. Using a rubber mallet, tap the cutter into the pumpkin, then remove with needle-nosed pliers. Thick-walled pumpkins may require some additional cutting.

• If using a candle, place jack o’lantern where it will not be tipped over.

Candy

One-quarter of all candy sold in the U.S. every year is purchased for Halloween and a majority of all candy given out at Halloween is chocolate.

• Some parents choose to ration the candy out to their children over the course of several days or weeks.

• For parents who want to raid the stash, recipes for using Halloween candy for desserts can be found. Check www.tasteofhome.com/recipes