Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Halloween - Trick or Treat?


Halloween is approaching fast although it would be hard not to notice with all the shops stocking costumes and accessories - grizzly masks and blood soaked appendages amongst spiders, witches hats and pumpkins. So what is your view of Halloween and its rise in popularity? Will you enjoy spending some money on an early winter party or will you feel the pressure from your children to join in with something that you don't want to be part of, feeling it’s just an American import?

In 2001 Britons collectively spent around £12m on Halloween. This year it is estimated to be worth well over £200m. That's quite a rise. It seems retailers are getting much more savvy when they see an occasion to get us all spending. Boost to the economy or unwelcome pressure to spend money you don't have? Well I guess it depends upon where you are standing.

As the nights draw in it might be seen as an opportunity to raise everyone's spirits (no pun intended). And of course you can have lots of fun with the children without spending additional cash. Read this great article about hosting a children's Halloween party - click here.

And its origins? Well after searching on the internet it appears it’s not altogether clear. The name Halloween undoubtedly comes from the eve of All Hallows Day – or All Saints Day which dates back to the 7th century and is a Roman Catholic festival celebrated on November 1st. It is still celebrated today in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.  It is followed by All Souls Day which is celebrated on November 2nd to pray for the souls of those who have passed away. In medieval times the practice of ‘souling’ was prevalent where people asked for prayers for their loved ones who may be in purgatory (a place between Heaven and Hell) in return for gifts usually biscuits or cakes. The Protestant reformation forbade these practices by the sixteenth century but many family and local traditions surrounding this practice, continued.

It is also suggested that some aspects of Halloween came from the Celtic pagan tradition of Samhain, meaning summer's end, which was celebrated on October 31st. It was the end of harvest and the end of the light half of the year. It was also when spirits of the dead could pass through the world.

Like a lot of our traditions it seems that several cultures and traditions have been brought together, evolving to what we have today as Halloween and the festival has grown even more over the last ten years. Although it would appear that the term trick or treat itself certainly seems to have come from America and was little known in Britain until the 1980s many of the Halloween origins come from ancient festivals.

Whatever its origins, it looks like Halloween is here to stay and individuals and families must decide how much to take part in its traditions.

1.      Just like any other festival it is important to remember that it is the people coming together for fun that is most important – not how much you spend.

2.      Agree with your family the budget that can be spent so everyone can be involved in how to allocate the budget – it will be teaching the children some great skills and sets them a challenge.

3.      Don’t give in to pressure to spend more than you can afford.

4.       A few props and costumes can be made very cheaply – look for ideas on the internet or get books from the library.

5.      Make some small biscuits and cakes for trick or treaters coming to your door – it could be a change from sweets. Get the kids doing some baking!

6.      Charity shops may be a good source of material and clothes for costumes.

7.      Try freecycle for unwanted costumes, masks etc.

8.      Enjoy being creative and getting your children involved.

9.      Have fun!

We would love to hear about the way you celebrate Halloween – or if you have decided to ignore it. Please do feel free to comment.


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