Rumour has it that in ancient Britain November 1st was the beginning of the New Year and so October 31st was significant. On that day they believed that spirits of the dead roamed the land, often causing damage to the crops. It became the custom to welcome and appease them home with food and drink. Superstition is a powerful thing. But who knows?
Stronger rumour has it that Halloween has its roots in Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival but no one really knows what happened at the pagan festival. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III moved All Saints', or Hallows' Day from May 13 to November 1 (which made October 31 All Hallows' Eve, i.e. Hallowe'en) and instructed revellers to dress as saints instead of evil spirits.
By the middle of last century trick-
In the modern ‘believe anything’ environment schools make witches a focus of activities at this time, while shops market ghoulishness to boost spending, young people take the opportunity to do what society otherwise prohibits, and elderly people fear to open the front door, and Mums worry about the safety of their young children but fear to stand out and say no. What an odd world!
There seem to be two civilised ways you can deal with ‘trick or treaters’: you can either welcome them and hand out sweets or biscuits with a smile, or you can simply put a simple notice in the window, “No Trick or Treats Please.” Pretty simple really! Whether we want to discourage the practice of spending money on masks or whatever, which will be thrown out the next day, is another ball game, but it’s worth talking about.
The following advice was sent to us by Neighbourhood Watch
Children & Young People at Halloween
Children and young people always enjoy Halloween, but it can be a worrying time for parents. Essex Watch and The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, think Halloween should be a treat for everyone, so we have produced the following safety tips to help make sure that they have fun in safety!
Dressing Up Safely
Some like to make turnip or pumpkin lanterns – so try and make sure that costumes are flame-
Costumes should not be too long or restrict your child’s freedom to move – you don’t want any unplanned bumps in the night!
Some masks can obstruct a child’s vision, a potential danger, especially if they are crossing roads. Consider using face paints instead.
If your they are going to be outside then make sure they are wearing visible clothing – perhaps you could put reflective tape on their costumes.
Some costumes – coupled with the excitement of Halloween – can encourage aggressive behaviour. Even fake knives, swords and other costume accessories can hurt or scare people. Make sure that they understand this and that any potentially dangerous items are made of cardboard or other flexible materials.
Any child or young person seen in possession of flour or eggs, intended for throwing at property or persons, is obviously out to cause distress or trouble, and they will be spoken to and, or dealt with, by the Police or other enforcement agencies.
Having Fun in Safety
The safest way for children to celebrate Halloween is by going to an organised party. Why not hold your own with ducking for apples, doughnuts on strings and all the other fun and games of Halloween?!
Many children and young people like to go trick-
Children and young people should agree with parents or guardians in advance exactly where they are going and if possible which houses they intend to visit.
It is likely to be dark outside – make sure they have torches and, where possible, walk down well-
If they have a mobile phone make sure they take it with them and check in at regular intervals to let you know all is well.
Agree in advance a time when they will be back home and make sure one of them has a watch.
Make sure they know not to enter anyone’s house and not to accept lifts in people’s cars.
Talk through the idea of trick or treat, and make sure that those taking part don’t do anything to upset or annoy the people they visit.
Safe Treats – Food for Thought!
Ask them not to eat any sweets or other goodies that they have been given until they get home. Giving them a meal or snack before they go might help them resist temptation!
Carefully check all the things that have been given. Sweets and food that are still in their original wrappers are safest.