Should early years settings celebrate Halloween?
Halloween is something which is often debated in the early years as some have strong beliefs that it should not be celebrated whereas others feel it should be celebrated within settings. There is no right or wrong choice and it is often left down to the individual setting whether they choose to take part in Halloween activities or not.
Why do some settings choose not to celebrate Halloween?
Halloween was originally celebrated each year at the same time as it marked the end of summer and the start of dark, cold early nights. It was believed that on this night the realm between the living and the dead became less clear and that ghosts would return to earth and cause problems. To warn off any ghost’s, bonfires were lit and people would dress up to scare them away. There are other beliefs attached to Halloween and some societies use this night as a way of celebrating the dead and certain gods such as the god of fruits, hence the apple bobbing tradition. It is because of the focus on death that many settings choose not to celebrate Halloween; many also feel is goes against certain religious beliefs.
Halloween has since evolved and become more of a community based celebration filled with fun and treats for children. It is because of this that many settings choose to take part in Halloween celebrations and place no focus on the origins of the Halloween celebration.
What do settings who choose to celebrate Halloween do?
The settings who do decide to celebrate Halloween often hold small parties or have a week of Halloween themed activities. This often involved dressing up, messy play, making sweet treats such as decorated cakes and biscuits, pumpkin carving, room decorations and art activities.
These activities are often mindfully chosen and do not involve decorations or activities that may be perceived as scary by some, such as monsters and skulls. Instead it is more about spiders, bats, witches and pumpkins. It can be a fun time for the children and often a time when practitioners try to extend relationships with parents inviting them to join in with some of the activities or parties.
Also the majority of settings now plan based on the children’s interests as this is seen as one of the most effective ways to promote learning. Because of the vast amount of Halloween decorations and costumes that can be seen in supermarkets, shops and on T.V, many children show a keen interest in exploring Halloween.
On the other hand some settings feel Halloween is not necessary to complete these activities and that pumpkins can instead be explored as part of the Harvest festival.
The decision is ultimately down to each setting and the children and parents who attend. It may be something you wish to discuss with the parents before you go ahead and take part in Halloween celebrations. It is also important to remember that children have very strong and vivid imaginations and can easily become scared so being mindful of this when choosing activities and dressing up clothes.