Redeeming Halloween – from Scary to Sentimental

You could say Halloween was revered in our house growing up.

Not because we were a family of witches or anything… rather because as Christians, it made us nervous.

We didn’t have any personal experience with the evil connected to October 31, but there were enough stories to know it was a day that called for intense intercession and spiritual warfare to combat all the darkness. (See my reference of the Satanic Panic of the 80s here.)

I’ve never been one to enjoy being scared, so I always stayed far, far away from horror movies, and we certainly didn’t dress up or trick-or-treat or anything like that.

We did go out sometimes as a church group doing a sort of reverse trick-or-treat where we still went door-to-door, but rather than taking candy we gave them things like a light bulb magnet with a Bible verse or something.

Thinking about it now, it seems very backward and eyeroll-worthy, but it was definitely done with love in our hearts and the best of intentions at the time.

I think pretty much every year since getting married, David and I have helped out with a “light the night” thing in our town, giving out free popcorn and hot chocolate to the trick-or-treaters. There’s a different energetic quality to the event because no one’s nervous, there’s no big prayer meeting prior, no one’s trying to “save” anyone… we’re just there to love people. Honestly, it’s much nicer than the thought of staying home answering the door all evening.

We still never dressed up, though, and didn’t dress our kids up either. There were lingering feelings of friction from the thought of even remotely participating in the concept of the holiday and I really never “got” Halloween – why anyone would be remotely interested or attracted to the whole concept.

When our kids were 10 and 7, they had the notion to hobble together costumes of sorts from random stuff we had, to go to that year’s “light the night”.

Dressing up was never something we talked about or that they expressed any desire to do up to that point. Between costumes and decorations in stores, tv show themes at that time of year, and encountering people dressed up in person, our kids were always a bit disgusted at it. That year, though, they had inspiration in the form of a completely innocent pumpkin craft from our homeschool program – it turned rather pleasingly into a sort of turban, and I couldn’t blame them wanting to round out the look somehow.

I realized that although I still wasn’t inclined to turn Halloween into something we suddenly celebrated in our family, I no longer had any of the past squeamishness with allowing them to dress up.

In thinking about the whole thing now, though, I still find myself waffling a bit on principle.

Like so many things (all things?) it really comes down to perspective.

Even though our kids could participate innocently in the practice of dressing up and trick-or-treating, we adults have “heard things” that make us less innocent… but only based on if we give credence to those things………… right?

I think it usually helps to flip things on their heads a bit and come at it from another angle.

Take away the religious aspect of all of this and replace the scenario with a hypothetically well-documented tradition that stems from baby sacrifice, let’s say. Maybe it’s evolved to the annual tickling festival where each family offers up a member to be tickled and everyone gets a prize, or something that seems fun, I don’t know. Do we have any squeamishness about that (thinking about the origins, not the weirdness, lol)?

Or how about a holiday that was created to venerate Natzis, but now some people decided to celebrate Jews on that day instead?

Who gets to decide how something is celebrated??? And what’s the tipping point on something being “redeemed”?

Who gets to decide what something means and how it's celebrated?

It’s actually rather humorous to note that what we now know as Halloween was religion’s attempt at “noblizing” or “Christianizing” Samhain or something like it – All Hallow’s Eve, leading up to Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day.

The original intent was for people to honor dead saints, and honestly, it’s a cool notion to have a day where we remember and honor those who are no longer with us in body.

We talk about it all much more on this week’s podcast, but I think our family could really benefit from incorporating this holiday with a bit of a different twist.

(We won’t get started on all the religious holidays with pagan roots…)

What are your feelings about Halloween? Do you love it, avoid everything about it, or is it just not that deep?

Redeeming Halloween - from Scary to Sentimental
About the communicator
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Tico & Tina

David & Christina are recovering "lack" addicts who share tidbits of their minimalist, digital nomadic life at The Liberation Collective.