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This is how we celebrate Halloween in Canada

Tuesday, October 27, 2020   /   by Earl Gaddi

This is how we celebrate Halloween in Canada

An ancient tradition, Halloween is a time of year for some to have a new beginning, for some to test their scare tolerance, for some to dress up and have fun, and is much to a dentist’s chagrin, an occasion causing an influx of cavity checks. It dates back centuries and adapted over time with newer traditions, doctrines, and activities. But how do Canadians enjoy Halloween?  This is our guide to Halloween history, candy consumption, favourites, vintage offerings, for a safe and sane Halloween in Canada.

Halloween History

Halloween is an ancient and spiritual holiday that we continue to honour and celebrate today. The first celebrations date all the way back to the Celtic times with their festival of Samhain 2000 years ago. It was the eve of their New Year, November 1, and a way to ward off evil spirits before heading into a fresh year.

All Hallows’ Eve is another celebration where Halloween is derived from. It falls on October 31st and is the day prior to All Hallow’s day. In Christian calendars, it is celebrated as All Saints day with a vigil being held.

Halloween in Canada: The Traditions

Trick-or-Treating for Halloween in Canada

Halloween has been a favourite time of year in North America for decades. Some of the traditions began in the USA and Canada and were adapted to suit their people. Halloween itself is a ceremonial and religious time of year for the pagan faiths including Wicca, but many others in the general public enjoy the spookiness and other fun experiences that Halloween brings out. One of those traditions is trick-or-treating.
Trick-or-treating, the act of going door-to-door to collect candy and treats from neighbours and local homes began in the 1930’s. Kids would dress in costume, bag in hand, ring the doorbell, and utter “trick or treat!” to receive an offering. It was a way to ask for handouts during this time of year, along with a prayer, in disguise to fend off evil spirits of the night.

What’s with the Pumpkins and Jack O’ Lanterns?

Pumpkins are quite plentiful at this time of year. I mean some pumpkin patches boast numbers in the thousands. I just recently went to one of the largest in all of Toronto with more than 20,000 in their 2017 harvest.
The Jack O’Lantern, a meticulously carved pumpkin or turnip that originally was of a scary face, started back in the 1660’s. It is historically rooted to English folklore with the name derived from will ‘o the whisp (aka foolish fire).
That being said, the carving and creation of Jack O’Lanterns is believed to have begun in Ireland. (Makes sense with his name doesn’t it!?). They were originally created to represent the good supernatural beings and spirits of the evening and ward off the evil.

Nowadays the traditional Jack O’Lanterns have become a pumpkin carving phenomenon with contests being held across the country displaying the incredible artistic talents with intricately carved designs, motifs, and scary faces. I have seen some of the most unique carved pumpkins of late that truly do show off the creative talents and imaginations of Canadian families. The pumpkin designs are truly a highlight of Halloween in Canada.
Some of the designs recently seen include blue-painted pumpkins for Cinderella pumpkin coaches, white painted pumpkins painted like members of KISS, Star Wars carvings, Disney carvings, and more. What would you choose?

Ways to Have Fun for Halloween in Canada

Canada has adopted quite a few of the USA’s Halloween traditions and habits. We do celebrate the harvest and this scary time of year honouring the historical significance, coupled with the commercialization imposed by retailers and other influences. In the end, kids enjoy a fun evening mingling with friends and neighbours, adults can dress up and enjoy a fun themed evening of spider cupcakes, skeleton cakes, and ghoulish stories, and the city can light up with original pumpkins, lanterns, mazes, and more. Truly Halloween in Canada is a fun and whimsical time of year.