Halloween: To Observe or Not Observe?


Next week is Halloween, a day most of us remember from our childhood as a time to dress up as our favorite character and roam the neighborhood in search of sweets. As I have always been a chocoholic, you can imagine how much I loved it. However, there has been a Halloween "backlash" lately among some Christian families, who consider Halloween to be un-Christian.

I have to say, I agree. There are a lot of reasons why, but a basic reason is that there is just something wrong with decorating your house and yard with skeletons, witches and gravestones, donning a demonic-looking mask, and going door to door demanding candy from neighbors who are forced to participate whether they want to or not. It's true that many children dress up as a princess or cartoon character, and that many families decorate with smiley pumpkins and friendly-looking ghosts, but I feel that it sets a precedent that can cause problems down the line. When the children grow up, will they want to dress as a princess or Buzz Lightyear? Or are they more likely to dress up as a French Maid, Freddy Kruger, or a demonic-looking madman with a fake axe buried in their skull? There is just an uncomfortably dark aura that surrounds the activities of Halloween. And though there are ways that some would say are "family-friendly" options for celebration, it's still something I'm not comfortable participating in with my family.

So what do we do on Halloween? Nothing. It is not a day of celebration for us. Now, I'll admit that because my family celebrated Halloween when I grew up, I often have to fight the impulse to buy a cute costume that I might see, or hang onto a flyer announcing candy giveaways at the local mall...but I realize that it is just nostalgia driving me, and I don't give in to such impulses. When Halloween night rolls around, I will be giving out candy (because I don't have much choice--if I don't either my house is egged or I am dubbed the neighborhood Grinch) but my children will be in the basement playing with their Dad. They will not be witnessing the ten year olds with demonic, blood-dripped rubber masks, or teenage girls with multi-color hair and an outfit that is more of a stripper get-up than a Halloween costume.

I won't be giving my children any candy on Halloween night. November 1st is All Saints Day, and as a major feast day (a day of religious celebration), this means the day before it is a vigil day--a day for prayer, fast, and abstinence (from meat) in preparation for the next day's celebration. Young children are not required to fast or abstain from meat. But to keep with the spirit of a vigil day, they won't receive candy, although that is my personal choice, not a mandate of the Church. They will, however, get candy leftovers the next day--but not a whole bagful!!

I don't know if Catholics of the New Mass observe All Saints Day as a holy day of obligation anymore or not. It's been a decade since I stopped attending the New Mass. But this is how my family practices, as my grandmother did and all her ancestors before her.

Ironically enough, there are many traditional Catholics who would disagree with me, and routinely celebrate Halloween. This is in spite of the urgings of the priests from the pulpit each year. Some people just can't (or won't) give up all the nostalgia of passing on the Halloween pasttime. They can't imagine letting even one opportunity for amusement pass their children by. But just as children can live without an Xbox (really, they can), they can live without trick-or-treating.

Many people are shocked when I say we don't celebrate Halloween, and some are rude enough to tell me to my face that I am "depriving" my children. Depriving? I think they'll live if they don't wander around the streets in the dark begging candy from strangers that at best will give them cavities, and at worst could be poisoned. My kids don't miss it, because they've never had it. They'll be having just as much fun playing with their dad and getting (minimal) leftover candy the next day...and we know where the candy has been. I haven't heard them complain yet. And since they will be homeschooled, they won't be aquiring the bad habit of whining, begging, complaining, and comparing what they "get" compared to their school friends.

I don't think people who celebrate Halloween (in a non-occultish way) are bad, I just don't agree with the choice. And I'm VERY against it if one incorporates anything of the occult or demonic, even in a "joking" manner. Occult "magic", death and mayhem are no laughing matter.

So if you come to our door on Halloween, you'll get candy and a (required) smile, but you won't be hearing "Happy Halloween" and you won't be seeing any witches, ghosts or gravestones. You will, however, get a lot of candy...I can't be trusted with a bowl of candy the next day! ;-)

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