When kids get older, they want to have fun with Halloween, and it is harmless. Haunted corn mazes are the rage now, and can be a fun outing. Many have taken to the negative of Halloween citing the ancient origins as proof that its roots are Satanic. It’s roots are not Satanic, they are Druid, a sect that was ancient; holding ancient beliefs seated in their uneducated minds to define the unknown. As Christianity overtook the Druid lands, and inevitably converts, the Popes of the time began to align traditions to Christianity. Perhaps, as a way to maintain tradition for those new converts with their families. Who knows the thought process of those Roman Catholic leaders, but it was not a deterrent from the actual tenets of the religion. All Hallow’s Eve, October 31, was the last day of the year, and was the day that the old was put away in preparation for All Saint’s Day, November 1. Masks evolved from ancient beliefs that the ghosts and demons would not recognize the person with the mask. Americanization of the holiday began to happen in the 1880’s, when people were encourage to do away with the focus on the demons, create a party atmosphere for the community. By the 1920’s – 1930’s, the religious significance of the holiday had dwindled to the point of a true community atmosphere.
Later into the middle of the 20th century the commercialization of Halloween took shape. One of my favorite movies takes place on October 31, and starts with an elopement of a couple which then cascades into the discovery of Aunts who are serial murderers, an Uncle that thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and charges up the stairs at the blow of horn (and who gingerly buries the Aunts’ bodies in the basement as a yellow fever victim in the Panama Canal). Then the long lost brother come to visit, bringing his own body and a doctor who is going to do plastic surgery to change his appearance. Hilarity ensues, and the fast paced, quick witted play turned movie became a Cary Grant classic, ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’.
Then, move up to the later 20th century and Disney enlisted Bette Midler to play a witch with two sisters and diabolical plan to “Put a Spell on” a small town. ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a classic that many families don’t let a Halloween pass without watching. In our family the phrase, “Amuck! Amuck! Amuck!” is used when things get a little crazy…and we aren’t the only ones I have found out!
Granted there are many others that have cropped up, the ‘Halloween’ scream movies, the nightmare movies, and such; however, we all have our agency to choose not to watch those movies. We can make Halloween a fun experience for all involved. Even when door to door trick or treating has dwindled to almost being non-existence due to the fear of candy being tainted by malicious individuals, we can still light up the world of a pre-school ‘Spiderman’ that comes calling. Our children were at the age that trick or treating was still done, but just beginning to dwindle. One particular house that we went to has been etched in my mind forever, and all I can think of is that this person professed to be Christian, but he was in reality having an off day…my children knocked on his door (yes, the signal was there..the porch light was on), and he opened the door and gruffly told my children that Halloween was evil and he was Christian and they didn’t participate. Okay. So, turn off your light and try not to scare the children! That was uncalled for. If you choose to not even play along with the harmless ritual of giving a child a box of raisins or a small piece of candy, then just turn your porch light off.
Granted there are sects that have developed in the early 1900’s that claim their roots are from the Druids, however, they are new, and use some of the recovered beliefs of the Druids (much, if not all of the Druid’s beliefs are not available). My son’s Scout troop spent one Halloween night in a cemetery to guard it against those that would come in during the night attempting to do rituals. They actually had one lady show up and one of the Scout leaders told her the cemetery did not want her there, she left. But, these are not the norms, they are the exceptions. (And those Scouts still talk about that night in the cemetery, so to them, it was an adventure!)
Let’s not make it mean, and become the ‘witch of Halloween’ by being mean to the children that venture out that are so proud of their costumes. I love to see the costumes and hear their voices! And to see their eyes light up when magically they do get free candy! What a cool concept, you can actually see that thought in their eyes!
Our church has what is dubbed ‘Trunk or Treat’, developed out of the fear of children going out into neighborhoods to people that they didn’t know. The children are so excited to be dressed up as Disney princesses, angels, devils, movie characters, an Avenger, and there is at least one vampire every year! One child cracked me up so much, and I still remember how proud he was of his costume, he was a lawyer! He wore a suit, had a briefcase, and a mustache, it was wonderful!!! The Trunk or Treat is sometimes on Halloween, and sometimes on another night. When it is on another night, we have our candy stash ready for the neighborhood children. Those numbers have dwindled to…not one child last year. Sad to see this chapter go into the history books. However, schools and churches, and even malls, have picked up the tradition.
So, let’s have fun on October 31, have a very Happy Halloween!!