I miss the days of wearing a black bin bag at Halloween.
How simple those times were.
My mum would have cut a head-shaped hole in a bin bag, tied a piece of string around the middle to cinch the waist and hey presto I was a witch!
And I really felt like a witch. I felt scary and spooky and definitely remember casting actual spells that really worked.
Mum didn’t buy us a £15 pretend broom from Tesco or an elaborate witch’s costume with twinkling LED lights sewn into its bodice. We didn’t have flashing skull decorations or fake blood or proper latex zombie masks. I don’t even remember carving a pumpkin.
But we had a black bin bag, a 20p hidden somewhere in an apple tart and buckets of imagination.
And I do wonder if a lot of the work is done for children nowadays. We’re constantly hovering over them because we’re hellbent on making Halloween fun and educational and doing season-relevant crafts. Did you see that Susan on Instagram has her kids writing algebraic equations in the non-toxic slime she made from scratch (the recipe’s on her blog page FYI).
And who needs to imagine being dressed as a spine-chilling, spell-casting witch when you have every last detail of your costume taken care of by a supermarket chain?
There’s nothing left for children to dream up on their own anymore.
I’m not even sure I’m supposed to let my kids “celebrate” Halloween. An acquaintance of mine righteously explained to me recently that it was a celebration of paganism that no child should be exposed to. She seemed to be saying that we should all stay indoors, cover our ears and sing hymns until Halloween had passed, failing which we were fully living out “The Wicker Man” movie. I’m not sure I agree with that thesis if I’m honest. Children are not aware of the pagan roots of Halloween and I doubt very much that many parents go to the lengths of explaining the historical beginning of it all. I’ve always seen it as just a bit of innocent fun, and an excuse to dress up. I don’t intend to take that away from my children anytime soon.
I do also miss the carefree days of running the streets “trick or treating,” safe in the knowledge that the nice man down the road who always had loads of sweets was just the nice man down the road who always had loads of sweets. Nowadays he’d most certainly be a suspected paedophile.
And on the subject of trick or treating, what happened to just filling your face with a load of fizzy E number-packed sweets out of a plastic carrier bag at the end of the night? Nowadays, the humble plastic bag has become a complete safety hazard, not to mention not nearly posh enough to trick or treat with. You’re nothing if you don’t have a purpose built brightly coloured trick or treat bucket, personalised with your child’s name and filled with “scrummy” organic carrot sticks and linseeds.
And does anyone bob for apples anymore or do they not want their children getting wet hair for fear they’ll catch a cold, or maybe lymphatic filariasis or something?
I feel a bit sorry for my own children that they won’t get to experience the insouciant Halloweens I did, when things seemed simpler; corner shops provided the handful of straightforward items you needed to have a great time, “educational activities” were given a rest over the half-term holiday and the gap in commercialised consumer goods was bridged by joyous imagination.
Bring back the good old black bin bag.
Will you be “celebrating” Halloween with your little ones? Will you be bobbing for apples and trying not to choke on the 20p in the apple tart or will you be toasting the seeds of organic pumpkins while your children write poetry with age-appropriate, Halloween-themed (but not scary or paganist) colouring pencils? I love to hear from you.