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Newcomers’ guide to Halloween in Canada

Halloween (October 31) in Canada today is primarily about dressing up and trick-or-treating, but the tradition actually stems from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

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Samhain was celebrated the day before the Celtic new year, Nov. 1, a day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter. Celts believed that on Oct. 31, ghosts of the dead returned to earth, so people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. They would also place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the spirits.

Fast forward a few centuries, and you’ll find much the same thing going on, but it’s become a social, family event that can get expensive to take part in. After you finish buying costumes for your kids, candy to hand out, decorations and extra flashlights, you could be looking at a couple hundred dollars.

Halloween décorations

While some families decorate their homes with gravestones, giant spiders and life-size witches purchased at their local mall, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to give your house a spooky atmosphere. Get creative and plan an afternoon of crafts with your kids.

Use black construction paper to make bats and cats. Use tissue and string to make a garland of mini ghosts. Or cut out cardboard and paint them grey to look like those $20 gravestones you find at the store.

Your local dollar store will also have some $1-$2 extras, like fake spiders’ webbing, window stick-ons and more.

Pumpkins, of course, are the ultimate Halloween decor. Learn more about the tradition of jack-o-lanterns below.

Halloween treat ideas

Are you considering not participating in handing out candy to neighbour children because of the expense??After all, if you live in a busy neighbourhood, buying candy to hand out to hundreds of children can get costly.

While homemade or unwrapped goodies are frowned upon by other parents (and usually thrown away), if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, here are a few treat ideas that will save you some money — and even a few calories:

  • Instead of those popular and pricey mini chocolate bars, consider buying big bags of lollipops, hard candies or small sticks of gum to hand out. (Make sure everything is wrapped, however).·
  • Buy rolls of stickers at a local dollar store and hand out one per child.
  • Stick-on temporary tattoos are also a popular choice.
  • A few boxes of mandarins might also go a long way.
  • Pencils, erasers, balloons or other small items can often be inexpensive when bought in bulk.

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