Friday, 31 October 2014

Love Hate Halloween: How to enjoy Halloween when you're just not that into it

Halloween wall batsI've never liked Halloween, probably because l don't like scary things, I prefer cute fluffy things like bunnies! As a child in South Africa in the 90s, we never made a big deal of Halloween. I just vaguely remember carving out a pumpkin one year, which was so much fun. My first real Halloween experience was when I was nine years old, in the first year that we'd moved to England. We had only lived there since around July so everything was still very new to me and I was struggling with the language as I didn't know much English at the time. A girl at school asked me if I wanted to go trick-or-treating with her, but it was the first time I had ever heard of it and thought she said "trickle treating" and I was confused. I asked what it was and she couldn't believe that I didn't know. She explained but I still didn't quite understand and thought it sounded really weird so I declined her kind offer. That night, our doorbell rang a few times and we didn't open the door because we didn't have any sweets and we felt more foreign and out of place than ever. Halloween became a time of anxiety rather than fun and to this day we have never participated in it.

I used to think it was something evil, until I learned about the origins of Halloween. It's about remembering those that have passed, including martyrs and saints. The Christian tradition is to light candles for those who have passed away, which I think is a lovely tradition. I've also heard that the idea is to ward off evil spirits, not attract them, which is what I used to think Halloween would do! That's what the dressing up in costumes is all about - it's to mimic the spirits or to make peace with them.

There is so much literature, debate and controversy around Halloween and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions and I'm also just starting to read more about it, which is really just out of my own curiosity. Having read various viewpoints about it, I think that it's just a bit of fun. I do, however, think that there are people out there who take it too far and that is when it can become something dark and sinister. I don't like the excessively gruesome costumes that look like zombies or dead people, I just find it really gross and off-putting. Same with the creepy Halloween food ideas, like hot dogs made to look like bleeding severed fingers or cake made to look like it's ripped open and splattered with blood - these are very inventive ideas but it just grosses me out too much. I'm all for the fun and cute ideas though - I know, I'm such a baby! There are loads of cute ideas on Pinterest, including food ideas, projects to try with your kids and awesome home decoration ideas for Halloween. Some of my favourites include spider infested chocolate chip cookies, cute little hanging bats that can be hung from branches or put up against against walls, and mice silhouettes that can be stuck along the steps of a staircase.

There are many different ways to have fun on Halloween if you feel like doing something but not going all out; just do it your way by celebrating in ways you enjoy or by doing things that are meaningful to you. Here are some last minute ideas:

1. Light a candle for each of your loved ones who have passed away. You can simply spare a thought for each person or say a little prayer or wish for them, or you could write down or say out loud what you'd say to them if they were here today, such as what you miss about them or what they meant to you in your life. Or you could simply have a candlelit dinner in commemoration of all who have passed.

2. Invite a few close friends over for dinner; a good way to make the most of all those awesome Halloween food and decorating ideas! 

3. Make a little treat, such as a Halloween themed cake, for you and your partner or best friend and curl up together with a scary movie. Some scary movies I can recommend are:

- The Shining (classic horror)
- The Descent (very scary and a bit gruesome)
- Darkness Falls (probably the scariest movie I've seen)
- The Others (not as scary but still good)
- The Haunting (also not that scary but probably the most enjoyable and non-gruesome scary movie I've seen)

Now that's my kind of Halloween! What will you do to celebrate this year?

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