Fun or Scary?
The two sides of Halloween
by Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To encourage us to enjoy Halloween in a constructive way.
Preparation and materials
- You will need one large pumpkin that has two different faces carved into it on opposite sides. On one side, there should be a typically scary face; on the other side, there should be an alternative face that is friendly or even funny.
Before the assembly starts, make sure that the scary face of the pumpkin is showing, and the friendly or funny face is concealed. When appropriate, you can present the alternative face.
- If a real pumpkin is not available, you may wish to have available some images of carved pumpkins and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- scary pumpkin, available at: https://tinyurl.com/zfe5bz9
- happy pumpkin, available at: https://tinyurl.com/39hzryp2
- In the Christian calendar, on 1 November, many people around the world celebrate All Saints’ Day. The official name for this day is the Feast of All Saints, often shortened to All Saints, and also called All Hallows’ Day or Hallowmas.
The word ‘Hallowmas’ comes from ‘hallow’ meaning ‘saint’ and ‘mas’ meaning ‘mass’. The preceding evening, Halloween, on 31 October, is also known as the Vigil or Eve of All Hallows.
- Christians use the word ‘saint’ to represent a person who has lived a life of exceptional holiness, and All Saints’ Day celebrates those saints. For example, Peter and Paul in the Bible are well-known as saints, but All Saints’ Day also celebrates those lesser-known saints from all over the world.
- So, 31 October is the date of All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween.
Show the scary pumpkin or the image of one.
Ask the children whether they have ever tried making a pumpkin lantern.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain that displaying a pumpkin and trick-or-treating are just some of the ways in which people mark Halloween.
Ask the children about their traditions or experiences of Halloween.
- In folklore and popular culture, there is a link between pumpkins and warding off evil. Throughout the UK and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip or swede. The carved lantern did not become associated specifically with Halloween until 1866, and this happened in North America. However, in the USA, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween.
- Therefore, as an alternative to the scary face carved into this pumpkin, why not carve a more positive, friendly face like this one?
Turn round the pumpkin to show the other face or show the smiling pumpkin image.
That way, you could show a different side to Halloween.
- Some people see Halloween as a bit of fun. They enjoy trick-or-treating, and they look forward to it each year. Other people find Halloween frightening. Some older people don’t like strangers knocking on their doors, and some children are frightened by the masks and costumes.
- Encourage the children to think about their response to Halloween and to respect people’s views, being sensitive to others’ feelings.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to listen carefully to these words by Desmond Tutu, a South African bishop who fought hard for people to be treated equally.
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through him who loves us.
Read each line in turn and ask the children what they think each line means.
Ask the children to close their eyes and reflect as you read the words again.
Thank you for all those who have lived a good life on this earth,
Demonstrating selfless love and kindness.
This Halloween, help us to focus on that which is good,
Always remembering that goodness is stronger than evil.
‘This little light of mine’, available at: https://youtu.be/cKkbIZtqhyQ (3.30 minutes long)