by Kerry Haggard, mother to the two most beautiful boys that ever there were. She’s willing to do pretty much anything for the two little Haggards, but every now and then she does draw the line – and hopes that they will understand why one day. You can follow her on Twitter: @KerryHaggard
When I was growing up, Hallowe’en was a thing we saw on American movies – it was never a big deal in South Africa, probably because our parents were concerned about the security of children wandering around the streets after dark, and because dressing up in black to have fun was probably against some apartheid law or other.
While I think most parents still have security concerns, the advent of security estates and boomed off areas has created safe pockets for trick or treating – and then of course there’s the business opportunity for everyone from Pick n Pay and Woolworths to China City to make extra income from costumes and themed sweets.
Playschools, crèches, primary schools and communities have Hallowe’en themed parties across the suburbs now, commemorating a Celtic festival (or a selection of festivals, depending on your choice of origin (Halloween background) that they have little knowledge or insight about. Children whose parents have spent a small (or large) amount of money on costumes compete to see who is dressed the best, and who can liberate the largest haul of sweets from willing neighbours.
So why am I particularly ‘omgekrap’ about an extended fancy dress party?
Hallowe’en is not a part of my culture, just as Makar Sankranti, Purim and Hola Mahalla are not part of my culture – and interesting though they are, I don’t celebrate them. Hallowe’en may have been a part of the culture of my Celtic ancestors, but it has never part of my culture as a Christian-raised South African.
I totally get that Hallowe’en is an opportunity for kids to dress up and have fun – but why do we need to wait for a festival that has nothing to do with our history or culture to do that? Why do we not make a bigger deal of our own Heritage Day, for example, and invest more time in celebrating that with fancy dress and local food (because let’s face it, there is more to South African food than braaiing!).
So what do I do about Hallowe’en, without making my children feel like they’re the only ones not going to a city-wide party? I’m happy for them to dress up for parties, at friends’ houses or at school, but I draw the line at letting them beg for sweets on the streets when there are others not so far out there who don’t even have food for one meal a day, never mind three.
Talk about a juggling act… but when was parenting ever anything but?