Halloween is a scream!

'What’s not to love about Halloween?' asks columnist Christine Kempell

It’s amazing the things we pass onto our children: eye colour, mannerisms, a certain taste in food, or the urge to dress up as one of the un-dead, smear ourselves in fake blood and scare the heebie-jeebies out of each other.

Kids love to dress up, from raiding mum’s shoe cupboard to skipping round the local supermarket dressed as a fairy princess or sword-wielding prince. Halloween’s popularity has increased over the years faster than a witches broomstick, and the majority of kids embrace the chance to put on a costume and feel the thrill of scaring each other in a fun and friendly fashion. That rush of adrenalin mixed with the rush of sugar is a heady combination that is totally addictive. Of course there are also some adults who never grow out of the urge to don a ridiculous outfit and show off, myself included. There’s no greater feeling than terrifying hordes of tiny children with a carefully constructed zombie costume. Hearing their petrified screams as they run away from my ‘mwah ha has’ warms the cockles of my cold, Nosferatu-loving heart.

I know I am not the only ‘grown-up’ with this compulsion, as one look around the streets on October 31 will verify, so when it comes to packing away the pumpkins for another year, I always feel a little bit sad. Unless someone has a themed birthday party, it’ll be another 12 months before I can get my fangs out again.

I was into Vampires a long time before they became trendy, but thanks to Edward and Bella, everyone is into them.

In films and on TV, the vampires, werewolves and fear-inducing creatures of today have technological advances on their side, as well as a fine set of abdominal muscles in some cases. These computer-aided apparitions are far scarier than the ketchup covered schlock of generations past, and I embrace this progress. Some of those old monsters would be laughed out of cinemas now, with their furry tails between their legs. We all want to shield our children from bad things but watching scary movies is relatively harmless, despite the increase in technology, and should be made compulsory for anyone over the age of the recommended film classification guidelines (all right, not compulsory, but certainly not frowned on as some parents do). Every child has a different scare-o-meter and as parents we have a sixth sense as to what we know our kids can watch, but sometimes we are guilty of over protecting them, when really they could benefit from a little bit of fear.

Mothers who refuse to let their children watch anything remotely scary are setting them up for a fall, as by the time they are in their teens they won’t know their orks from their elbows. When their peers are on either ‘Team Edward’ or ‘Team Jacob’ and they are still on Team Tom and Jerry then their credibility in the classroom will be slaughtered. Introducing a hint of horror at the right time and in the right doses does the world of good, that’s why Halloween is a party for all ages to embrace. I love the way their imaginations run riot at this time of year, as they attempt to out-scare their pals with outlandishly creepy creations. One of my proudest moments was during a Halloween party held at my youngest daughter’s junior school a few years ago, when she freaked out the teachers by wearing a white blood-splattered nightie whilst carrying a plastic severed hand. That’s my girl.

Some say Halloween is commercialised gobbledygook that has been made popular to increase the profits of severed hand manufactures and Haribo, but I say so what? Let your children’s imaginations run wild and werewolfish, gather round the pumpkin lanterns to tell tales of ghosts and goblins or watch a vampire movie and let them decide whose team they’re on. (Team Jacob all the way!) Enjoy your chance to dress up this Halloween no matter how young or old you are. Go on and get your fangs out and put your claws away. Let’s banish those evil spirits and the miseries that bah-humbug the whole tradition with a blood-curdling cry. ‘TRICK OR TREAT!’

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