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Halloween, Trick or Treat, or something else?

Published: 29th October 2021

No sooner have the back-to-school displays been taken down in shops, it’s up with the Halloween paraphernalia; an event that has increased rapidly in popularity in the UK over the last few years.  But is this a good thing?

Halloween, Trick or Treat, or something else?

Halloween is steeped in tradition having originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward of ghosts. Then in the 8th Century, November 1 was designated as a day to honour all saints, with the evening before becoming known as All Hallows Eve – later to become Halloween.

Over time this has evolved to include all the traditions we are familiar with today- carving pumpkins, dressing up and trick or treating.

As parents, our opinions on the merits of Halloween tend to be divided. For some, the ghost and ghoul-fuelled celebration is an opportunity to hone pumpkin carving skills and throw a spooky party for every child in the street.

For others, simply the sight of gruesome costumes, fake blood and mega-sized tubs of Haribo is enough to make them go running for the hills,

But whether you embrace Halloween or not, trick or treating tends to be the main issue of contention for parents. Should it be encouraged or not?

Given the last 18 months, we are all desperate for something to celebrate and for our children to have some well-deserved fun. Halloween is likely to tick that box for most children – sweets, dressing up, going out in the dark – what’s not to like?! The excitement of dressing up and eating copious amounts of sweets is something that many of us will remember from our childhood, so will want to replicate it.

A group of young children with their parents, dressing up as witches and ghosts and knocking on familiar neighbours’ doors can be a lovely experience. Houses wanting to get involved with the fun will often leave a lit pumpkin outside the front door as a sign that visitors are welcome – with sweets at the ready. Halloween can be a fantastic event for many communities, bringing people together to create a magical night for children.

Yet, the Trick or Treat tradition can have a much darker side. The concept of dressing up in a way that’s designed to scare people, knocking on strangers’ doors and demanding a treat ‘or they get a trick’ is not behaviour that our society would accept in any other circumstance. Yet on this one night of the year, it’s not just accepted but widely encouraged.

The reality is that having a group of teenagers in masks, knocking on your door demanding to be given either money and threatening to damage property, can be a terrifying experience – particularly for elderly people or those living on their own.

There is also the issue of safety. The thought of our children knocking on the doors of people they don’t know is concerning and could sadly pose a serious risk to them. Road safety is also a problem with children being hard to see when dressed in dark costumes.

These are clearly two quite different scenarios, but there is no doubt that many people will be very fearful of Halloween and for good reason. Children should be made aware of the issues and indeed the risks – in the same way that we teach them about stranger danger and to be considerate of others.

So, what are the alternatives and how else can you make the most of the celebration for your children if you don’t feel comfortable with trick or treating?

There are some fantastic and fun Halloween activities that can be enjoyed at home with family and friends – hundreds of craft activities including pumpkin carving, treasure hunts, games like apple bobbing and baking all sorts of spooky cakes and biscuits.

Other alternatives to knocking on people’s doors are:

Halloween science experiments: making Halloween slime and ghost rockets!
• Cooking up a Halloween feast: children can make an array of spooky dishes from pumpkin soup to toffee apples
Halloween film night: Lots of film choices for children of all ages
• Fancy dress competition: Get a group of friends together and see who can come up with the best and most creative costumes…with lots of sweet prizes for the winners!

Halloween is likely to inspire and engage most children; the perfect way to encourage them off devices and develop their creative skills. It’s also timed well; something to focus on before the build up to Christmas begins!

After we all missed out on last year’s celebrations due to the pandemic, Halloween is set to be bigger than ever this year – let’s just make sure it’s a safe one!

 

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