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Meaningful Ways to Honor the Halloween Season With Children

Jean is an early childhood educator in the Waldorf tradition and mother of two children.

Halloween occurs at a very beautiful and meaningful time of year. Slowing down can help you and your family honor it.

Halloween occurs at a very beautiful and meaningful time of year. Slowing down can help you and your family honor it.

Start With Mother Nature

We know that children, like adults, need to feel a sense of wonder and meaning in their lives. One beautiful way to imbue your child's and family's life with a sense of wonder and meaning is to celebrate cultural festivals. Unfortunately though, many of our modern-day festivals have lost a great deal of meaning over time—many have become commodified and shallow. Halloween is a perfect example of this. What was once a sacred time for honoring and reflecting upon nature's cycles has become only candy, costumes, and scary movies. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with these things, of course, but many of us are thirsty for more meaning. Bringing meaning into our children's lives through the Halloween season is one way to ease that thirst in our family life. Halloween is essentially a nature-based holiday, so let's start outside.

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The Halloween season is a time for honoring the change of weather, the waning of light, and death as a necessary part of life. Death does not always have to be scary, feared, and perceived as negative when we see it as part of the cycle of life that keeps the wheel turning. Without leaves dying and falling to the ground, tree roots get too cold in winter. Without flowers wilting and dropping seeds into the earth, no new flowers bloom. Without fungi decomposing plants and animals in the forest, there would be no new soil for plants in spring. Nature teaches us that we need death for life and the Halloween season is a time to contemplate and be thankful for this process. What a wonderful meaningful lesson for our children!

We don't have to directly teach this lesson, because young children are truly like sponges. They learn by absorbing and experiencing their surroundings, including the adults around them. To celebrate Halloween with young children meaningfully can be as simple as being outside. They will feel the cool wind, see the leaves falling and hear them crunch. They will enjoy searching for mushrooms and finding seeds on withered flowers. You can encourage this learning by noticing these things inwardly yourself, perhaps even conversationally pointing out what you see.

Honoring Loved Ones and Ancestors

Another wonderful way to bring meaning to your celebration of Halloween is to remember your loved ones and ancestors who have passed on. This was once an important part of family life, but nowadays how many of us even know all of our great grandparents full names and stories?

Allow your child to help you cook a meal inspired by your ancestors, name them and thank them. You can even build a little sacred space with pictures of those passed. Focus on your well ancestors, rather than those who may have caused you harm. Talk about them with your children and tell their stories. If you don't know much, ask older family members or look to the ancestors far past as you learn about their cultures and places of origin. If you can't trace any ancestry, simply lighting a candle for them and giving thanks is enough and beautiful.

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Allow Time for Rest

Resting mirrors and connects us to nature during the season of Halloween. It rejuvenates and honors our bodies and spirits. Seeds fall to sleep in the earth, bears and other animals enter their dens for an extended period of sleep, and the sun sets earlier providing more restful darkness. If your child attends daycare or school, limit after-school activities. Have dinner earlier to allow for a more relaxed pace in the evenings. Allow for longer bathtimes by candlelight, brew up a cup of chamomile tea before bed, and take your time reading that favorite bedtime story. Reflect on the day with your child and drift off to the scent of lavender or rose under the pillow. Breathe deeply.

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Celebrate in Ways That Work for Your Family

Choose just a few things to try from the suggestions above. Keep it simple. Children need so much less structured activity than we often give them. Allow them to absorb the season through experience. Let nature be the teacher. Give thanks to those who did all of this before you. You'll be glad you did.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Jean McArthur