How do you prepare for Halloween?
a) You decorate with glee, buy enough sweets to see you though the next six Halloweens and put a variety of ‘All Welcome’ signs on your front door?
b) You switch off all the lights, turn off the TV and hide at the back of the house. Better still, you plan to be out all night.
I hear you - it’s a conundrum right?
A definite decision to be made.
Are you in or are you out? - literally!
Whatever your strategy, you can’t fail to notice how much bigger Halloween is becoming now in the UK.
Gone are the days of carved turnips and ‘guising’ round your neighbours. Enter the world of pumpkins, elaborate costumes and ‘trick or treating’.
What are the origins of trick or treating?
While the tradition of dressing up and visiting your neighbours touting for sweet treats originates in the celtic countries - Scotland, Ireland and Wales - there’s no doubt our cousins over the pond have taken it to a whole new level!
Back in the 16th century, celtic children would dress up as souls of the dead. Going with the assumption that imitation is the best form of flattery, this thinking then would surely protect them from the wrath of the lost souls who were thought to roam the earthly plane on All Hallows Eve?
They’d go from door to door offering to pray for the souls of the occupant’s dead relatives in exchange for sweet tasting ‘soul’ cakes. These cakes had a cross on the top and to eat one represented a soul being freed from purgatory.
Over time, prayer evolved into poems and songs. I’m sure there are many of us who have stood on our doorstep on October 31st, faced with a gaggle of youngsters in full flight, who can relate to handing over anything necessary to free us from the purgatory of yet another cheesy joke!
Sugar rations during the second world war put a bit of a damper on things but with the development of post war safe, suburban neighbourhoods, the perfect environment was provided for these traditions to flourish.
Immigrants had originally taken these traditions with them to the USA and while it’s unclear why children began to threaten ‘tricks’ to secure their treats, it’s most likely to have been because they just wanted to inject a bit more fun into the proceedings.
Halloween is just a bit of fun.
That’s the way I look at Halloween now and how I prepare for it. It’s just a bit of fun.
Who doesn’t need a bit more fun in their lives?
For one evening you get to decorate a little, be neighbourly and avoid being known as the stuffy recluse at number 5.
For every moaner and groaner out there who whines “I hate that it’s becoming so Americanised” there are dozens more embracing the opportunity to inject a bit of fun into their life.
Here are my top 5 easy peasy tips to get you prepared.
1. Decorate your front door for Halloween.
It doesn’t have to be much, just a little something to indicate to the neighbourhood that yours is a Halloween friendly house. I love this Halloween Door Decal by Nutmeg - Great fun!
2. Put up some Halloween Lights.
There are some very inexpensive options out there. I love these Orange Halloween Curtain Lights from B&M Stores. They’re a bargain at only £3.99! They’d look fabulous inside a glass front porch.
3. Add a pumpkin.
What better than to carve some pumpkins but who has the time to do that? Instead, how about this little guy? You can bring him out again year after year.
4. Add some hanging decorations.
How about finding the perfect spot to hang some of these little felt decorations. Hang from a mini tree in your front hall, from some willow twigs in a vase or even on some suckers attached to your windows.
5. Shop for Halloween sweet treats.
This year, Marks & Spencer have given favourites such as Colin the Caterpillar and Percy Pig a spooktacular halloween makeover! Get yourself down there to pick up some topical treats.