Changing Halloween traditions
by Hannah Taylor
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the origins of Halloween, and how it has been celebrated then and now.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Halloween School Assemblies PSHE BBC Teach’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.06 minutes long and is available at: https://youtu.be/ZJzs1dlCaDQ
- Optional: you may also wish to play the YouTube video ‘Autumn song for children’ before the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. It is 3.37 minutes long and is available at: https://youtu.be/8xXvVvAFEQQ
- Explain that today, we are going to be thinking about Halloween.
Ask the children if any of them know the date of Halloween and why we might celebrate it.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Point out that Halloween is a tradition that takes place every year on 31 October.
Ask the children to turn to the people sitting near them and share three things that they associate with Halloween.
Explain that for many people, Halloween is an exciting day, filled with lots of treats and fun activities.
Halloween has been celebrated for thousands of years. In this assembly, we’re going to explore how the festival has changed and what traditions still continue today.
Show the YouTube video ‘Halloween School Assemblies PSHE BBC Teach’ (4.06 minutes long).
- Explain that you are going to hold a quick quiz about the information that we’ve just heard.
- Who can remember what the first people to celebrate on Halloween were called? (Answer: the Celts.)
- Why did the Celts celebrate Samhain? (Answer: it was their new year; it marked the end of harvest time and the beginning of a long, cold winter.)
- Can you remember some of the things that the Celts did to celebrate Samhain? (Answer: they lit bonfires, left offerings of food and drink, and wore masks as disguises.)
- Who can remember the names of the days that replaced Samhain? (Answer: All Hallows’ Eve replaced Samhain and All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows’ Day) replaced Celtic New Year.)
- How were trick-or-treating and pumpkin-carving different a long time ago? (Answer: children read poems or jokes and gave gifts or treats; other vegetables were also carved, including turnips and beetroots.)
- Explain that some of the activities that happened all those years ago are still used today.
Ask the children to raise their hand if they like to carve pumpkins.
Ask the children to raise both hands if they like to go trick-or-treating.
Ask them to wiggle their hands if they like eating sweets!
- Explain that at Halloween, we also need to think about staying safe because we notice it getting darker earlier in autumn, and we often light our pumpkins with candles.
Here are some top tips to keep safe at this time of year.
- Stay far away from candles in pumpkins because our costumes can be very flammable.
- Wear fluorescent clothing at night, or carry a torch or glowsticks so that you can be seen more easily.
- Stay with your adult when trick-or-treating.
- Use LED candles or glowsticks instead of candles for lighting your pumpkins.
- And here are some top tips to have fun at Halloween!
- Make some Halloween crafts to decorate your house.
- Play Halloween games such as bobbing for apples and pin the tail on the cat.
- Go trick-or-treating.
- Have a Halloween disco.
- Decorate a pumpkin.
- Watch Halloween movies.
- Visit a pumpkin patch.
- Optional: you may wish to play the YouTube video ‘Autumn song for children’ (3.37 minutes long).
Time for reflection
Let’s all consider what we’ve learnt about the Celts and how they celebrated Halloween differently.
- Do you prefer the Celtic activities or the activities that we have now?
- What activity would you like to do that you’ve never done before? Could you include your family and friends?
Some people find Halloween scary, and others don’t agree with Halloween celebrations. Let’s remember to treat with respect people who think differently from ourselves.
Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for helping my friends.
Thank you for all the good things that you give.
‘Autumn song for children’ available at: https://youtu.be/8xXvVvAFEQQ (3.37 minutes long)