Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2015 (973 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Gravestones poke out of the wet grass. Crows gather on bare tree branches. Spiders hang from their webs. Pumpkins decorate front entrances.
It is almost Halloween.
What a strange celebration this is. The origins of Halloween are not entirely clear. It may have its roots in a Celtic tradition, when Halloween marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It was thought to be a night during which the dead could cross over to the land of the living. The Christian tradition of All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day remembers and honours the dead. Whatever its origins, Halloween is now a much celebrated time for children and adults alike.
In our neighbourhood we prepare for the arrival of children around 6 p.m. Usually a hundred or more children appear at our doorstep before we turn off the lights at 8 p.m. We are greeted by superheroes, princesses, pirates, lions and bunnies. Sometimes there are babes in arms, and later in the evening, teenagers whose voices are beginning to change.
I remember Halloween as a child. My mother would sew our special costumes. When it was dark, we would carry our pillowcases from door to door, yelling, "Halloween apples".
That is often what we received — apples, caramels, and suckers. Enough bounty to last a few weeks.
The celebration of Halloween has expanded over the years. Different venues offer alternatives to the usual door to door trick or treating.
Within the city, The Children’s Museum offers a Halloween Howl. Kids can safely trick and treat, participate in creepy crafts, and enjoy children’s entertainer Al Simmons. Many of the city malls also offer special Halloween treats for children
Outside the city, the Marine Museum offers a Halloween Haunt. Young children can enjoy face painting and magic shows, while those over 14 years old can visit the Haunted Ship.
Six Pines Haunted Attractions offers Fear by Night for adults, and hayrides and a petting farm for young children.
Of course the real fun of the night is still the neighbourhood collection of goodies. My son’s girlfriend moved to Canada when she was eight years old. In her native Belarus, she had read about a curious North
American tradition whereby, once a year, children travelled from house to house and were given treats.
Her first Halloween in Canada was "magical". She still celebrates Halloween each year with unbridled enthusiasm.
So, as Oct. 31 draws near, let’s keep the porch lights shining for the little (and not so little) children and make this Halloween a safe and magical night for all to remember.
Joanne O’Leary is a community correspondent for Riverbend.