I love October. For the pure fact the nights get darker, our homes gets cosier,and it signals the approach of Winter. This is my favourite time of year where I get to spend time with my family at Christmas. But in the famous word of Tim Burton, there is always 'The Nightmare before Christmas' which is the celebration of Halloween.
When I was a child Halloween meant me and my cousin dressing up as witches. My aunt supplied the plastic witch fingers and brooms, then we would make our hats. The dresses we wore consisted of black rubbish sacks; one for the body and one to make a cape!
Nowadays, fast forward 20 years, the costumes which the children wear are much more elaborate and advanced with the tradition of trick or treating evolving. I couldn't believe it when on a mobile app I have called 'Nextdoor'; they were actively encouraging people to let others know if you were supplying sweets for Halloween! This then plots a sweet by your house and gives kids a Halloween map to follow! This is meant to discourage the children from knocking on the doors of the vulnerable elderly people in the neighbourhood (a good idea). However, when we were children it was pot luck whether you got a treat or not and the elderly often just shut their curtains so you didn't knock anyway.
The History of Halloween is interesting. The following excerpt from www.history.com explains the early origins of why we celebrate with carving pumpkins and dressing up.
'Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. 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 celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. '
This year I thought it would be a nice idea to create an organised martial arts session to celebrate Halloween. This provided a safe environment for the children to dress up if they wanted to and have fun with some Halloween themed exercises. Exercises included spider walks, flying witch kicks!, Hocus Pocus twirls, skeleton squats and zombie walks. We also used pumpkins (which my two children will delight in carving later) as weights to encourage fun team participation in the session. For the younger children we cheated slightly and used a squash (it looked like a pumpkin!)
Trick or treating is less common now I think than ten years ago. Perhaps due to the change in attitudes towards our neighbours. I think communities are less close and the advent of technology has actually reduced the amount of time people spend getting to know their neighbours. Thus, in turn a lot of parents discourage their children from knocking strangers doors. Of course I am speaking broadly here. I know most of my neighbours (as i am nosey... and I used to be an Avon Lady!)
If you do go Trick or Treating Here are my following tips:
-Always go in a group and make sure Adults accompany you.
-Respect your neighbours- if they have a sign saying no trick or treat don't knock!
-Wear a coat- it is cold on an evening.
-Don't trick or treat too late at night - go at 6pm it's dark then!
-Take a mobile phone in case of emergency.
-Wear something Bright/reflective so you can be seen in the dark.
-Take care when crossing roads always look.
-Don't go too far - stick to your street!
- If you don't want to visit your neighbours ask your parents to hide sweets around the house for you!
Stay Safe This Halloween,
Claire Southall (Blogger,3rd Dan Black Belt, Mom of 2, Part-time Skeleton.)
Special Thanks to Alex Hadley (Black Belt Photographer) for your time in capturing the photographs of our session: