Halloween represents different things to different people. To some it’s a pagan festival with infinite symbolism and depth. Others see it as a seasonal gateway to the paranormal. For the youngest of our society Halloween is a festival full of fun, trick or treat and all things ghoulish.
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When I reminisce about Halloween, memories of candyfloss, toffee apples and my mother’s fabulously famous costumes flood back - I was always the belle of the school Halloween parade.
Childhood Halloween costumes are synonymous with embarrassing photo opportunities and mine were no different. Some were as obscure as a spider. Yes a spider. It can be done.
Simply, in true Blue Peter style - take the child, preferably young enough so as the humiliation of being a spider does not quite register. Then, place the child in one black leotard and a pair of black tights - hence the spider’s abdomen. Next, more tights, four to be exact. Are you getting the idea? These are the legs. The tights are then stuffed with paper and voila - spiders legs, which, once sewn onto the little darling’s torso will uncannily resemble a spider. Trust me. I won the coveted first prize in my primary school’s Halloween pageant.
For true effect the legs should be strung together so as to symbolise fluidity - in other words - the child can lift the arms up and down when he/she moves. The piece de resistance is the head gear, (more tights) Two antennas are attached along with a cake load of thick black face paint and then a doting mother has a mini spider to parade!
Amidst the sarcasm though, Halloween was a memorable time for me as a child, as I am sure it is for most children. I sometimes think my mother taking the time and ingenuity to make all my little costumes made me glow.
Halloween is definitely one of the most important festivals for parent-child relationships compared to Christmas, which has been turned into a commercial odyssey. Of course parents have the joy of watching their children’s faces light up with glee as they open their presents. But in a cynical way Santa Claus gets all the credit.
For children the opposite can be said for Halloween. No one but mum or dad makes Halloween special. It is the parent’s participation that the little cherubs will remember. “Dad took me trick or treating. It was great”. “Mum made my costume. I looked soooo scary”.
- A biased opinion should be made eternally objective when one is speaking of
Of the costumes my mother made for me I feel proud, though admittedly I was sometimes a little bemused, especially when I donned the infamous, “Jester costume”. If you can believe it, she had me decked out in horn shoes with bells on the end and a matching green horned hat. It was quite the ensemble - and altogether loving.
That’s not to say there weren’t the odd disasters. Oh there were. One such, when my brother was kitted out as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz - just ponder that. How you may ask? Well again my mother’s motto rang true, “Where there’s a will there’s a Halloween costume”.
Tinfoil and I mean tinfoil, rolls of it. My brother said, “I want to be the Tin Man mummy”, and my mother said, “Don’t walk near a magnet, dear” and “this may take a while”. It did a good hour - as she wrapped and wrapped layers upon layers of foil. His hat looked well, and so did his shoes, and tin foil turns out to be quite malleable so moulding it around his joints worked well, until....until he moved!
He made it to the end of the driveway OK and round to our neighbour’s house. Then I heard, “Catherine!!!” and a little sob.
His right arm had fallen off, just like that. Then his knee ripped and then an elbow. He lasted all of ten minutes. Mother was not amused, neither was David, poor David. Sympathy was low. All those rolls of foil gone to waste. The irony and laughter was thick.
The moral of this story is - Children love Halloween, be it little princesses decked out to the nines or miniature terrors bounding around like cowboys. It indulges their beautiful imaginations at that age. And if we can not indulge that when we are age, three, four, five, or six. When can we?
Just bear in mind, though. We all grow up. Aged five I again won the Halloween pageant. What was I? Well, it was during the recycle revolution. I was a recycle bin. Talk about strutting your stuff on a catwalk. Adorned with anything and everything recyclable. I looked...........well ...........Rubbish!