It is said that Halloween originated from the ‘Samhain’ festival observed by the Celts 2,000 years ago. The Celts believed that on this day, the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. To observe this day, they held large bonfires and made costumes made out of animal heads and skin.
In the 9th century, Christianity had spread in the Celtic region and the church declared November 2 as All Souls’ Day. It was a day in remembrance of all the saints and martyrs. It is said that the name ‘Halloween’ was derived from the term ‘All Hallows,’ hallows referring to the saints.
In the Middle Ages, people started going house-to-house and reciting verses in exchange for food. It is said that this could have been the beginning of trick-or-treating. Some families cooked food for the ghosts of their deceased relatives.
By the 19th century, Halloween costumes started becoming popular. People dressed up as vampires, witches, devils, and ghosts. Trick-or-treat became immensely popular among kids. It was also the time when Halloween games like apple bobbing and fortune-telling named ‘Puicini’ emerged.
The modern-day costumes of Halloween are greatly inspired by works of fiction like “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “Beetlejuice,” “Annabelle,” and other spooky films and books.
Though it is not clear when exactly Halloween Safety Month was first observed, it was the National Safety Council that spread awareness about Halloween safety and encouraged people to observe Halloween Safety Month in October. Observing this month has greatly helped in reducing accidents that occur during Halloween as people are more aware of the risks associated with not following safety guidelines while celebrating Halloween.
Halloween 2022 on October 31 is undoubtedly the creepiest, most ghostly holiday of them all. Children dress up as Batman, the Joker, Wonder Woman, or some other favorite character; go to parties or walk their neighborhoods with jack o’ lanterns full of sweets as they go trick-or-treating. Spooky decorations fill windows and porches and screams can be heard in living rooms up and down the country as we collectively binge our favorite horror movies.
Trick-or-treating is said to stem from the practice of “souling”, which is a Medieval practice where churchgoers would go between different parishes and ask the rich for pastries which were known as soul cakes. In return, they would pray for the souls of them and their friends. While “souling”, people would carry with them lanterns made of hollowed-out turnips. That turnip is now of course a pumpkin and it is believed that that the jack-o-lantern originally represented the souls of the dead.
By the late 19th century children in Scotland and Ireland were dressing up in costume and going from door to door accepting gifts from neighbors, this practice was known as “guising”. The children would generally be given bits of food for their efforts. The first recorded instance of this in America is in 1911. The term trick-or-treat was first used in Alberta, Canada, in 1927, and by the 1930s it was starting to become a popular activity.
Modern Day Halloween —— By the 1950s Halloween became a holiday that was primarily for the children. Trick-or-treating was commonplace as kids went around their neighborhoods in costume collecting candy. Halloween became increasingly embedded in popular culture and horror movies would often be released to coincide with the holiday. Movies such as “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Halloween,” and “Friday the 13th” have all become classics associated with the holiday.
Halloween is now America’s second-largest commercial holiday, with $6 billion being spent on it each year. Numerous traditions such as trick-or-treating, costume parties, and watching horror movies all contribute towards a huge occasion that is celebrated throughout the country.
Halloween plays off our phobias. Killer clowns and antique dolls creep you out? Bats and spiders make your skin crawl? Does the sight of blood make you faint? Don’t go into that room and don’t go out on Halloween. But if you do — look over your shoulder! On Halloween, be a kid again or take on a new persona. Watch out for ghosts and goblins and things that go, “bump” in the night. Eat as much candy as your tummy can hold. Enjoy feeling totally scared for just. one. night. Happy Halloween, everybody!
WHY HALLOWEEN SAFETY MONTH IS IMPORTANT
- Road accidents increase during Halloween — Kids, in their excitement, tend to get careless while crossing streets. Therefore, it is important for parents to teach their children basic road rules before they step out for trick-or-treating. Motorists should also take extra precautions on Halloween.
- There’s a high risk of fire accidents — There’s always a high risk of fire accidents during Halloween parties. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you make sure that the costumes bought for Halloween are made of high-quality, fire-resistant material.
- Candies may not be safe — After the infamous Candy Man incident in 1972 when a father killed his son by giving him candy laced with cyanide, people have been more careful than ever. An adult should always accompany the kids while they go out for trick-or-treating. Candies must be properly inspected before they are handed over to the children.
OHA offers tips to stay safe during Halloween events and activities
As ghosts, ghouls and goblins young and old head out for trick-or-treating, haunted houses and spooky gatherings in the coming days, Oregon Health Authority is offering tips for staying safe from injuries and illnesses while celebrating Halloween.
COVID-19, flu prevention
Numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically since the surges of early 2022. But public health officials expect another increase in cases of COVID-19, as well as influenza and other respiratory viruses, as people head indoors to escape the cold, wet fall weather.
That’s why officials recommend everyone get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines as soon as they can. And since it does take a couple weeks for vaccines to take full effect, people planning to trick-or-treat and attend Halloween events can keep themselves healthy by wearing masks if they expect to be in crowded settings.
Use the Get Vaccinated Oregon tool to find a COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinic, or to be connected to a vaccination or booster opportunity, or call 211 or text ORCOVID to 898211. If you or someone you care can’t leave home, email COVID@211info.org“>ORCOVID@211info.org to be connected to a vaccination or booster opportunity. Find a flu vaccination location by visiting VaccineFinder.org or calling 211.
- After trick-or-treating, inspect all candy and treats to make sure wrapping hasn’t been tampered with — look for unusual appearance, discoloration and any tears in wrappers. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Eat a snack before trick-or-treating, or bring one with you, to keep from nibbling on a treat before it’s been inspected.
- Check candy and treat labels for any allergens, such as nuts, if you or your child has a food allergy.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys from Halloween bags.
- Bobbing for apples is a popular game at Halloween parties. Make sure to thoroughly rinse apples and any other fruit being offered, under cool running water before eating to reduce the risk of foodborne bacteria, such as E. coli or salmonella.
- Look for juices and ciders in boxes, bottles or cans typically found in frozen food cases, refrigerated sections or shelves at grocery stores.
- Wear costumes made with flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon and with bright reflective colors or reflective tape so they are visible to motorists, bicyclists and other pedestrians. Also, avoid risk of tripping by not wearing costumes that are too long or baggy and touch the ground as you walk.
- Some Halloween masks can obscure vision, especially outside when it’s dark. An alternative to masks is wearing Halloween makeup, but make sure to test a small amount on your skin a couple days ahead of time to see that it doesn’t cause a rash, redness, swelling or other signs of irritation.
- Young children can use a spoon to help scoop out the inside of a pumpkin or use a marker to create the pumpkin’s face, but they should leave pumpkin carving to adults or older children under adult supervision.
- Use LED lights instead of candles to light up jack-o-lanterns. If you do use candles, make sure only adults are lighting them and that the pumpkins are not left unattended or near flammable materials.
For more Halloween safety ideas, visit these websites:
- Safe Kids Worldwide: https://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2019/10/halloweentips/
- S. Food & Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/halloween-safety-tips-costumes-candy-and-colored-contact-lenses
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2022/On-a-Day-for-Goblins-and-Tricks-Make-Safety-a-Treat