Halloween: Two Ways To See It

 

On my parenting blog people ask me questions all the time about raising children and about how to keep the feeling of love in their homes. This recently asked question is both timely and important to consider.  Be sure to read to the end on this one. 

 

The Question:

 

Nicholeen, what do you do for Halloween? It seems like such a dark holiday, and I really don’t like participating.”

 

My Answer:

 

I love the quote, “Bring your children up in light and truth.” (D&C 93:40) That is the rule I follow regarding Halloween.

 

I don’t really like Halloween either. My mother loves it! I think it makes her think of her birthday. She is born in the fall, and so loves all the fall time things. I must admit, she made the holiday really fun growing up. She still likes to decorate in a cute way and take the grand children to the pumpkin walk in our area (a fall festival for children.)

 

History Of Halloween

Why do we celebrate Halloween? As far as I understand, Halloween was a holiday started by Pagans to distract attention from the Christian holiday which happened the next day called, All Saints Day, which was celebrated by the Christians. No matter how diligently the Catholic Church tried to make the day before All Saints Day a holy day, it’s members kept joining the dark Halloween festivities in order to supposedly scare away all the ghouls by being more scary than they were, or something like that.

Any way you look at it, it’s a superstitious holiday which focuses on darkness. It was a holiday from the dark ages for dark times. We have light and understanding now. The Holiday was originated to keep evil spirits away.

 

Looking Deeply Into Halloween

 

Evil can’t keep evil way. That’s a lie. Only good can. Evil doesn’t even have a body. He wants one, but can’t have one. The mere fact that we have bodies make us better and more powerful than evil.

 

Halloween is actually all about the body. And, that kind of bugs me. It is about disguising and mistreating the body. Nothing would make an evil being, who is at war with us, more happy than to see us not understand how important and sacred our bodies are. They are hooked to our Spirits. They are one soul. This is huge! The Devil doesn’t have a body and can’t have one. Misery loves company, so of course he would want us to ruin the great blessing God gave us; our bodies. Or at the very least joke about doing so and treat them lightly.

 

So, the start of Halloween wasn’t really so grand in my opinion, and it seems to be rooted in unhealthy practices. I don’t think it’s healthy to get scared. It creates stress and brings a dark feeling. The Devil is the author of fear, not God.

 

Also, if the Devil had a food, it would be candy. It’s so bad for us.

 

Furthermore, what kind of message do we send by going house to house saying, “You better give me what I want or I’ll trick you.”? If it were any other day, we would call the police. Sounds like a hold up at a bank.

 

Trick-Or-Treating Gone Wrong

 

When I was young I remember waking up at 2:00 am one Halloween night to a huge crash!!! We all ran to see what had happened and found a huge flower pot smashed through our bay window and broken all over our kitchen table and floor.

 

Apparently, my parents had told some kids that they didn’t have any more candy or that they were too old to be trick or treating or something like that and then this is what happened to us. The trick principle is not exactly a healthy idea to teach children. It creates hatred, and feelings of entitlement.

 

Safety Looks Different On Halloween

 

Also, what about not opening the door to strangers? This is a cardinal rule now days. When I was young, a man dressed in a gorilla suit came into our home one Halloween night and picked me up and carried me around. I was so scared. No one could stop him. I thought I was going to be taken. Luckily, he put me down and left after a while. No one knew who he was. If this happened any other day of the year people would call the police.

 

What Else?

 

Okay, this one is picky, but who really wants to be a bad guy? There are so many gross costumes out there which I really think no one should want to be. Why dress up as something bad. We usually feel different based upon what we look like. Our insides are part of what happens on our outsides. Isn’t this why we have standards we choose to live by?

 

Last, the whole idea of the holiday is to fear the dead. Why would we fear the dead? The dead are our ancestors. People who paved the way for us and watch over us. Sure, death is a bit unknown to most people, but only a fool fears something he doesn’t really know. Death is a part of life, which if embraced creates love, purpose and happiness. I don’t agree with fearing death or the people I love who have died. I love my dead so much I am spending a whole day each week this year seeking after my dead, with my children, by doing genealogy work. I look forward to the day when I can meet my kindred dead again.

 

But I Like Halloween Too

 

Okay, those are the reasons I don’t like Halloween. But there is a great up-side to the holiday too.

 

There isn’t really another day of the year when the whole neighborhood comes outside at the same time and goes house to house with smiles on and gifts to give. I see so many people on Halloween who I don’t see other times of the year. I love to talk to my neighbors and catch up on their lives. I also love the sense of adventure it offers my children and the anticipation it naturally creates. Even if I only chose to go to two houses, my children would love to dress up and knock on the neighbor’s door.

 

I also love celebrating the harvest. I love carving pumpkins with the children and drinking hot apple cider. We make a dinner in a pumpkin every year which is tons of fun for the family.

 

This Is How We Celebrate Halloween

 

My husband and I discuss it every year without fail, because we don’t really like the holiday or the feeling it can create, but we come to the same conclusion every year.

 

We will not decorate in a dark way, or dress as dark things. We will dress up as positive characters to make the Pagans mad. (Because, they have publicly said they are angry when people make their holiday so cutesy.) We will look at it as a social custom which is useful in bonding with our friends and neighbors and look forward to the opportunity to get to know them better and be their friends.

 

We will eat some candy, but not over do it. Our main focus will be celebrating the harvest time instead of the haunting stuff. The more cutesy and happy the better!

 

We will enjoy ourselves the way our family likes to by playing games and dressing up for fun together as a family.

 

We rebel against darkness by doing happy family things, being happy characters, and choosing to bond with people instead of scare them.

 

Oh, and we also watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. It’s the only Halloween movie we watch.

 

Suggestion

 

Holidays are so important for family memories and relationship building! For many of us, holidays are the reason we gather as families and often become the visions of what happiness means to us. Holidays are our fondest memories. The mention of many holidays conjure up feelings within each of us which excite us and inspire us throughout our lives.

 

Since holidays are so significant in our lives it only makes sense that we take time to look deeply into the holiday memories and feelings which we are going to create. Look closely at Halloween this year and decide what kind of holiday memory and feeling you want to create. What does you family need the holiday to be like to strengthen relationships and improve the Spirit in your home? Society doesn’t get to choose how you spend your Halloween; you do.

 

Happy Harvest!

 

Nicholeen’s Blog

 

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15 thoughts on “Halloween: Two Ways To See It

  1. I’m sure there are many opinions about this topic. I think it is something many of us have spent lots of time thinking out. This is some insightful information which was sent to my personal email from a reader about this topic. He said:

    “Thank you for writing this important article pertaining to Halloween! In
    recent days, I received an email stating that a local ward was going to throw
    a “ghoulish bash” @ our stake center….decorating the Lord’s house of prayer
    in all manner of darkness. I was deeply offended by this… Halloween has roots in
    Paganism and is the day of days for workers of darkness, Wiccans…etc. It is
    good to see I am not the only one who sees our time as family can be better
    spent by respecting God.
    God said “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the
    Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
    children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” (Exodus
    20:5)
    Alma 40:13 says:
    13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who
    are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the
    Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the
    spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their
    house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness;.

    Ephesians 5:8-11 & 15-16
    8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as
    children of light:
    9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and
    truth;)
    10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
    11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather
    reprove them.
    15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
    16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

    Halloween is more than childish fun. Wiccans have eight special holidays
    during the year known as “Sabbats”. Halloween is their day above all days. It
    is seen as a festival of darkness. Witchcraft is not child’s play! It is an
    abomination to the Lord.
    Make no mistake about it…this is a time of spiritual warfare.

    May The Lord bless you, Amen.”

  2. People are all entitled to their own personal revelation on how they should treat Halloween, but the fact that every ward I have been in has a “Trunk or Treat” Halloween party is a strong sign to me there is no reason to treat the holiday as evil. The Church’s approach seems to me spot-on: no scary costumes, no masks, no immodesty.

    Over time, Halloween has come to mean many things for many people. I think we should avoid the scary, dark things associated with Halloween while celebrating the fun things. Our family dressed up as Star Wars characters this year. Nearly everybody in the ward wore some kind of costume. Personally, I think it’s a big mistake to fall for the “Halloween is evil” meme.

  3. Halloween’s primary traditions are all very Christian, being the eve of all saints and all souls day. If you worry about the pagan aspects, you probably need to quit celebrating Easter and Christmas as well.

    I do think the recent spree of “sexy” costumes has gotten ridiculous. And i’ve never been a fan of fright houses, though my wife tells me they were quite popular missionary tools on her mission.

    I do wish Mormons were more aware of the connection with all saints and all souls day.I think there is something profoundly Mormon in remembering our dead who have gone before. I didn’t really get it until I was on a mission to the Philippines. Even when I was a catholic, we didn’t connect celebrate in America like they do elsewhere.

  4. I’m not too worried about the supposed pagan origins of Halloween. You could go to the extreme of a Jehovah Witness and celebrate no holidays. I had a few JW friends in High School who were more than willing to explain, in detail, the pagan origins of birthdays, Valentine’s day, Christmas, Easter, etc. They may even have been right – but I believe in the power of humanity to reinterpret traditions.

    Mostly, I agree with Geoff’s comment #2 above.

  5. I never think of Halloween as evil. I didn’t grow up in a “celebrate evil stuff at Halloween” kind of way, so I remember the fun of creating my own costumes, carving a jackolantern together as a family. As a shy child, it was very exciting to get to wear a costume to school! (I didn’t have a neighborhood Halloween because I lived outside the country).
    For me, it is ALL about the costumes, which I think is creative, fun and healthy for kids.
    I don’t think graveyards, skeletons, cobwebs etc. are really scary, evil or spooky so if I happen to see them or pass by them they are just fine The bloody gore is offputting though. I have a healthy view of death so a graveyard isn’t something to shun or be scared of. I don’t watch horror movies or try to scare anyone or myself.

  6. By the way, All Saints day was the catholic response to the pagan holiday of Samhain, the day of the dead, not the other way round. The day of the dead was meant to honor, feed and respect the dead who had gone before. It was also a time of thanks for the harvest and respecting that the world in the season of fall, would in a sense die, to be reborn in the spring. Just like Christmas has evolved from covering up the midwinter feast to gratitude for Christ’s birth to materialistic presents and indulgence, so has Halloween evolved from remembering the dead with love and respect to scaring away roaming spirits to getting candy from our neighbors and eliciting feelings of fear and horror. I think that we can choose to take the good from all we see, be good examples, and not worry about forcing the world to follow suit, just invite them.

  7. Thankfully, food allergies excuse us from Halloween…and I’ve loved it. We do some fun things as a family and that’s it. No parties, no fights over candy…it’s great.

  8. My wife doesn’t like Halloween, but she understands why I do. Its about the fun, the imagination, the kids, and if done right getting to know your neighbors just a little bit more. It can go too wrong like Nicholeen Peck’s letter. The focus on bloody horror and sexy prostitute like costumes misses the whole point of the season; having community fun and letting go of fear by facing it with amusement.

  9. Halloween as celebrated today is pretty innocuous and commercial. Just a fun, harmless holiday tradition.

    I actually wish it were more the pagan celebration it was in the past, scaring away demons, or a dark festival for the dead. Then, in the Catholic tradition, the light of All Souls Day on Nov. 1st would make for a beautiful contrast of light and darkness.

    While the Bible tells us that we must walk as children of light, if we, for one night, walk in the darkness, it will make the light stand out all the more brightly.

    I think the Evangelical “Hell Houses” that are set up during the Fall are absolutely fantastic. They are traditional haunted houses, with chainsaws and zombies, which are supposed to depict the terrors of hell, but where people go because they enjoy getting spooked. But at the end, there is a depiction of the Crucifixion, a journey into light, and tearful testimonies about Christ’s blood which can save us from the eternal torments of hell.

    While theologically I disagree with Evangelicals, I think there is something deeply human and beautiful about their Hell Houses, and the journey the soul takes in the process.

    I wish Halloween were a little more raw and real in that way.

  10. I’ll never understand the people that complain about Halloween having pagan origins but still celebrate Christmas. I think they’re just looking for something to complain about.

  11. The ancient Druids celebrated their pagan holiday called Samhain WAYYYYYY before the Catholic church created All Saint’s Day. You need to research the history of a topic before posting your opinion because much of what you are saying is not at all historically accurate. After the Catholic church decided to spread and conquer the British Isles, they didn’t like the way the Druids were celebrating their Pagan beliefs, so they basically tried to steamroll the Druids into replacing Samhain with All Saint’s Day (just like the Catholic church steamrolled almost everybody else that believed any differently than they did religiously.) But since the Druids were pagan, they had no clue who Christ was, so this did not go over easily because they had a lot of trouble grasping the concepts of Christianity. How would you feel if a large group came along and overtook your country and suddenly started forcing the religion of Buddhism or Islam down your throat? It would understandably be very hard for you to suddenly cling to as well, because you have deep roots in Christianity/Mormonism that you believe very strongly with much deep conviction.

    By the way, I think you’d be surprised at how many of the holidays and holiday traditions that we celebrate today come from Pagan festivities/roots/traditions. Google the origins of the Christmas Tree, for starters.

  12. Fabulous comments everyone! The whole point of writing the article above was to inspire thought. I have noticed Halloween is a pretty hot topic where I live. People are thinking deeply about it. I like that. I like that people are choosing to seek their own inspiration on how to celebrate the holiday. I started the article with the negative viewpoint of Halloween to get us all looking into it a little deeper. That obviously happened. YEAH! That was the point. I think all too often people just do things without thinking because of social pressure. Our family consciously decides each year how we will celebrate Halloween, and it is always usually the same. We talk about light and darkness. Choose light and then go about spreading friendships and love to all our family and friends. That is what it is about to us. We dress up in happy costumes, eat customary foods, carve pumpkins and meet with friends and family. We bond with people. For our family, that is what it is all about. But, even though we participate in lots of the customs, we have also consciously decided not to follow the crowd on the dark stuff, or immoral stuff.

    Thanks again for the additional insights and comments. Great dialog everyone! I hope today was a great day for you all.

    P.S. I apologize for not re-looking up the “history of” this year. I have done it in the past and just summarized a few points out of my head. Thanks for filling in the history gaps.

  13. Halloween is mostly a modern Anglo-American invention (modern meaning, like, post 1900), like Mother’s Day. More so than Christmas is.

    Most of the stuff about Samhain and all that is almost pure speculation.

  14. Adam, Thanks for that perspective. With that view, it is all the more important to consciously decide how your family is going to observe the holiday and why.

  15. Emily,

    Here’s a few corrections. The Catholic Church didn’t conquer the British Islands (ever). The Druids were wiped out by the Romans, then the when the Romans withdrew, the non-Christian Angles and Saxons conquered the Island. They were then converted in the 700s when missionaries arrived. It was not a military conquest.

    All Saints was a process of the Christianization of the dead. Christians had prayed for the dead since the beginning to aid the souls of the dead. SInce Nov. 1 was Celtic New Years, it was the time the dead returned (between Christmas and New Years is Slavic New Years, at that when the dead would return there). So the Catholics basically made it an important day to pray for the dead, and preform rites to aid their souls. One of the best way to aid the souls of the dead was to do good works on their behalf. In northern England, a tradition developed of poor people going house to house and getting treats, who would then promise to pray for the dead of the givers. Giving to the poor was considered one of the best good works to do.

    But the dead are also viewed as being scary, so people would do things to keep the evil dead at bay on All Saints. Ringing bells was very important: it was for both aiding the souls of the dead and keeping the evil dead at bay. I’ve posted about the Christianization of Europe here. http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/review-essay-the-dechristianization-thesis/

    So I quite like Halloween.

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