Halloween: A Brief History

Halloween-trick-or-treatWhile some Halloween traditions are new, the holiday itself has a long and fascinating history. Its roots go deep, and people may have been celebrating this autumn festival in Celtic times.

Halloween is linked to All Saints’ Day, but some historians believe the holiday has older origins that the Church incorporated as part of its calendar. The Celtic harvest festival of Samhain divided summer from winter; it marked the time to bring livestock from summer pastures and prepare enough food for the long, cold season ahead. It was a time for feasting and bonfires, and the Celts believed it was a time in which the veil between the world they knew and that of fairies or other spirits was thinnest.

The present-day Halloween’s connection with treats could have its origins in a Celtic festival day.The name Halloween comes from a contraction of All Hallow’s Eve, a name you’ll still hear sometimes. It’s the name Christian theologians gave the night before All Saints’ Day, which was established as a holy day in the seventh century. Historically, Hallow’s Eve was the day to acknowledge all the souls that hadn’t yet found their way to heaven. The idea of ghosts and spirits being active on Halloween came from this traditional meaning of the holiday, so when you see images of ghost decorations on Halloween, you’re seeing a reference to a centuries-old belief.

Another early Hallow’s Eve tradition called souling explains why people go door to door for treats. Medieval Europeans baked soul cakes to honor the recently departed and commemorate them as their souls made their way to heaven. They prepared enough to share with neighbors and friends, and villagers would travel from home to home exchanging these small round cakes called souls. Souling was a little somber because it called to mind the souls of the departed, but it was also a happy occasion to share memories and a tasty treat with others. Soul cakes traditionally contained many ingredients that are familiar to anyone baking Halloween treats today: cinnamon, nutmeg and other warm spices graced these cakes just as they do your favorite pumpkin cookies or fudge.

Why is Halloween a costume holiday? Researchers aren’t sure. Some ascribe costumes to the Celts, and others suggest the tradition came from the fancy clothes people would wear when going souling. In early lore, costumes were seen as a disguise, a way to conceal yourself from spirits that might otherwise intend some kind of mischief. It’s possible that the ancient Celtic people dressed for the occasion on Samhain to confound stray spirits, but costumes could also have been something fun for souling villagers to wear, especially if they intended a little light mischief of their own.

The tradition of jack-o’-lanterns comes from Scotland, but it didn’t start with pumpkins. The pumpkin is a New World crop; no one in the Middle Ages in Scotland would have known what to make of the large orange gourd. They used hefty turnips instead and carved them into strange or spooky faces, hollowing them out to use as lanterns as they went from house to house on souling night. When Halloween traveled with Scottish settlers who came to America, they embraced the use of them to make pumpkin lanterns since they easier to carve and already conveniently hollowed out for a candle.

Halloween wasn’t associated with witches or fiends originally, but the Puritans frowned on it because they considered the history behind it too Catholic for their tastes. The Catholic church considered All Hallow’s Eve the time when souls left purgatory to find heaven, but the Puritans didn’t believe in the concept of purgatory and reasoned that any spirits lingering must therefore be wicked ones. While they might not have enjoyed Halloween as a festival day, they did give later generations of trick-or-treaters great ideas for witch and goblin costumes. This history guides our Halloween inspiration today.

Halloween history is almost as much of a treat as candy corn and caramel apples. This year, take a few minutes to reflect on the history of one of our most beloved holidays.

Image Credit: http://auburnmassdaily.com

Decorate Your Home for Halloween with These 10 Tips

Halloween-DecorationsHalloween costumes are for more than you and your kids; your home also gets a scary new look when you decorate for the holiday. This year, make Halloween extra special with these spectacularly spooky decorating tips that are ideal for impressing party guests, trick-or-treaters and anyone who visits.

1. Create a focal point for every Halloween scene

Decorating experts recommend making a favorite piece of furniture or art the focal piece for a room, and the same design concept holds true for temporary decorations at Halloween. If you have a favorite decoration or hand-created centerpiece, use it as the inspiration for the decor around it.

2. Give guests a dramatic entrance

Your front porch, door and foyer set the tone for the rest of your house’s Halloween finery, so make an impact where it counts with decorations up front.

3. Lighting sets a mood

Things that go bump in the night seem spookier in eerie, subdued lighting. At the same time, keeping lighting levels too low affects safety for trick-or-treaters and party guests, so look for ways to light it up while sticking to your Halloween theme. Lighted decorations, such as this ghostly ground-breaker, are perfect for lighting your Halloween event.

4. Make your own decorations

Nothing puts a fun new spin on Halloween decorating like coming up with your own wreaths, tabletop displays and centerpieces. Old clothes, some straw and newspapers can become your very own scarecrow. Cut your own bat shapes out of construction paper. Whatever you decide to craft, start early, so your decorations will be ready for Halloween.

5. Incorporate nature in your decorating scheme for Halloween

Naturally warty or oddly shaped pumpkins and gourds have character, especially when you group them together. Find bare branches from your backyard to serve as a spooky take on floral arrangements.

6. Add surprises throughout your home

Party-goers don’t stay in one room, so add a few Halloween touches to the kitchen, restroom, and back porch or patio. Anywhere that guests might see should get a few fearsome touches.

7. Use age-appropriate decorations

For households with small children, some Halloween decor is a little too gruesome for comfort. While the kids are little, stick to friendly ghosts and smiling jack-o’-lanterns like these cheery porch Halloween light covers.

8. Appeal to all the senses

Your decorations may offer spooky sights, but don’t forget to add an equally eerie soundtrack to your Halloween display. Halloween scents such as pumpkin and candy corn evoke memories of the holiday for guests. If you’re really ambitious, add a fog generator for atmosphere.

9. More can be better

If one pumpkin on your porch looks good, then a row of them will look great. When you multiply decorating elements, you increase their impact. Some items work best as stand-alone displays, especially if they’re large and dramatic, but for smaller items, grouping creates an interesting tableau.

10. Go with your tastes

Picking decorations that suit your style will give your Halloween decorations a unified feel. This Medusa Halloween decoration would look right at home on an elegant mantel. If you’re fond of country style, decorate with scarecrows and straw bales.

However you choose to decorate this year, shop Lakeside’s selection of Halloween goodies for your home and make it your best spooky season ever!

Image Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items for the Week

It’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays, and one of our favorite ones, Halloween, is coming up soon! Get everything you need to make your home and yard look gorgeously gruesome for Halloween today, and you’ll have plenty of time in October for planning parties, creating costumes, and adding cute or creepy finishing touches to your decor. If Halloween’s ghosts and ghouls aren’t your style, you’ll also find beautiful seasonal decorations to celebrate autumn. No matter how you decorate for October, you’ll find what you need.

Every Halloween display needs a focal point, and we love this skeleton decoration for its weird and whimsical charm. Just because he’s passed on doesn’t mean he forgot how to take life easy, so he’s found a comfortable spot to relax for a spell. This sleepy skeleton’s chest rises and falls as he snores in his hammock, perhaps resting up for a big Halloween night. His hammock is 8 feet long, so it’s a large enough piece to be the center of your yard’s display. Add a spotlight or two to show him off, and you’ll have one of the most unusual decorations on your block.Interactive-skeleton-hammock

Halloween is about more than spooky skeletons, though. With this cheerful Halloween bunting, you’ll get in the spirit of the season while still keeping your decor friendly enough for the littlest kids. Made of durable polyester fabric, the bunting is perfect for a porch rail, a deck or a fence. At almost 60 inches across, this adorable hanging makes an emphatic statement. Choose from jack-o’-lanterns in festive fall hues of orange and black with green accents or a trio of cheerful, bow-tied ghosts. If you have plenty of space to cover, choose both – they look great together or separately.

Halloween-Buntings

If your kids’ trick-or-treating days are behind them, or if you prefer a more sophisticated take on Halloween, try these oddly elegant lighted Halloween urns to flank your door or adorn your porch. Welcome guests to your Halloween party in style with these black, molded plastic urns filled with bare branches and twinkling lights. Choose from traditional Halloween black with miniature orange lights or an elegantly eerie purple with blue lights. If you prefer, you can mix and match them to create a dramatic setting for your next Halloween party. Each pair of urns is over 22 inches tall, so you can also use them as a towering tabletop arrangement or near your fireplace.

Lighted-Halloween-Urns

Halloween is also harvest time, which is why we’re showing off these sweet garden decorations for your yard. These painted metal pumpkins stake into the ground and give your front or back yard a festive touch that works for Halloween, Thanksgiving and beyond. Pair them with hay bales to impart a country harvest look to your yard.

Garden-decor-fall

Whether your Halloween style is cute, creepy or comforting, we have your look! Get started today, and you’ll have the best-looking display in your neighborhood. We’re always getting new stock in, so check back often to see what else we have in store for the holidays.