The American tradition of giving candies to kids trick-or-treating door to door dates back to a Celtic tradition of leaving food and candy out to appease the evil spirits of the dead. A thought that is a good bit scarier than dressing up as Donald Trump, a Star Wars Storm Trooper or a Ninja Turtle.
The Celts celebration of the harvest festival, Samhain, is the original ancestor of what we do today on Halloween. For the Druids that celebrated Samhain, the new year began on November 1 with the annual celebration beginning the day before on October 31. Food and candies were left out for the dead to ward off their evil spirits. The Druids believed the spirits of those who died the previous year would roam the earth on that night. It’s believed that people started dressing up as these spirits hoping to be offered food and drink.
Another Irish tradition involved carving turnips and rutabagas and placing embers in them. When Irish immigrants came to this country, turnips were not readily available but pumpkins were plentiful. The custom of carving pumpkins quickly spread to the general population and many families now search for the perfect pumpkin each fall. Can you imagine if the immigrants had found turnips, then the animated children’s TV special would have been called It’s the Great Turnip, Charlie Brown?
The Nyack Library has a few special Halloween-related events for children this week. On Thursday at 4:30p children in grades K- 2 are welcome to join us for Hooray for Halloween to enjoy silly, spooky Halloween stories and make a creepy craft to take home. Registration is required. There’s also show a Teen “Halloween” Movie on Friday at 3:15p. Registration is required. On Friday at 4:30p, children can Read to Megan and Maizie, two basset hounds who love to be read to. Come in costume or not. 10 minute time slots are available.
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