On Not Celebrating Halloween

This will be the Year Without Jack-o-Lanterns.

For religious reasons (not our own), Colin and I will be taking a hiatus from Halloween this year.

If [we] believe fully in the omnipotence of God, then concern about witches, ghosts and goblins, and things that go bump in the night, is misplaced. It is God alone who rules creation, and persons need not fear…the dark side of the human experience.

— Rev. Ronald Hodges, pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City

I honor the viewpoint of those sects of Christianity and other religions who feel Halloween celebrates Satan. I suppose they fear Satan and his minions inhabit our children as they rush from door-to-door dressed as Dora and Spiderman whilst asking for candy.

Honestly, however, I mourn them more.

I mourn:
1. For children who miss out on the feel of pumpkin guts squishing between their fingers.
2. For parents who miss out on the sweet torture of reengaging their imagination, when forced to make costumes from whatever is in the house.
3. For children never knowing the weight of a pillowcase or plastic bag getting steadily heavier as they TRICK OR TREAT!
4. For children, missing out on the the sheer joy in the moment, gazing at a pile of sugary dreams, just before they dig in.
5. For parents, who sit in dark houses, cramming the little ones into bed or in front of the TV, while all the neighbors run, float, and squeal about the dark streets.
6. For children, who will not dream in their adult life about the autumn nights of childhood, of tracing Dad’s flashlight up the walk, of their own hot breath inside the plastic mask, a doorway draped in spiderwebs, and the wild anticipation as the door creaks open.
7. For children, who are forced unnaturally to avoid being “frightened” of the dark, of the soft brush on their cheek of some unknown object which makes them shudder, of being held too tightly when a disguised friend leaps out with a gleeful BOO!
8. For unforgiving souls, who fear “Others” so much, they’ve replicated horror itself. They’ve killed “different” women they thought were witches and “un-Christian” men they thought were terrorists.

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  9 comments for “On Not Celebrating Halloween

  1. September 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I respect that you’re taking a stance but I’m sad for you also. Halloween has always been so much fun for us and I love it. We’re those goofy neighbors that turn the garage into a haunted house and have a smoke machine and spooky music.

    I’ll be sure to eat enough candy for both of us. Okay?

  2. jeff law
    September 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    still trying to understand
    seems so selfless? will the people you’re doing this for
    know? and how do you explain to the kids

  3. September 24, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Maybe enjoy the season in other ways:
    Rake leaves and jump in the piles…
    Buy pumpkins to roast the seeds…
    Bonfires… (S’mores!)
    Out on a starry night for constellations…
    Pick apples…
    Autumn camping…
    And mourn missing the other…

  4. Greg Phillips
    September 25, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Sigh. Without having talked to you I can only guess where this is coming from — but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea. May it all end soon.

  5. September 25, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Marty, thanks for the suggestions… that gives me an idea that even on Halloween night maybe we can have a bonfire in the fire pit and enjoy some fun games. It’s in the back of the house, away from the activities of other kids. Maybe even tell sppoooooky stories!

    We did do apple picking… they loved it!

  6. September 25, 2009 at 7:53 am

    I respect your decision. I also mourn the loss of a great holiday.

    My wife and I are Christians – and we love Halloween. We are happy for our kids to trick-or-treat. Sadly, our high schooler is at the point where he has outgrown it (or should!).

  7. Heather Pierce/Pekar
    September 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    That makes me so sad. This may be wrong of me, but I have no respect for people who consider Halloween to be “satan’s holiday”.
    Hopefully next year can be different!

  8. Tammy Luke
    September 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Sorry you’re being subjected to someone else’s views. I know how much you LOVE halloween! I think about your pumpkin carving afternoons in KC with great delight, along with those WONDERFUL cups of mulled wine and cider. I hope you do find a way to still enjoy autumn’s richness. Can’t you explain to WHOEVER is choosing you to not celebrate that it is a celebration rooted in “All Saint’s Day” which is VERY christian?

  9. October 30, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Interesting…
    The argument made in Exodus about bowing down to a false god could be made about our daughters’ hero worship of Hannah Montana, as well.
    Wearing the clothes bearing her image, screaming and chanting at her concerts. Who is to say that SHE isn’t a witch, using music as a way to lure children into her cult?

    My point being that we cannot forever protect children from the “shadow” side of life, least of all when we choose to live in country that worships money, practices the cult of materialism and yet was founded on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

    The argument against Ouija boards could ALSO be extended to an excellent argument against letting our sons play (whether plastic or imaginary) with guns or swords. These tools are designed specifically to kill, and yet parents allow children often to “play” cobs and robbers, alien killers and other games in which they “bang bang you’re dead.” This, however, doesn’t necessarily lead to all our sons running to Walmart on their 18th birthday with plans on becoming homicidal maniacs. The idea that the presence of a Ouija board encourages occult practices is a parallel idea.

    The unfortunate aspect of banning children from something for so-called religious ideals presupposes that we ourselves have a complete understanding the real foundation of those ideals. The irony is that we are allowed, by God and our free will, to shape and create our ideals based on the precepts of a logical free mind given to us by God.

    Instead, if we follow the narrow set of ideals we blindly follow, in case of Halloween, the assumption should also be that we would not hang stockings or sing “Jingle Bells” at Christmas (Jesus didn’t), we do not hunt for Easter eggs or receive candy at Easter (that certainly isn’t what Jesus was up to, and is related to a pagan ideology), and would limit ANY interaction that we have with ANY person who may possibly interject an unholy ideal into our childrens’ minds. An impossible and soul-killing notion.

    Of course the other option would be to raise children to use their minds and their conscience, to think for themselves, to talk to them constantly about the different ways that people see the world, to let them experience that world, and to understand that we are given the ability to make choices, but only based on the knowledge we choose to acquire. When we limit our knowledge, we limit ourselves.

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