Goblins, ghouls and gremlins unite, All Hallow’s Eve is here at last! Whether you are forced into the most basic costume against your will (looking at you Google t-shirt people) or you spend weeks planning how you’ll go all out for this holiday (is it really a holiday?), Halloween is hard to avoid. Pumpkins have been in the shops since August and today you’ll see countless people in slightly odd outfits on your morning commute. It’s a day for frights, fancy dress and celebrating superheroes, skeletons and scientists alike.
Halloween began as a Celtic celebration of a time when the barrier between our world and the spiritual world became thin, allowing for spirits to cross over between realms. Halloween has a unanimous symbolism with death, spookiness and the supernatural, as the following day – 1st November – is celebrated in many cultures as a day for the dead: All Saint’s Day, Dia De los Muertos, Todos Los Santos, La Toussant… Everywhere has some version of the concept of remembering the spirits of deceased family, friends and icons around this time of year. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we take a day to dress up as weird and wonderful creatures, though we do have America to blame for pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating and the pressure to decorate excessively. (We’ll add it to the list of reasons we’re considering putting the USA back under UK control. We all know they’ll be back…). But amongst all the merriment, lanterns and sweets, we should make sure that we’re thinking of everyone today. In particular, we should consider just how inclusive we’re being for children on Halloween.
Not every child has a simple childhood. Maybe a child comes from poverty and so can’t afford a fancy costume like their friends. Or perhaps they’re suffering from an illness like diabetes which means they can’t eat sweets when trick-or-treating. Children living with a physical disability have to adapt any fancy dress. Halloween nowadays is meant to be a fun day where children get to be silly, dress up like their favourite characters, have excessive treats and beg to watch the Haunting of Hill House. But do we all make it easy for every child to have that type of day?
There are some simple steps we can all take to help make every kid happy this Halloween. First off, let’s celebrate everyone’s costumes. Whether you’ve turned yourself into the Corpse Bride or you’ve transformed your wheelchair into a Batmobile, give every child who turns up at your door asking for treats the same level of praise. Also remind your children that not everyone may enjoy Halloween – some children who struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues find the day to be full of triggers and so may not want to embrace the spirit of Hallow’s Eve. That shouldn’t be a reason for a kid to be bullied by their school friends or left out. Make sure you educate children about how to be accepting around this time of year. Beyond this, have a mixture of sweets and healthier snacks ready for children who may not be able to eat countless Maoams. And we shouldn’t really have to point this out, but please please please be aware of people with mental health issues before you consider dressing up as anyone “psycho”, “crazy” or “mad”. Some outfits aren’t actually as funny as you think they are.
So, crack open the dragon’s blood (wine), find your familiar (pet) and throw on The Nightmare Before Christmas (arguably one of the best Halloween films ever) to get you in the mood. Because as soon as we stop celebrating Halloween, it’ll be Christmas. How’s that for a terrifying thought for the day…