October 31st marks the single night in the year when, according to Celtic beliefs, spirits and the dead can cross over into the living world. It is not only a fun-filled celebration for kids, who venture out just after dark, dressed in elaborate costumes and sporting hats, masks, and a bag to stash away their loot of candies; older people enjoy it just as much.
Aside from dressing up, the biggest draw for children is trick-or-treating. These is essentially a choice given to neighbourhood people, whose doorbells children will ring, dressed as ghosts, skeletons, witches or other characters, and ask for a treat if the homeowners want to avoid being tricked. Children are advised to always be accompanied by a responsible elder and only knock doors of people they know in the neighbourhood. It is also a good practice for parents to inspect their kids’ loot before letting them eat anything given by others.
Special type of food associated with Halloween includes candies, toffee apples, roasted corn, pumpkin pies and much more. Many work places host parties for employees to mark Halloween. Events may range from costume contests to face painting booths, or desk decorating competitions with the theme of Halloween. It’s not uncommon for employees to go for a drink after work to share in the spirit of this ancient tradition.
Halloween traces its origins to Celtic traditions. Many people in pre-Christian times believed that ghosts of dead people could visit the living world on the night of October 31. To avoid being harmed by these spirits, people started disguising themselves as ghosts when they left their homes on this night to confuse the spirits.
A popular way of celebrating Halloween for teenagers and adults is to visit haunts like Canada’s Wonderland featuring mazes, scare zones, dark rides and horror shows. It’s best to visit in a group or with family unless you have a heart of steel! Some mature audiences just prefer to watch a stomach-churning horror flick at home for a thrill of the occasion in a cost-effective way. Needless to say, they will have the power of turning off the scare if it gets too ghoulish.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.