Tuesday, 20 February 2018
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Halloween 2016

Hallowed Traditions

Rebecca Reid, author and mother-of-three from Bangor does Halloween the Reid way…

I’m not sure about you guys, or any other family for that matter, but all I know is when it comes to festive holidays, we’re all about tradition and Halloween is no exception. In fact, it’s just the beginning. It doesn’t need to be spooky or scary or nasty, it just needs to be filled with good, old-fashioned family fun.

The excitement starts early (doesn’t it always with kids?), usually around mid-September, if not a little earlier. I’ll walk in on a conversation about costumes, who’s being what and how can they prepare? The excitement is palpable, with Mummy being the dampener, telling them there’s a long time to go yet and how about they spend a little longer hoaking through all the costumes we’ve already got in the Halloween dressing up box. Yes, the one overflowing with witches and fairies, vampires and spiders. It’s sure to jog a few ideas. In the meantime, I best get on to the tradition part.

Every year, we spend the night before Halloween glamping. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same place, or different, so long as we’re all packed up and away. We grab all the essentials for any Halloween trip, well, any that we do. Silly, simple crafts that I’ve picked up in the supermarket or a pound shop. Neon-glowing jewellery to be worn on the crisp, cold (and hopefully dry) nighttime walk. Three, very big, very orange pumpkins to be carved. Hot chocolate and marshmallows to be drunk with our favourite Halloween stories before bedtime and of course, our dressing up for the Ulster Folk Park the following day. Sometimes we’re hidden away in a little log cabin, other times it’s a less exciting hotel room – this year it’s to be a wooden pod hidden in the forest! But no matter where it is, so long as all the usual festive activities are there then there’s plenty of excitement.

Halloween day is packed with fun from first thing in the morning until they crawl sleepily into bed, much, much later that night. We fill our day with the witches and wizards at the Folk Park, hot chocolate in the Square and picnics huddled chillily around a stove in the Old School or maybe a house. Come mid-afternoon (when all our fingers are going numb and little legs are getting tired) we creep home to decorate the house and finish making any spooky treats and dinners we need for tonight’s party. Yes, adults and kids all get dressed up and we do it like the old days – ducking for apples, lucky icky dip, finger and toad stew, sparklers and then it’s time to hit the roads for rhyming.

We adore Halloween rhyming, but it’s becoming a dying craze in our little town, with only a few families still doing it on our streets. It used to be that you couldn’t squeeze in a thirty-minute show between answering the door to singing children but now, well, you’re lucky if you get one on the night. But whatever the weather, we go out, parents hiding behind walls to watch as kids charge up driveways and come back loaded with sweeties, their little faces getting stickier with every house. It’s the magic of Halloween, this is what I remember and it’s what I want mine to remember too.

Whatever you get up to this Halloween with your little ones, I hope you enjoy some spooky, festive fun. Happy Halloween!

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