Samhain is one my favorite times of year. I love almost everything about autumn; however, something that I don’t love is Samhain’s close association with horror. I volunteered to help at the kindergarten activity day. I wore a red and white shirt because it was clean and fit. One of the kindergarten students told me with a very grave face that Freddy Krueger was going to get me on Halloween because of the color of my shirt. She is five. To her, Halloween is about being afraid of the bogeyman and candy. To me, Samhain has a much deeper meaning. As an alternative to the traditional scary stereotype, I want to share my list of family friendly Samhain activities with you.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch & Carve Jack o’Lanterns
The ancient Celts believed the veil between worlds was thinnest on October 31st. As a result, ghosts and spirits could visit the living on that day. As far as I can tell, that is the origin of Samhain’s reputation as spooky and scary. To protect themselves from malevolent spirits, the Celts carved faces into turnips and beets. When Halloween spread to North America, pumpkins replaced turnips. As a result, modern Jack o’Lanterns were born.
If you plan to make Jack o’Lanterns, there are two options. Both are family friendly, but one is definitely less messy than the other. If you prefer the less messier option, craft stores carry a variety of artificial pumpkins this time of year. Often, you can even find them on sale. Simply purchase craft pumpkins, black acrylic paint and paint brushes. It is easy to paint any face or design on the plastic pumpkins. Another advantage to this method is that the pumpkins are reusable year after year.
If you prefer a zero waste option, real pumpkins are available at almost every grocery store this time of year. Craft and big box stores carry pumpkin carving supply kits at very reasonable prices. The tools are washable and reusable. Be warned that cleaning out pumpkins is very messy. For us, it is definitely an outdoor activity. After the season is over, I just compost the pumpkins.
If you want to carve a witchy pumpkin, Vegan Kitchen Magick has an excellent tutorial for carving a pentagram pumpkin.
Trick or Treat at a Local Nursing Home
In the past two months, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the U.S. healthcare system. In our area if you need intensive inpatient physical therapy, the only option is a nursing home. That is a really difficult realization and situation. Imagine being sick and wanting to go home more than anything, but that isn’t possible.
The nursing home where my Grandfather lived hosted a harvest festival for the residents and their families every year. When I was growing up, I really enjoyed it. Other nursing homes host a trick or treat night. The residents love to see everyone in their costumes. It is a bright spot in their day.
Every nursing home has an activity director. If you are interested in visiting, call the facility’s activity director and ask if they are hosting anything for Halloween. Ask if there is anything that you can do to help and if your family can participate.
If you do visit, it might be fun to bring homemade cards to the residents. I was very into scrapbooking a few years ago, so we already have the supplies to make cards. Most residents that I know cherish anything homemade.
Visit a Corn Maze
In ancient times, mazes and labyrinths were used for meditation, relaxation and rituals. During the Renaissance, the idea reappeared in the form of hedge mazes. Even today, many European castles and estates have elaborate hedge mazes. A hedge maze even played a prominent role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
However in general, mazes or labyrinths were never extremely popular in the U.S. until the 1990s. In 1993, a small farmer in Pennsylvania created the first modern corn maze. It only covered three acres and had less than two miles of pathways; however, that small maze sparked a worldwide interest in corn mazes. Now, corn mazes are found almost everywhere.
With their rise in popularity, corn mazes have become an additional source of income for farms. In order to attract more visitors and money, many farms also set up hayrides and bonfires for visitors. It can be a fun and memorable experience. I vividly remember my one and only hayride. It was a bit too adventurous for me as a preteen. I was terrified of falling off the wagon. However, my more daring friends absolutely loved it. I definitely will never forget it.
Volunteer to Clean Up at a Local Cemetery
One of the themes of Samhain is honoring your ancestors. While we have ancestors who lived long ago, we also have closer ancestors. A way to honor those who have passed is to volunteer at your local cemetery. Most cemeteries have a caretaker or contact person. Ask them if there is anything that you can do to help. Unfortunately, litter is almost everywhere today. Picking up trash at the cemetery is very helpful and requires very little time.
If your local cemetery is not receptive to volunteering, clean up around your ancestors graves. Bring flowers or small tokens that would be meaningful to the deceased. A gesture doesn’t have to be grand in order to be meaningful.
Host a Witchy Movie Night
I have a love/hate relationship with tv and movies. I discontinued our satellite services a few years ago. While my family loves television, I try to limit our screen time. Honestly, it’s a struggle. Whenever we do watch movies and tv, I like us watch together and make it an event. Samhain is the perfect time for a family friendly witchy movie night. Bake treats and make it a tradition that everyone will remember.
Here are a few of our favorite family friendly witchy movies and tv episodes:
- Practical Magic – At its heart, this is a movie about family and being true to yourself. Unhappy with being different, sisters Gilly and Sally Owens both rebel against their family legacy of witchcraft. But when tragedy strikes, the sisters discover their strength together.
- The Good Witch – The original Good Witch movie premiered in 2008. It is now an entire franchise with multiple movies and a tv series. After purchasing a house with a haunted reputation, mysterious Cassie Nightingale moves to the small town of Middleton.
- Charmed “All Halliwell’s Eve” (Season 3, episode 4) – I loved the original version of Charmed. In my opinion, the best episode of the series is the Samhain episode. The sisters are magically transported to colonial America and lose their supernatural powers. In order to return home, they need to connect with the real magic of Samhain.
- Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost – There are hundreds of animated Halloween movies; however, very few of them give an accurate representation of Wicca and Paganism. Surprisingly, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost is one of them. It definitely isn’t perfect, but it is the best animated film that I have ever found to explain Wicca.
- The Harry Potter Movies – While they don’t represent Wicca or Paganism, the Harry Potter movies are full of magic. It’s a wonderful escape to a world where witches are positively represented.
I hope that this list of family friendly Samhain activities is helpful. If you decide to try any of them, please leave me a comment below to let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you.
If you like puzzles, try our free Samhain word search printable.