By Leah Wolf
As pumpkin spices invades our stores and fast food joints, the leaves begin to change, and little kids have one thing on their minds. Candy! With an influx of fall decorations also comes that special day where you get to dress up and people give you sweets. That’s right, Halloween is right around the corner!
However, the holiday did not start off as such a festivity. Halloween, as we refer to it, originated in Ireland with the Celtics. Celts would wear masks and light fires to ward off the malevolent spirits floating around the night.
They believed that the time when warm summer shifted to harsh winter was associated with death. As a result, on one night the boundaries between the living and dead were indistinct.
This celebration was known as Samhain. In addition to warding off ghosts, it also served to protect the crops in the coming winter. When the Celtics were later conquered by the Romans, the celebration was changed a bit. Samhain was combined with the Roman traditions Feralaia, when they honored the dead, and Pomona, when they honored the goddess of fruit and trees. Both related to human death and crops.
Centuries later, when the Catholic Church got involved, they tried to make Samhain more of a religious ordeal. They named November 2nd as All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows. Samhain became the All Hallows Eve, which was shortened to Halloween.
Halloween came to America, but was not a part of northern culture for a long time because of the strong Protestant population. Maryland and other southern areas were influenced by diverse European ethnic groups and Native Americans.
In the 19th century, when Irish immigrants flooded America, they popularized the holiday. By the end of the 1800s America was experiencing a more modern version of Halloween. By 1950, trick-or-treating was a common event among neighborhoods, and the holiday has since become a national event.
Now, to small children Halloween is a time of fun and tasty treats. To parents, not so much. They have to worry about keeping their child safe and sound while wandering around the neighborhood in search of candy.
Firstly, make sure that the weapons that may come with the costume are soft and flexible. Although a plastic sword will not slice anyone in half, it can still cause damage. A foam weapon is a much better idea for preventing injuries.
Make sure that all the candy received is wrapped and not punctured and never accept homemade treats from anyone.
Furthermore, travel in groups. It is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety, especially when walking along poorly lit streets.
While many drivers are extra careful on this day, it is still hard to see dark figures after dusk. Reflective tape on clothing and costumes is another way of keeping your children safe.
Halloween can also be a dangerous time for those who suffer from life threatening food allergies. Emergency rooms are full of children who while trick or treating may have accidentally ingested an allergen. These allergens include, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and milk. The Food Allergy Research & Education Foundation launched the Teal Pumpkin campaign in 2014 in an effort to raise awareness about food allergies and promote inclusion of all people during trick or treating and other Halloween activities.
To participate, families would paint a pumpkin teal and place it outside their home on Halloween. This would indicate to trick or treaters that the family is offering non food Halloween treats or candy that is allergy safe. Additionally, fliers and posters of a teal pumpkin can be printed off from the FARE website and placed on the front door signaling that the home is allergy friendly.
For more information visit www.foodallergy.com
Stay safe and happy trick-or-treating this Halloween.