As the days become shorter and gloomier, I am reminded that one of my favourite celebrations is just around the corner. This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill celebration; this is a day where kids get to dress up, knock on doors and get piles of candy. Likewise, it is a day where I get to go overboard on decorations and dress up like a pirate. The day I am talking about, of course, is Halloween.
I have seen various stages of life in Halloween. From year to year, different numbers of kids have stormed my door trick-or-treating and I have seen some phenomenal costumes. As I have also mentioned, I enjoy putting up 2 or 3 (or 50) decorations around the house. There have been years where I have only had a few trick-or-treaters. There was one year I got none. While disappointing, this is to be expected as families move from home to home or the kids start to grow up and trick-or-treating becomes less interesting to them. But I also find it worrying.
I remember when I was a kid, the roads being filled with children running about in costumes while some parents followed about, conversing with one another. These are some happy memories for me; it brought neighborhoods together and got families out of the house for an evening of pure fun. For whatever reason, the spirit of Halloween that I experienced as a kid doesn’t seem to be as alive anymore. As I look around on Halloween night, the roads are empty and the air that used to be filled with laughter is silent. How did we get to this point?
One factor appears to be for religious reasons – either because of what Halloween represents as a “demonic” celebration or standing as a celebration of a religion that some people do not prescribe to. My counter to that would be that Halloween today is so far removed from religion that the reasoning is no longer really applicable. There are multiple religions and cultures that have been said to have influences on Halloween; some of these include pagan, Roman Celtic and Christian. It’s also not the only celebration or holiday to share this overlapping characteristic. That being said, I don’t really want to get into the religious debate, but simply acknowledge its presence as a factor.
In addition to this, a large portion of people are simply not interested in participating in it out of fear or they dismiss it as childish. This is where I really want to focus my attention.
Halloween is a time where kids can dress up and pretend they are something else for an evening. Boys and girls alike have the opportunity to dress up as firefighters, superheroes, kings, queen, princes, princesses, aliens and so much more. Getting a costume doesn’t always take a lot of money; it just depends where you get it from. You don’t have to buy a costume either; you could put some pieces together and make one yourself. Nobody expects an award winning Hollywood grade costume from a movie set. That isn’t really the point; it’s really about participation. Halloween is a time that allows kids to use their creativity and imaginations. If you take a moment to think about it, it can be a fantastic art project and an evening of theatre when the kids get into character. Ultimately, it should just be about having fun.
If parents are scared about what might happen to their children while they are out, then maybe they should go with them. Dress up yourself and enjoy. Spend time with your kids. Talk to some of the other parents. Get out of the house and have some fun. Nights like this are rare enough as it is.
This shouldn’t just be about the kids either; adults have just as much right to participate as they do. Halloween parties have long been a tradition of mine and some of the costumes I have seen are absolutely fantastic and show a lot effort and thought. The parties are a blast and so many people get into character it’s like a show or parade. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have a problem with an adult coming to my door trick-or-treating either (as long as they made the effort to put a costume together).
Am I sounding crazy yet? Good! That means I’m making my point.
Halloween should be a time of silliness, crazy fun and imagination; it is a time of pretending, creating, socializing, participating, and spending time with your friends and family. Yes, of course, there is candy involved but I would argue that this is the least interesting part of this magnificent event. It is becoming increasingly more common to find excuses not to participate in things and we are often in a rush to grow up so quickly that we often forget the youthful magic of simply playing dress up. By not taking a moment to create a costume or decorate a house, I believe we are losing touch with our sense of creativity and imagination. By cutting Halloween out of our lives, what kind of message are we truly sending? If we continue down this path, the roads that used to be filled with laughter will truly be haunted by ghosts of happier times and it makes me shiver at the thought.