This is our last Wellness Wednesday post before Halloween, one of my favorite Holidays. It has been our family tradition to have a grand Halloween party and this year is no exception. In preparation, I would like to share with you how my view of Halloween does indeed bear on wellness, especially for children. Before I share my philosophy on Halloween and how that translates into our gatherings, I would like to go over some basic Halloween safety tips.
Go out with your children if possible. Cloak yourself and hang back near the street while they practice their confidence and their manners. If they are older and you feel it is safe, let them to go in groups or pairs. Older kids should take their cell phone and turn on tracking. On iPhone that is through an app called “ find friends.” Pushback ? Who pays for that anyway ?
For kids going without an adult, review a map in advance and agree on a route.
Set time limits beforehand.
Feed kids a healthy festive and favorite meal before nightfall, so they are not tempted to feast on Halloween candy as they walk.
Ask kids to refrain from eating candy until it can be inspected under good light. Discard anything opened or tampered with.
Discard anything that is not commercially prepared, unless you know the source.
Ensure that costumes are safe for the weather, and the dark. Use reflective tape if need be.
Make sure that decorations are safe. Be especially wary of open flames or electrical installations.
Give kids flashlights and or glow sticks for visibility.
Forbid children from entering the homes or cars of strangers.
Remind them to observe traffic laws as there will be lots of cars as well as pedestrians.
Remind them that some people drink and drive on Halloween.
Remember sometimes kids get creeped out by creepy costumes. Make it comfortable for kids to come home if they do not like it.
Here is an except from my Halloween post last year which I would like to share again.
My different perspective comes from the historical roots of Halloween which is a witches' brew of an ancient Celtic festival Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), the later Roman holidays of Feralia and Pomona, and finally the Catholic Feast of All Martyrs/All Saints/All Hallows day. The name " All Hallow's" literally says, " all that is holy”. These are beautiful holidays are full of respect for the harvest, the circle of life, ancestors, saints, and the turn of the seasons. They all included feasts, and outdoors activities late in the night complete with festive fires. Accordingly, " Halloween" is of course a contraction of the words " Hallowed" and " Evening".
I have a soft spot in my heart for All Hallow's Eve as I like to call it, since our youngest child was born on that day. As a result, it has always been a big family celebration for us, and so we have always had a party. Accordingly I have never gone in for the typical commercial Halloween decoration and imagery. True, I like a very dark and mysterious Halloween. Particularly after I had children, though, I haver saw fit to incorporate images of violence into the holiday. For example, I am totally not into the blood gore and mutilation thing. Instead, Halloween is to me about the beauty and magic of the night and the natural world. For example, I have incorporated themes of stars, the moon, planets and comets. People consider these magical motifs but to me they evoke magical math and science which can describe their movements. I also incorporate anything botanical. At this time of the year the leaves are getting crinkled and brown, and the branches are bare. Some are dried all but the berries, but there is beauty even in this. You can make them even more evocative with paint, glitter, or interesting low lighting.
I incorporate the creatures of the night in my All Hallows' decorating. From mice, rats, bats, spiders, beetles, wolves, and owls to moths chasing a flame, these are all interesting and beautiful creatures who are worthy of our attention. Instead of vilifying them or presenting them in caricature, I try to present them as they are, almost like museum specimens. If I could have live ravens with their glossy black feathers, I would. For children I might do a faux insect display, with a little parchment note about the creature, and how they fit into the ecosystem.
And fire, of course fire, since fire harkens to the primordial processes in the heart of our sun which make life on this earth possible. Did you ever think about the fact that when you watch the flame you are watching matter being turned into energy? To bring fire to the home and patio in first must be safe. I like metal tea lights since they turned safely sat inside a beautiful container. These are easy to clean up as well. I use lots of candles and keep the regular lights down low. For fire outside, make a traditional bonfire. Check your local fire regulations and use common sense of this, especially with children.
So use branches, bugs, bats in mobiles, candles, and faux spiderwebs is done carefully, with dark elegant colors, or moonlit white. But whatever you do, make your party beautiful enough to transport your guests to different holiday "Hallowed" frame of mind.
Halloween can involve a healthy dose of fantasy. People of all ages love costumes and stories. There are so many fantastical costumes to try, there's no need to resort to the grotesque or sinister. Here's my Pinterest album of costumes and cosplay for your inspiration.
You might also like my collection of steam punk fashion which celebrates the popularization of science and engineering in Victorian age.
Halloween should not be about fear and horror. Quite the contrary. It should inspire. Its historical roots lay in the efforts common people trying to encounter the wondrous. It recalls village life and the collective joy of the good harvest. It celebrates the interplay of chaos and order, day and night, summer and winter. This is the wellness of the holiday: that we gather together to express respect for the harvest, community, ancestors, Saints, the cycles of life, science, nature and hints of the divine.