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A Celtic harvest festival becomes Halloween

Lorraine Graves   Oct-25-2017

Photo courtesy City of Richmond

Richmond offers a host of Halloween options for wee children up to seniors and everyone in between.

The City of Richmond says, “There are a wide variety of low cost or free events to choose from, including a double movie feature of Hotel Transylvania 2 and the original Ghostbusters at City Centre Community Centre, costume-encouraged skates at Minoru Arenas and the Richmond Olympic Oval, Haunted House Storytime at Brighouse Branch Library and trick-or-treating on the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site Boardwalk.”



It’s a holiday with deep roots.

Because it was originally a Celtic cultural, not a religious holiday, many non-Christians celebrate Halloween along with everyone else, including creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Zarqa Nawaz, who said that once her kids were born in Regina, she decided Halloween was mostly about candy and off the whole family went trick-or-treating.

Halloween, started as a British holiday, was based on the Celtic pre-Christian Samhain (pronounced “SOW-in”), an end-of-harvest festival that began at sundown Oct. 31 and ended at sundown Nov. 1.

Christians co-opted the holiday that fell right around All Saints’ Day (All Halloweds’ Day) on Nov. 1, naming it All Halloweds’ Eve which later was blurred into Hallowe’en. Today, even the apostrophe is gone and Halloween it is. One of the good things about Halloween is that no one ever complains about keeping in the true spirit of the holiday. It’s just for fun.

At one time, children went door-to-door in costume threatening to play a trick on neighbours who didn’t give them a treat. One prairie favourite, before the days of indoor plumbing, was for marauding gangs of teenaged trick-or-treaters to tip over outhouses of homes that didn’t cough up candy or apples, another traditional Halloween treat in those days.

On the west coast of Canada, Halloween has also been about fireworks. While in the past, families and individuals had their own firework displays, the hospital saw too many mangled body parts, the fire department saw too many fires and homeowners saw too much property damage. For that reason, private fireworks are now illegal in our community.

The city says, “Under Richmond’s Fire Protection and Life Safety Bylaw 8306, offences and fines include purchasing fireworks ($1,000 fine), displaying fireworks for sale ($1,000 fine), selling or distributing fireworks ($1,000 fine) or possession of fireworks without a permit ($200 fine). A zero tolerance approach will be taken.”

Fortunately, our community bands together to offer four fireworks displays as a way to end the trick-or-treating night with your family. They are open to all without charge.

They are:

-Halloween Fireworks Festival, Minoru Park, 6:30-8:45 p.m. Music, dance demonstrations, entertainers, children’s activities, inflatable corn maze, trick-or-treating, fire juggling and a spectacular fireworks finale at 8:30 p.m.

-Hugh Boyd Park (West Richmond), 8:15 p.m.

-McLean Park (Hamilton), 8:15 p.m.

-South Arm Park, 8:15 p.m.

Also in our community, there are displays, parties, parades and a host of other activities that children of all ages can enjoy. Many are free or low cost. This year, The City of Richmond is offering one stop shopping for Halloween fun at with links to sign up to activities requiring registration. You can also check the centrefold of the current issue of The Richmond Sentinel for an extensive listing of local activities.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie says, “This year’s Halloween events offered by the City and its partners are once again family-friendly while continuing to build a great sense of community,”

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