I think we’re in real danger of losing the spirit of Halloween. Personally, I’m rather disgruntled about this. My Facebook page is filled with “Happy All Saints” pictures, most of them featuring pumpkins and costumed kids. It’s fairly unusual for me to come out swinging against so many conservative Christians, but this is just ridiculous.
Halloween is a great holiday. It allows us to celebrate at least three things I love in one glorious day: fall, candy and fake eyeballs. Halloween is the only remaining holiday that routinely draws people outside to interact with their neighbors. How much more wholesome can you get? Also, because Halloween is not sacred for any major religious group, it occasions a delightful number of family-friendly community events. When it comes to planning fun and affordable family outings, Halloween week is really the most wonderful time of the year.
I understand that cackling skeletons and leering goblins aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but why ruin the fun for the rest of us? Can’t you just focus on the candy? I think conservative Christians react against Halloween because they feel that it is a celebration of evil, but I think that’s a misunderstanding. Sure, there are people who use it as an excuse to hold séances and watch slasher movies, but then again, there are people for whom Christmas is nothing but a gigantic material greed-fest. Properly understood, Halloween is a pagan holiday, but in a good way.
Halloween is a day for us to remember with affection the spooks and ghouls and bogeymen of our pagan past. Satyrs, fairies, nymphs and wizards are also welcome, and making inroads into modern mythology (such as superhero stories) won’t do any harm. If you think this inappropriate for a Christian era, bear in mind that Christianity was ever able to incorporate the best of paganism into its own philosophy and traditions. If Halloween involved worshipping pagan gods, then I would join the boycott. But truthfully, Halloween is not a very serious holiday, and paganism is not a very serious threat nowadays. If anything, this charming encounter with the spooks of yesteryear will be good for the children’s imagination.
Our parish is one of many that holds an “All Saints” party on All Hallows Eve, mainly as a ploy to lure kids away from the Halloween festivities. Count me out! On Halloween of all days, I want to be at home, so I can give treats to my neighbors’ children and take mine to visit them. So long as they don costumes and say “trick or treat”, I’m more than happy to share with the teenagers too.(Why do people always get so cranky about this? Why shouldn’t teenagers have their share of Halloween fun?). The Jack-O-lanterns will be flickering. Then on November 1, I will rejoice in the glorious feast of All Saints, which is a delightful occasion in its own right … but not the same one.
Happy Halloween, everybody!
Halloween treats via Shutterstock.