Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!


Happy Halloween, everyone!!

I'm hoping you're Halloween is starting off a littler happier than mine.  I woke up this morning and it's still raining....and shows no signs of stopping any time soon....which means there won't be a Halloween parade this morning.  Boo!  And I don't mean that in the ghost version.

This morning, the kids from the primary school (which includes Jelly) were going to be coming to our school so the K-6th grades could parade downtown and collect candy.  Peanut has been looking forward to it all week long...and now there's a very big possibility that it's going to get cancelled.

It won't cancel the Halloween fun, but it will cancel Jelly's chance of hanging out with me for a couple of hours this morning.

Rain or shine, the rest of the Halloween festivities will continue at school.  Well, we'll have a party at the end of the day today.  That's about it.  Which is a real bummer, because I really didn't write any plans for today.  But an extra day of learning is better than less days, I guess.  And I wonder how many of them will really be focused on math this morning?  HA!

I have to say, I feel really blessed to be working in a school that still allows Halloween festivities.  I know MANY schools have gotten rid of it altogether and have switched to a more "Fall" theme.  That means no costumes.  

I get to work in a school that does both!

My glee is not religiously charged, it's more childishly charged.  Kids, for the most part, really enjoy Halloween.  The gore or scare factor is completely gone, and the most scary costume I plan on seeing each year is a werewolf (that resembles a cute puppy) or a vampire that looks like a preppy kid more than Dracula (thank you, Twilight).  

The school is smart about their Halloween costume restrictions.  No weapons.  No gore.  Age and school appropriate..meaning not too much skin being shown off.  The school pretty much transforms in to a place of fairies and princesses, superheroes and soldiers.  It's such a big deal to many of these kids to get a day that they can dress up in a costume that has been hand made by a parent, specially picked out at Walmart, or creatively thrown together that morning with whatever is laying around the house or in their closets.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the whole Halloween thing.  And, one thing I hear all the time is that it's not appropriate to celebrate such a holiday.  

But, there are a lot of religious festivals that are honored with the day.  Halloween has a Celtic history, being a celebration of the end of the fall harvest and the movement in to Winter.  The holiday is known as Samhain and is the Celtic new year.  But just like many other Christian holidays, the church quickly took over the pagen celebration in the 8th Century by creating All Saints' Day.  The day after was then pegged as All Souls Day, another Christian holiday observed in Europe, where the dead were remembered and honored.

In Hispanic Culture, Halloween is The Day of the Dead.  It is a day of celebration and happiness while those that have passed are remembered and honored.  Colorful costumes are worn, food is shared, and families gather to pay homage to those that have been lost.  

We have a very large Hispanic population in our area, as well as a large Christian population, and many other populations that all have some holiday tradition that falls around this time, so I feel that it's quite fitting that Halloween is still celebrated in our school.  

Unfortunately, though, there are still many people that are convinced that Halloween is a Satan worshipping holiday.  But, then again, many people still associate Pagen people as Devil Worshippers - which couldn't be further from the truth.  And, if you really look at the celebration of Halloween, its history with any culture, and its roots...there's really nothing evil about it.  

Yes.  There are some cultures who believe that the "portal" between life and death is at it's thinnest on Halloween night...that the dead can actually communicate and cross back over.  Which doesn't sound too cheery or celebrationy.

But, I wonder how many of those people who are bitterly opposed to this type of celebration "communicate" with passed loved ones.  How many of them speak to them?  Have celebrations for them?  I honestly don't see much difference.  Most of us know that we're not going to wake up tomorrow morning to find out that ghosts and zombies are walking the roads.  

And yes, I know how much of a risk I'm taking with this stance.  But, if you look back at my posts from over the years... you'll hear the same old story each time.  

It's not about taking a side, it's about not having a side.  

OK, I suppose that's wrong.  I do have a side.  I believe that there should be a freedom to celebrate a holiday.  That's my side.

It's about not getting rid of something just because there are a few people that disagree with it.  And, I know that sounds a little hypercritical.  Why should people be able to celebrate a holiday when there are people opposed to it?  If it were banned, I'd be asking the question Why should something be banned just because people are opposed to it?

But, I truly feel that despite any history or hard feelings or's a day for the kids.  They LOVE Halloween just because they get to dress up, eat some treats, and have a good time.  And that's what I feel it should be about.  There aren't any classes going on at school today that push the cultural beliefs of Halloween traditions.  There may be some historical information shared in the jr. high, but I know the elementary classes won't be going in to all that.  To the kids, it's just another day to have a good time.

And any time we promote kids having a good time, I'm IN!!

I somewhat agree that there should just be four seasonal holidays each year:  A fall festival that includes Halloween, a winter party that includes Christmas, a spring party that highlights Valentines Day and/or Easter, and a summer party that just celebrates the end of school.  

But, for some reason, I don't see near as many people trying to get Christmas and Easter parties banned from school like they do for Halloween.  And, yes, I know that in many schools those parties are gone, too.


Which is my point, here.  As long as HOLIDAYS are still celebrated and appreciated in my school, I am very thankful for that.  Nothing is pushed "religiously", but we decorate our school for Christmas, have a Christmas concert, and have Santa make a visit.  We put up bunnies and colorful egg decorations for Easter.  Heck, I have bulletin decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Independence Day (even though we're not in school then), Black History Month.... you name it, I've probably got the bulletin board decoration for it.

I am a very firm believer that exposure helps create acceptance.  What I mean by that is, many kids create biased opinions on a variety of things that stem from parental or other influential opinions.  Kids often fear what they don't know.  So, other cultures and religions and celebrations are often ostracized or opposed because they are different or outside the realm of what religion/belief system is upheld in the home.

However, when you teach in a school that represents about 20+ cultures and countries, there are bound to be different religions and beliefs that are very much unknown.  To our cultural visitors.

I think it's very important that kids from other countries and cultures are exposed to some of the cultural celebrations of our country.  But, if we are going to share our Christmas and Easter traditions, we can also expose our Halloween traditions.

And, I know there will be some people who read this and believe that the Christmas and Easter traditions should also be thrown out of schools, too.  I just hope and pray that never happens to our district.  I felt like I won the jackpot when I heard that holidays were not only recognized, but celebrated in our district.  Not because of MY beliefs, but because of the fantastically fun opportunities I was going to have with my kids.  More holidays means more days where my kids can have a good time.  And that's what it all comes down to for me.  KIDS LOVE CELEBRATING!!!

So, this morning, if the rain takes our parade away, I'll come up with some fun learning games to play.  We'll have some math games during math time.  Some spelling games during our spelling time.  And so on, and so on.

Speaking of which, I should probably get to getting ready.  I have three kids who are all dressing up BIG time this morning.

Peanut is dressing up as some form of crazy looking doll thing.  Somewhat bringing the scare factor in to her design.  Creepy make-up and crazy hair are going to highlight her fun and colorful costume.  I can't wait to share pictures with you tomorrow.

Butter is going to be a girl.  Very brave costume with the grade he's in.  Long, black hair.  A black dress, and black sandals are the focus for his costume.  And Peanut will be providing make-up assistance.  His coach has already warned him that today will be a day of teasing and taunts.  But, it's good for Butter to step out of his comfort zone.  It's all in good fun.

My little Jelly picked out a pink bunny as her costume.  Simple.  Easy.  Comfy.  Pink sweat pants, a pink t-shirt, pink bunny ears and a fluffy tail were all that were needed for her costume.  But, she's been SOOOOO excited to put it on all week long.  I'm thinking that a pink nose and whiskers may also be in order.

Momma, that's me, will be dressing up in black sweat pants and a black shirt.  Once I get to school, I'll be pinning on some white felt dots and transforming myself in to a domino.  Which is what the entire 3rd and 4th grade hallway will be dressing up as.  Easy.  Simple.  Comfy.  Just taking a peg out of Jelly's book.  Any day in which I get to wear sweats is A-OK with me!!  It's a lot less crazy than I've normally gone this time of year, but as long as I'm participating.. I'm happy.

OK, time to let the transformations begin!!

Have a WONDERFUL Halloween, everyone!!


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