Tuesday

Homemade Paper Mache Halloween Masks

By: Susanne Myers

Do you need a fun mask for your child to go with a great costume? Or maybe you want to start with a mask and build the rest of the costume around it. You and your child can have a lot of fun making a paper mache mask from scratch.
You’ll need just a few things to make just about any mask you can imagine. Those items include balloons, newspaper, wallpaper glue and some acrylic paint. A pair of sharp scissors comes in handy to cut out eyes and mouth. Wear old clothing, or put an apron on both you and your child. Making the mask can get a bit messy.

Cover your work area in plenty of newspaper to protect it from glue and paint. Next, cut several newspapers into strips. Blow up a balloon so it is slightly larger than your child’s head. Now dip a newspaper strip completely in the glue and stick it on the balloon. Continue doing this back and forth until you have the entire balloon covered in several layers of newspaper. Work out any wrinkles as you go along. The more layers of newspaper you have, the sturdier the mask will be.
Finally add any features specific to the mask you are making. For example, if you are making a frog mask, sculpt two ball shapes at the top of the mask that you can later paint as eyes. If you are making a cat, dog, or monkey mask, form the snout and of course don’t forget about ears. The only limit is your imagination.

Allow the mask to dry completely, preferably over night. Once it is completely hardened, start cutting into the mask to pop the balloon. Cut a large enough opening so your child can get his or her head inside the mask, then cut eye and mouth openings. For younger children, you may prefer to cut the back of the mask out completely, and, instead, wrap a piece of ribbon or yarn around the back of the head to secure the mask to allow better air-passage.

Paint the mask in a solid color and allow it to dry completely. Then add details like eyes, nose and lips in different colors. Once that coat of paint is completely dry, it is ready to wear. For a longer lasting and shiny mask, cover the mask in several layers of hodge podge before using it.

Author Resource -> Would you like to quickly make creative Halloween costumes that you and your children will be proud of -- for a fraction of the price of store-bought? Susanne Myers has co-authored a book to show you how -- no sewing involved. Visit ILoveHalloweenCostumes.com to learn more.

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Saturday

Halloween and Religion

So what is the big deal between Halloween and religion? Will one night of candy fun corrupt the soul?

This is unlikely, but let us take a look at this ongoing topic of debate.

For many, many years, Halloween has been synonymous with witchcraft and evil. Satan’s one night of the year to claim souls for Hell has been the belief of the church and pious individuals. Those who practice dark arts would have us buy into that belief to keep the Christian world dazed and confused.

Let’s set the record straight. Knowledge is power, especially in this instance. Halloween began as a pagan festival of nature where people tried to appease the dead to prevent their intrusion into the world of the living.

But, we all know about superstitions. There was no distinction between the spirits so folks assumed precautions in case the spirits were bad. Unfortunately, it is the stories about bad spirits that have survived and given the celebration of Halloween a bad name.

In an effort to scare people, tales of the undead have been immortalized in books like Frankenstein and Dracula. Movies brought us Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and the Scream guy. People love to be scared, but so much of the fiction has been confused with fact that Christians have been led to believe that the practice of Halloween is evil for their children.

Basically, children know what we tell them. The truth is always best. There are people who practice earth religions like Wicca and those who profess to be Satanists. They derive their greatest influence and media coverage on this night. Even those groups have been made gorier than they actually are through film and books.

Our children will learn that the practice of dressing up and receiving candy is not evil from the knowledge that we obtain. Spirits are not roaming the streets looking to take over their bodies or mess with their minds. In fact, for little ones, it is essential that we not expose them to the scarier side because they could be traumatized by it and fear the fun side of Halloween.

Christians have nothing to fear from Halloween as long as the truth is told. While there are groups who practice magic (the jury is still out) and contact with the dead, they don’t have exclusive rights on Halloween. They practice their crafts all year round and not just this one night of the year.

Halloween History

It’s almost that time again. Things are about to go bump in the night.

Spook masters would have you believe that the dead actually walk the earth on that day, but Halloween is as much a matter of shadows and mirrors as the horror movies we watch. For anyone interested, here is a history of the modern day holiday known as Halloween.

First of all, it was called All Hallows Eve. We are not speaking of Sleepy Hollow. Hallow means holy, like in The Lord’s Prayer for all the Sunday schoolers out there.

Early pagan religions, specifically the Celts, would celebrate different phases of the earth. One such festival was Samhain. It is pronounced “saw-in” and it was a festival that commemorated the lives of the dead. There was nothing wrong with this, except that they didn’t discriminate between the “good” dead and the “bad” dead. People remembered all of the dead. The date that this festival fell on was October 31st.

Isn’t sounding too scary so far is it? Well, you must remember that early pagan religions were prone to superstition as in the Middle Ages. They were afraid of spirits and the thought of them returning to the human world frightened them.

As history goes, during this time, priests of the religion would contact these spirits to divine the future of the harvest as this was also harvest season. People’s livelihood depended on those crops and they were afraid that the spirits would curse them and destroy the crops.

The church decided to combat such superstition by adding a bit of Christianity to the occasion. They moved the celebration of All Saints Day from March 13th to November 1st. People would hopefully be less scared and more into the Christian celebration than the pagan one.

Everyone didn’t change their long held beliefs however. People would cover their faces with masks when they went out at night in hopes that any roaming spirits would recognize them as fellow travelers and suspend their mischief. They also used large carved turnips with candles inside as lanterns.

All Hallows Eve became Halloween in modern times.

Instead of walking through the veil between this world and the next, kids dress in a variety of costumes to scare each other silly and get a bit of candy in the process. The only spirits around on Halloween are the ones we create on the movie set. Watch out!

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