Halloween traditions, where did they originate? The many customs we have today in relation to Halloween have their origins in the religious practices of the Romans and the Druids, therefore dating back many centuries. On October 31, a special feast was held to honor their gods.
The custom of trick-or-treating and the use of “jack-o’-lanterns” comes from Ireland. Hundreds of years ago, Irish farmers went from house to house begging for food to be used at the village Halloween celebration. They would promise good luck to those who gave them good stuff, and made threats to those who refused to give. They simply told the people, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”
And the current custom of going door-to-door to collect treats also began in Ireland hundreds of years ago, and when an influx of Irish Catholic immigrants came to the United States in the 1800s, the custom of trick-or-treating came with them. Does your family carve a pumpkin to place on your porch for Halloween? If so, then you can once again thank the Irish for the tradition. Actually, the custom began with a turnip. People would hollow out the turnips and place lighted candles inside to scare off the evil spirits. When the Irish came to America, they discovered the pumpkin as a larger substitute for the turnip. And so, we now carve pumpkins instead of turnips for Halloween.
When Halloween comes around each year, I prefer the lighter, orange side of the black and orange holiday. My personal memories and experiences of Halloween have always leaned to the good side of the holiday stuff. The costumes, the glow in my children’s eyes when they were creating their costumes, the creation of the costumes, the creativity on display, the searches for the perfect accessories and the candy, specifically the Reese’s pumpkins and ghost peeps. In my family Halloween was an opportunity to be creative and have a whole bunch of wholesome family fun doing it. No blood, no gore, and nothing scary. For one thing, I have never watched a slasher/horror film out of the daylight hours. I don’t care for them and have never encouraged them. All my Halloween celebrations and memories have an orange family fun-filled glow.
One of my earliest memories of Halloween and trick or treating was when I was six. First of all, trick or treating in Calvary wasn’t a time consuming experience because there were not that many houses to visit. That year I was sick and my parents would not let me out of the house to go door to door trick or treating. So my mother, who was working at the only store in Calvary at that time, took me, in my PJs, to the candy aisle at Calvary Supply. The whole store and all of the candy was mine and I took full advantage of it.
Once I had children of my own, the Halloween holiday was always a very positive and fun time of year. We were never dressed up as black witches, werewolves, and zombies, instead the creativity of my children came alive on this holiday as they envisioned and created their own costumes. Once Caroline was a patron at Caroline’s Day Spa, dressed in a robe, slippers and a green mud mask painted on her face. When she was seven, she was a huge fan of Bainbridge’s April Brinson, who had just won the Miss Georgia crown. So for Halloween that year Caroline was April Brinson – Miss Georgia.
One of the most creative costumes developed by my oldest, Kaylee, was when she dressed up as a person taking a shower. That year the entire 350-member Bainbridge High School band performed in full costume. Kaylee played the flute and it was certainly easy to spot her, even though you could see only her bare feet sticking out from under a circular shower curtain complete with a shower head with water pouring from it. My children’s scariest costume selection was the year when they dressed up as each other, complete with personality traits. That one made me very thankful that Halloween lasted just one day.
One year we went all out decorating the house, placing and lighting over fifty luminaries up and down our sidewalk; however, after the 200th trick or treater and the 100th dollar left my pocket to buy more candy, the front porch light was turned off and the house went dark. We didn’t do that the next year. In fact, I think I even unscrewed the light bulb on the porch . . . you get the idea.
In conclusion, I think the absolute best part of Halloween for me, other than the fond memories of my children having fun, is that you can now get those marshmallow peeps, once only sold at Easter, the whole month of October. They may look like Jack-o’-lanterns or ghosts, but if you close your eyes when you pop one in your month, they taste exactly like those little yellow Easter peeps. Holidays are fun when fun is the main thing you are looking for.
Sadly, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the marshmallow peeps will be in short supply this orange and black season, and traditional trick or treating will also be significantly altered because of the current safety protocols in place. But, some festive family fun can still be had Saturday, the 31st at the downtown Donalsonville drive thru trick-or treat parade.
So as you dress up in your orange and black best, here’s hoping all your tricks are treats, and that you have the best socially distanced happy Halloween ever.
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