Whether you’re a ghost or goblin, witch or wizard, Halloween is a holiday where everyone gets to put their spookiest face forward. And the best way to do Halloween is to commit 100 percent to every aspect of the holiday, from costumes to candy. There are a lot of ways to get the most out of your Halloween. Though this year, we, the staff of The Brandeis Hoot, will be spending the holiday—in costume—working to provide you, dear reader, with a newspaper to enjoy on Nov. 1. So if you want to get the most out of your Halloween party or make a costume on the cheap, feel free to try some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned through over a decade of dropping everything to create the perfect Halloween experience.
Halloween decorations & costume
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because it’s an excuse to learn how to unhinge my jaw to scarf down as much chocolate as possible. The holiday is also a great opportunity to get together with friends and let your creative side loose on costuming and decorating. Sure, life might be stressful right now, but putting fake cobwebs all over your living room with your friends as you listen to the Monster Mash on repeat is an easy way to relax and get into the spooky spirit.
Costumes are a key part of any Halloween party, and frankly, one of the most fun parts of the holiday. But costumes can also be expensive, and as a college student trying to save every dime, I rarely allow myself to spend on clothes I will actually use. Buying a witch’s hat and long black wig might feel right when I’m knee-deep in an online shopping spree, but the cold realization of what I’ve done comes as quickly as my monthly bank statements.
This year, I recommend saving on costumes by adjusting your normal clothes to fit your spooky persona. Pinterest and Instagram offer a lot of easy tutorials and costume ideas, but I personally like to use homemade fake blood and makeup to tie together a costume. Using a hot glue gun, some wax paper and red paint or a red marker, you can design some realistic blood droplets that you can tape or use a cool glue to attach to your skin. (Please do not use hot glue on your body.)
Makeup also offers endless opportunities to tie together a costume. Going as a witch? Put on some black lipstick. Want to be Wonder Woman instead? Draw her iconic crown on your forehead. If you have red eyeshadow or a red lipstick, you can also make realistic scars and cuts with only a little practice.
Even if you’re not hosting a Halloween party, decorating your room or common space can be a fun activity to share with a few friends. For example, you can challenge your friends to make the best cut out ghost using just some paper and a few markers. Decorating is more fun with friends and a great way to get them in the spooky spirit as well.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of the holiday and are hoping I’ll finally stop giving you Halloween related advice you’ll never use, most people enjoy the discount Halloween candy that hits the shelves on Nov. 1. So if you’d rather not celebrate, well then just enjoy the extra chocolate!
Best Halloween Candy
Candy is one of the best parts of Halloween: Nobody doubts that. But just like everything else, everyone has their own set of preferences. This year, Country Living compiled a list of top store bought candy for this Halloween, and although there is some variety, the winning flavor is—unfortunately—chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, chocolate is good, but gummy, fruity candy is better in every way.
Milky Way took the lead being the most bought candy: This alone makes me question people’s tastes in candy. The superior chocolate bar is easily Twix; Milky Way seems like a cheap knock off in comparison. Humanity isn’t completely hopeless though.
Skittles was a close second on the list, proving that many Americans do have taste. My favorite part of every Halloween season is when the individually wrapped Skittles go on sale—one of the best candies ever, on the go!
Now this one surprised me: Candy corn was third. Who likes candy corn? It tastes like wax that has too much sugar in it. Have you ever heard anyone say “yay I got candy corn?” No, you haven’t because there are maybe five people who actually like it. I understand it is the most “fall-themed” of all the candy, but come on, just because it screams fall doesn’t mean people like it. Do you really want to be known as the house that gives out the worst candy?
While we had two chocolate free options, they’re immediately followed by two more chocolates: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers. Both of these chocolates are solid, I guess, but they also have peanuts which concerns me. I know everything is individually wrapped so allergy issues should be prevented, but the thought of so many children throwing out or giving away Halloween candy makes me sad.
Starburst followed closely placing sixth, balancing out the chocolate to not ratio. However, right after that was once again chocolate: Kit Kats.
Twizzlers are the eighth most bought candy this year, followed, once again, by the chocolate Twix. The fact that Twix ranks so low on this list scares me. That many people genuinely think that Milky Ways, Reese’s, Snickers and KitKats are better than Twix? Closing out the top ten is the nastiest chocolate of all, Butterfingers.
As a general request, I would like to call on all households to stop buying only chocolate candy. When everyone does it, it gets old really fast. Get some fruity candy. Or get a variety. Be more inclusive. And have a sweet Halloween!
The True “Scare” of Halloween
When kids go trick-or-treating all around America and start munching on their hard-earned candies, there is always one unnerving thought lurking in the back of their parents’ mind: What if some psychopath hid drugs or needles in my kids’ candy? Now, I’m sure there are a lot of people who will generally chalk up these kinds of thoughts to overprotective paranoia, but what are the facts? Is there any need for parents around the world to go rummaging through their kids’ candy?
Contrary to the myth that there are malicious maniacs lacing Halloween candy with heroin, there actually has not been a single documented case of poisoned candy being intentionally handed out to children. This begs the question: Where exactly did this candy paranoia come from? Well, for one, the stereotypical kidnapper is a man in a white van handing out candy to unsuspecting kids. Moreover, for the rest of the year, kids are usually told to stay away from strangers and to never take candy from them. On Halloween, however, it’s tradition for kids to go up to homes and ask for candy. In this context, it almost seems like this would naturally make any parent nervous.
With that being said, there has been a case where drugs were unknowingly handed out to kids. In 2000, a man found a bag of Snickers at work and began handing them out to kids at his home. When these kids ran back home to show their parents the treats that they found, the parents found that it was not Snickers at all! Instead, there was marijuana inside of the wrappers. The detectives and police found that the bag of Snickers in the mail were actually just someone’s attempt at smuggling marijuana and was never actually meant to be handed out to children.
Okay, so Halloween candy is not being laced with poison, but what about other dangerous objects, such as needles or razors? Unfortunately, unlike poison, there are multiple documented cases of sharp objects being placed inside of your standard candy bar. With that being said, it is still extremely rare; there have only been 80 cases of sharp objects in candy since 1959. Most of these 80 cases are relatives and friends who thought that it would be a funny idea to place a sharp object in candy as a prank.
Fortunately, actual accounts of poison and needles being hidden in candy are exceedingly rare, so it should not be a major concern for anyone. However it is something people should be aware of (maybe I am crazy, but I prefer my candy without sharp objects in it).
Why Baba Yaga is the best villain in Russian folklore
In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to take this chance to discuss one of my favorite Russian folk tales. Baba Yaga is one of the most famous villains in Slavic folklore, and she’s terrifying.
Baba Yaga is a dangerous old woman—in some stories, she is described as a trio of elderly sisters—who lives in the deepest woods. She is characterized as being extremely ugly, thin and bony, with a huge nose (as many witches have) and iron teeth. She is also a supernatural being who lives in a small hut that runs on chicken legs surrounded by a fence made of human bones, and she flies on a mortar and pestle. Thanks to some research, I discovered that when ancient Slavic people buried their dead, they would place them in small houses on high stumps that kind of resemble chicken legs—perhaps that is the basis of this tale. However, I’m sure those houses wouldn’t start running in the way that Baba Yaga’s hut can. In a creepy way, this connects Baba Yaga to the realm of the dead. Oh, and she also kidnaps naughty children, throws them into her stove and eats them à la the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel. Pretty scary.
However, what sets her apart from other folk tale villains, and perhaps what makes her the most interesting, is that she is not just an evil witch that eats children. If you approach her correctly, she might even help you. In some Russian fairy tales, young men meet Baba Yaga in the woods when looking for their kidnapped brides and can avoid death if they pass all of her tricky tests. She’ll even help the men find their missing lovers. In some stories, she is an evil witch, in others she is almost a maternal, mother-nature-like character, making it still unclear if she is truly evil, or a strange combination of “good” and “bad.” And although she has a mean streak, if she ever makes a promise to the hero of a tale, she keeps it.
Stories about Baba Yaga have been written since at least 1755, and most likely told orally for many years prior. In mainstream culture, she has been referenced in “John Wick,” “Hellboy,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and multiple video games. Anyone who grew up with parents from eastern Europe probably knows her story, as parents love to frighten their disobedient children with the tales of Baba Yaga and her sneaky behavior. All I’m saying is, you won’t find me in the deep woods by myself anytime soon.
Things I never understood about Halloween
Regardless of how fun Halloween is, there are a few things about it that never made sense to me. Isn’t one of the first things you learn from your parents or at school that you should never take candy from a stranger? This is an entire holiday that is watered down to going around and taking candy from strangers. Odd, right? One day a year, taking candy from strangers is perfectly okay. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up celebrating it, but I feel uncomfortable with the idea of getting candy from random people. Also, why candy? Where did candy come from?
Let’s talk about carving pumpkins. Maybe it’s because I’ve never carved a pumpkin before, but it feels like you carve the pumpkin, it rots in a few days, and you have to throw it away. First of all, what a waste of a perfectly good pumpkin (I’d rather make pumpkin soup with it). Secondly, why?
This doesn’t exactly not make sense to me, but the timing of Halloween is odd. It is at the end of October, so it is already cold in most places. This means that a lot of costumes cannot be worn or have to be warm because of this. Is there a particular reason why it happens on that day? I couldn’t seem to find an answer to that.
Here is another odd tradition: bobbing for apples. You get wet (at the end of October nonetheless) to try and get an apple that you could have easily just picked up. I understand that picking up an apple isn’t half the fun, but hey, at least you’ll remain dry.
Is Halloween just an excuse to have a costume party? I feel like when you fall in the age group where you’re too old to go trick-or-treating but don’t have kids yet, Halloween pretty much the time of year where your standard party becomes a costume party, but that is pretty much it. Maybe another “spooky” event or two as well. Or maybe just a good time of year to watch a scary movie? Don’t even get me started on pet costumes. They are cute and all but once again: why?
Two words: candy corn. I think of all the things I discussed here, candy corn is the one I have the toughest time understanding. It is basically sugar with a slight flavor—that I cannot describe and do not want to find out—and seems to be made of nothing but corn syrup and sugar. Sorry, candy corn lovers, I really don’t get you.