Along with carved pumpkins and faux spider webs, October 31 is guaranteed to bring another annual tradition - Halloween bashing. And this year, I feel the need to defend this increasingly popular event.
What do I love about Halloween? Pretty much everything.
1. It brings communities together
Everyone is just joyous to be on the streets, in their communities. One year an elderly man made his way out of his house to give out some lollies to children. We chatted to him for a while and he said it was the most fun he'd had in ages as he lives alone. The next time we saw him we waved and smiled, and the time after that we stopped for another chat.
Isn't this what community is about? Forming connections with some of the people who live in it?
Many worry that Halloween is giving the wrong message to children about stranger danger. I say that one single evening of Halloween fun per year is not going to undo years of guidance. We give age-appropriate supervision, run them by the rules of trick or treating; manners, respect and staying within our line of sight. The same rules apply, they're just a little more flexible than usual.
2. It's creative - without pressure
Creative types come out en masse, displaying their artistic finesse in a range of strange, scary and wonderful ways. Just because our costumes are mostly recycled from the year before doesn't mean I feel any pressure whatsoever to keep up with Halloween geniuses. I can happily admire the handiwork while being proud my kids came up with new ways to wear old costumes.
3. It's just one night
Children can be impulsive and half of the parenting battle is teaching them how to discern between necessary impulses and the detrimental ones. One night of supervised sugary fun isn't going to make the sky fall in, nor destroy your hard work. In fact our kids seeing us have just as much fun as them is something we all relish.
4. It's optional
Unlike Christmas, no one is making anyone participate. I hate Christmas (well, certainly the lead up to it), but I don't just get to opt out. Anyone can opt out of Halloween. Halloween is more avoidable than many of the enforced events such as Christmas.
Halloween only lasts a few hours, unlike Christmas where we're reminded of the impending expense-laden doom for months in advance. You can spend as much or as little as you wish, prepare months in advance or the night before. Kids' expectations are better managed too - no-one expects the latest Xbox for Halloween. A few lollies in a bucket and they're as happy as Larry.
If relentless trick or treaters are ruining that three hours per year, make a laminated poster that can be re-used and put it on the front door. Here's a link to a free downloadable poster to save you the hassle.
5. It's not an 'American-thing'
If you're firmly in the Halloween-haters camp, I won't try to change your mind. But for the love of all that is good please stop saying you don't like Halloween because 'it's an American thing.'
Halloween originated in the place that is now known as Ireland. There was a pre-Christian festival dating back 2000 years to mark 'summer's end' called Samhain. People believed that the onset of winter was connected with death and that on the eve of the first day of winter, the borders between the underworld and the living world became permeable, and so people dressed up in scary costumes to ward off evil spirits that crossed over.
With the mass immigration from Ireland to the United States that occurred in the 1800s, the tradition simply migrated to the US. Read more about the fascinating history of Halloween here.
6. It's harmless fun
In an increasingly serious world, it's great to shed our real identities for a few short hours. Let people have their fun, there really is no harm done.