Once September has passed, and we are heading towards Halloween, it is so easy to feel that the colder, dark days are dragging us down into our own form of sleepy hibernation – the warm cosy bed in the morning is always harder to leave in October, and is Halloween really anything that we can celebrate as a family together anyway?
It was wonderful to discover through our reading that Halloween is also the Eve of Samhain, a pagan celebration of the New Year – an especially significant time, the Earth Goddess pictured as the Old Wise Woman who stands at the dying of the old year, on the threshold of the new*. What a wonderful re-frame of our year. No more might we feel that the winter is the last season of the year, and time to ‘survive’ until the spring, or that Halloween is something to avoid.
Perhaps then the trick is the sense we have grown up with that Halloween becoming something of a commercialised moment in the year, and the treat is that it is actually our doorway through to wonder and delight of what is to come!
Despite the costumes and frightening masks in the shops, marking the day Halloween does give us a moment in time to look towards, and prepare for, because even when your little ones are tiny, starting your family traditions – forming them, creating them, allowing them to develop around and for your family are all very wonderful exciting times.
Pumpkin carving is as simply or elaborate as your carving skills can make it; bringing the light into your home amongst the dark and cold evening is a very special, meditative craft that you can do together as a family, or when the children as a little younger, you can make the magic appear. Allowing those pumpkins to shine out in the cold evening is a wonderful beacon.
When my little one was still only one, we carved our pumpkin and lit it on our nature table in our sitting room, and as she came in from the kitchen the sense of wonder and delight was so gratifying. She couldn’t have been more amazed, and we couldn’t have felt more pleased!
Halloween is a perfect time for a family story around the lit pumpkin. There is a wonderful story about The Little Hobgoblin: A Halloween Story: http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/the-little-hobgoblin
Cooking together to make biscuits cut and iced into the shape of pumpkins or making a pumpkin soup out of the inside of your carved pumpkin are both activities that you can do together to allow the moment to be recognised and celebrated. It is a special day, and can be acknowledged in such small ways, but your little ones, they notice the feelings, and it becomes something they look forward to, year after year – however old and sophisticated they become!
It is always wonderful to focus on the animals and plants at this time of year too – noticing the squirrel tucking away the nuts for her long winter, and the leaves changing colour. There are things to notice in the garden too – seeing the garden plants fold back down into the earth; raking up the leaves for the compost heap. To us these are chores perhaps, but for our little ones, who remind us really of the wonder of life, these acts, these ‘jobs’, help us notice and appreciate the passing of the year, and the rhythms of our world around us.
The story of the enormous Turnip is always wonderful to tell as a story or as a puppet show, and even to perform together. We have always rather felt that if they had only asked the gnomes if they might pull the turnip, it would have been a lot easier… but then, ease is not the point of the story! http://www.outoftheark.co.uk/ext/pdfs/ET%20script%20for%20easy-reading.pdf
There are so many wonderful stories, poems and songs to tell and share as we notice the leaves crunching under our feet, or when we think about the gnomes and ‘root children’ who carry the flowers, animals and seeds back to mother earth, to care for them until the earth is warm enough again for them. If you don’t know Sibylle Von Olfers Story, it is a wonderful book, and she is a wonderful author. https://www.florisbooks.co.uk/book/Sibylle-von-Olfers/Story+of+the+Root+Children/9780863151064
*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling
However you and your family mark this day, happy planning, and happy new year 😉