Tuesday, October 30, 2007


However controversial, we are going to be ‘celebrating’ Halloween this year, again. Matt grew up with fond and warm memories of Halloween—running around safe neighborhoods, receiving safe candy, not dealing with the theological implications of celebrating Halloween and ignoring All Saints. I, for understandable reasons, never celebrated Halloween or All Saints Day—the one because it was too close to the occult for a Baptist Boarding School and the other because it was too Catholic. Both days always passed carefully unmarked. Although, my senior year, in June, a group of us put on interesting hats and glasses and hit all the Staff Houses up for candy and money. Strangely, we did not get in trouble for this defiance, but we didn’t get much candy either because no one expected us.

So, in the tradition of Matt, for the last five years our kiddos started out their first Halloween as a Chili Pepper, moving from there to a Bee (at age one or two) and from thence on to something of their choice. Last year A was a sort of construction working person and E was a princess. This year A will either be Spiderman or a Knight in Shining Armor (he still can’t decide) and E will be a ballerina. We look forward to R’s stepping into our third time round of an Angry Angry Bee.

And last night we carved a pumpkin in classical mode.

As Matt wielded skillfully his knife and spoon, E drew on her small pumpkin and said, sing songingly, ‘People who celebrate Halloween worship Satan. That’s us.’
Matt and I and Nonni all began quietly freaking out.
‘Where did you hear that, E?’ Matt asked.
‘In school. From my friends.’
‘All your friends?’ I asked.
‘No, just J—‘ said E.
We all launched into a discussion of how its really about All Saints’ Day and how we are Not worshiping Satan, and how that would be Very Bad. E seemed unmoved and concentrated on her pumpkin.

I’m not completely surprised by this. We’ve chosen a school for her that we were pretty sure would Not be having Halloween Parties. I have no idea what E is telling the other children. It’s probably a jumble, all of them half understanding what we, their parents, believe. And, while I wish other Christian parents wouldn’t make blanket catastrophic statements like ‘all people who celebrate Halloween worship Satan’ I can understand where they’re coming from. It is an increasingly difficult ‘holiday’ to deal with—another occasion the culture at large has embraced the dark night of shadow and rejected the clear lighted day of rejoicing. It’s been particularly interesting to consider this cultural drive given that Matt in his Sunday morning Adult Ed has been covering Contemporary Neo-Paganism, particularly Wicca. More and more of us ordinary Christians are running into this developing religious/cultural affiliation, especially those near college campuses. On our evening walks with the dog, we pass a house that appears to have a sort of celtic/pagan shrine or offering for or on the occasion of (?) Samhain.

So that’s why I have ‘celebrate’ in scare quotes. Because I approach it with caution, delighted for my children to step into the clothes and shoes of other kinds of people for the evening, and for them to run around this safe practically old fashioned neighborhood, in the way that Matt remembers so fondly, eliciting candy of all things, from the neighbors, but cautious of the darkness. I look forward to the light and joy of the next day, of spending time considering those saints who have clarified and illuminated the Narrow Way for me personally.


Joyce Carlson said...

Question about the picture. How come it doesn't show up unless I click on a small, blank square?

Joyce Carlson said...

Oh. Now I see it. What a nice lot of orange. Would very much like to see the trick-or-treating costumes.

Judith L said...

I, for one, am glad that you are facilitating your children's participation in a benign celebration of Halloween. My memories, though older, are like Matt's.

eulogos said...

My memories are like Matt's also.

I have heard of Catholic schools who had dress up for All Saint's Day, in which the children came to school dressed as their favorite saint. You know, St. Francis, brown bathrobe tied with rope, for instance. St. Nickolas would be portrayed with his bag of gold coins...not punching Arius in the mouth....... Dominic would be in white and carrying a book... Religious order saints are easy as you can copy their habit, but some other's it seems it would be hard to represent by a costume. But it seems like an ok idea for elementary school age.

However there is nothing wrong with the usual halloween stuff. Bees, kinghts, supermen, and princesses really don't evoke the darkness...and the cartoon witches and ghosts that a minority still play hardly evoke any idea of supernatural evil, much less the thing itself.

Must go home to hand out candy.
Peace to all,

eulogos said...

who had the kids dress up
should proofread

Mrs. Falstaff said...

Well, here's my take on Hallowe'en: The devil can't abide being laughed at. We are so secure in our adoption as children of God that we can take our children out on Hallowe'en and thumb our noses at the devil. That's what I tell my kids; we aren't paying homage to the devil, we are making fun of him.

I would be interested in looking at Matt's class materials on Wicca. In my young and foolish days of drifting, I was involved for a while - it is an exceedingly dangerous thing to be involved with. The practitioners *think* that they are working for good, but they really have no idea what they are dealing with.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE Halloween, because it's the only opportunity in the year for conning large masses of people into wearing costumes (unless, of course, you get dragged to one of my parties.... *evil grin*).

Actually I think it's good that you can celebrate. It's been one of my goals to put more sparkle than scary into my celebration. Scary is so boring! Glitter is much more fun. Why let all the scary people take a holiday all to themselves?


Anonymous said...

I absolutely HATE Halloween. Always have. Always will. As a kid I detested it all - the costumes, going to strangers houses and begging for candy - and we lived in the country! Unfortunately, my siblings (there were 5 of us) disagreed with me totally and Mom refused to leave me home - so off I went with my brother taking every opportunity to run ahead and hide in a bush so he could scare the living daylights out of us! I took every opportunity to drag my kids to a church function or neighborhood party rather than do the trick or treat thing.

(can't seem to get a blogger account - oh well)

Dave said...

Thanks for the post. I too grew up in a home where, if I remember right, there was at least "questioning" of this day. Also, in my childhood in the 70's there was lots of scare talk about razor blades in apples, etc., though it didn't really stop us that I recall.
You'd probably be happy to know that this year I put pictures of various heroes of mine on a cloak, and one of them was Archbishop Orombi. Thanks to StandFirm and Anglican TV for that! Dave