Halloween is this week, and it was on my mind exactly eight years ago when I wrote the following post, republished here. I’ve never enjoyed this holiday, particularly because of the fear factor. While others might disagree with me, I do not enjoy being scared, and prefer to focus on pleasant things rather than the gory and terrifying.
In fact, I saw a post just this past week of a mother pleading with the public to go easy because her child was terrified of all the scary things that are out there right now. I’m with her, we need to have more sensitivity towards those who are affected and might not be able to sleep after being exposed. Myself included!
It was good to go back to my old posts and see if I still agreed with myself… 🙂 So here is the post:
Blog Post: October 29 2011:
I’ve never particularly liked Halloween, except for perhaps when I was a child, and was allowed to go out trick-or-treating for the first time. I remember it very well, we were allowed to visit five or six houses in our neighborhood and at one, the gentleman made us sing for our treats, which we did of course. Mr. Henry, who owned the ice cream shop in town always gave the best treats – big O’Henry bars which were my favourite!
There has always been lots of controversy in our Christian tradition about Halloween – and I have to say I have never liked the dark side of this holiday. I don’t like gore, or blood, or ghosts or anything scary. When “Fear Factor” was in vogue, and my daughter insisted on watching it, I left the room. I couldn’t stand that show, and couldn’t see the point in it. I never could figure out the fascination with it all.
That being said, I have always enjoyed the joy the little ones have in dressing up, and love to see them at my door. Indeed my childhood memories of dressing up and going to harvest parties where we bobbed for apples, and ate splendid sloppy-joe buns decorated in jack-o-lanterns made of cheese slices are quite delightful. When my children were young, I had fun making costumes (nothing scary of course!) – my favourite being the year that my son Steve dressed up as Robin Hood, and my two girls were beautiful Indian Princesses, complete with black braided wigs I figured out how to make… (I realize the controversy of that now, and have written about it.)
A very different Halloween was the year my first husband Andy and I left for Peru – in fact our plane lifted off at midnight on the 31st. I had some reservations about leaving my three little ones for three weeks; aged 11, 9 and 6 at the time… so I decided to made a pinata shaped like a globe, painted it accordingly with all the continents and filled it with candy. I inscribed the words – “He’s got the whole world in His Hands.”… and really those words were for my comfort more than the children’s. They couldn’t wait to break into the thing and get their candy!!
As we flew out that night, our plane circling over Vancouver, we could see fireworks from the sky, all over the city. It was quite the sight – one I will always remember. The next morning as we arrived in a different world, a different culture and language, one of the first things that struck me were the crosses everywhere. Dennis, my brother-in-law told me it was All-Saints Day – the day they remembered the dead. Apparently in Peru, this was taken very seriously – little shrines everywhere, often with food and flowers.
I was checking the web today about the traditions about Halloween and found this: the Catholic church celebrates the Feast of All Saints over a three day period which includes October 31. The word Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, a holy night which falls before All Saints Day.
The most commonly held beliefs is that Halloween was a Celtic tradition, that Jack-O-Lanterns are meant to light the way for wayward spirits and that scary costumes were used to scare away the “evil” spirits.
It reminded me of a walk we had a number of years ago in the local graveyard which is particularly beautiful this time of year – stately old maples tower above the graves and walkways and are resplendent with color in the autumn season. I was missing those who had gone before and was reminded of that verse in the Bible which says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 1).
As I pondered those words that day, I could literally sense those who had gone on before cheering us on in our life’s journey and was comforted. There seems no clear theology or interpretations about saints or those who have died – and I know there are very strong opinions about this subject. But to me, it is clear, from this verse anyway, that there are things we cannot see…and understand. The verse is one of comfort, not of fear.
To me this is a beautiful picture of heaven reaching down to earth, of light, and life, and hope, from those who have ascended into heaven and are now cheering us on.
So during a very dark season, both literally and figuratively, I want to choose to celebrate things that bring me light and life. Whether that is searching for the perfect pumpkin with my grandson, or watching the falling leaves dance in the wind, or enjoying the sweet aromas of apples and pumpkins baking in my kitchen, or enjoying the excitement of little children as they dress up in funny costumes. Banish the dark, I say!