HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 30, 2006, Herald Journal

Ghosts, bats, and jack-o-lanterns

By JENNI SEBORA

Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is certainly a Halloween tradition however your family may do it. These days, there is a variety of tools to help transform a pumpkin into a most marvelous jack-o-lantern.

You can create a mosaic of faces as well as pictures, scenes, phrases and whatever one can dream up onto your pumpkin to create a fabulous jack-o-lantern.

Actually, a fabulous jack-o-lantern is the kind that you and your children do together, whatever it may look like.

There are many traditions and rituals that families participate in at Halloween as well as other holidays, and these traditions are important for our children and families. Traditions are safe havens, things our children can look forward to and know that they are going to happen. We all need that security and safety.

As you and your families enjoy your own Halloween traditions and rituals, here are some ideas for some fun Halloween activities you could add to your family traditions.

Stone sack-o-lantern

Create some jack-o-lanterns out of rocks, paint and twigs. Wash dirt from rocks you have chosen and let them dry completely. Paint the rocks orange (possibly more than one coat). When the paint is dry, draw faces with a black marker. Glue a twig stem on top of each rock pumpkin.

Idea from: FamilyFun, October, 2005

Jack-o-lanterns are an Irish tradition brought to America by early Irish immigrants. They were not pumpkins, though, they were rutabagas, turnips or gourds that were hollowed out.

When the Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800’s and found pumpkins easier to carve and plentiful, the tradition was altered, the website www.celebrationcorner.com explained.

Bats

As we all know, bats are associated with Halloween, along with lots of other creatures. According to the above mentioned website, in early Halloween celebrations, people often gathered around giant bonfires.

Night flying insects were attracted to the flames, which made bonfires perfect feeding area for bats, so bats became synonymous with Halloween celebrations.

Make your own batty shaker. Paint a paper cup black and let dry. Cut two bat wings out of black construction paper, bend a little and glue to the cup’s sides. Out of the black paper, cut a circle with two triangles on top for the head. Glue a black pom-pom to the circle and then glue it to cup for the head. Glue on some google eyes.

For the shaker part, add some rice, a few beans, dried pasta, etc. to the cup. Cover the top of the cup with a circle of black paper and glue it to the rim of the cup or cover with a piece of waxed paper and secure with a rubber band around the rim of the cup.

Idea from: Parenting, October, 2005

Ghosts

Creating a ghost costume out of an old white sheet with cut-out eye holes is a simple costume idea. What’s Halloween without a few ghosts out trick-or-treating on Halloween night?

It’s fun to create smaller versions of the Halloween-associated creature as well. Using liquid starch, gauze or cheesecloth, detergent bottles, half-gallon milk jug (empty of course) or juice bottles, and tinfoil, one can create some gauze ghosts as well.

Top your bottle with a ball of foil to create the head of the ghost and twist snake of tinfoil around the bottle to create the effect of arms. Tape in place if necessary.

Cut a length of gauze to fit over the bottle, just enough to drag a little on the ground. Then dip the gauze in the liquid starch. Squeeze it out gently, making sure it is very saturated, but not dripping all over.

Drape the gauze over the bottle and adjust the edges and wrinkles as you desire it to look. Let it dry overnight, and once it is dry, lift the ghost creation off the bottle and let it stand on its own.

Idea from: www.funroom.com/halloween

This ghost idea from FamilyFun, October, 2005 sounds fun too! Supplies needed: black construction paper, clear plastic report cover, black permanent marker, duct tape, wooden paint stirrer and a flashlight.

Cut a ghost shape out of the middle of the black construction paper and slip the sheet into the report cover. Draw the ghost’s eyes and mouth directly on the plastic cover. Tape the paint stirrer or other such item that would work for a handle to the side of the plastic cover.

In a dark room, hold the plastic (ghost) in front of a lit flashlight, adjusting the distance between them as necessary to project the ghost image into the wall. Play some Halloween music and you have a fun Halloween setting.

Décor

Using some window markers, you and your children can draw some ghosts, bats, cats, jack-o-lanterns on a window as well to create some easy and fun Halloween décor. My children enjoyed creating Halloween scenes on our sliding glass door and their own bedroom windows with the window markers. The marker comes off with water and a cloth or some window cleaner.