Memories of Boomer Hallowe’en Celebrations — Hallowe’en May Actually Have Been Good for our Health!

Do you still dress up for Hallowe’en? Do you hand out candy at your front door and put a jack-o-lantern in your front window?

It’s interesting to note that there are a number of studies that show how Hallowe’en can actually help us. According to the Greater Good Science Center, “the psychology of Halloween is not about promoting fear and violence, but rather it’s about learning to control those things.” Neil Gaiman writes in his novel Coraline: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Jeremy Adam Smith says that Halloween movies from the past “can help us face our worst fears.” And Elizabeth Svoboda says “there might be a good reason for our obsession with the dark side — it can help us guard against it.” Do check out the Greater Good Science Center for some very interesting articles that support the practice of Hallowe’en.

Well how is Hallowe’en celebrated where you live? In my small town there are a few places that have ghosts and goblins hanging from their front porches or tied to their trees. Sometimes you can see huge cobwebs draped across their windows, inflatable witches on broomsticks, or strings of small orange pumpkin lights adorning people’s homes. Mostly, however, Hallowe’en gets celebrated in school with parties and dress-up parades.

If what the writers for the Greater Good Science Center assert is true, it is a shame that Hallowe’en is not as big a thing as it was when I was a kid growing up in the sixties. Back then we all went out in our homemade costumes, carrying large pillowcases so that we could get as many (large, not bite-size) treats as we possibly could from neighbours whom we all knew well.

I often remember being invited in to people’s homes to show off our costumes. One man in our neighbourhood even asked my friend Janice and me to sing a Beatles’ song. We were dressed like John and Paul, carrying guitars made out of yardsticks and cardboard. I think we sang “I want to hold your hand.”

We often stayed out until 9 p.m., and parents only accompanied the youngest of children. Those were the days when there were no razor blades in apples, no poison put in candy, and no one thought about peanut free candy for kids with allergies. (I only buy the peanut-free candy now, which I believe is a good thing.) Since we Baby Boomers celebrated Hallowe’en years ago, it has changed a lot. We have to be more careful and exercise more caution than previous generations. Sadly, we know how quickly Hallowe’en and other holiday celebrations can turn tragic, as in the case of the over 130 young people who were crushed to death at such an event in Seoul this past weekend. We remember their families and loved ones in our prayers.

What are your memories of Hallowe’en? Why not share a memory with a grandchild or other young person? Talk about the things they may find scary. It may help them to face their fears and promote healthy self-esteem.

Happy Hallowe’en!

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