Another October means pumpkin spice, autumn splendor, and, of course, another spooky Halloween! Halloween will be a forgotten legend to many kids kept at home due to COVID-19 concerns. Older siblings will have told them of going out door-to-door in a fun costume and returning with a bag full of sweet delights.
Most adults know that Halloween is a Christian holiday (All Hallow’s Eve), formed in the British Isles when Christianity was being brought to the world and the Celts were absorbed into the expanding Roman empire. It replaced Samhain, the pagan festival of the end of the harvest and the turning of the season to Winter. Pope Gregory I looked for a way to transition these Celtic holidays into Christianity. The result was All Saint’s Day or All Hallows Day, a holiday to commemorate the saints of Christianity, and the night before would be All Hallows Eve, allowing the pagan traditions to continue and to be absorbed into Christianity.
But did you know that almost every culture in history has their own form of Halloween? It dates back as far as ancient Egypt, when families would have a meal with their deceased family members as the guests of honor. It seems that Halloween is a universal theme, that stems from very human concerns.
There are two main reasons why Halloween has such a common thread. The first reason is that it takes place at the end of the harvest. This is the time of the year when plants and vegetation begin to wither and decay. It gives us a moment to say goodbye to autumn and prepare for the coming of winter. It’s also about acknowledging our fears– specifically, our fear of death. It seems that almost every culture has some way of dealing with their fear of death and the turn of the seasons.
For kids, the changing of the seasons is easy to understand, but death is a bigger concept than they may yet know. They understand that some movies are scary, and that some scary movies are too scary for their age. They understand their fears and that sometimes fear gets the better of even the adults.
Talking to children and introducing them to Halloween needn’t be difficult. Kids talk to each other, and they are extraordinarily keyed into signals. Black cats, skeletons, and Jack-o-Lanterns are early associations with Halloween. So are costumes, when they begin to learn how even adults are culturally allowed to wear costumes on Halloween!
At Creekside, we’re big proponents of costumes and make-believe, and given that Halloween is both an annual rite of passage and a bit of fun play, we love it! But we also appreciate another value of Halloween: dealing with fears. Just like those scary movies kids are so eager to watch, Halloween is like a vaccination of fear, allowing children to experience a specific rush of fear in a controlled, supervised, and safe way.
If your child is beginning to ask questions about Halloween or trick-or-treating, take the opportunity to build a dialogue with them. Ask what they know about it and gently explain the difference between real dangers and imaginary monsters. Talk about the importance of staying with your parents, not running off, and not eating candy until you get home, to prevent dangers.
It’s also helpful to talk about expectation and privilege. The demand-and-get nature of trick-or-treating can confuse a child if a household is not Halloween-friendly or is a little too scary. It’s also the first hurdle in getting through the holiday season where getting and giving are a confusing system for a child to navigate. But by answering questions, explaining how reciprocation works in communities, and talking about giving for the pleasure of giving (without measuring it in what we receive), we can teach a vital lesson for the holidays.
If you’d like to discuss a place at Creekside Kids for your kids, we’d like to invite you to click this embedded link to schedule an appointment. Let’s get to know each other! Like us on Facebook to follow our stories for news and updates. We’re located at 1201 W Cheyenne Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, and we can be reached at (719) 635-9111. Our new hours of operation are 6:45 am until 5:45 pm, Monday through Friday.