Halloween is a special night for kids of all ages in Canada. Canadians get dressed in all kinds of costumes and go knocking on neighbourhood doors, hoping to fill their baskets with treats. So, how do people celebrate Halloween in Canada?
ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN
It is believed that Halloween began in Ireland, with the Festival of Samhain in 400 BC.
The Celtic calendar starts on November 1, marking the end of summer and the start of a new year.
The Celts believed that the turnover from one year to another was a period of time when the souls of the departed could walk the earth.
Families would look forward to this time of the year, because they believed that their loved ones would be able to join them for at least one night.
To help guide them back home, families would leave turnips and potatoes outside their front door, with carved out faces lit by candles inside.
When the Irish immigrants came to North America in the early 19th century, they brought along this custom, which eventually evolved into Halloween as we know it today.
HALLOWEEN IN EARLY CANADA
Newspaper reports from as far back as 1874 told the story of Irish immigrants in Kingston, Ontario, where Halloween masks were sold.
They would dressing up as fairies and witches, as part of keeping the tradition alive in the new country.
Businesses took advantage of the interest in Halloween, selling all sorts of treats.
Pumpkins, which were in plentiful supply the weeks prior to Halloween, became a fitting substitute for turnips and potatoes. They were easier to carve, and had more room for the candles as well.
The phrase “Trick or Treat” actually has Canadian origins, with the earliest recorded use of the phrase appearing in an Alberta newspaper reporting that kids were knocking on homes asking for some treats in 1927.
HALLOWEEN IN MODERN CANADA
Today, millions of Canadian families mark Halloween by decorating their houses, wearing fun costumes, and going out for Trick or Treating.
Canadians across the country buy candy for the neighbourhood kids, often giving generously to kids who put a lot of effort into their costumes.
Statistics Canada found that Canadians spend over CAD356 million in candy in the weeks leading up to Halloween.
HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS
Depending on where you live in Canada, Halloween is generally a cold and windy affair.
If Halloween falls on a school day, students can go to school dressed in their costumes, with teachers preparing treats for everyone beforehand.
If your child still wants to go Trick or Treating in the evening, make sure they’re dressed warmly enough.
Don’t forget to bring a flashlight to light your way, as well as reflective clothing so that drivers can see you while you walk around the neighbourhood knocking on doors.
Before your kids start eating all that candy, take the time to look at each and every single piece for signs of tampering.
When in doubt, just throw it away.
For older kids, make sure that they bring their cellphones along with them, and to let you know what routes they are expected to take and who they’re going to be with. Setting a curfew would be a great idea too.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone!
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