How Do You Do Halloween?

At first I didn’t think I had any Halloween memories. I grew up in an evangelical Christian home, so we didn’t celebrate Halloween per-se. At least not after I was about 8. When I was really young, I remember dressing up like a Wuzzle. Do you remember them? It was a cartoon that never had its prime. The cute little characters were confused animals – always half of something and half something else. Probably the first signs of gender confusion.


One year, Mom made costumes for my sister and me. We were matching witches. Funny thing is, I think we actually wore those costumes to a church festival too! I only recall one other costume. I was Snoopy one year.


Back in the good old days, most kids wore cute or at least identifiable costumes. Last year, my husband’s company had a Halloween party and we went shopping to find a benign costume. Impossible! Most of the costumes – both children’s and adult’s – were so bloodied and mangled that I couldn’t tell the difference between the werewolf and the skeleton.


As I grew up, I remember my parents reaching a crisis of conviction. However it was originally intended, Halloween has become the day for celebrating everything that is NOT good, pure, wholesome, loving, faithful, true and righteous (the things the Bible tells us to dwell on.) In good conscience, my parents believed that they couldn’t dress their kids up and parade around the streets condoning the celebration of evil and gore.


I was hardly disappointed. Many of my friends’ parents came to the same conclusion. Numerous churches stepped in to fill the gap. We had 10 or more churches to choose from for creative Fall Festivals. Lucky for us kids, some of them were scheduled on different weekends, so we collected candy on more than one night.


One year, we went to the Nazarene church. Kids were instructed to come dressed up as a Bible character. I was Mary the mother of Jesus. Such simple costumes: I just wrapped up in a sheet, draped another one over my head and Ta-da! I was getting close to believing I was too old for Halloween, so halfway through the night I hid behind the giant cardboard set and loaded little kids’ fishing lines with candy and gum.


Most of the Halloweens that I remember are clustered around the ages of 10 and 12. One year, we stayed home and Mom showed off her creative genius. She set up a treasure hunt, by hiding one big prize and then numerous clues, each leading to the next one. She wrote her clues in lemon juice on 3×5 cards. When we held the cards over a light bulb, the writing magically appeared and we continued our quest.


The next event of the evening was rescuing the Hershey’s kiss. Mom planted a kiss on top of a packed cup of flour. Each kid took turns slicing through the pile of flour with a sharp knife. Sooner or later the flour would collapse with the final cut and the kiss would sink into the fluffy white powder. The lucky kid got to bury her face in the white mess and retrieve her Hershey’s kiss.


Dad was not MIA for these holiday memories. He was in charge of pumpkin painting or carving. Depending on our age, we were allowed to decorate our pumpkins with paint pens or wield a carving knife under close supervision.


Two years in a row, Dad’s company hosted a pumpkin carving competition. The first time was a collaborative effort. In Perry, a small town of 5000 people, Ditch Witch’s water tower was the undisputed landmark. We created a tower with an old wrapping paper roll and painted our pumpkin to resemble the top of the water tower. We won a category that year, though I don’t remember what it was.


The next year, each of us girls decided to try our own creations. Jennifer is our family artist. Her skills are unrivaled. In Stillwater, OK, the nearest “real” town, there is an iconic restaurant called Eskimo Joe’s. Jennifer carved the restaurant’s mascot into her pumpkin with remarkable accuracy. My bumble bee was cute, but there was no contest.


A few times I have heard my peers, old enough to have our own kids now, state that they would never consider depriving their children of the fun of trick-or-treating. What’s the harm, they ask, in dressing up as a goblin?


There are numerous sources of information about the intent of Halloween. There are just as many interpretations and opinions. If you’re a Christian, where do you fall on the issue? If you’re not, what are your thoughts about the holiday in general?


A reference source of interest:

Jill Martin Rische

6 thoughts on “How Do You Do Halloween?

  1. My wife and I do not like the way Halloween is celebrated in America as it seems that they are having fun with the ‘evil’, though many parents are not aware of this fact. Things that people do nowadays conflict with the Bible. To us, it should be a celebration of harvest if I remember its original meaning right. We do not celebrate this event.

  2. We have a wonderful neighborhood with lots of children and lots of great families. My kids have always loved trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, which always turns into a social hour. It’s fun to get out and speak with our neighbors, and meet new ones. We have a couple teachers living in the area, one of them, a Kindergarten teacher has ‘special’ treats for the children she knows from school and the neighborhood. Some of the older residents who’ve been living in these homes since they were built in the 50’s really get a kick out of having the children come by their house in costume.

    Both my kids are in middle school this year and want to sit on the front porch dressed in costume and hand out candy, instead of going door to door. I look forward to sitting outside with them and greeting our neighbors as they come through.

  3. I’m a Ghanaian and I personally find it weird that a day is actually set aside to celebrate witches and vampires. As a Christian, I think it’s very dangerous to the youth. At this stage, they should be exposed to noble stuff which Christianity is all about.

  4. I love the history of Halloween, having its roots in many different traditions which, as is the nature of America, combined to create what we have today. When my mom was a kid in the 1930’s and 1940’s, popular costumes were “hobos”, ghosts, mummies, scarecrows… primarily because these were easy to make and Halloween wasn’t the industry it is today. The name Halloween is commonly accepted as coming from “Hallow’s Eve”, or the day before All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Soul’s Day (Nov 2)… these have their own unique history. The Day of the Dead in places like Mexico is a celebration of the ancestors, not a spooky day, as an outsider might see the festivities, combining ancient beliefs with Christian ones. They whitewash the graves one day in preparation and come back the next to have a picnic with their lost love ones. The Celtics celebrated around the harvest and warded off evil… by dressing scary. The British Isles are to thank for much of the scariness in the holiday: Frankenstein and vampires were invented by British authors in the early 1800’s. There is so much history and culture in Halloween… I love to watch the little nurses and ninjas, ghosts and gouls running up and down the street with smiling faces. I think your parents were very creative to come up with some very fun games and traditions for your own family!

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