What is Halloween? And 6 crafts and books for kids to get into the Halloween spirit
Halloween is the second most popular holiday in North America, it’s known as a time of trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes, telling scary stories, visiting haunted houses and lots more. But how did Halloween evolve into the celebration that it is today?
What is the history of Halloween?
According to some legends, Halloween began with a group of people called the Celts more than 2000 years ago. The Celts lived in what would become Great Britain, Ireland, and parts of France. They would celebrate harvest and the start of winter with a festival called ‘Samhain’. It was also thought to be a time when the other world was present, and food would be put out for ghosts.
A thousand years later, the Catholic Church decided to name November 2nd as ‘All Souls’ Day’ to honour the dead. They renamed Samhain, which feel on November 1st to ‘All Saints’ Day’ or ‘All Hallows' Day.’ Then the night before, October 31st became ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ and then Halloween.
You can continue the Halloween story here in this CBC Kids article. Read about how we started carving faces into pumpkins (instead of turnips) and how other traditions from Europe have been transformed into our modern day Halloween. CBC Kids
This video from the History channel is also a great summary of Halloween’s history and traditions:
Now that we’re in the Halloween spirit, here are some fun but simple crafts and some great books to enjoy in the lead up to October 31st.
A popular part of Halloween is decorating our home for the spooky festivities, so we picked a few kid friendly crafts to do just that.
Carved pumpkins are a Halloween favourite, but painted pumpkins are a great alternative for younger kids, or anyone really!
You can choose a scary design (or friendly design) and follow a guide like this great one to create some painted monster pumpkins. Aubree Originals - Easy Painted Pumpkins
If you’d rather let your kid run wild with colour, a bright pumpkin painted freely all over or poured with paint looks amazing too.
Spooky cheesecloth ghosts are another impressive but inexpensive craft for Halloween decorations.
Check out this great guide that includes a video. It also shows you how to give your ghosts arms, or make them fly or glow. Cheesecloth ghost - One Little Project
Paper Halloween Lanterns
Another glowing decoration that kids can join in the fun with. These lanterns would great in the window or on the porch, lighting the way for trick-or-treaters.
Take a look at this blog for the full instructions. You can use a black marker to create your own designs, or use the premade designs from the blog and decorate those. Paper Halloween Luminaries - Crafts by Amanda
Room on the Broom
By Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
This book isn’t really a Halloween book, but it’s a fun book, with a great lesson about a witch who makes some wonderful friends.
The witch and her cat couldn’t be happier, flying through the sky on their broomstick-until the witch drops her hat, then her bow, then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broomstick. But is there room on the broom for so many new friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from the clutches of a hungry dragon? From the acclaimed creators of The Gruffalo, this enchanting story of quick wits and friendship is full of humour and adventure-and just the right amount of spookiness. - Penguin Random House
You can also borrow the book from Calgary Library.
There's a Ghost in this House
By Oliver Jeffers
This is a beautiful interactive book with transparent pages that reveal what isn’t quite seen by a little girl exploring a haunted house.
A young girl lives in a haunted house, but she has never seen a ghost. Are they white with holes for eyes? Are they hard to see? Step inside and help the girl as she searches under the stairs, behind the sofa, and in the attic for the ghost.
From New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers comes a delightful picture book that breaks the fourth wall about a young girl’s determination to find the ghost haunting her house. Includes tracing paper pages that make the silly ghosts appear on each page. Perfect for Halloween! - Penguin Random House
You can borrow the book from Calgary Library here.
By Lucy Ruth Cummins
This one is a unique Halloween story about a stemless pumpkin who dreams of becoming a jack-o-lantern.
Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern.
There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window.
As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone give Stumpkin his chance to shine? - Simon and Schuster
Check out the book at Calgary Library.