My wife always turns Halloween into a four day event when she can. She scours the paper looking for any trick or treating opportunity. She doesn’t care if it’s a fall festival, a Hallellujah Night, a Trunk or Treat, or Halloween, she spends the bulk of October brainstorming costumes for her* and the boys (during one particularly excessive year, she had a different set of THEMED! costumes for each night).
I’m not a huge fan of Halloween, probably for three reasons: 1) early childhood trauma; 2) I love to defy expectations and horror writers are expected to automatically love it; 3) every year I get embroiled in some argument tenuously framed as “the Church vs. Halloween.” So it’s not a season I look forward to.
This is that time of the year when I’m bombarded with a lot of silly. When Twilight and the Harry Potter books are condemned as evil and occult (of all the very real reasons to not read Twilight, it being “evil” isn’t one of them). When people’s faith is questioned if they watch horror movies. Last year I wrote a blog in response to some folks declaring all fall festivals somehow sinful. I appreciate their concerns because we all struggle with how to apply various passages in the Bible, in this case the biblical injunction not to engage in witchcraft or commune with the spirits of the dead (Deut. 18: 10–13), though we ought to be … cautious in applying Old Testament laws. However, one may want to get to know some actual witches before you go pronouncing that fantasy is somehow the gateway drug to witchcraft. I’m pretty sure that’s not the way it works.
Hallelujah Nights, the Christian alternative to Halloween, tend to set my teeth on edge. I suppose they shouldn’t. As Lisa Morton points out, “the Christian influence on Halloween actually begins in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory I instructed his missionaries that, rather than obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, they should try to use them; hence, Catholic holy days were set at the times of native holy days, celebrations and festivals. As Christian missionaries moved into Ireland, they practiced Gregory’s doctrine of “syncretism” and replaced the Celts’ Samhain with All Saints’ Day (Pope Gregory III moved the observation to November 1 in the eight century).” It’s not like we didn’t co-opt Yule/Christmas.
And in the end, syncretism or not, all kids care about is dressing up and getting free candy.
So I’ll suck it up and head out to Hallelujah Night** or Trunk or Treat or whatever it is that’s passing out free candy, having bounce houses, has a petting zoo, and … wait, that doesn’t sound too bad. What was I griping about again? (If I were being dragged to a “Hell House” okay then I’d be in full rant mode)
*Okay, here’s the thing: my wife really wanted to be a gumball machine this year. She had to move the coin slot/candy dispenser she was so proud of having hand crafted because of my observation that her placement of it would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “coinbox”.
**That being said, I could use some costume ideas for the next time I’m invited to a church’s Hallelujah Night. I’m thinking me and my wife could come as pre-Fall Adam and Eve, or I could be drunk Noah, or the guy who had a tent peg rammed through his head.