For a lot of parents in the UK, Halloween is about dressing up your children in cute pumpkin (or other) outfits, which when they look back on the photos, they’ll cringe and wonder why you did that to them. It’s also about keeping them entertained with sweets, or sometimes trying to offer them healthier versions and hoping that they don’t notice. Perhaps you’ll chaperone your children and their friends as they go trick-or-treating. Although, I’ve noticed less of this in recent years.
Other countries have different ways of celebrating Halloween. Some are fun, while others reduce the cost of Halloween costumes. Sometimes they can help both adults and children come to terms with the unavoidable subject of death in the family.
If you’re looking for a rewarding party game to get your children warmed up for your planned Halloween festivities, the Irish partake in a card game where children pick a card. Each one has a small treat underneath (usually money or a small sweet) which the child gets to keep. If you want something a little more adventurous, Ireland also hosts the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival. It is described as being the biggest Halloween celebration in Europe. Amongst the attractions and events are; a spooky tour, a haunted house and lots of family-friendly entertainment.
Further afield, in Mexico, they celebrate the Day of the Dead, leaving out offerings for the souls of loved ones who have passed on, believing that they return for twenty-four hours. On the surface, this isn’t really aimed at children/families. However, for those unfortunate enough to be mourning the loss of someone close to them, perhaps it is a good way to deal with death and loss.
On a more cheerful note, Portugal has a similar tradition to trick-or-treat. They knock on doors, but not in costume. When someone answers, instead of trick-or-treating they say Pão-por-Deus”, hoping to receive bread, sweets or other gifts. This certainly eliminates the expense of buying costumes,
In the Netherlands, children also go door to door but tend to sing for their treats, which overall, is a much nicer way of getting treats than what can be seen by some as threatening to trick someone if they don’t give you a treat.
China shares a similar tradition to Mexico, in which they put food and water in front of pictures of lost family members. Depending on how individual children deal with the loss, this could also be a good tradition to adapt to help them cope.
Amanda Steel is a multi-genre author. For more info about her, visit her website.