Our family loves trick or treating.  This year, we’ll join the masses on Fair Oaks Street, losing ourselves in a sweeping tide of Elsas, Moanas, tiny ghosts and wizards.  The children make sure we don’t miss a single house, and we always come home with heaps of candy.

The only problem is…  All.  That.  Candy.  For health reasons, we try to avoid refined sugar, and we’ve held to that pretty well since my son was born five years ago.

So how, you might ask, do we do Halloween?

Good question!  I’m happy to share that we have found a way to enjoy trick or treating without consuming the candy!  Sounds impossible, right?

It sounds impossible, but it’s true!

My two year old and five year old enthusiastically collect heaps of miniature chocolate bars, nerds, and dum dums, and they voluntarily eat none of it.

How, you might ask, do we do this?

The answer is that the children trick or treat to collect candy for Witchamaroo.

Witchamaroo, as we’ve told our children, is a Halloween fairy.  She is very small.  She lives in a pumpkin.  On Halloween night, Witchamaroo flies over the land.  She looks for houses where children have left out their Halloween candy for her to find.  She takes the candy, leaving a gift for each child in its place.

In our family, we love preparing for the arrival of Witchamaroo.

Honestly, my kids are probably as excited about this part of Halloween as they are about their costumes.

We sweep the deck, tidy the garden, and carve two very special pumpkins that, instead of faces, have doors and windows.  Last year we added stairs, cut from a sweet potato stood on end.  Light a candle, and it become the perfect refuge for a fairy to spend the night.

The children leave their bags of candy next to the glowing pumpkin houses.

In the morning, they race to see what Witchamaroo has left them.

Our family of four lives in a one room studio, so we have to be very minimal with our toys, and I very rarely buy things for the children.  But with this present, I go all out!  For us, it’s an event nearly as big as a birthday.

This is probably a response to my own sweet tooth – I LOVE chocolate, so asking everyone to give up sugar feels like a big deal to me!  I guess I feel like I really need to make it worth their while!  😉

Who is Witchamaroo?

Our family’s Witchamaroo tradition is based on the Switch Witch, a tale that is more appropriate for elementary school aged children  The difference is that instead of being a sweet, tiny fairy, the Switch Witch is a conventional American halloween witch.  She is a hideous crone who rejoices in her hideousness, and likes to eat candy because it makes her even more ugly.

I get the humor in this, and I can imagine it really appealing to older children.  But I’ve never wanted to pass this story on, mostly because  I don’t feel great about how it portrays witches.

Today, monstrous depictions of witches are ubiquitous enough that we don’t often think about it, but I can never completely forget the misogynistic subtext to those images.  (Given that historically, “witches” were actually the healers, herbalists and wise women our great, great grandmothers relied on in times of need.)

So I replaced the Switch Witch with Witchamaroo.  Witchamaroo comes from a story called “How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch,” by the wonderful Waldorf puppeteer Suzanne Down.

You can hear my Witchamaroo finger play on our new Meadowlark Music Class Album, Falling Leaves, Rising Voices.  If you decide to bring Witchamaroo to your family, this finger play is a great place to start!

I have a pumpkin big and round
Inside, a fairy can be found.
Knock, knock, knock!
And out she flies
On a broomstick swift
Up to the sky
Yoo hoo!  Witchamaroo!
Tell me where you are!
But she is off to sweep the stars.

Thanks for reading, everyone.  Wishing you a warm and wondrous Halloween.

If you enjoyed this post, here are a few ways to go deeper:

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Mothersong Chorus, an intergenerational singing circle for women and girls.