28 October 2015
The run up to Halloween in Nursery is a wonderful week full of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, witches and wizards in Nursery. There are cobwebs, spiders and skeletons galore. We will have carved pumpkins, dunked apples, baked Halloween biscuits, played games, wrapped each other up as mummies and played trick or treat, themed our lunches and collected and given out more sweets and treats than I would care to imagine. We will have had fancy dress competitions, danced, played in slime and goo and giggled as we have face-painted each other! All in all Nursery will be none stop fun, fun, fun!
The children will have learned so much too, they have have been excited, interested, enthralled and engaged. Children need to understand feelings and those include surprise and fear. Halloween helps children look at fear and separate what is exciting and what is fearful, by talking through fear in a very fun and light-hearted way helps children to master their fears. Ever wondered what the true meaning of Halloween was before America took hold of the hype, drama and commercialisation of the Event? So did I and this is what I discovered.
Halloween means "All Saints Eve" or "All Hallows Eve". All Saints Day is a religious holiday observed by the Catholic Church and set aside for worship of all the saints in heaven. They used to consider it with all solemnity as one of the most significant observances of the Church year. This origin extends further from the Celts celebration of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) which is a Druidic festival made to celebrate the end of the harvest. As with a lot of Celtic lore, fairies were thought to be extremely active at this time as they ushered in the winter. Celts believed that on the night before the "new year", the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.
On the night of October 31, they celebrate Samhain. It was on this day that they believe the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth causing trouble and damaging crops. Celts felts that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids - Celtic priests - to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the natural world, which could be quite volatile, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes - typically consisting of animal heads and skins - and they tried to tell each other’s fortunes. They would build huge sacred bonfires where people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. When the celebration was over, they re-lit the fires in their hearths which they had put out earlier that evening. The fires would be re-lit with flame from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
Heavy stuff hey. Thankfully now our animals and our Supermarket produce are safe and Halloween is a fun traditional day that children all over the world eagerly await (not so sure about the Dentists though) I can fondly remember my own home made Halloween outfits and styles even Gok Wan would have been impressed with created out of nothing more than black bin bags, silver foil and glue!!! I remember vividly my mother sending me off with a lit candle a carved swede (the thought of how wrong this is, in every conceivable way still haunts me) and her strict warning to be careful not to set myself on fire with the naked flame as glue, bin bags and foil would set me alight in seconds. Without a second thought I took a deep breath and proceeded with extreme caution with arm fully extended at all times! I remember the sense of confusion when a new neighbour on the block actually suggested 'trick' rather than treat – ‘Errrr what does that mean’ - I looked at my friend as we walked back down the driveway unsure what to do next, bottom lip quivering in sadness only to be cheered up at the chocolate already in our co-op plastic bag!!
Have I been locked in a superficial satanic trance for years every Halloween evening? No of course not! Halloween is a light hearted and fun, commercial celebration with a hint of sweet extortion thrown in for good measure. Children are introduced to this event very early on in their lives as the shops around them, towns and villages embrace the fun. There is an normal healthy element of fear as children love within reason to push boundaries and frighten each other. In a secure and nurtured environment it’s a healthy emotional time, rewarded with fun and games. We should embrace the celebrations and not look to deeply into the hidden meanings and myths from years gone by!
Halloween down next stop Bonfire night - now Guy Fawkes he takes a little more explaining!!
Have fun and keep safe this Halloween.
(Managing Director of Evolution Childcare)