(you can get this cool desktop image
by Zefhar by clicking the image.)
I wouldn’t normally bother writing this sort of thing, but I started to type out a comment and it got much too long and I realized that my thoughts were not really what were being sought anyway. Jen at Conversion Diary asked those who don’t celebrate halloween to give their reasons. Since I don’t quite qualify as the person she is looking for input from (though I used to be), here it is in my own space.
In our family, we celebrated, then didn’t celebrate, now we do again.
We celebrated initially because, well, that’s what “everyone” did. Then we started to hear some of those arguments against participating that weren’t completely crackpot and were worth consideration. We were not sure we completely agreed and were not sure we completely disagreed, so we erred on the side of caution and stopped doing the whole trick or treating/celebrating halloween (in the typical secular sense… we did still celebrate All Saints Eve in our own way.)
After many years of taking the kids out for pizza during trick-or-treat hours, doing our own bob-for-apples and letting the kids pick out “good” candy that we bought for them, we just kind of rethought it.
We, and our kids, weren’t any holier due to opting out of this fun time once a year for our own version of fun. Our boys accepted it, but were never happy about it. They loved the costumes, the fun of going around the neighborhood and collecting goodies, seeing friends doing the same and so on. They didn’t become “rude” (the phrase “trick-or-treat” was in no way a threat from them to the homeowners) or greedy nor did they insist on gory, evil type costumes or any of that. And, as I said, they (and we) didn’t get any holier simply because they didn’t go trick-or-treating.
No matter what others may do to corrupt All Hallow’s Eve, we came to the conclusion and realization that it is simply a fun tradition here in America and that participating in it is not a danger to our kids’ souls. The enemy of our souls is doing a good job at coming at this from two angles. He inspires some to corrupt the day with deliberate evil and in others he causes fear of that evil and inspires us to opt out. This is often, though not always, very divisive. It sometimes leads to negative things… like pride, judging our neighbor (instead of judging the activities of 31 October for themselves) and so on.
I’ve met those who clearly have looked down their noses at us because we go around our neighborhood, dressed as Buzz Lightyear or Woody or a cat while collecting candy (that others freely give!) I’ve also met those who looked down on us when we didn’t trick or treat: we were mean parents, isolationists, freaks and so on.
My answer to the question of why we didn’t is simply that we were unsure and didn’t want to get it wrong. We acted out of fear, I think, though it was not an overwhelming, paralyzing fear.
The bottom line is that celebrating halloween in the traditional secular sense does not add to our holiness, but as I mentioned before, neither did not celebrating it. Celebrating does not take away from it, either. There are lots of other things that influence my holiness, like whether or not I deliberately try to live the virtues, how often I get to confession and so on. Taking the kids out for candy once a year is really not an issue.
We firmly believe that halloween is just a day of fun for kids across the country. Even if some wish to corrupt a holy day, we find we can celebrate the secular fun without joining in the corruption. There are some that mock the Mass, but we don’t stop going to Mass because that is true. So many have reduced Christmas to a commercial, gift-giving holiday rather than a celebration of the Incarnation, yet we still celebrate Christmas. We even give gifts! That does not automatically mean that we have corrupted Christmas.
Though historically these two days are tied together (31 October and 1 November), the dressing up and collecting (as well as giving) candy and the celebration of the victory of the Saints are really two separate things. It doesn’t matter to us if everyone else recognizes it. It doesn’t even matter if others corrupt it. Many good things are corrupted… human sexuality, marriage and so on, but that corruption doesn’t change them from good to bad. It only shows how we can corrupt what is good. Maybe costumes and trick-or-treating aren’t exactly a “good” (really they are kind of neutral) but that doesn’t make them evil, either.
We are sure to celebrate the Holy Day in many ways in our family (including celebrating MilkyWhite’s birthday!) In “celebrating” halloween as well, we do nothing more than celebrate childhood and a fun (secular) tradition. I wish we’d never lost sight of that, yet I also don’t spend too much time on regret. It’s just costumes and candy after all.