A Practical Guide to Halloween in Canada

*by peasap

Although Halloween has become more popular in Europe, for me it remains a very North American rite. This has been only my second Halloween season on the new continent, but I feel like I am ready to write a practical guide to Halloween, covering some essential knowledge for the newcomer.

Let’s start with the most important thing about Halloween: the costume. Now, responsible grad students might ask: “Do I really need to spent time thinking about a suitable costume and dress up?” And my answer is: Yes! Just switch off your brains and follow the mainstream! Also, it is a great opportunity to take the role of one of your childhood heroes or anyone else you would like to imitate for one evening.

The first thing I have discovered about Halloween is that costumes do not necessarily have to be scary. In fact probably about 80% of costumes don’t have anything to do with scary creatures of the zombie type popularly associated with Halloween. I’ve also learned that creativity rules on Halloween. Don’t just go into a store and buy the next-best-costume. Instead, make up something halfway new and possibly build your own costume. Apart from the fact that it is usually cheaper to make a costume instead of buying one, it’s just more fun and you can use your presumably immense creativity on something other than research!

In case you decide to make you own costume, here are what I consider to be the important guidelines, based on experiences with my own costumes in the past.


  • Make sure you are able to sit while wearing your costume.
  • Make sure you are able to walk (stairs) while wearing your costume.
  • Make sure you and your costume fit into public transportation. Actually I have never tried to bike with a Halloween costume and I would discourage anyone from doing so. Driving a car in your Halloween costume might not be a good idea either.
  • Make sure you (and your costume) are able to walk through a normal sized door.
  • Make sure you have a repair kit in case parts of your costume or even your whole costume fails. Duct tape is your friend!
  • Be aware of the temperature and weather! It is a big advantage if your costume is built in such a way that you can take on and off parts of it, so you won’t freeze to death on your way home. Ideally your costume would be halfway rain resistant.
  • Make sure you are able to use the toilet while wearing your costume.
  • Make sure you are able to communicate at a normal voice level while wearing you costume.
  • It is not necessary, but definitely advantageous if you are able to eat and drink while wearing your costume.
  • Make sure you can get into your costume and undress without help.
  • Don’t use permanent marker or text marker for makeup purposes. It’s a major quest to get it off!

Notice that this list is not necessarily complete, and it is probably one of the purposes of Halloween that everyone can write a list based on his or her own experiences. Happy Halloween and happy costume building to everyone!

*Image by peasap shared on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

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