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posted: 10/15/2012 1:00 AM

Halloween history and decor

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By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

Is Halloween your favorite holiday? I know several people who like this day even better than they like Christmas or their own birthday. And those who love this holiday seem to like the creepy, scary part of it the most; the more occult, the better. So where did this all come from? When did it all begin? Let's examine the history.

We get the name "Halloween" from what was originally "Allhallows Eve." History has it that Allhallows Eve started in Ireland around 2,000 years ago on Oct. 31, which is the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was a holiday honoring the dead. That's the pagan version. The Christians also honor the dead, and Oct. 31 is the day before Nov. 1, which is All Saints Day, so Christians joined in the festivities honoring the dead on Allhallows Eve.

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So where do the costumes and decorations come in? Well, tradition has it that the Celtics thought the souls of the dead roamed the streets at night and they felt the need to keep those spirits happy to ensure a good crop season in the coming year. Gifts were left out for them -- or anyone, actually. The jack-o'-lanterns were employed to scare the spirits away and the costumes were also meant to fool or scare the spirits.

Christians typically dressed in costumes that were reminiscent of saints in remembrance and in honor of the saints' service to God. Many still wear these types of costumes.

So take your pick, scary or not-so-scary. How will you decorate your house and what type of costume will you wear? The costume is not my department, but I can give suggestions for your house.

I'll first give you the not-so-scary. If you have or can get a footed vase with a large opening on top, you can create a Halloween topiary. Very simply, purchase three pumpkins with the largest one fitting the opening on the urn. Place a slightly smaller pumpkin on top, then a slightly smaller one on top of that.

Voila! Halloween topiary! Place it outside the front door and your house will look like you are ready for Halloween. Placing two, one on each side of the door, is even better. A wreath on the front door that depicts fall colors will complete the look.

There's also a little-scary look. There are appliqués that are temporary and removable and available for purchase at craft stores or online. How about black mice appliqués? Place a whole bunch of them in swarming fashion on the windows or crawling on the baseboards inside your house. Yuck.

Regardless of how you enjoy this holiday, be sure to have enough good candy available for trick-or-treaters and, hopefully, enough candy left over for you.

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