Recapturing The Spirit Of Halloween

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 …

  1. Indaba

    As an immigrant, I arrived in Canada a week before Halloween.

    “So let me understand this native custom…you dress in weird outfits, the scarier the better…you knock on strangers’ doors…they put chocolate in your bag…you then eat as much of it as you can before throwing up?”

    Hmmm, this country is fantastic!

    Now multi culturalism is lobbying schools to ban Halloween as some cultures see it as satanic. I experienced it as high trust, generous and crazy fun with adults and children playing together. As teens, they learn to hand out candy to the young children, looking after non family.

    It is ALL about building a high trust community. Remarkably unselfish and startling to me, it set the stamp that Canada was exceptional (I thought Canada was America until the Canadians hammered home they were special in a Canadian way.)

  2. Layla

    Meh. I’m ambivalent about Halloween, and I’ll tell you why:

    First, I detest candy. I know–totally un-American. But I find candy revolting. (Disclaimer: Chocolate is NOT candy. Just clarifying that crucial point.) I let my kids eat it in moderation, but I personally think candy is gross.

    Second, inevitably the next morning several neighbors’ carefully carved pumpkins may be found smashed in the street–presumably by the same little cherubs they gave candy to the night before. (Deduction: Candy obviously encourages hooliganism!)

    Third, I love seeing little fairies, superheroes, and even chipper ghouls and goblins at my door. I could do without the skeevy zombie hookers. Yeesh. Hello? Parents?!

    Now that I’ve established my curmudgeon bona fides, I’ll admit that my kids love trick-or-treating, that I take them every year, and that we put a lot of thought into their costumes. Last year they were Poseidon and Demeter, so I can get my pagan on as well as the next gal. ;)


  3. Songwriter

    Not all we conservative evangelicals are anti-Halloween. I loved it as a kid. My older sister was born on Halloween, so our family had fun with it.

    I tire of my fellow Christians’ efforts to sanitize Halloween. I understand their concerns, but I think some of us blow the whole thing out of proportion.

  4. Tempus Fugit

    Layla – Great costumes! Clearly, though, you live where it’s a bit warmer. We’ll be in the 40′s tonight when the trick-or-treaters are on the prowl. 

    Hallowe’en is family and friend time – carving pumpkins, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”, assembling costumes (bats, mad scientists, pirates, construction workers, book and tv show characters) though the occasional store-bought or hand-me-down mixes in, and getting just the right blend of candy in the house.

    “Halloween is the only remaining holiday that routinely draws people outside to interact with their neighbors.” Yes!

  5. Foxman
    Indaba: they put chocolate in your bag…you then eat as much of it as you can before throwing up?”

    · 41 minutes ago

    Rinse, repeat.

  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    I loved Halloween as a kid.

    Costumes and candy aside, what other night of the year were young children given permission to go wandering around the neighborhood after dark with minimal adult supervision?

    But the municipalities around here have since changed their trick-or-treating hours so that they end at dusk. Yes, yes, the hooligans tend to come out after dark, but by ending trick-or-treating by the time it even gets dark, aren’t we just ceding the whole night to the hooligans?

    Trick-or-treating between 4 and 6 pm only? That, more than anything, signals the death of the holiday in my eyes. How sad.

  7. Amy Schley

    My couple thoughts on Halloween.

    After moving to my house, I was all excited to hand out candy to the neighborhood children.  Instead of local neighborhood children, it felt like every kid and greedy mom for ten miles was coming up to my door.  (My neighborhood is mostly white immigrant and Latino with very few blacks.  The vast majority of my trick-or-treaters were quite melanin-rich.) Since then, we make plans to be anywhere but home on Halloween.

    I hate all the stupid “poisoned candy!” scares that just exist to boost candy sales — the only children ever poisoned by candy were poisoned by their own parents.

    I hate how Halloween for teens/adults becomes “the one night where no one judges you for dressing like a hooker.”  Immaculately made costume? Yawn.  Boobs hanging out? Costume contest winner! Ugh …

  8. Mollie Hemingway

    I so don’t like Halloween and never have. Perhaps it is related that I have never been that into candy (I like my empty calories salted, thank you very much).

    So of course God gave me two children who think Halloween is the best holiday ever invented (and my mother encourages them in this belief).

    Anyway, as it turns out, this year we are celebrating Reformation on its actual day instead of transferring it to the previous Sunday, so I get to go to church tonight and Mark will take them for the candy haul.

    Even though I don’t like Halloween, though, I know enough to not “fight” it like some pious parents I knew did!

  9. Merina Smith
    I think the anti-Halloween attitidue might depend on your particular social set.  I haven’t encountered any Halloween curmudgeons here, not in church, school or the neighborhood.  Everyone thinks it is great fun.  When we lived in Colorado, one year some parents tried to ban Halloween at the elementary school.  There was a huge uproar from parents in defense of Halloween and it was reinstated.  I think Halloween is safe for the foreseeable future.   
  10. Rachel Lu

    You’re a smart woman, Mollie! I take it you’re one of those who could do without the giant hairy spiders and what have you. I respect differences of taste on this point. Personally I can have all kinds of fun with the tacky stuff in the Walgreens Halloween aisle, and unsurprisingly, my little boys seem to share my feelings on the matter, so it’s good times for all.

    For those bothered by the hooker/Playboy bunny costume craze… come to Minnesota! Around here there are strong incentives to avoid that sort of thing, and go with the giant gorilla suit.

  11. Sleepless in Wisconsin

    For me Halloween hit the tipping point where we went from a mixture of cute and kinda scary to disturbingly alarming in the yard decorations and costumes.  If you saw the look on my two and three year old childrens’ faces when they go into a local hardware store and are confronted by a large, grossly exaggerated demon decoration, you might wonder how far things have gone too.  (not to mention the nightmares they have for a week after seeing these things)

    If we could dial it back a bit, I’d be all in for the candy and costumes.  Instead, October is the month I avoid taking my kids to many stores and avoid having the television on for an unsupervised commercial break. 

    It’s only an innocent holiday, if it doesn’t excessively scare (via zombies and demons) or scandalize (via hooker costumes) the innocent among us.

    Put a G, PG-13, or R rating label on houses, parties and costumes (oh.. and commercials) and you may have less resistence. 

  12. Rachel Lu

    Sleepless, my oldest is not quite three, but my two seem to love all the commercial Halloween stuff. The older one begs to go to the Halloween section so he can push the buttons on the displays over and over, laughing with delight. Haven’t had any nightmare problems so far as we can tell. Maybe I’ve contaminated them?

  13. Edward Smith

    I will tolerate Pumpkin & Goglin & Witch shaped Sugar Cookies, but Candy Corn is Crack and anyone found in possession of  it shouldl be charged with Possession of a Substance That Ought To Be Controlled with Intent to Distribute – and sentenced to a visit to this dentist:


    And on the 2nd or 2rd offence, this dentist:


  14. Crow

    Down with Dagon!


  15. BrentB67

    If Halloween was about the kids, neighborhood parties, candy, etc. I think it would still be a mainstream all American holiday.

    Lately it seems like it is more about how little clothing girls can wear and call it a costume. When did it become ‘let your inner slut out day’?

    Full disclosure – I am not exactly opposed to this ‘evolution’, but I understand the push back it is getting since it stopped being about kids and neighborhoods.

  16. Duane Oyen

    I agree with Songwriter, and people who get overwrought about the goblins and ghosts stuff as if it is satanic triumphs on earth need to look around a lot more.  This is way down the list, and the reactions are a bit self-righteous.

    Our conservative evangelical church goes the opposite way.  Since there are always concerns about safety and bad people booby-trapping candy just to be evil, we do “Trunk or Treat” every year in the expanded church parking lot, and advertise it to all the surrounding areas.   Between 6 and 8 PM, we get 1,000 kids going from car to car (many decorated with jack-o-lanterns and everything else), safely getting their bags filled by costumed adults.  I spent $150 pulling together enough candy to cover the mob.

    Our home neighborhood simply has no kids- for the last 5 years or so in our circle- where everyone is either young and childless or empty-nester, the doorbell has rung at most once or twice all evening.  I go out to do the “trunk” just so I can participate again.

  17. Edward Smith

    But seriously.  I have no problem with the Candy & Costume & Fun side of Halloween, so long as parents help their children learn there is more to the feast of All Saints and to the Day of the Dead than that.

  18. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    Edward Smith: I will tolerate Pumpkin & Goglin & Witch shaped Sugar Cookies, but Candy Corn is Crack and anyone found in possession of  it should be charged with Possession of a Substance That Ought To Be Controlled with Intent to Distribute – and sentenced to a visit to this dentist…

    Me, I hate sugar cookies, but love candy corn.

    Maybe part of this is nostalgia. Our childhood pediatrician would give us a treat if we were good little patients: a single candy corn, which he pretended to pull out of our ear.

    The trick with candy corn is to keep the dosage small. A single corn. Maybe two. Um… that does make it sound rather like a drug, doesn’t it?

  19. Freeven
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    The trick with candy corn is to keep the dosage small. A single corn. Maybe two. Um… that does make it sound rather like a drug, doesn’t it?

    Nah… besides, I can stop anytime I want. No really.

  20. DutchTex

    I can take or leave Halloween.  I’m not creative enough to come up with a costume, so I have problems if I am invited to some sort of party.  I grew up in the country, so we didn’t usually get to go trick-or-treating.  Mom would buy some candy and we’d watch a silly scary movie like “Ernest Scared Stupid” or something like that. 

    My childhood memories are fun, but nothing compared to those of the kiddos in Churchill, Manitoba.  I particularly like this quote:  

    Ms. Finlay’s 4-year-old son Cameron was surprised to learn that the world’s largest land predator isn’t a part of every child’s Halloween. “No bears?” he asked of trick-or-treating in Toronto.

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