As the fall leaves begin to change color and the nights become a little brisker, the back-to-school season quickly swings to the Halloween season at our home. I have four children who all agree Halloween is their favorite holiday. What is it about dressing up and trick-or-treating that makes this holiday so beloved?
Straddling fall and winter, Halloween is a time of celebration as well as superstition. It's believed to have originated in an ancient Celtic festival where villagers would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a day to honor saints and martyrs. Very quickly the evening before this became known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween.
Over time Halloween evolved into a community-based, child-friendly, trick-or-treating extravaganza that happens across cultures in many parts of the world. From a witch hunt to a community connector, Halloween brings joy to those who love it.
Here are some reasons why Halloween is so great.
1. Allows You to Express Your Creativity
Halloween inspires creativity and there seems to be no limits or boundaries to what or whom you can become. On Halloween there's no script, there's no plan; you can choose an identity that feels exciting and new. Whether you make your own costume starting months in advance or you purchase one the day before, there is creativity involved in make believing you are someone different than your normal everyday persona.
2. Encourages You to Play with Your Archetypes
Archetypes are mythical stories involving heroes and heroines. They have themes that reside at the level of the collective soul. Archetypes demonstrate traits we admire and that inspire us. Their stories resonate with us at a genetic level and the universal theme of their tales is known across cultures. Anytime a person is expressing themselves as bigger than life, you are seeing their archetype come alive.
You can probably think of someone in your social sphere who loves and connects to nature in a “mother nature” kind of way or someone who exudes the childish wonder, purity, and wisdom of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. The hero, the explorer, the rebel, and the healer are just a few more common archetypes.
Every human has some type of connection to an archetype—and in costume form on Halloween, you are allowed to play out your dreams, your aspirations, and your archetype fantasy.
3. Strengthens Community Involvement
Life can be very busy and, quite often, you take the car from the garage, to work, to the grocery store, to the school pickup, to soccer, and back to the garage without really feeling connected to your neighbors or your neighborhood. Halloween is a time where we come together outside regardless of the weather and spend time walking together. Halloween isn't stopped by rain, snow, wind, or hail. Spending time together and feeling like a community strengthens us.
4. Promotes Getting Outside
If you are like many Americans, the majority of your life is spent inside. Many spend eight hours each day sitting at a desk with unnatural lighting and staring at a computer. When you do get outside, it is often in a frenzy of hurried activity like “going for a quick run.” Trick-or-treating allows for a slow walk outdoors where you have no goal other than to enjoy the evening. Take notice of the sounds and smells as you enjoy time outside as a family.
5. Encourages Giving and Receiving
When your little ghouls and goblins stumble up the stairs to say “trick or treat” to an elderly neighbor, they bring with them the vitality of youth, which is contagious and all too often missing from seniors’ lives. Then the little ones receive a treat to reward their effort, bringing to mind the Law of Giving and Receiving, which is always great to put into practice.
6. And of Course, the TREATS
When the trick or treating is done, the fun of tallying the candy and seeing what appears from the loot bags is always a special part of the night. Over my 20 years as a parent, I have explored letting the kids trade their candy in for a small toy, encouraging them to choose pieces and donate the rest to a woman’s shelter or just letting them have at it.
In the end, just remember not to make your parenting feel like policing of their loot. Teaching them to learn their own healthy habits is more empowering than having them strictly follow your candy rules. And talking about it opens great dialogue about health and balance.
A night of costumes, candy, and children doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It is all in your perspective.