Initially, Halloween—namely, All Hallows’ Eve—was a ritual dedicated to remembering the dead. According to Wikipedia, Halloween traditions came from the Irish. About 3,000 years ago, the Celtic calendar ended on the 31st of October (not on the 31st of December): that special night was the night of the god of the dead.
October is a month known for its shorter days and darker nights. The legend says the soul of the dead would walk the earth and come to visit the living at this special time of the year. The celebration allows the dead and the living to meet somewhere in the “middle” of the real and imaginary world. This festive season would last a full week on the occasion of the full moon and is punctuated by feasts, songs, sacrifices and fires. Celtic people would dress up in scary outfits and celebrate the new year.
Mid-nineteenth-century Irish people migrated to America, bringing with them their traditions. Nowadays, some of the original folklore persists. To frighten people and keep the harmful spirits out of one’s home, the jack-o’-lanterns are now carved into pumpkins (much easier than the traditional turnips) and are massively grown and harvested in late October.
No doubt, Halloween is fun to celebrate for kids and grownups. But it can also turn into a trashy celebration.In 2014, the Retail Council of Canada (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/halloween) estimated that Canadians spent about CAD70 on costumes, candy and decorations—all mostly made or wrapped in plastic and used only once before being tossed away. It may take up to hundreds of years before that plastic breaks down.
Did you know that, in Canada, we have very low recycling rates? Eighty-five per cent of textiles (including our favourite Halloween costumes) are going to landfills (www.advancedwastesolutions.ca).To keep the tradition running and to avoid buying new stuff that would not last and cost quite a bit of money, here are a few tricks:
Halloween costume ideas
Halloween costumes were habitually modelled after vampires, zombies, trolls, ghosts, skeletons, witches and devils. Over time, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, such as aliens and superheroes.
What’s in your closet?
Do you have an old wedding dress or some funky pants? Do you have an old-fashioned uncle or aunt? Can you borrow one of their retro shirts, their fur coats, their big glasses and one of their hats? Once you have an idea of what you have available in your closet, revamp your clothes into a new iconic outfit inspired by real-life figures (or fictional ones). If you lack inspiration, check out Pinterest or do a search … You won’t be disappointed!
Homemade costumes for the whole family
What you’ll need:
- An old black dress or a black top and matching trousers/tights
- Some white chalk
- A white marker
- A skeleton template (Google search!)
Instructions (kids and adults):
Lay down the dress or top/tights. Look online for a skeleton template and draw it from the cage ribs to the leg bones, with the white chalk. Wear it to make sure it looks fine and is well-proportioned. Once you are happy with the drawing, overlay the template with the white marker. Your outfit is ready!
What you’ll need:
- A large piece of fabric (double your size)
- A piece of paper
- A black marker
- Ghost face template (Google search!)
Instructions (kids and adults):
Do you have an old piece of white-ish fabric or a bed sheet? This costume is a great way to use it and to create a spooky costume.
- To know how big the fabric needs to be, measure from the top of your head to your toes, then multiply by two.
- Cover yourself with the white fabric or bed sheet. Ask someone to draw your eyes on the fabric with the black marker.
- Fold the fabric in half and lay it flat. Slide the piece of paper behind the eyes, marked on the fabric, and draw a happy or scary ghost face around it (check online for inspiration).
- Cut out spaces for the eyes and personalize the costume as you wish.
If you don’t have time to make your own outfit, think about renting a favourite costume, or buy it second-hand (check Facebook marketplace or a local thrift store).
Both for kids and adults, a killer makeup look will definitely do the job over the most basic outfit. While the seasonal store makeup often offers low-quality materials full of toxins and plastic, prefer buying your own non-toxic face paint and use it every year, with family and friends, for a fantastic look! Makeup tutorials are available on YouTube, to practice before the big day.
Without treats, it isn’t Halloween. What about using a pillowcase rather than a plastic bag for trick-or-treating? You can decorate it with a Halloween vibe (chicken bones from your last meal attached to it, a pumpkin drawing, or in a bloody style).
For the candies, head over to a local store that has wrapped candies available in bins.
According to Stats Canada, in 2017, more than 80,000 metric tons of pumpkins have been produced in Canada. Most of those, however, are tossed out after being carved. Scary. Here is my favourite pumpkin cupcake recipe to make the most out of your jack-o’-lanterns!
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or oats (or a mix of both)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 8 Tbsp butter or oil, room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (mash the inside after carving it)
Spices (as desired)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- Heat the oven to 325℉. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together, starting with the eggs and sugar. Whisk until blended.
- If you have muffin cups, brush the inside with butter to keep the batter from sticking. You can also use a regular cake mold and do the same.
- Fill the molds and bake for 20–25 minutes. Let it cool and decorate with leftover spices.
Enjoy the cake and your holiday!