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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hocus Pocus of It All

As a mom of three, I always get frustrated with the scurrying around to find costumes for the kids so that they can attend school carnivals, fall festivals, Halloween parties, and the ever-so-precious evening of trick-or-treating. But, as a teacher, I get frustrated with that scurrying around mom of three that is not using Halloween and the events of the season as teaching opportunties. After all, we are our children's first and longest teachers.

 So, I did a little learning and brushing up on the holiday myself. After reading countless websites on Halloween history, I found this video online through the History Channel. It pretty much sums up what I needed to know.

How could I use this to share history and folklore with my children? Well, their most favorite part of Halloween is certainly the costumes. We know that the tradition of dressing up in costumes comes from the origin of the holiday where the village people would attempt to scare away the dead that would rise on All Hallow's Eve. The two children that are old enough the participate in dressing up for Halloween are 6 and 5.  I chose not to focus much on the hocus pocus of it all. I didn’t want to fill their heads with superstitions and tales of ghosts on Halloween, although that may be much more fun at a later age when they have the ability to dicern the information for themselves. At these ages, I would be up all night shielding them from nightmares and explaining to them that the dead people aren't going to come and get them. Also, with the current costume choices like princesses, ballerienas, and super heroes, I do not think that the aformentioned ghosts and ghouls from the dead would be very frightened. So, we decided to focus more on the traditions of our own family. I shared with them all of the different costumes for Halloween that I wore as a child, told them how my mom would always make chili with Fritoes before we went trick-or-treating and about the different type of costumes that people would wear when I was growing up. We even looked up this list of most popular Halloween costumes from the last two years found on the National Geographic Website. I will be interested to know what makes the list this year.

Ten Most Popular Adults' Halloween 2011 Costumes
1. Witch
2. Pirate
3. Vampire
4. Zombie
5. Batman character
6. Cat
7. Vixen
8. Ghost
9. Nurse
10. Scary costume/mask

Ten Most Popular Children's Halloween 2010 Costumes
1. Princess
2. Witch
3. Spider-Man
4. Pirate
5. Pumpkin
6. Fairy
7. Action/superhero
8. Batman/Vampire (Tie)
9. Disney Princess/Zombies
10. Star Wars Character

I also took the opportunity to teach them about costuming and theatrical makeup. We learned how you could create anything you wanted with the endless costumes we have around the house and the exciting plethra af mom’s theatrical makeup kit from studying Theatre in college.

Our Halloween Costumes for 2012:
1. Babuska Baba Yaga (Cora’s favorite book character)

2. A mime

3. A queen

4. A skeleton (Photo to come)

Kids ask tons of questions. Why do we celebrate Halloween? Why do we trick-or-treat? We should answer the questions and give them the facts. But, as parents, we should also ask the kids questions as well. Most of all to open up a path way for discussion. Any topic is worth a discussion when you are teaching your children.

Some questions and discussion points for kids of all ages:

1. What kind of food are pumpkins?

2. How can we trick or treat safely? 

3. When we eat lots of candy, it’s important that we also have good dental hygiene...discuss taking care of your teeth.

4. Whatever your child decides to do for a costume, discuss the origin of that costume or that character.

To wrap it up, here are some Hocus Pocus faves of our family!

All time fave "hocus pocus" show as a child and still loved today.

Fave Movies to watch during Halloween season:
- Harry Potter (all 8)
- Hocus Pocus
- E.T.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
- The Worst Witch
- The Craft

Fave Halloween Books:
The Graves Family by Patricia Polacco

Happy Halloween Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

By the Light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson

Fancy Nancy: Halloween or Bust by Jane O'Connor
The Story of the Jack-O-Lantern by Katherine Tegen

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

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