It’s October again, which means it’s time to repeat a venerable Catholic Blogosphere tradition. No, not Rosary Novenas- Are you mad??? It’s time to begin the Halloween Wars!
In past years I’ve been a bystander, but as my kids have gotten older, I’ve gotten a bit more entrenched in my position.
We trick or treat. Loudly, joyfully, and with much skipping, twirling, jumping, smiling and singing. My kids start planning their costumes in August and change their minds about 3,457 times before Halloween.
We live for the annual pumpkin patch trip. We draw haunted houses and witches and Jack-O-Lanterns. We obsess about candy. I am treated to calculations on every trip to the store—a Hershey’s miniature is worth three Smarties. But there’s a one to one lollipop to Smarties ratio, especially for the child with the corn allergy.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Deirdre, how can you allow your children to participate in devil-worship this way? One day they’re dressing up as princesses, and the next they’re pagan priestesses! Don’t you realize you’ve set your toddlers on the road to perdition?!?!?”
I see Halloween a lot like I see the Fourth of July. Some people choose to celebrate the Fourth by getting drunk, smoking pot, fornicating and disobeying local fire ordinances. I will not allow my children attend such celebrations. On the other hand, we ecstatically attend the local parade, cook bratwurst for lunch, and go to the fairground to watch the fireworks.
Halloween, as we American’s celebrate it, is mostly a harvest festival. That’s why the pumpkins are such a big deal (for my family, Halloween has always marked the first pumpkin pie of the season—which ought to be eaten BEFORE trick-or-treating…). And trick-or-treating is not about sneaking out into the woods for human sacrificing. It’s about small children playing dress-up, and adults telling them how cute (or pretty, or scary) they are and giving them treats.
In most neighborhoods in the United States, Halloween is basically “Children’s appreciation day” and has been for generations. And given how little our culture appreciates children on most days, it doesn’t hurt to remind people that children are a treasure.
Now, in recent years, especially in urban areas, adults have tried to take over Halloween. They’re trying to take “kids dress-up and get candy” day and turn it into “adults dress like porn stars and get drunk and fornicate” day.
Personally, I think this is a result of the fact that many ‘adults’ are no longer getting married and having kids. 25-year-olds used to celebrate Halloween by putting their toddler in a bear suit and making a trip around the block. But when you don’t have kids, there’s really no ‘age appropriate’ Halloween celebration. So the current generation is using Halloween as yet another excuse to get drunk and party. (I fully expect that in a few years “Veteran’s Day” will be an excuse to get drunk and party. It’s that whole ‘Fading Years of the Roman empire” vibe.)
So, what’s a Catholic Mom of little ones to do? Well, you can decide to boycott the whole thing – it’s your right, and this is an area where there’s no “Officially Orthodox” choice – it’s a matter of personal preference.
But me and mine will do the Halloween thing. We’ll march around the neighborhood in costume and fill our plastic pumpkins with treats. And afterwards, we’ll head home to warm cider and bed. Because, after all, the next day is All Saints’ and we’ll want to be up early for Mass!