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Halloween traditions

October 27, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is certainly a cherished Halloween tradition. The tradition did not start in America, though, and it didn’t start with pumpkins.

Jack-o-lanterns are an Irish tradition brought to America by early Irish immigrants, www.celebrationcorner.com tells us. They were not pumpkins, though. Turnips, gourds or rutabagas were hollowed out. Lights were put inside to keep “Stingy Jack” (prankster) away.

The tradition was changed in the 1800s when Irish immigrants came to America and discovered that pumpkins were plentiful and easier to carve, the website added.

I love fall and Halloween and all of the traditions that go with it, including carving pumpkins. This year we established our own pumpkin patch which provided us with a bounty of pumpkins to paint, roll, and carve.

Decorating homes with Halloween décor has gone up in popularity. At our home, we hang lights and spider webs (fabric) on our porch, put façade Halloween tomb stones in our yard, stuff scarecrows and paint and carve pumpkins that sit in bliss by our front door.

We also make our own Halloween decorations. Here are few we have crafted to bring more holiday spirit into our home:

Make a gauze ghost using gauze, liquid starch, plastic bottles and tinfoil. Put a ball of tinfoil at the top of the bottle for the head. Twist a snake of tinfoil around the bottle to make the arms. Put a length of gauze over the bottle. Dip the gauze into the liquid starch. Drape gauze over bottle and adjust as you like. Let dry overnight, and lift the ghost off the bottle. ( www.funroom.com )

Try some pumpkins with edible contents. Put some jelly beans into an eight inch round piece of orange netting or tulle. Gather the edges together, twist and tie with a green pipe cleaner as the stem. (Parenting, October 2005)

Our favorite Halloween tradition is trick-or-treating, which is the finale in the host of Halloween activities. I remember many of the varied costumes that I wore trick-or-treating when I was a child. My costumes were not store bought as most children’s weren’t when I was young. My older sister who was a seamstress by hobby sewed most of my costumes.

I was never alone when trick-or-treating. My twin brother and our extended family of nieces and nephews hit the streets in pursuit of all of the various treats, but more so in pursuit of an adventure of fun and togetherness.

My own children now join in the same type of Halloween adventure. This year a genie, a cow girl and some type of grotesque creature will leave my home in pursuit of the same type of Halloween memory.

Our tradition includes a hay ride around town with the camaraderie of family and friends. The night ends with tired bodies pouring out the contents of their plastic pumpkins in search of the favorite treats to try and devour in one night.

I look forward to all of these traditions each fall season. I love it just as much as my kids do. That is the fun of the holidays. Engaging in the various traditions is not about spending money but about spending time together and sharing joy with one another. These times will become part of our children’s memories. That’s really what holiday traditions are about.

Halloween humor

• Why do mummies make great spies? They are good at keeping things under wrap.

• Where does Dracula usually eat his lunch? At the casketeria.