Halloween is a controversial holiday in many churches. Feelings about this celebration range all the way from fear and loathing of it’s satanic overtones to glee at the idea of candy, costumes and fond childhood memories.
Anyone who has done any research into the origins of this autumn custom cannot deny that it has its roots in paganism and superstition, if not outright devil worship and witchcraft.
However, by the time my own childhood Halloweens arrived, all the day meant to me and my peers was one special time when we could set aside our everyday selves and step out of some of life’s rules and routines.
We could wear different clothes and pretend to be another person entirely. Children who were taught never to ask for treats were encouraged to go door-to-door threatening dire tricks if we weren’t paid off in candy and homemade goodies…and folks greeted us with smiles and praise for our costumes. Some invited us in and took our picture.
Children who were usually admonished to be home before dark were suddenly allowed to roam the night streets in raucous packs, even playing pranks and indulging in mild mischief without fear of retribution.
We could eat sickening amounts of candy, stay up late and be as silly as we liked, knowing that the next day everything would be back to normal.
Our culture today is not so simple and safe as in my small town childhood. There are real dangers for children wandering dark streets. Parents wisely accompany their little ones on Trick-or-Treat and examine the treats carefully before doling them out in healthy quantities. The wild innocence of a few decades ago simply doesn’t exist.
Even so, I was able to enjoy the memories, making costumes and popcorn balls with my oldest son, back before I had been introduced to the warnings about how this children’s holiday was merely a cover for dark satanic goings-on.
Not celebrating Halloween or celebrating some Christian variant has become a witness to one’s faith in some communities and churches, while not celebrating on religious grounds is deemed narrow-minded and prudish in others.
Personally, I can no longer feel comfortable with the day. I hand out candy to the children in the neighborhood, but don’t put up any decorations. I am ambivalent, abhorring the thought of giving support to superstition, paganism or even commercialism, yet nostalgic for the magic evenings of memory.
Trick or treat? What do you think?