"I bet," one of the other hosts said, "you think Halloween is of the devil."
"Well, not only is it of the devil," the conservative host replied, "but you're also teaching kids to ask strangers to give them something for nothing. It's perfect training for future Democrats."
His "logic" got a laugh, and later he was teased about saying Halloween is "a conspiracy between the devil and Democrats."
I groaned at the radio host's views, but it did get me to thinking--
Is Halloween evil?
I grew up in a very conservative Christian family--my dad is a Baptist pastor. We had great fun with Halloween, and my other Christian friends celebrated the holiday too. Then when I was seven years old or so, my parents were given some information about Halloween's past and current pagan/occult/Satanic influences.
So, in the mid-1980s, when most Christians still had no problems with Halloween, we stopped celebrating. We still handed out candy, but didn't dress up or Trick-or-Treat. "Fall Festivals" and "Harvest Festivals" weren't popular yet, so we didn't go to any "Halloween alternative" celebrations. My mom did buy us candy--she didn't want us to feel too deprived! And I'll admit, candy has always gone a long way toward making me happy.
I wholeheartedly shared my parents' convictions about not celebrating a "Satanic holy day" but also missed the fun parts of Halloween. When we transferred out of a Christian school and into a public school, I was embarrassed that I couldn't participate in singing Halloween songs or coloring Halloween pictures. I felt it was worth it...but it was hard.
Now a great many American Evangelical Christians do not celebrate Halloween because of the scary and/or evil influences. This is a pretty popular view, and many kids from anti-Halloween families are now in good company, at least in certain parts of the country.
I'm still a Christian, but...now I'm okay with Halloween. (Interestingly, my parents don't think it's a terrible holiday anymore either.) I've read opinions on both side of this in-house Christian debate. I tend to agree with those who make these points:
- A few people who use a day for evil don't have to turn the day evil for everyone else.
- Various holidays have pagan histories (including a certain now-Christian holiday at the end of December); the history of the day matters less than what we do with it now.
- Even the "scary" parts of Halloween can be an opportunity for kids to confront fears, and to laugh at them. In our house we describe the bats, ghosts, and mummies as "silly scary."
- October 31 and November 1 have been celebrated as Christian holidays in the past. In the future we may research this more and incorporate "All Saint's Day" into our family celebration.
We have friends who do not celebrate Halloween. And you know what? That's okay. I believe one of the responsibilities we have as parents is to pass along the values and beliefs that are important to us. So whether they do or don't participate in _________ (fill in the blank with Halloween, Christmas, Passover, Valentine's Day, etc.), I support the parents around me. It's not my goal to convince others to come to the "pro-Halloween" side.
But if any of my Republican friends start arguing that Halloween is a Democratic holiday, I just might have to give them a talkin'-to.