…not at our house. No halloween. No costumes or candy or orange decorations.
Some people who know me may think it’s for religious reasons. But halloween developed over the centuries from many faiths, including a Christianity. I tried to find a religiously neutral site that just explained the origins without taking a position on the issue and it proved quite difficult. But I did manage to find one that wasn’t too bad. Here’s a quote.
The word Halloween is derived from the term “All Hallows Eve” which occurred on Oct. 31, the end of summer in Northwestern Europe. “All Saints Day,” or “All Hallows Day” was the next Day, Nov. 1st. Therefore, Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day.
Apparently, the origins of Halloween can be traced back to ancient Ireland and Scotland around the time of Christ. On Oct. 31st, the Celts celebrated the end of summer. This was important because it was when animal herders would move their animals into barns and pens and prepare to ride out the winter. This was also the time of the crop harvests. This annual change of season and lifestyle was marked by a festival called Samhain — pronounced ‘sow-ane’ and means ‘end of summer.’ Sow rhymes with cow.
There was much superstition associated with this time of change including the belief in fairies, and that the spirits of the dead wandered around looking for bodies to inhabit. Since the living did not want to be possessed by spirits, they dressed up in costumes and paraded around the streets making loud noises to confuse and frighten the spirits away. In addition, the new year began for the Celts on Nov. 1. So, the day of Samhain was believed to be a day that was in neither the year past or the year to come. Since it was in between, chaos ruled on that day. Often, people would pull practical jokes on others as a result.
Later, around the 5th century, as the Catholic Church developed and moved into the area, instead of adding a new day to celebrate, it took over the Samhain celebration. Nov. 1st became “All Hallows Eve” where all the saints of the Catholic church were honored. A later custom developed where people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2, requesting small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives of each house. This arose out of the religious belief that the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to heaven or hell and that the prayers of the living could influence the outcome. This may have been the precursor to Trick-or-Treat.
The Jack-O-Lantern apparently comes from Irish folklore about a man named Jack who tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Once the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross on the trunk, preventing the devil from coming down. The devil then made a deal with Jack not to allow Jack into hell after Jack died if only Jack would remove the cross from the tree. After Jack died, he couldn’t go to hell, and he couldn’t go to heaven. He was forced to wander around the earth with a single candle to light his way. The candle was placed in a turnip to keep it burning longer. When the Irish came to America in the 1800’s, they adopted the pumpkin instead of the turnip. Along with these traditions, they brought the idea that the black cat was considered by some to be reincarnated spirits who had prophetic abilities.
So, it appears that the origins of Halloween are a mixture of old Celtic pagan rituals superstition and early Catholic traditions.
The other sites I found information on all pretty much followed this line of thought on the subject. Some were sites that stated halloween was a satanic holiday and Christians should have nothing to do with it, while others, like the site I got the above quote from, were more along the lines of saying “You’re not celebrating it to worship the devil, so have fun with the kids”, which, honestly, is more along the lines of my religious view about it. The site that the above quote came from (okay, here’s the link) even compared halloween with the pagan origins of our traditional Christmas celebrations. For example, the Christmas tree, which was a pagan symbol of fertility, which is now a Christian symbol for (insert symbolic nature here). My grandfather, who was a preacher, saw the tree as a symbol of hope, growth and renewal. I see the evergreen tree as a symbol of God’s ever-present faithfulness and love.
(Disclaimer: I would like to mention that the Celtic druids are painted in very different lights between the two links I provided. One talks about human sacrifice while the other mentions nothing about their rituals. Which one is most accurate, I cannot say. Modern-day druids would probably deny any truth to human sacrifices, but at the same time some catholics will say the crusades never happened. All I will say is that druidism, in whatever form you take it, human sacrifices or not, is not a religion that will save you. Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ.)
Over the centuries, the catholic church attempted to Christianize many of the pagan festivals and the pagans attempted to paganize many of the Christian celebrations. Celebrations of the 21st century are a conglomerate of many rituals from long ago. When it comes to celebrating them, I believe your heart determines what you are celebrating. If your heart is for God, and you are covered in the blood of the Lamb, then go ahead and share in the fun with your children, keeping God in the center of all things.
As interesting as all this is (okay, maybe this history lesson was only interesting to me) it’s all beside the point as my religious beliefs have little to do with why we don’t do halloween.
The issue I have is the dressing up in costumes and begging for candy.
Please understand I have nothing against costumes. My 4 year old likes to play dress up with the cute princess costume dresses that she already has all the time. She certainly doesn’t have to wait for October 31 to do that, as far as I’m concerned; she wears them whenever she wants to be a princess. But the money we’d have to put toward costumes for our kids will be better spent in buying toothpaste or running shoes instead.
We don’t buy candy to give out for basically the same reasons. But I wouldn’t want to give out candy anyway. I’d prefer to give out fruit which I know would just be thrown out anyway (it might have been given by some maniac who poisoned it) so I’m not going to spend the money that we can’t really spare on stuff that wouldn’t be touched.
This is the picture that makes me cringe. A child standing at a door with a bag saying, “Gimme, gimme.”
My kids don’t go out trick or treating for a very specific reason. I’m trying to teach my children to serve. Giving is always better than getting and I want my children to believe that too, because it’s a truth that, if it were practiced by everyone, the world would be a much better place. Instead of begging for candy, I’d rather my children bring a healthy sandwich to someone who’s begging on the street for food they can’t get for themselves.
I have been accused of being a pretty mean mom by not allowing my children to indulge in this selfish begging; that I’m not allowing them to have any fun. (To the parents who do take their children out to trick or treat, there’s no reason to be offended – this is just how I feel. It’s up to you what you let your children do and I won’t hold it against you or judge you for it. But coming to my house will be a waste of your time.)
Anyway, there’s plenty of other fun to be had on October 31 without being gluttonous. We could watch a movie or play some games, and just be together as a family. Or, if you must do something halloween-ish, a halloween party, complete with costumes.
I don’t think that’s so mean.
As for the orange decorations…I hate orange.