by Sally Cameron, midwife, mother of 2 and co-owner of www.earthbabies.co.za . I am passionate, creative, trying to be Green unschooling single mom. It’s a journey.
In South Africa we have always experienced Halloween rather vicariously though American movies. I can remember watching as a kid and thinking it all looked so exciting, the costumes, the jack-o’lanterns, trick or treating. It seems like in recent years the trend to celebrate Halloween or rather the commercial version of Halloween is becoming more popular in South Africa.
Halloween has Celtic and Christian influences in it history. The Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated on Nov 1, is the end of the harvest season, and also often regarded as the “Celtic New Year”. The ancient Celts believed that on October 31, the boundaries between our physical worlds and the spirit world became blurred allowing spirits freedom to roam the earth. They believed that the dead could visit them and wreak havoc. The bonfires, jack o’lanterns and scary costumes were to scare away the dead spirits.
As Christianity spread through the region in the 800s there was an attempt to negate the pagan traditions of Sanhain and the church tried to incorporate it into its own annual celebration to honour the dead. Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 to be All Saints day, All-Hallows in Middle English, the day before was called All-hallows Eve which eventually became Halloween.
I was in the UK for 2 years over Halloween and the kids had great fun dressing up and going around to the different houses in our neighbourhood trick or treating. In South Africa with our high crime rate and big walls and security fences it makes the traditional door to door Halloween trick or treating rather more difficult. If you live on a security estate there are often organised Halloween activities where the kids can walk around. In England the kids would go around to the house that had Jack o’lanterns or other Halloween decorations so that you knew people actually did not mind their door bell being rung all night.
If you do not live in an area where there is an organised Halloween event then you can always have a party at home. Halloween lends itself to such great ideas for biscuits and cakes with spiders web icing, tomato soup for bat bloods, shaped bread dough into witches fingers with red pepper finger nails. Get all the kids to dress up and you can play Halloween games.