Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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Halloween 2017

Parents’ Opinion: Happy Halloween?

The spookiest date on the calendar is creeping closer and with it all the freaky fun of your little monsters dressing to thrill and going trick-or-treating.

Last year a terrorific £310 million* was spent in the UK for Fright Night and October 31 has now become the second biggest party night after New Year’s Eve. So, do you and your family look forward to joining in with the nation’s top five Halloween activities of pumpkin carving; watching a scary movie; dressing up; decorating your home and garden or hosting a Halloween Hoolie? Or will you be hiding behind the sofa and longing for it all to be over? We wanted to know how you all really feel about Halloween and took the question to local parents to find out!

Mum Angela Atkinson admits she is batty about all the ghostly goings on saying, “I loooove Halloween. We visit the Folk and Transport Museum during the day and then go trick-or- treating at night. I think it's lovely how all our neighbours are so welcoming to the kids and really get into the spirit of it. Years ago people would've closed their curtains and pretended they weren't in! I love the spookiness and nervousness when out in the dark (that's just me not the kids) it really adds to the atmosphere. We then do sparklers and go up the Craigantlet hills to watch the fireworks.” Jan McIlmoyle also agrees it’s a wonderful opportunity for some crazy family fun commenting, “We love Halloween. Dressing up etc. is really fun for the kids – as long as it’s not too freaky!‬”

It’s not unusual for kids to start planning their Halloween outfits as soon as school starts back again but the cost of kitting them out was a thumbs down for some. Parent Claire McLernon believes that the huge array of costumes in stores puts too much pressure on parents to buy! However, she also thinks that dressing up isn’t just for the kids adding, ‘Not enough parents get into the spirit of Halloween and dress up themselves.’ ‬

Safety concerns over Halloween costumes hit the headlines in 2014 when BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman warned the nation’s parents to be please be vigilant about flammable fancy dress after witnessing the horror of her daughter’s witch’s costume catching fire from a naked flame inside a pumpkin. Thankfully, her daughter Matilda made a full recovery from her ordeal (which gave her third-degree burns on her body) however understandably, Winkleman now says she “hates Halloween”, although she also admitted that trying to cancel all the celebrations completely had turned out to be “overly ambitious.” Since the incident though, each October the Strictly star has begged for families to check that any costumes they purchase meet the British nightwear flammability standard (BS572 Test 3). ‬‬

While the celebrations seem to get bigger and more fang-tastic every year, and American traditions such as trick-or-treating continue to rise in popularity, a number of responses revealed that actually many of us hanker back to the type of Halloween activities we enjoyed during our childhood. Clare Bo believes families should, ‘Bring back all the old-fashioned Halloween games like ducking for apples or trying to get the coins out of an apple hanging from the doorframe. Brilliant!” Mum Tanya O’Prey revealed that while she used to love Halloween as a child, she now no longer feels the same way as a parent. She told Ni4kids, “My uncle had a party every year with a bonfire, sweets, apple tarts and crumbles with 20ps hidden in them. We ducked for apples, listened to stories and did a bit of trick-or-treating. It was brilliant! I now have three children of my own, eight-year-old twin boys and a six-year-old girl. I don't mind them dressing up for school discos and we enjoy carving out our pumpkins and making pumpkin soup, but I don't decorate the house and I don’t like bringing them round the neighbours trick-or-treating. I'm not sure why as I enjoyed Halloween throughout my own childhood. My husband has never ever celebrated Halloween and doesn't see what all the fuss is about.”

Knocking on doors in the pursuit of ‬building a sweetie mountain might be a major highlight of the year for kids, but not all parents feel the same way. There were obvious safety concerns for many parents about letting their children loose to roam the streets at nighttime and the majority confirmed that they always go along. The PSNI encourage this advising on their website, ‘Always go with a responsible adult, preferably a parent or guardian and stay in well-lit areas making sure you are visible. Carry a torch, glow stick or put reflective tape onto costumes.’ Another note to parents on Halloween safety that they should speak to their child about before they go out, is not to enter any house, remaining outside on the doorstep, and not eating sweets until they have been checked to make sure that they are sealed and have not been tampered with. In response over trick-or-treating fears, several parents such as Lisa Craig remarked, “I always go out with my kids! It’s far too risky‬,” and Moya McCabe said, “I watch from a short distance and they must say thank you too.”

Trick-or-treat etiquette was also an issue for some. The consensus seems to be that if you stick to the following rules, you shouldn’t go too far wrong and be able to enjoy a bewitching evening without fear of upsetting the neighbours: 1. Only head to houses which are decorated; 2. Be respectful of property and don’t trample over flowerbeds; 3. Don’t go knocking too late; 4. Be grateful – it’s a gift and even if it’s not your favourite sweet, smile and accept gracefully and of course 5. Always remember your manners, please and thank you should be chanted as often as ‘trick or treat.’ Parents also pointed out that no child should ever be asking for money instead of a sweet treat.

Ni4kids View

Love it or loathe it, Halloween has us under its spell with more and more of us getting in the spirit of the spooky season each year. With so many frightfully fantastic events happening right across NI, there’s bound to be something on near you to enjoy, or if you prefer to host your own monster mash bash, it’s the perfect excuse to get together with friends, family and neighbours for a real scream. The most important thing though is for everyone to have a hauntingly happy safe celebration so while you’re all having lots of fun, don’t lose your head and please beware of any dangers.

*Mintel 2016

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