Halloween seems to be a holiday that we do not outgrow! Adolescents love to dress up as someone/something else, taking on all of its inherent power, and play out their fantasy for all to see and enjoy. It is the one holiday where there is very little right or wrong and creativity can rule the day (or night). Masks and costumes provide a measure of anonymity and freedom of expression. It can be a time of fun and fantasy and expression.
The strength of attraction to Halloween is indicative of its longevity. The celebration has been around for centuries and in many cultures. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days, the holiday has always been significant. Its early beginnings are tied to agriculture and crops and the seasons. In England, the Celtics celebrated Oct. 31 as the end of the growing season and the beginning of the season of dark and cold was November 1st. To celebrate their abundance, they would parade in costumes of their animals and celebrate before their winter isolation and the earth's dormancy. The Halloween we celebrate includes influences from all of these cultures and the focus is on a celebration of fun, friendship, and abundance.
Halloween is adaptable to any age group and it is a great equalizer for adolescents. Great costumes are not necessarily tied to social status, there is less exclusivity (the more the better), and again, there is some anonymity to wearing a mask or face paint. Safety is the concern for parents, so provide them with the appropriate warnings about traffic, staying with the group, being careful about the food or candy, and when to be back inside. Make sure they know how to get the makeup off safely and have a change of clothes for later, if they are staying with a group after being out.
Many parents celebrate Halloween, too, and this is an opportunity to set a good example by practicing what you preach, following your own guidelines for safety and good sense. Halloween can be a great opportunity for a family celebration and a fun way to play together. Consider a mixed-age party, at least an early one, so that you can interact with your children's friends and help them express themselves creatively through their costume. Discussing why they chose a particular costume can open up discussions about activities, thoughts, and ideas. Creating relationships in fun can strengthen relationships during times that might not be so fun. Building relationships one day at a time and one opportunity at a time is like a savings account. You never know when you will need it.