Post-Halloween Dénouement

So Halloween has come and gone, and I decided to write this after the fact, seeing as how my mind is not made up on the subject and how I feel about it as a whole. I can tell you how I spent it; we turned off our lights to our house and did not give out any candy. Instead, I spent the evening at my brother and sister-in law’s house. They took my 2 year old nephew, dressed in a fireman’s costume, and my 1 year old nephew, dressed up as a lion, trick or treating. We walked along with them house to house, watching as they received candy. After that, we went back to their house to play cards and eat food and enjoy a few hours together.

Typically speaking, I have not been against Halloween. I have always celebrated it, and always planned to take my own children trick or treating. I still may, but lately I have been thinking long and hard about it. Most of the anti-Halloween arguments have not been convincing to me, and for that reason I have dismissed them. It seemed to me that if you weren’t revelling in some 0f the darker stuff, but rather were just dressing up as fun things like animals and clowns and super heroes, that there wasn’t much harm in the matter.

But then a few weeks ago I was at a store and I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of gaudy and grotesque costumes and decorations that they carry. And it wasn’t just the one store, but all of them. This seems to be an accurate snapshot of what our culture celebrate on Halloween. Even a cursory walk through the aisles will tell you what this holiday is about; Evil. Horror. The Occult. Ghouls. Fear. Darkness. Ghosts. Demons. Witchcraft. Gore. Vampires. Promiscuity. These things make up the fabric and essence of Halloween, with few deviations. And let’s face it, most of these things are completely evil and contrary to the things that Christ would have us us celebrate and focus on.

But because the evil celebrated is general in nature, and not specific, I wonder if this is perhaps why it does not offend our sensibilities and our sense of holiness as much as it should. I wonder if that’s why we don’t think to ourselves “That is sick. What a horrible wickedness all around us.” We don’t. Instead these things are  broad and delineated and vague and ubiquitous, and it’s sprinkled with inoffensive things like pumpkins, princesses, farm animals and cartoon characters.

But what if the evil was specific? What if Halloween was a celebration of something like abortion? What if our society celebrated abortion by dressing up as doctors, nurses and pregnant women? What if  kids went door to door, knocked and shouted, “Roe v. Wade,” and were given candy? What if the e stores were filled with pro-abortion decorations such as MVA’s, uterine currette, embryotomy scissors, cranial perforators, cephalotribes and decapitators? What if advertising was centered on abortion? If that were the case, would most Christians still have their kids dress up as alternative characters [farmers, princesses, bible characters] and go seeking candy just like the rest of society?

I’m still wrestling with that question, and I know where I am leaning. When I reach a firm conclusion to that question, I suspect I know where I will land on the whole Halloween debate.

4 thoughts on “Post-Halloween Dénouement

  1. Here’s one thought from a completely Catholic perspective. Take it or leave it. Historically speaking All Hallow’s Eve was the celebration of those things that are evil. We have a day for the Saints, All Saints Day (nov 1) and one for those souls who are unknown/in purgatory, All Soul’s Day (nov 2). So Halloween was to remind us of the possibility of hell. While the various traditions (dressing up, trick or treating) came from various things, I think we can now say that the point is to remind us of hell, to remind us to pray for each other that we can avoid it and to pray for ourselves to continue to be open to grace.

    LL posted this on the z: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Catholic/2000/10/Surprise-Halloweens-Not-A-Pagan-Festivalafter-All.aspx

    So maybe we SHOULD be dressing up as devils and going around praising the Lord that we know him.

    personally though, until my kids are older, they will be doing alternating years of saints (once they understand them, so like 4 or so) and tame stuff.

    It’s not the scary stuff that bugs me as much as the slutty stuff.

  2. but should the scary stuff bug us? i mean, from a biblical perspective the concept of “witches” are an abomination. if we were being consistent with scripture, we should have nothing to do with that at all, and should be appaled- and yet we are are not. it’s an evil that we couldn’t care less about- and i think that we should and that it’s extremely problematic that we are not. as far as the origin- i am aware of that- its one of those arguments that i’ve never found convincing, though i’m quite glad you brought it up.

  3. The two things that get me about Halloween are

    1- that it’s a holiday celebrated by decorating yards and houses with skeletons, grave stones, zombies, ghosts, etc. It’s a glorification of death and darkness, whether you have your children dressing up as something “nice” or say you are only in it for a night of fun and free candy. As Christians we are called to be life and light, and participating in a holiday centered around death seems really absurd to me. No matter what alternative spin we give it or what purpose we want to celebrate it with, the fact still exists that if you were to decorate your lawn with angels, princesses, and farm animals, you wouldn’t be fitting in with the holiday at all, because that’s not the purpose or what it’s about. And if you tried to put dead bodies and roaming Draculas on your yard in April, how many neighbours would call the cops or at least complain that it’s scary or disturbing for their children? Probably a lot. But at Halloween all our senses are thrown out the door.

    2- We teach our children year-round that taking candy from strangers is dangerous, yet on Halloween we say, “go wild and get everything you can on the block!” It sends a mixed message to me.

    3- The CDC released a statistic that by the year 2050, one third of USA adults will have diabetes, following current trends and the progression of the disease. One third! And we continue to feed into the sugar binge every year and teach children it’s fun and games to load up on candy. Why, when it’s only going to damage their health later on? If the statistic were about alcoholics, we wouldn’t see it fit to hand out free alcohol.

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