It's autumn! The leaves on the trees are beginning to change colors, and pumpkins and apple cider have appeared in the grocery stores. You've probably also noticed a lot of candy, spooky decorations, and costumes of all sorts appearing on the shelves, as well. Halloween in the U.S. has grown into quite a celebration of sweets and spooks. I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain some of the traditions for those of you who are new to the U.S.
Halloween is always on October 31. The roots of the holiday are thought to be from Europe, as a celebration of "All Saints Day", a day when people honor and pray for those who have died. It was thought to be a day when souls of the dead roamed in search of their resting place, which is perhaps where the "spooky" traditions of today came from.
These days, in the U.S., it is more about carving Jack-O-Lanterns, dressing up in costumes, going to costume parties, and Trick-or-Treating for candy.
1) Carving a Jack-O-Lantern: When you take a pumpkin and carve a face onto it, it becomes a Jack-O-Lantern! This is a really fun tradition. People light the Jack-O-Lantern on the night of Halloween, and this is a sign that your house welcomes kids to Trick-Or-Treat (more about that later). You can find instructions online about how to carve a Jack-O-Lantern.
Here is one link: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Carve-a-Jacko-lantern/
2) Costumes: Children enjoy dressing up in costumes and most elementary schools will have a party in the classroom where kids can wear their costumes and celebrate with games, crafts, and treats. Older kids in middle school and high school are sometimes allowed to wear costumes to school, as well. Schools will discourage any bloody or violent costumes (although the kids seem to love the bloody stuff for some reason!!)
Adults can also enjoy dressing up in costumes (fun to feel like a kid again!) and often friends will host a Halloween party and encourage everyone to wear a costume.
3) Trick-Or-Treat: On the evening of Halloween, kids will go "Trick-or-Treating". This is a fun tradition. They knock on the door of houses in their neighborhood and say, "Trick-Or-Treat!" They will receive candy or treats from each house. Make sure that you only visit
homes in a neighborhood that you know and trust. Check all candy to make sure it is safely wrapped (do not let your kids eat anything that looks unsafe or unwrapped).
If you would like to have Trick-Or-Treaters come to your house for candy, you should light a Jack-O-Lantern outside your home and turn on your outdoor lights. If there are a lot of children who live near your home, you may get a lot of Trick-or-Treaters! If you do not have many kids in your neighborhood, then you might not get any visitors.
If you do NOT want to have Trick-or-Treaters come to your house, be sure to turn off all your lights and do not put a Jack-O-Lantern out. Most kids know not to visit houses where all the lights are off.
4) Spooky Stuff: Because of its roots, Halloween has
a tradition of being a spooky holiday! Ghosts, witches,
vampires, and zombies are common costume traditions. You will also see a lot of spooky decorations, such as graveyards, tombstones, spider webs, skeletons and more. Some kids really love to dress up as scary creatures, and even fake blood and guts are common sights to see on this day. Don't be surprised if you see some crazy things on the day and night of Halloween!
There are many fun things to do all around the Eastside and Seattle during
Halloween. You can do an online search and find pumpkin patches, festivals, haunted houses, and more.
Here is one link to some events around the eastside:
When my kids were little, we enjoyed going to Remlinger Farms Pumpkin Patch, with
rides, animals, food, and a corn maze:
Other Pumpkin Patch Farms offer similar themes and fun--
Dr. Maze's Farm in Redmond:
Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah:
As my kids got older, they preferred scarier things, such as the KUBE Haunted House in downtown Seattle (older kids and adults ONLY... it's scary!!):
There is fun for all in the fall season. Let me know if you have questions. Enjoy!