What Halloween Masks

A very thoughtful consideration of Halloween from the eyes of little children. Perhaps because I have spent the past two days at grief workshops, this article made me wonder if forcing little children to confront death and danger while playing at adult roles and power serves a greater function or at least has the opportunity to. The power inversion of being “grown up” for a day and the freedom of taboo and prohibition breaking is empowering, perhaps, empowering enough to help prepare youngesters to face the danger and death they are forced to confront. Does confront death and danger in this controlled fashion (it may not seem controlled to the kid but it definitely is) help prepare them for facing death and danger the rest of the year? It would definitely be interesting to study why children choose to dress up as whoever or whatever. I think there is are a lot of ethnopsychology questions that could be asked in this arena as well.

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October 31st is America’s curious anomaly.  On October’s last day, as trees defoliate and nature ebbs towards the deadness of winter, parents mark the day by lifting  prohibitions.  From sugar treats to stranger visiting, what is usually forbidden falls within kids’ reach.  That day children lampoon adults, dressing up in roles of mature power (princesses, firemen, astronauts, pirates); kids arrive at strangers’ doorsteps and ceremonially threaten the grown-ups within with a veiled threat, “trick or treat.”  Without further ado  adults  hand over candy, normally a controlled substance in children’s lives.

Remarkably moms and dads don’t resent the entailed power inversion.  They support it – helping with children’s costumes and following close enough behind as young ones ring doorbells. Parents say they enjoy seeing their kids range around the neighborhood to collect booty.   On this festival of inversion, when the small powerless become mighty and the big powerful do their…

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