Halloween 2013 – The Spirit of Samhain

Halloween is something we look forward to every year. When we first came to Australia 5 years ago, we decided to hold a big Halloween party and invite all our neighbours and friends (http://thecrystalbawl.com/2010/11/08/halloween-party-awards/) as our neighbourhood is in the rural countryside and the kids didn’t relish walking 5 km to see the neighbours and coming back with more horse poo cakes than lollies.

As our family is half Irish, it’s also fun to celebrate Halloween, which very few people down under seem to know is actually a festival which has its roots in Celtic traditions, having originated 2,000 years ago as the festival of Samhain on October 31st.

On Samhain, a portal was believed to open up between the worlds of the living and the dead, ghosts returning to haunt people and the Druids making use of the supernatural energy to predict the future. Celtic people used to light huge bonfires, make sacrifices and wear costumes. Over many years, after Christianity spread to the Celts, the Christians attempted to take rebrand the Pagan holiday of Samhain by renaming November 1st All Saints Day or All-hallowmas, to honour saints and martyrs.  Thus making October 31st All-Hallowes Eve, and now as we know it, Halloween.

This year we decided to set up an elaborate treasure hunt involving staging 13 spooky locations around our property. A list of clues were given to the teams and they had to search for a specific item at each location. Sean, his best friend Spenser, Finn and myself had great fun thinking of the clues and locations.

Sean’s favourite was “Dead Tree Creek” where you had to dig up a lost baby as the clue… super creepy!  Dylan wasn’t the least disturbed by the ghastly babies and claimed them as hers after the party was over. Finn’s favourite location was “Hangman’s Corner” where we hung a sound-operated skeleton head which said “I SEE YOU… HE HE HE”. Which he repeated ad nauseam until we all strangled him cheerfully.

The day finally arrived, which was great because our gardeners were started to get really weirded out by our property, what with Mark and Sean digging “graves” all over the compost and erecting signs that said “ZOMBIE PARKING” and “KEEP CALM AND SCARY ON!”.

Here are some of the cute party goers. I think we had over 35 kids and 25 adults, so Zombie Parking was at full house. Best Kids Costume goes to one of Dylan’s friends who came as Bride of Frankenstein in a little wedding outfit complete with veil and bouquet!

Finn insisted on going as Mario which necessitated me sewing him a costume out of felt and modifying my red beret. Dylan wanted to go as Princess Peach, bless her predictable soul, which is pretty much her everyday uniform.

To start the treasure hunt, we first got everyone seated on the floor in the living room and played a body parts guessing game. The Irishman read a poem we had adapted from a boys scout game we called “Poor Paddy”.

It went something like this:

(SPOOKY BACH PLAYED ON PIANO BY YOURS TRULY)

“Poor Paddy. He should have stayed home on that Halloween night.

But out he went in the dark, dark night. A goblin was watching Paddy walk ‘cross the land.

He swooped down beside him, and snatched off his hand!

Poor Paddy.

(Irishman passes cold stuffed glove next to him to the kids. It continues being passed around until it returns to Narrator who sets it down and then continues with story.)

All the kids were blindfolded and thrilled to have the chance to feel all of Poor Paddy’s body parts – peeled grapes for eyeballs, an apricot for his ear, etc. and then the ones who guessed the items correctly at the end of the game got candy thrown to them. Well, maybe not all of the kids were thrilled, as poor Dylan is still having grumpy dreams about “That scary poem Dada read about Mrs Paddy that I Do NOT like”.

And then we sorted everyone into 3 teams and gave them a treasure map of the property and the list of 13 clues. They had to find dogs bones in the Horrible Hedge, climb the Terrible Tulip Tree to find eyeballs, snip a lock off the victim in the electric chair (Dylan’s lawn chair covered in aluminium foil), locate frogs in the Vicious Veggies garden, dig up sets of teeth in the Grisly Grave, hunt for roaches in the Rotting Compost and much much more.

And to make things even more interesting, Sean played the part of the Grim Reaper and if you were tapped by the Grim Reaper you had to freeze for 10 seconds. And Spenser was Candy Throwing Frankenstein, who pelted kids with candy if they were singing. The kids absolutely went mad for Spenser, and the most hilarious part of the evening was when Spenser burst into the house dramatically yelling “I’M OUT OF CANDY, SAVE ME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”, followed by a string of 11 tiny kids screeching songs off-key at the top of their lungs. “I can’t even kick them! They’re too small!” lamented poor Spenser, looking more terrified than the ghoul in the Electric Chair.

The Irishman saw the kids scaling the fence to the veggie patch and turned quite pale, declaring it a scene straight out of World War Z.

*

When the teams finally finished, there was a bonus round where they were led to the Haunted Orchard and each team was given one tree which had been wrapped up in 30 metres of rope, to untangle.

When the trees were untangled, all the kids were led to the magic wooden wheelbarrow which was heaped with exotic candies for them to loot. Now that the hunt was over, I could finally relax and enjoy some ghoulish adult company.

Best Costume Award goes to the group effort of Ally, Tony, Imogen and Kate, who came as… “French Kiss”. Very punny indeed.

Laziest Costume award was my ninja costume as it was basically my workout unitard with leather obi. Hey, I was planning the party right!

Best Disappearing Act goes to Kaz and Anne (Kaz is pictured below with Jacqui as Anne had already vanished!), both of them vaporised halfway through the party to play some devilish tennis…

Prettiest Little Devils award goes to Poppy and Harper who were a vision, playing in the woods at sunset.

And Hardest Working Guest goes to Candy Throwing Frankenstein also known as Spenser Paul, who is still in therapy, haunted by recurring nightmares of being torn to pieces by tiny singing candy demanding ghouls.

Thanks for coming guys and making it Samhain to remember!

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