Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays and is celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe. While it’s not one of the most popular occasions in Africa, we’ve all seen or heard about it thanks to television shows.
The History of Halloween
When one thinks of Halloween you usually get images of trick-or-treating, parades, bobbing for apples, and other family-friendly activities.
But we bet you didn’t know the traditional history of Halloween, which goes back some 2,000 years.
The origin of Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is linked to the Celtic Samhain, a harvest festival celebrated on November 1. On the night before Samhain (October 31), people believed that the dead returned as ghosts. They’d leave food and drink on their doorsteps to keep roaming spirits at bay.
Samhain evolved into the Catholic holiday, All Saints’ Day and the night before All Hallow’s Eve. This religious event marked (and still does) the day that Christians pray for the saints in heaven.
Traditions of Halloween
You’ve heard of trick-or-treating, but what about Souling or Guising?
Souling: On All Soul’s Day (November 2) in Medieval England, the needy would beg for pastries and in exchange they would pray for people’s deceased relatives.
Guising: Also in Medieval England, young children would dress up in costume and accept food, wine or coins in exchange for singing, reciting poetry or telling jokes.
The Irish and Scottish who immigrated to America took these traditions with them… and the result was trick-or-treating.
At first it was more about the tricks – like pranks and ghoulish behaviour – but in the 1950’s the kid-friendly, family-centric treats took over. Nowadays it’s all about costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games. This is not to say the horror-ific side isn’t there, but it’s respectfully reserved for the teens and adults.
Modern-Day Halloween Fun
If you love to dress up, decorate, and eat sweets then this is a holiday for you. Roughly seven in 10 Americans will celebrate Halloween in 2017.
Its mostly for the children, who will get into costumes and have parties at school then spend the evening trick-or-treating in their neighbourhoods. Young adults (18-24) will also get into the fun of it by getting dressed up (in costume) and attending or hosting a party.
My personal experience is that in the UK costumes are expected to be very goulish. Ghosts and goblins, witches, mummies and skeletons… that sort of thing. Whereas when I was growing up in Canada – and for friends in the United States – the costumes also included kid-friendly and innocent options.
Witches and animals are always popular Halloween costumes, but more and more people are looking to dress up as celebrities and television characters. Amazon and Easy both have dedicated sections on their Halloween pages to cater to people who want to dress up like their favourite movie characters.
The biggest costume trend for children in 2017? Unicorns.
Halloween in Botswana
The first year that I lived here, expats in my community started saying whether or not they’d be home to welcome trick-or-treaters. But apart from that, there wasn’t too much happening. This year though it seems there are some very fun things taking place! Here’s a round-up of the Halloween activities we’ve heard of.
Friday 27 October: US Embassy’s Family-friendly Trunk-or-Treat at the Rec Center
Families will decorate their cars in Halloween themes, and children trick-or-treat to each vehicle. Followed by pizza and a movie. It’ll start in the late afternoon and continue into the evening. This event is exclusively for U.S. Embassy Employees and GEA Members, but they’re always excited to get new members joining so get in touch with them by emailing [email protected] if you’re interested!
Saturday 28 October: GEA’s Annual Adult Halloween party
Get ready for a ghoulishly good time at the GEA’s Adult Halloween party! This year it’ll be held at No.1 Ladies Coffee Shop and RSVPs must be in by Friday 20 October. GEA Members are free and guests P200. Again join the GEA to save the admission cost by emailing [email protected].
Saturday 28 October: Howl-O-Ween at the BSPCA’s Bark & Bite Cafe
Tickets for this morning event are P100 and can be bought at the BSPCA office, Bark and Bite coming Sat. There will be some nice surprises included in the ticket. Bark and Bite will be open for adults to relax while the kids have fun. Join the event page on Facebook for more details.
Saturday 28 October: Kids Glow Halloween Party at Bala
There are only a few spots left, so you’ll need to call/whatsapp/email quickly if you hope to attend this one. Bala After School is hosting a costume party with tricky games, spooktacular crafts and a haunted scavenger hunt from 4-9pm on Saturday. It looks like a fun afternoon/evening in Broadhurst!
Tuesday 31 October: Halloween at SensoBaby
SensoBaby will be offering up some scary sensory fun for your babies and toddlers under 5 years. Time: 2pm-4pm at REWA Education Centre in Maru-a-Pula. More details will be available here and on SensoBaby’s Facebook page when they’re all set.
Tuesday 31 October: NCC’s Outdoor Cinema – BOO 2 Madea Halloween!
Join New Capital Cinemas and Phakalane Golf Estate and Hotel for a evening of thrills and scares under the stars. Tickets are P50 per person and food and beverage will be available for purchase on the night. There will also be face painters and a prize for best dressed, so get your costume in order! For more information check out the event page.