What Halloween Masks

3 thoughts on “What Halloween Masks”

  1. Reblogged this on Sydney Yeager and commented:
    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.

    1. I just happened to see your comment on Halloween. You’re right that Halloween offers a very controlled and framed introduction to death and dying. What is interesting and notable about that is that I had informants, both adult and young, who had experienced the death of a parent, while young. They did not enjoy Halloween very much at all. This would be an instance of puncturing the frame of the bounded ritual, perhaps to your point. In my ethnography on kids’ chronic illness (In Sickness and In Play), it might be relevant to mention too, I heard volunteered complaints from parents that children’s hospitals (where kids are facing death in reality) sell Halloween merchandise in the downstairs gift shop. The boundedness of ritual may be important to preserve — it’s fascinating isn’t it.

      By the way I have a blog on Rudolph, Santa’s reindeer, just out at http://acyig.americananthro.org/category/acyig-blog/.
      My heart goes out to you about the loss of your loved one. Nothing can really prepare us for that pain, entirely.

      Cindy Dell Clark

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