With Halloween mere days away, many American parents are scrambling to put last-minute costumes together, dealing with kids who can’t make up their minds about what they want to be, stocking up on extra candy, and hoping nobody gets into too much trouble.
This is a fun time of year for many families, and as Halloween has become an accepted part of American culture, it is often assumed most, if not all Americans celebrate it in someway.
This is not true.
For several reasons, lots of families choose to opt out of the Halloween festivities. Some feel the holiday puts too much emphasis on candy, others believe it’s too scary, others skip it for religious reasons.
Growing up in a Jewish home, Halloween was not something we actively participated in as a family. While, I did dress up at school, and went trick or treating once or twice, I was always aware of the pagan origins of the holiday and how that didn’t mesh with our Jewish beliefs. As I got older, I learned other faiths, for similar reasons, were leery of Halloween.
Perhaps because I was limited in my Halloween exposure as a child, I fully embraced the holiday in college and as a young adult (though in fairness it was really just an excuse to wear something sexy and fun).
Now as a parent, my take on Halloween is much more open, while I don’t do the decorations or pumpkin carving, I still enjoy the costumes and trick or treating with my kids.
But, I understand, other families are not on board with Halloween, and that is OK. The holiday isn’t for everyone, and for young kids, it can be tough when your family is “the odd one out.”
If you do celebrate Halloween, remind your children that others may not. Explain to them why someone in their class might not be wearing a costume to school, and remind them to be respect others’ differences.
While you are at it, teach them about how modern Halloween practices are rooted in ancient celebrations and customs, from the Celtic pagan celebration of Samhain to the Mexican festival, Dia De Los Muertos.
And let’s not forget to be kind, ourselves. If you see some children walking around on October 31 without a costume, don’t give them a hard time. Maybe they don’t celebrate Halloween. Maybe they do, but don’t like to dress up. Maybe their family couldn’t afford a costume for them. It is not our place to judge or make assumptions.
Whether your family goes all out for Halloween, chooses not to celebrate, or falls somewhere in the middle, it’s all good.
Have fun. Be safe. Be kind.