Halloween is fascinating to me! It is said to have gotten its start in the pagan culture of Celtic Ireland. Called the festival of Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the evil spirits that were free to roam the earth on October 31st. After the Catholic movement entered Ireland, the church named November 1st All Saints Day, aka All Hallows to honor the Christian saints. Then, the day was named All Hallow’s Eve, and people continued to view this day as a time when the dead were allowed to roam with the living. Finally, this term was later shortened to the name we all use today: Halloween. 
This holiday has kept some of its traditions from the original fall festival but has mostly become a commercial holiday where children and adults alike dress up in costumes, and massive amounts of candy are given out, and of course, consumed!
October 31st is 2 weeks away, folks, so now is the perfect time to refresh on some tips on how to keep those little ghosts, goblins and Disney princesses safe while out trick-or-treating.
- Use reflective tape or stickers for visibility. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape, because this helps drivers, especially in the dark, to see all the little “monsters in the road.” Any drivers, slow down, and drive with extra caution!
- Travel in groups when trick-or-treating. There are unsavory characters out there, and a child wandering around in the dark is an easy target for a predator. Always travel in groups as these real-life monsters are more likely to target a lone child rather than approach a group. Children under 12 should have adult supervision.
- Be sure any mask does not restrict vision. Forego a mask for makeup whenever possible. Costumes with masks that restrict vision can be dangerous. Many Halloween masks cut off peripheral vision, which is needed to assess one’s surroundings. With no peripheral vision, a child may be more likely to trip over something, bump into a passerby, or potentially get hit by a car.
- Never eat unwrapped or open candy. Like I mentioned earlier, there are real-life villainous characters among us. Treats with easily reseal-able packaging or no packaging should be discarded – you just never know if the treat was tampered with in some way. We may not want to think that our neighbors would do anything to harm our children, but in today’s society, you can never be too careful.
- Stay on the sidewalks and use crosswalks. This tip goes hand in hand with the restrictive nature of Halloween masks and drivers not being able to see pedestrians. Staying on sidewalks and following the directions at the crosswalks will minimize the risk of injury while out “trolling” for candy. Also, put electronic devices down and keep your head and eyes up!
For more useful tips to ensure a safe Halloween, please visit http://www.halloween-website.com/safety.htm. In addition to safety tips, this site offers recipes, decorating guides, good-natured pranks, trivia, and more. Are there any safety tips you would like to share? If so, please enter them in the comments section. Have a Safe and Spooktacular Halloween!
Inspired by a past blog by John Tessier
 Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center (www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html)
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