Halloween is nowadays a global phenomenon that kids can’t avoid confronting. Even though it’s mainly a loved dressup event for kids, it can also be scary for some with all the horror and spooky themes. So what makes this festival so fascinating for kids that they want to dress up as skeletons and witches that usually are a bit scary?
Origins of Halloween
Dressing up in spooky costumes isn’t really what Halloween was about originally , as it’s an old Celtic celebration of death, timely placed around the dark season and end of harvest year when nature wilts and dies. Cultures around the world have these celebrations, it’s been called Hallows Eve, Kekri in Finland, Día de los Muertos in Latin countries. The mystery of death and afterlife has always been interesting to the human kind, and one way to deal with this scary thing is to make it fun and celebrated with others around us.
Halloween is nowadays celebrated on October 31st in mainly English speaking countries such as USA and UK and Ireland, and more and more in other countries. This celebration is originally an old Celtic end of summer fest called Samhain. Celts believed that on the night of Samhain the border between the worlds of the living and dead became thinner, and ghosts might enter this side. 1000 years ago, Catholic church introduced this same timeframe as All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. This celebration was called Alholowmesse in old English, meaning All Hallows Eve that then becomes Halloween, a popular party among kids during the last 100 years. Some of the activities associated with the modern Halloween include dressing up in costumes, trick or treating (and eating those treats) and carving pumpkins.
In Finland, a similar traditional festival is called Kekri that also takes place at the end of the harvest season, and later placed officially on the All Saints Day (Pyhäinpäivä). Kekri was a longer period of feasting and celebration, when servants got time off from their hard labour, and people visited family and friends. Also invited were the earlier generations – the dead, and feast was set also for them. This tradition is still somewhat alive, as people tend to go visit relatives at the graveyards on Pyhäinpäivä, lighting up candles.
Controlled, fun scare
Kids are creative and love dressing up. Halloween is a great opportunity to come up with the most weird costumes from robots to their favorite superheroes, and show off by walking around the neighbourhood or attending parties. In certain countries, kids go from door to door asking for candy – what a wonderful way to get to know your neighborhood and the kids around you.
So to return to the question of why kids love the spookiness of Halloween? It offers an opportunity to enjoy simulated scary things in a safe setting. The adrenalin rush is still there, but when it happens in a safe environment, it can be a fun and enjoyable experience, like going down a slide at the playground. Dressing up means also being in control of those scary things, like the monster, lets the kids face that fear and make it easier to deal with. Play-acting ghosts or superheroes lets kids inhabit new roles and characters, and be someone else for the evening, stay up late and eat candy. What’s there not to love?
Dealing with fear
We all have something we’re scared of, as it’s a natural instinct to react to something possibly dangerous. With kids, it’s important to take these feelings seriously, acknowledge and discuss them, no matter how irrational. This provides an opportunity to talk about the anxieties and see how to deal with them. Some kids can be more sensitive than others, but there are also some fears the kids pick up from their parents, watching them being afraid of things such as spiders, and quite often fears arise from unsuitable entertainment such as TV shows meant for older audiences.
When babies get scared, they need the comfort and safety of their parents to calm down. But what about older kids, how do they soothe themselves or control the emotions of fear? It can be easier in the daytime – they can see and understand where the real and imagination differ and discuss the facts – some fears are not real.
Toddlers from 2 years onwards and up to school age can be very scared of the dark and monsters, and bedtimes might be scary, as kids start imagining things in the dark. Providing kids with tools, either physical such as night lights or flashlights can help, but there are also good mindfulness and relaxation exercises that can help. Playing can also help, for example getting used to the dark by playing fun games in the dark, might make it easier to be comfortable in dimmer settings.
There are some great fun tools to keep monsters away, such as appointing a security toy that is guarding the room, or making a sign together that bans monsters from entering the room, and hanging it at the door or other possible routes.
Confronting fears is possible as long as the kids get to do it slowly at their own pace and with the adults’ support and security. Step by step, positive behaviour should be rewarded as they are able to overcome their fear. Bravery is worth celebrating!
Recommended games on Hatch Kids that deal with emotions and courage:
- Halloween memory
- Critter escape
- Toca Boo
- Old Man’s Journey
- Pepi House
- Goodnight Mo
- Fuzzy House
- Nighty Night Forest
Read more about fear support here:
Read more about Halloween here: