This Halloween, Can We Just Call a Truce?

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It’s been 10 years now since I started blogging and, thus, paying increased attention to the Catholic/Christian/mommy blogosphere. I have to say, this time of year always gets me a bit down. No, I’m not talking about the election. (Do *not* get me started.) I’m talking about Halloween. All Hallows Eve. Hallowtide. Reformation Day. Call it what you will.

At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve read it all.

Everything from Catholics shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because Walmart sells slutty nun costumes to Halloween rocks–and Harry Potter helped me understand the communion of the saints to Halloween is an evil holiday instituted by pagans and the Hershey Company to send our kids to hell via root canal. (No, I made that last one up. Probably.)

You guys, can we call a truce?

If you don’t like candy, costumes, and cavorting with the neighbors after dark, that’s cool. But please don’t think that because our family does like those things, it means we are commercial sellouts, closet pagans, or secret buddy-buddies with Satan.

Yes, some people use Halloween as an excuse to do really despicable things, like maim black cats and perform Satanic rituals. It’s true. You know what? Some people use the internet to do some pretty nefarious stuff, too. That doesn’t mean I’m going to shut down my blog and give away my computer.

What is Halloween, really? It’s a modern day holiday of misrule. Remember those medieval celebrations with boy bishops where things turned topsy-turvy for a day or two and everyone got a chance to party like it was 1175?

Halloween gives you license: to dress funny, to stay up late, and to eat way too many mini Butterfingers. (Just me?) Some people take it too far. That doesn’t mean that everyone is.

Some people don’t like gore or thinking about death. I can appreciate that. But there’s nothing wrong with those things. In fact, as Christians, we are exhorted to spend quite a bit of time thinking about death. Some of our most beloved saints were brutally martyred–and, I mean, have you ever seen a crucifix? Rated G, Jesus was not.

Now I do get that, like the internet, Halloween can just be too much of danger zone for some Christians. I had a friend once who said she couldn’t go anywhere near trick-or-treating or even read fantasy like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings because of a deep and scary dive into the occult she experienced in her youth. Fair enough! I admired her self reflection and restraint and would absolutely never pressure her to participate in something she felt put her faith life and personal peace at risk. If you are in this position, please be honest with your tribe about your need to keep Halloween celebrations at a distance.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating an anything-goes attitude here. As a Catholic, I think there are some good guidelines we can probably all follow when it comes to Halloween.

  1. Don’t actually participate in witchcraft. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Don’t stay out so late that you miss Mass the next morning! (All Saint’s Day is a Holy Day of Obligation.)
  3. Don’t eat so much candy that you actually do damage to your health. 
  4. Don’t wear a costume that demeans the Church or is in conflict with Church teachings on purity, human dignity, social justice, or the supernatural.

Other than that, I’m going to go out on a limb and trust that you are perfectly capable of making up your own well formed conscience on the highly controversial subject of allowing your offspring to dress up like superheroes and fairy princesses (or saints!) in order that they might go about the neighborhood after dark, pillaging collecting Reese’s peanut butter cups for you to purloin sometime after they go to bed. (Wait, what?)

And if Halloween is just really not your thing, no worries. Would you say a St. Michael the Archangel prayer for somebody tonight? Get cozy with your family and enjoy the last day of the beautiful month of October in whatever way is most meaningful for you. I’m so glad we can agree to disagree on this one and still be good friends. Tell you what? I’ll even save you a Reese’s.

3 comments

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you for your voice of reason. Halloween is a fun time of year and like your family, our Christian family always celebrated the fun and silly aspects of the day. Plus, my youngest child was born on October 31. He’s 25 today, so past the years of an all out fun trick-or-treat birthday party. Even more reason to have a fun celebration.-

    Believe it or not, while growing up he had things said to him such as: “If you were born on Halloween, your dad must be the devil”, “Oh you were born on the devil’s birthday”…. and other nonsense such as this. Once in a while there would be a school friend who wouldn’t be allowed to come to his birthday party because it was on Halloween!!!!!!

    Thankfully, these comments were not the norm, but to a young child, they were hurtful when all he wants to do is have fun and celebrate his birthday!

    My kids are grown and on their own now. I still carve a pumpkin, decorate and excitedly answer the door for the trick or treaters. The hard part of the day for my husband and me is trying to keep our own paws out of the Halloween candy!

  2. D. says:

    Hi Bethany,

    You have some good points. As Christians we are no longer under the law of “do this; don’t do that….” The Apostle Paul wrote about not being burdened by laws, yet practicing sensitivity towards others who may feel offended by our personal choices.

    Our family has chosen not to participate in Halloween, yet we respect those who do.

    I do disagree, however, in attempting to take the death of Jesus (and maryters) and liken it to the gore and death we see at Halloween. Christ’s death (and all the physical suffering He went through) had a purpose in order to free us from sin and death and give us life in Him. The gore and death that Halloween celebrates is a far cry from the death of the Lamb of God.

    In any case, I can appreciate the thoughts you shared in regards to Halloween. 🙂

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