How we do Halloween, when we don’t do Halloween.

As a child, growing up in a part of South London which was, at the time (early 90’s) rather under-represented, Halloween was a given. Halloween seemed to be everywhere, and everyone celebrated it. Or at least that’s how it felt when I was 7 years old. I had a couple of very makeshift outfits, remember getting lucky with sweets for a few years in a row. I have experienced it, shared it with friends and also understood that as a Muslim family, we don’t really go in for it. My parents had humoured my brothers and I in the hope that once we had tried it a couple of times, we would grow out of it.

They were right. We did. And now, with my own children I am at a crossroads as to how to approach it. I can see the perspective of it as harmless fun, as a joyful way to bring in the dark days and colder months. A way to connect with other children in the neighbourhood and much of the ‘frightening’ aspects have definitely been watered-down. However, as a family we are intentional about deciding that it’s not something we want to encourage, especially as we are trying to make much effort to nurture our own traditions and heritage. To water the seeds of pride in our background, practice storytelling and bond ourselves to our own chains of ancestry and belief.

As a celebration to witness, we are happy to do this. To learn about the family fun that others do, we think is great. But choosing our own is also very important to us.

We took a rather ‘halloweeny’ trip to a pumpkin farm this week during the school holidays, and had a lot of fun, choosing our own and having a good laugh at all the decorations. But deeper than that, marvelled at mother nature’s ability to create such beautiful and bounteous produce, we stroked the ridges and bumps in pumpkins of all sizes and shapes. We learnt that pumpkin vines have tiny white flowers and counted the seeds which had exploded out of an unfortunate specimen.

Here is a peek at our first ever pumpkin picking experience:

Girl in Pumpkin field before halloween
Searching for the right sized pumpkin

Selection of pumpkins
Some turban pumpkins in here too!

Girl feeling pumpkins
Feeling the ridges and textures of the pumpkins

Striped pumpkin selection
We think these are Carnival pumpkins

two children playing halloween pumpkin bowling
We loved pumpkin bowling!

It was a really beautiful, wet and misty day. Witnessing without committing to Halloween. It feels comfortable, kind, and rooted in our truth.

How do you manage Halloween, if it is not your family tradition or religious practice to celebrate it? How do you feel about it and how do your children feel? I would love to hear.

Of course, if you do love Halloween you can read up lots more from the Babyccino Kids archive here.

Love and light

Zainab x


Comments (8)

October 29, 2020

This is a lovely piece and my family shares your approach to this celebration. I love how you spoke of watering the seeds of pride in your own background. Thank you for sharing your voice on here, it’s much needed and has brought me some joy to find a perspective that my family can relate to.

Zainab in London
October 30, 2020

Thank you Sanaa, I’m really touched that you and your family can relate. Sharing collective experiences has a very connecting effect, so its great to hear your feelings x

October 29, 2020

My parent’s didn’t celebrate Halloween as kids, or even know what it was. They’re both immigrants to the US. But they let us celebrate the traditions because they thought it was fun and harmless. I’m now raising kids in the US and I love Halloween. I decorate my house, my yard and do pumpkin bread and soups. I also think Halloween is a good time to talk to my kids about nature’s bounty and the harvest but also, to talk about death. It’s important to me for my kids to understand that death is part of life and while sad, not scary. A lot of Halloween, ghosts and skeletons and zombies, are very emblematic to me about how people were taught to fear death and the dead. But I also explain to my kids that it also shows how we so love our dead and departed friends and family that we can’t bear the idea of letting them go. So we hold on to our dead through these macabre customs. When you look at it like that, Halloween is actually very deep and beautiful.

Zainab in London
October 30, 2020

Thank you for your comment, Kiana. The mention of respecting those passed has been an aspect I have found quite fascinating, and I agree it is a good time to bring up something important and sensitive. Your interpretation does sound very beautiful indeed x

October 29, 2020

How about looking at halloween as a fun night that children enjoy and love and talk about with their friends . Not every thing has to have a religious meaning you can take from it what you want . We all love halloween my son and daughters adore picking their costumes and decorations, we love the fun and games of it . Sometimes you just need to enjoy things and not scrutinize it. Happy halloween 🎃🥳

Zainab in London
October 30, 2020

Thank you Carol, I love that your whole family are involved and it is such a joyful festivity! I hope you have an amazing weekend ahead 🙂 x

October 30, 2020

This is such a thoughtful post. And, well-timed for me personally, I was feeling a little put out that our school is holding a “dress as your favorite book character day” a week after Halloween (so many costumes in so little time!), but I came across Zainab’s essay and can now appreciate “dress as a book character” days as the more inclusive choice.

Zainab in London
October 30, 2020

Thank you for your comment Kate, and I’m pleased it has brought a new perspective. A non-specific book character dress-up day sounds like a really thoughtful way to involve everyone, no matter their beliefs. Enjoy! x

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