Halloween Fun, Facts and Safety Tips
The Halloween tradition has many symbols associated with it. One of the most popular icons of Halloween is, of course, the pumpkin. It was the Irish who started carving gourds and turnips in Ireland. But in the 1840s when the Irish came to America to leave the potato famine, they found out quickly that pumpkins were much easier to carve.
So how did this translate into “Jack-O-Lantern?” According to an Irish tale, a man named Jack (who was a trickster and a drunk) fooled Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then put a bunch of crosses at the foot of the tree and made Satan promise not to take his soul upon his death. After Jack died, he was denied entry into Heaven because of his evil ways, and the devil kept his promise not to take Jack into Hell. On Jack’s way out of Hell, the devil handed him a branch of fire to light his way in the dark. The ember was put inside an old hollowed out turnip to keep it glowing longer. The Irish used turnips in the tale, then upon their entry into America and discovery of pumpkins, they changed the turnips to pumpkins.
Speaking of pumpkins…for great growing tips, recipes, humor, festivals and overall facts about pumpkins, check out www.pumpkinnook.com.
Did you know…
–Americans spend over $14 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations, party supplies, candy and other paraphernalia
–The name witch comes from the Saxon term wica, meaning wise one.
–Black cats are a symbol of Halloween because it was once believed that souls could travel back into the world of the living in the body of an animal, usually a black cat
–“Trick or Treat” originated in Britain where it was first known as “Mischief Night”
–“Hallow” is an old word meaning make holy, while “e’een” is Scottish for evening.
–In America, children simply say “trick or treat.” In Scotland, children are expected to perform a party piece – joke, song or story – before cashing in on the sweet prize.
We do think of Halloween as a time for treats and fun; however, on a more serious and important note, the National Safety Council says that roughly four times as many children aged 5-14 are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year, and falls are a leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. Most Halloween-related injuries can be prevented if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treat activities.
The National Safety Council suggests the following for children out on Halloween:
–Go only to well-lit houses and to remain on porches or front steps rather than entering houses
–Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult
–Bring treats home before eating anything at all so parents can inspect them
–Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards
–Cross streets at the corner only and stay together before crossing
–Do not cross between parked cars
–Wear bright, reflective and flame retardant clothing
–Use face painting instead of masks as masks can obstruct a child’s view
–Avoid hats that will slide over eyes
–Avoid wearing long baggy or loose costumes
–Be reminded to look left, right and left again before crossing the street
For more on Halloween safety, check out http://www.nsc.org/library/facts/halloween.htm.
If you want to inform your children on some of these rules while making it fun, a wonderful educational interactive game can be found at http://www.hersheys.com/trickortreats, and click on the “Safety Quiz with Certificate” link. It’s a cute exercise of choosing a character to take trick-or-treating while answering questions about safety. The website is by Hershey (yes the chocolate!) and is very informative as well as fun including everything from invitations, party games, pumpkin stencils, costume ideas and even clip art.
Lastly, occasionally, kids will have a reaction to face make-up while painting their faces for Halloween, so the US Food and Drug Administration has a website with preventative information on this as well as other Halloween safety tips and advice. Check out www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/kids/candyandtreats.html.
Halloween is coming up, so be safe and have a blast!