If you haven’t figured it out by now, I had a Christian Fundamentalist upbringing. And I’m not complaining about it. I think my parents did a great job of sheltering us as young children, and then letting us figure out life for ourselves as we got older. So there’s some things that my parents did that I’m doing differently and some things that I’m holding on to pretty strongly. One of those things is not participating in Halloween.
I’ve never been trick or treating. Two years ago I went to my very first ever dress-up Halloween party, but that was mostly because it was also a housewarming party for friends who’d just moved. I was a farmer, 1-week-old Josh was a pea-in-the-pod, and Anthony was Twitter.
Growing up in Santa Cruz (hippie/wicca/occult central), the line was pretty distinct between light and dark around this time of year. We actually had neighbors who would hang black cats (real ones) from trees, dance around huge Samhain bonfires, summon spirits and all the rest. It was scary, and our family wanted no part of it.
As a kid, it made sense to me that we not participate in the dark holiday, and most of the families that we grew up with were of the same mind, so there wasn’t much peer pressure or feeling like we were missing out on something significant. We’d spend the evening handing out little comic books that my mom and her illustrator friend, Katie, made that had messages of hope and light. When we moved out of town and into the country, it was a night when our parents let us watch a bunch of movies and eat candy (a BIG deal, we almost NEVER got candy!).
Now an adult, those memories have stayed with me, and we have never celebrated Halloween since we’ve been married. It wasn’t too big of a deal for us until last year, when my cousin-in-law actually sat us down and told us he thought we were being crazy for keeping our kids away from this fun family tradition. And now Jonathan is in school, and all the kids are talking about trick or treating, costumes, and candy. Plus, it seems like, away from Santa Cruz, Halloween is more like any other over-commercialized holiday: a chance for WalMart to make a ton of money off costumes and candy. So I totally get why other Christians families don’t have a problem with the season, and I’m certainly not judging any one else’s decision.
Here’s some helpful links and alternative ideas (thanks Facebook friends for some of these!) with more history and info.
– Have kids dress up during another holiday (like pilgrims for Thanksgiving). We usually did a “live nativity” at Christmas while a grownup read Luke 2:1-20.
– Attend or help with a church harvest party, carnival, or “trunk-or-treat” (where church members decorate their cars and pass out candy in the parking lot). I remember doing harvest parties a few times as a kid. When Jeffty was a baby, he was Moses in a basket, I was Miriam, and Christopher was Aaron.
– Celebrate All Saints Day by dressing up as a Saint. GREAT idea to pair with a history lesson!
– A history of Halloween and it’s traditions, including the Jack-O-Lantern and Trick-or-Treating (not a Christian source… has a scary graphic at the top of the page, FYI)
– A great blog post by James Watkins called “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” (LOVE his conclusion with 1 Corinthians 8:4-13, about how if it doesn’t stumble your walk with God, do it! If it is a stumbling block to you, don’t do it!)
So what will YOU be doing 10/31?