Dressed in our homemade Halloween costumes of black bags and plastic masks, we eagerly stand in the arched porchway in front of a painted white and glass door. A tussle breaks out, who is going to knock. I win and triumphantly knock on the door as hard as my 8-year-old hand allows, in my free hand I clutch a plastic bag full of nuts, sweets and fruit. A white-haired lady opens the door and is greeted by an excited chorus of “penny for the pookie”. Then follows her pretence of not knowing it is her grandkids at the door. Finally, after performing our song we receive our treats and enter the house. It was time for the Halloween games to begin.
I can still remember vividly the excitement that these simple yearly traditions brought me, my siblings and cousins. Halloween in Ireland back in the 1980s was a much simpler affair; it was a different time.

Due to COVID 19, 2020 has turned out also to be quite different. Our team at Event Waiter have a great sense of fun and over the years have happily gotten into the spirit of the night, at the different events we have been a part of. This year we will continue to embrace Halloween while we work, spooky face coverings could be part of our October uniform……

No face coverings required but plenty of face paint. Members of our team at a Halloween event pre COVID19

Anyone for a pumpkin wedding cake?

What will Halloween look like this year? It will not be possible for large groups to gather and enjoy extravagant fancy dress parties this year, nor it is likely that children dressed in impressive Halloween costumes with perfectly painted faces, will go trick or treating to strangers’ houses. However, life will go on, and events will happen, all while we adhere to government guidelines. They will just look and feel a little different, but, different is not necessarily a bad thing. 2020 could be the year when old traditions are enjoyed, or new games discovered while we all stay safe and learn to adapt through this global pandemic.

We are lucky to have a diverse team of great people working with us in Event Waiter, and while not every nationality celebrates Halloween, it was interesting to find out what Halloween means to those that do.

Like my recollection above, Halloween games played at home with family featured strongly. Many stories of eating barmbrack while hoping to find the ring and weeks of gathering items to be burned on the bonfire were mentioned. As were awesome firework displays, carving jack o lanterns and sharing eerie ghost stories. We were also intrigued and fascinated to learn more about the Mexican “Día de Los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead).

Arizbeth explained what happens in Mexico and shared some photos of her family’s offering displays over the last few years. – “In Mexico, we have “Día de Los Muertos” (the day of the dead) and it’s something very big, we believe that for that day our loved ones that have passed away are allowed to come to visit us, so we set a table with their favourite stuff in life, like food, cigarettes, spirits, etc. Because they can take the smell of it with them and enjoy it one more time. We also must put things like candles, flowers and salt etc which are supposed to help them through their journey.”

In times of uncertainty, it can be easy to feel a little hopeless and at a loss when we feel like we are missing out on things. Being positive does not come easily all the time, we must practise it, especially at times like this!

Below are some activities that might inject some fun into your Halloween, as they have for the team at Event Waiter over the years

Barmbrack – An Irish fruit cake which is associated with Halloween in Ireland. An item (often a ring or a coin) is placed inside, with the person who receives it is considered fortunate. https://donalskehan.com/recipes/halloween-barmbrack/

Bobbing for apples – This game is played by filling a large basin with water and adding apples to the water. People take turns trying to bite the apples out of the water without using their hands.

Jack O Lantern – Shortly we will see pumpkins with ghoulish faces illuminated by candles appearing in people’s doorways and homes. This practice originated here in Ireland where large turnips or other root vegetables were carved out to make lanterns, for little kids try painting the pumpkins rather than carving them out. The name jack o lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/the-story-of-jack-o-lantern-if-you-knew-the-sufferings-of-that-forsaken-craythur-1.4065773

The flour game – Flour is piled up and a cherry or grape or chocolate put on the top. Each player takes a turn to cut a slice of the flour away without knocking the item off the top. Whoever knocks the item off the top gets their face pushed into the flour.

Peanut races – Each player must push the peanut with their nose, first person to get the peanut past a certain point win.

Mystery game – Players are blindfolded and are given items to feel to try and guess what they are. Or items can be placed in a shoebox that has holes for little hands to stick through so they can feel and try to guess the contents.

Peeled grapes could be eyeballs, cold spaghetti could be intestines or add oil and it could be worms, rubber glove filled with flour could be a dead hand, dried apricots could be a witches ear, sunflower seeds make great fingernails, peeled canned tomato is the perfect heart, popcorn kernels can be mistaken for teeth.

Halloween family films –

The Addams Family, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Goosebumps, Room on the Broom, Paranorman, Hotel Transylvania, Frankenweenie, Coraline, Monster House, Corpse Bride, Casper, Hocus Pocus, to name but a few.

Catherine’s talents are endless. Above are the impressive jack o lanterns that she and her family carved last year for Halloween.