If Halloween for you is a fright night, this post is not for you. If you think it is appropriate for children to be dressed as zombies or some other blood dripping creature, this post may even offend you. If you see All Hallows Eve as a magical night when children get a chance to stay up and out in the dark and dress up in costumes, bob for apples and perhaps indulge in sweets they usually are not eating, then we are on the same page.
My children’s experiences when they were little was an enchanting evening put on by their Waldorf School. The school playground was lit with a luminario path which the children followed, guided by adults dressed as angels. They were taken to different “stations” where teachers, community members, or parents were dressed as Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Appleseed, dwarfs dressed as miners, Mother Earth and many more, all imaginative and inventive . Each of the stations had a creative and expressive “skit” to perform, always engaging the children in some way. Treats were handed out, with an emphasis on healthier choices, and then the children wandered to the next station. At the end of the adventure, there was apple bobbing, live music and a seasonal puppet show. Believe it or not, this tradition kept my children enthralled through about fourth grade. After that, they opted out of trick or treating in our village in order to be one of the people doing a skit, continuing to create the magic for the younger ones. They never missed the scene that Halloween has become, in my eyes. To this day, not one of the three of them, now 25-32 years old, enjoys the horror that seems to captivate so many at this time of year.
I was so very disheartened in town yesterday when I had to shop in our marts for a barbecue for my farm stay cottage. There were aisles and aisles of cheap, made-in-China costumes, virtually all of them themed on either Disney or the macabre. And in the check-out lines were families, all spending upwards of $50 for these crappy costumes. (Mind you, these Halloween aisles were side-by-side with more revolting plastic for Christmas, but that is another rant altogether!)
Below I offer a sample of what I personally see as appropriate and inappropriate costumes for young children. Actually, the grisly and ghoulish never appeals to me at any age, but for the tender wee ones, it seems wildly bizarre.
This comes up for me each and every year and I suppose my own blog is the place to express it. However you spend your Halloween this evening, here are some facts for you about the holiday. . . .
- Halloween goes by multiple names: All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool Snap-Apple Night, Samhaim and Summer’s End.
- There’s a reason broomstick became associated with witches! Old women accused of witchcraft were typically poor. Since they couldn’t afford horses, they used a walking stick, which was replaced by a broom to help them travel.
- Just like broomsticks and witches are synonymous, so are black cats and witches. This is because it was once believed the felines protected the powers of witches.
- Harry Houdini (1874-1926) is one of the most famous and mysterious magicians. He eerily died on Halloween night in 1926 from appendicitis after he suffered three stomach punches.
- Samhain, which is an Irish Celtic festival, inspired Halloween. It celebrates the end of the harvest season. The tradition spread to the rest of the world after the Irish fled Ireland because of the potato famine.
- Jack-o’-lanterns started in Ireland, too. Candles were placed inside of hallowed-out-turnips to keep away evil spirits on Samhain.
- Ever wonder why orange and black are traditional Halloween colors? Orange represents the harvest and black represents the death of summer.
- Trick-or-treating might have started from the superstition that ghosts could disguise themselves as humans and knock on doors for food or money. If they were denied, the spirit could haunt the person who refused it.
- It was believed that the boundary between the living and dead was blurred on Halloween. Since the living were allowed to walk among the dead, human would wear ghoulish masks and dress up so the spirits would not recognized them.
- Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
- Halloween might have originated 4,000 B.C.
- Salem, Massachusetts, and Anoka, Minnesota, claim to be the Halloween capitals of the world, even though the holiday originated in Ireland.
- Halloween only precedes Christmas as the highest grossing commercial holiday.