Two years ago, we did the whole trick-or-treating thing. I just did home-made costumes (Nathan a construction worker, Jacob a sailor). One of the boys' friends was having a birthday party on Halloween night, and they were going to go trick-or-treating on their street afterwards. The boys were freaked out. It was dark, there were kids (and adults) in weird and scary costumes all over the sidewalks, being loud and boisterous. And half of the porches we went up on had freaky decorations.
So last year we did something a lot less scary. We went with friends to a local nursing home. The kids had decorated miniature pumpkins, and handed them out to residents - instead of it being gimme gimme gimme, they were also giving something. And I did like that.
But this year, the more I thought about Halloween, and how our culture celebrates it, the more I wanted to distance my family from it. If you celebrate Halloween with the costumes and candy, I'm not judging you. I do think it is possible to participate in Halloween events with innocence and good motives. But you can't get away from what the holiday glorifies..... death, ghosts, witches, and evil - it's everywhere! I wish it wasn't that way. You may send your kid to school dressed like a ballerina or baseball player, but their friends (and teachers) are dressed up as witches and zombies. A trip to nearly any store has costumes and decorations portraying gore and death. Do we really want our kids thinking those things are okay? That witches are no big deal? That ghosts are friendly? That death is not serious?
I wanted to find out the "roots" of Halloween. I looked up the Wikipedia entry on Halloween (rather than use a biased Christian site). Halloween the way our country celebrates it is based on the Celtic holiday of Samhain - which was the day before All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day - thus the name All Hallow's Even[ing], later shortened to Hallowe'en. The holiday morphed from pagan and "Christian" traditions.
The custom of wearing costumes has been linked to All Saints/All Souls by Prince Sorie Conteh, who wrote: "It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities".
That's not any kind of Christianity that I practice.
But where it came from aside, I am more concerned with de-sensitizing my kids to the seriousness of the occult and witchcraft. I don't want them to start thinking that because we laugh at people that are dressed as witches or zombies or whatever, and that we celebrate fear and death on this one day, that they're no big deal. If my kids met a witch in real life, I want them to be scared out of their wits and praying for God's protection like they never have before. If they saw a dead person walking, I want them realizing it would only be from demonic possession.
Nathan kept asking me when it would be Halloween. How long 'til Halloween? Who's going to be at Halloween? So I asked him, "What do you think we are going to do on Halloween?"
"We're going to go to the church and play games and laugh and have fun."
Last November, we had a game night at the church, and there were pumpkin decorations on the table. Apparently that's what he remembers as our Halloween. And I'm okay with that.
So that's what we did.
(Minus the pumpkins, or decorations of any kind. Because I'm lazy like that.)