Dare I say…we are not a huge fans of Halloween?!
The 31st October has puzzled me at times – what to do for the best?
I recall feeling fearful as a child at this time of year and even our own little ones didn’t even like ‘mascot bears’, let alone the relentless door knocking on Halloween, not knowing what/who would be on the other side! They’d avoid the aisles and aisles of Halloween dress up in everyday shops because they were too scared. It was all quite overwhelming!
I grew up with experience of the occult. As a child I had some terrifying moments and saw real life examples of what is now common place to dress kids in. I’ve overcome the effects of this in my own life now; years of night terrors, seeing multiple dark shadows following me & suffering PTS for some time, to a point where even going up a staircases on my own felt impossible. With some professional help I learned to live anxiety free from these early encounters & I am reflecting on what we did different for our family and passing that on.
It’s true, most don’t enter into the ‘darker things’ of ‘All Hallows Eve’. It even has a Christian origin & like many western festivals Halloween has elements combined from other ancient celebrations, but I wanted to let you know – because you may not know – from my experience, parts of Halloween have a ‘bleaker side’.
I definitely do see many good points to ‘modern day’ Halloween- creative fun, family gatherings & community building. I just wonder as Christian’s ‘Is there better way to achieve this?’.
As a family we try to live by this principle:
‘Fill your minds on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly’ Apostle Paul
No matter how hard we looked, we just couldn’t see how Halloween fitted this principle. And so, we choose not to include it in our family calendar.
In recent years it has become more difficult to just ignore Halloween – I know because, when my kids were little I tried and failed! My yearly turmoil & questioning looked a lot like this:
- Shall we just go out / go to a light party?
- Buy treats/ don’t buy treats – do/don’t we answer the door?
- By lighting a pumpkin does that say ‘we are open’?
- Will my house get tricked if we don’t give sweets away?
- Will I offend my neighbours? Will we be the ‘odd’ family?
- Was I introducing my family to unnecessary ‘harmful stuff?
And then when I read: ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ 2 Timothy 1 v 7- I knew something had to change because while I was burning energy questioning, I was not able to live this out. I longed for my kids to be courageous & to be different, I was just making them feel embarrassed & awkward, and I was not doing them or myself any favours!
I do not believe one night of dress up can eternally affect our children – but I have come to see that when we don’t confront the ways we do not want to live, we will tolerate in ways we never expected.
My navigating ‘what to do when everyone seems to be doing what you don’t want to (friends church/school & neighbourhood)’ needed resolving, because truth is I was fearful and not just of Halloween, but what others would say, & this had an adverse affect on our kids.
‘I wanted our children to stand out, but they just felt left out!’
You would think my childhood experiences would have aided my decision-making, but the truth is I really love being a part of the crowd. Society’s fast and furious growing love of Halloween sidelined me and instead of knowing what to do, I just felt left out too. I began to keep a ’31st Oct low profile’ – that was until one autumn day I went in pursuit of a new way.
I wasn’t about to try do something different for the sake of it & my aim was never to make people feel bad – it was our non-love for Halloween, not others love for it, that troubled me – a decision was made: Make Autumn Brilliant!
This was before the days of pinterest & when my pursuit was not in the comfort of a sofa, but in the cupboard under my stairs on ‘dial up’ which was the only place we could plug the laptop in. I was relieved to find my research productive – there are a plethora of traditions from harvest without having to celebrate Halloween & I now have a pinterest board full of them! Check it out: Happy Harvest
My best loved:
Did you know? lighting pumpkins and turnips in parts of Europe were historically carved & had lit candles placed inside them (different from the Irish Jack O lanterns – which were also originally turnips) farmers wives used them to signpost the way home for their husbands bringing in the harvest & returning from church.
Lighting turnips is not my birthplace tradition – but neither is lighting pumpkins & ‘Jack o lanterns’. We have chosen to be part of something that’s been done for generations & decided which tradition it’s from.
And I have not read anything (maybe you have) that would suggest that putting a candle inside a vegetable is dangerous.
It just makes me smile to see our lit pumpkins sat on the front wall waiting for my husband to bomb into our drive, groceries in hand, not returning from the farm but the local shop!
TIP: Head over to the nearest pumpkin pickin farm. Ours is Farmer Copleys & I recommend you go early because our 1st visit was unsuccessful – the field was more orange mush than plump pumpkins. Pick, wash and carve there so you don’t bring home the mess.
There has always been a local one for us. Polly (one of our entries) was the best dressed scarecrow in town, and the kids did some of their own too. These are so easy to do – grab a broom handle, some old clothes, string & some straw and have a play.
My pinterest board has a how to Happy Harvest
TIP: Get all the kids involved and the neighbours too; if there isn’t one in your area why not start one on your street or local school?
I also asked some other mum’s how their families do Halloween differently. This is what they suggested:
Liz: Our children are quite small, so each year on Halloween night we wrap up warm and do our Family Torch Walk through local woods and fields. Each family member has their own torch and we all go out together looking for owls, bats, stars, the moon… and when we get home we have mugs of hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and sprinkles.
Carol: We have also done blessing and treating where our children knock on doors and give sweets rather than receiving them. That was a real game changer for some that opened the door!!
Michelle: My children dress up in normal fancy dress (superheroes etc) & we go onto our estate. They enjoy being out with the community & we enjoy chatting with our local community & having the opportunity to hand out flyers for church light night whilst we are out. To the boys it’s a fun experience of getting free sweeties & being amongst the community.
Dawn: We have games for the family, crafts etc, the gospel relevant to the light, and then finish with a ‘picnic under the stars’ (thousands of twinkly fairy lights). All the kids had a goody bag.
What I love most from the ‘mums’ is they prize spending time together, wrapping up warm and heading out into their community.
I am committed to living free, the way God intended & that often means not doing what everyone else does or doing it in a way we have a tolerance for. When I challenged this thinking in myself, I could see where else fear was deciding for me & make steps to change it.
Building family traditions & making memories come from a place of mutual love & affection, just because we don’t feel the love for Halloween doesn’t mean we will try stop others having fun. On 31st October we won’t be ignoring our neighbours & we won’t make people feel bad for knocking on our door- because our home welcomes visitors.
Instead in autumn you may find us inviting friends over, lighting camp fires, carving pumpkins, overdosing on parkin cake & bonfire toffee (till our cheeks hurt), chomping toffee apples; I will be making Great Grandma Cooke’s pea-soup (with dumplings) & of course drinking pumpkin spiced lattes while kicking through the leaves.
Whatever you do on the 31st October, I hope you get to be with some of your favourites.
ps you may also like to read Faith Vs Fear Parenting
pps please do connect with me on social media & Lets do this journey of parenting together.