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Celebrating the Devil’s Birthday October 29, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


It was just a matter of time. Sure enough, last week one of my students said, “My mom told me Halloween is the Devil’s birthday.” “Well, that can’t be,” I replied, “Because my birthday is in April.” A quizzical look. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

I try to be hopelessly PC. “Well, we all have different ideas and opinions. That’s what makes our world so interesting!” I say through clenched teeth. At my school, we arrange for alternative activities for children whose parents don’t want them to participate in the Halloween Parade.

Several years back, I had a family who had called their daughter’s first grade teacher to suggest prayers for her. They’d also called to make sure that the teacher wasn’t planning on coming to school dressed as a witch on Halloween. I’m not going to even go THERE. I don’t have to worry ’bout stuff like that since I keep my broom parked in the corner. I tell the kids that’s my transportation. Hey, can’t you tell I’m kidding?

When I taught a bilingual second grade class, my students had no idea how much Spanish I really knew. (The answer is not much.) But one day I was sweeping up a mess and noticed two girls watching me. I said, “Una bruja, si?” (A witch, yes?) The look on their faces was priceless.

My one complaint about Halloween is that if I see one more Scream mask, I’m really going to scream. Okay, make that two. In Los Angeles, it’s usually hotter than Hades on Halloween. Herding a bunch of squirmy kids around in their itchy polyester costumes IS a devil of a job.

My school has a parade, though only children dressed as storybook characters can win a prize. So, we have a lot of grim reapers who are just plain grim, since they can’t carry their scythes, and pirates without swords. When it comes time to change into their costumes for the parade, I’m in charge of the girls. There is always a plethora of princesses. When I taught fourth grade, I couldn’t help but notice that one of the “princesses” looked more like a Vegas show girl. It was only later we learned she was actually 14!  Ay carumba!

My friend Cathy sent me a link to a great story from The New York Times on how the French are starting to warm up to the idea of “Alowine.” Notice how it has “wine” in it. It’s called Pumpkin Eaters, and it’s hilarious.


1. Catherine Sherman - October 29, 2009

You do a great job juggling all of the languages and cultures you encounter every day, and in such an amusing and educational way. Thanks for the fun post.

Please photograph Maisie in her costume this year!

When I first saw the article on “alowine” I thought — leave it to the French to turn Halloween into a wine festival! Then I saw they made Halloween into a French whine festival. I wonder whether they can make pumpkin wine. There is pumpkin beer…


2. Michelle - October 29, 2009

Today my children asked why they are not allowed to dress-up at their school for Halloween. They asked me this question as I drove them to their Christian school. Please keep in mind, that I went to a Catholic school, and we were always celebrating and dressing up for Halloween. But, to Christians, Catholics might as well be Devil worshipers! So I told my children that some people believe that Halloween is the Devil’s birthday, and they both looked at me quizzically.

Instead of Halloween, they celebrate Crazy Hat Day! This is a day where Mommy puts together a hat according to the chosen theme. Usually it is a Biblical theme, but this year they chose crazy, fun facts! I put together a steam train… and yes, I said I put it together. I am the only mommy who admits to actually doing the hat for my child. It turned out great, but we didn’t win. All that hard work for nothing… maybe the Devil made me do it!

Tomorrow is Halloween, and my daughter has free-dress. But she isn’t even allowed to wear a pumpkin T-shirt. Can’t Halloween just be a nice, fun time for our kids?

The other day in your class, the kids asked me what I was going to be for Halloween. I told them that I don’t dress up, and then they asked if I was going to be a witch. I explained to them that I am already a witch!

Michelle – What a difference one letter makes, when it comes to the _itch word. Yes, the devil does find work for idle hands, but making a steam engine hat at the last minute sounds like hell to me. It’s called Crazy Hat Day cause the parents go crazy making them. I give you bonus points for admitting that you did make the hat. 🙂 SInce you made it, I think you should wear it. Toot toot! Jan


3. hotlibrarytech - October 30, 2009

Jan: I remember my days as a semi-hot librarian at the elementary school level. The parents that did not want their children to participate would either come and pick them up for the rest of the day, or it was my duty to supervise the remaining ones in the library. I would usually read to them…of course I couldn’t read Berenstein Bears Trick o’ Treat, or Trick o’ Treat, Smell my feet.
It was funny and sad. These children, whom the parents didn’t want to be scarred for life…they would sneak and watch the parade out the crack in the door.
It was a shame that some of them were not allowed the fun of being a child.

Hot – I realize some people hold very strong beliefs, and I do my best respect these, but sometimes… These are the same people who object to Harry Potter because there’s “magic” involved. The same kids who “can’t” participate are quick to join the party afterwards. I’m always grateful when parents who don’t approve keep their kids home for the day. I’d hate to subject their child to my read aloud of “Halloweiner,” about a poor dachshund forced to dress up as a hot dog on Halloween. Jan


hotlibrarytech - October 30, 2009

Jan- Cute – I remember that book.
Still think that Maisie should star in a children’s picture book.


4. elissestuart - October 30, 2009

Coming off a Barry-binge…I have to say when you mentioned the 4th grader who was actually 14, that looked like a Vegas Showgirl…Copacabana started going through my head….did she have feathers?

Seriously – We have had so many great costumes with the boys over the years. The best ones were king size white pillow cases with jeans. It was a warm year. The boys cut the holes themselves….at least they weren’t the new 300 thread count cases!


5. Sheri O'Brien - October 31, 2009

Our school’s Halloween parade was as god-awful as always, complete with zero organization, lackluster participants and a faulty microphone. One of my assistants looked at me during the “festivities” and I stuck 2 fingers toward the roof of my mouth to indicate the easy way out. Those parades SUCK for teachers. Pure stress and headache.
Glad you survived yours. Happy Halloween!!!!

Sheri – I’m beginning to think that’s how these parades are SUPPOSED to be – The Bataan Death March, only with Disney princesses. My student teacher planned to leave before the parade, but I made her come. Anyone who wants to go into teaching needs to experience the Halloween Parade. Yes, I survived. Glad you did too. But then we’ve been through worse. >Wink< Jan


6. Christine - November 2, 2009

I missed seeing Maisie this year. Ay caramba!

Once Maisie has her little witch’s hat on, she knows it’s show time! She did a two-hour stint greeting kids. I think we had over 300 trick-or-treaters. We had to bribe her with miniature jaw breakers to do the photo ops. She drives a hard bargain. Jan


7. bev from england - November 2, 2009

oooh how was maisie? pics are a must !!!

we dont do halloween in a big way in england…theres some trick or treating and some dressing up but i dont recall schools participating? maybe i just dont remember…

my son had to dress up at work behind the bar…on friday he went as the crow,as from the movie on the sat when a prize was on offer for the winner he wanted something else and went out for the day leaving me to think of something….

i had a few ideas and 2 made it to the final, we needed to do something with things wed already got at home..i know u can buy/hire great costumes but its so much nicer to do it yourself …so what did he go as in the end?

…….jekyll and hyde !!!!!!!!!!!


Bev – A friend at school was determined not to spend any money on her son’s costume, so she reworked last year’s pirate costume into a Revolutionary War costume with help from some tape and a stapler. She posted pix of him on facebook and a friend commented he looked great as a hobo. LOL. You’re right. The best costumes are the ones you make yourself. Jan


8. Janelle - November 8, 2009

Great post – you should have promised to teach all the spells you learned from reading your banned version of Harry Potter! Doug is the grinch who stole Halloween at our house because of having to teach candy-crazed middle school children for weeks on end after the holiday. I think he does think it’s Satan’s birthday, which is too bad since it’s my favorite holiday. At least we all can agree on Thanksgiving (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course, and then things can get turkey, I mean tricky).


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