Simple Preparations for Hallows’ Eve
According to Pagan folklore, on October 31st (which lands midway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice) the veil between this world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, allowing the dead to walk among us. In light of this tradition, people would set the table for relatives who had passed and symbolically invite them into their homes and out of the cold.
The Catholic holiday called All Saints Day is celebrated around the world on November 1st, commemorating “all saints” known and unknown, while All Souls’ Day is celebrated on November 2nd. These two festivals honour the belief that there spiritual and soul connection between those in living here on earth and those living in heaven.
Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico between the same dates- October 31st and November 2nd.
As with the traditions of Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls day- communities come together to remember and honour the deceased in a festive and celebratory way. At this time people often visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of loved ones and welcome the spirits into their homes via decorated ofrendas (alters).
As these customs and festivals grew over time, other traditions of dressing like the spirits evolved. It is said that people felt they would be less of a target for the more uncouth spirits, hiding as spirits themselves. At this time of year the days are growing noticeably shorter and people traditionally had to bring the light inside so Jack O’ Lanterns were popularly used (originally made from hollowed turnips, not pumpkins).
Halloween today has become a favourite children’s celebration but it has lost it’s deeper meanings. And so, let us try bring some intention and consciousness to it.
Things to Consider when Planning a Mindful Halloween for Children aged 1-7
- costumes for early childhood should be simple, innocent and avoid invoking fear, death and gore: fairies, princes, princesses, knights, animals and plants come to mind
- avoid if you can the commercial characters that are “sold” to our children through incessant media- these create a “have” and “have not” culture and do not feed and nourish our children like rich storytelling and fairytales do
- take young children out before it gets too dark, visit only a handful of houses and try to avoid houses with scary music, haunted themes or monsters answering the door
- avoid sensory experiences that are too gory for the young child (grapes peeled to feel like eyeballs)
- only go to a very few, select houses to trick-or-treat
- tell the story of the “sugar mice” (sometimes known as “sugar sprites”) before going trick-or-treating (see below)
- in our home we allow the children to nibble on the candy they are given while we are walking and trick-or-treating, then when we get home our children choose their three favourite pieces of candy to keep and the rest they leave out for the sugar mice to take
- do celebrate by telling stories by candlelight, carving jack o’lanterns and bobbing for apples
- begin as the carer to investigate your inner world in relation to this festival (why as a family would you like to celebrate it, what does this festival mean to you personally, how did you celebrate this festival as a child? what do you remember loving about it as a child? what do you think was missing from this festival as a child? *[don’t share these thoughts with your young ones- just reflect on them yourself]
The Story of the Sugar Mice
At Halloween there are little mice who are gathering and getting ready for the long cold Winter. These mice know that on Halloween, all the children go trick-or-treating, collecting sugary sweets. And this is the perfect time for them to collect all the sugar they need to stay warm during the cold Winter nights.
On Halloween children get so much candy that they sometimes drop little pieces as they go from one door to the next and the Sugar Mice quickly run to these pieces and bring them to their homes.
There are only some very lucky children who actually know that the Sugar Mice exist. These children choose three sweets to keep when Halloween night is over and they place the rest of their candy beside their beds before going to sleep.
During the night, the little Sugar Mice come and happily take the candy – and very often they leave a wonderful gift of thanks. Sometimes this a wonderful new toy, some beautiful silks or something else special.
Then the Sugar Mice go back to their homes and store all the candy for the long Winter.