Enough with the negativity. Let's talk about why this spooky celebration rocks.
There's too much negativity about Halloween in the news these days, and it's coming from every side. Some of it's valid, and some of it's not.
There are the helicopter parents warning of the dangers of sex offenders and perverts and kidnappers, and of candies laced with drugs and needles (false). There are schools worried that children will get frightened by too-scary costumes or made "uncomfortable by the notion that you change your identity." (Um, how fragile do you think kids are?)There are the urban design experts ranting about the increased risk of death by cars on Halloween night (true) and the cities, like Canada's capital Ottawa, debating whether or not Halloween should be rescheduled for November 1st because it's supposed to pour rain and might be too inconvenient for trick-or-treating families. (Give me a break. I've done it in snow storms before.)
There are the environmentally-minded individuals, like myself, admonishing people to use less plastic in their decorations and costumes and not to hand out palm oil-filled, child labor-made candies in non-recyclable packaging.
There's so much advice that it's totally overwhelming and, to be honest, kind of ruins the occasion. So can we talk instead about what's WONDERFUL about Halloween and why it's such a great holiday for kids to celebrate? Writing for CBC, Canadian author and dad Rob Thomas offers up some suggestions.
1. It's a chance for unfettered creativity and self-expression.
When else are kids truly allowed to put on anything they want, any crazy and illogical combination of clothing, weaponry, and masks, and walk around town in it without being considered weird? Thomas describes his son's costume concoction last year:
"He [decided] on a skeleton, which is pretty traditional. Then he added a pumpkin mask he made with a paper plate, an old witch’s hat and a pair of ghoul gloves he found at a dollar store. The result was terrifying, and confused many neighbours on the doorstep, but the look was all his own."
My own kid has spent weeks building a suit of armor out of cardboard boxes, a project that he started just for fun, but was delighted when he realized it could be used as a Halloween costume.
2. What better way to meet the neighbours?
Unfortunately, there aren't many occasions in our society when people feel comfortable knocking on a neighbor's door, just to say hi. Halloween allows you to break the ice, have a short conversation, and discern whether or not you want to pursue a friendly relationship going forward.
3. It teaches kids independence without fear.
A topic we've brought up many times on TreeHugger, kids have to be taught independence gradually and steadily throughout childhood. Halloween night is a mini dress rehearsal for adulthood, a chance for them to wander with friends, without a parent, and interact with strangers. Let them be. They'll be fine. Tell them to watch out for cars, and never mind all the rest.