Celebrating Halloween: Why not?

October 28, 2009 | 97 comments

Halloween is one of those holidays where my ratio of “wanting to like it” to “actually liking it” is very high. Every year I have visions of spending weeks putting together elaborate costumes that will thrill my children, then jaunting around the neighborhood in the refreshing Fall air of Halloween night where all the neighbors admire the adorableness of my children and inwardly remark about how very caring and on top of things their mother must be to have procured such detailed and gorgeous costumes. The way it actually tends to work out is that I get overwhelmed and do nothing until October 30th, at which time I have a freakout session in which I announce that I’m grabbing some burlap sacks and a rope and all the kids are going to be St. Francis this year and my mom finally takes over and makes a midnight trip to Wal Mart to dig through the dregs of costumes that the kids with non-procrastinating mommies didn’t want and we head out to do our trick-or-treating in either sweltering hot or bitter cold temperatures and my kids all have meltdowns and we drag them back to the house where they eat candy for dinner. And sometimes I embarrass myself at the library too.

But anyway.

It’s recently come to my attention that there are some people who don’t celebrate Halloween. Well, I guess I did know something about it in my pre-conversion years, when we’d go trick-or-treating and walk past the one darkened house and someone would whisper something about “the religious family, ” but I always assumed that it was a ploy to avoid spending money on candy. What’s new is that I’ve started hearing arguments against it that are well-thought-out have some decent points.

Though I doubt I’ll stop celebrating Halloween any time soon, I would like to hear more about the case against it since I’m not very familiar with it. (I assure you my curiosity is driven entirely by a thirst for knowledge and not at all by the fact that it’s four days before Halloween and I’m about to have a panic attack from costume chaos and trick-or-treat schedules that rival the New York subway system in their intricacy.) Maybe it’s the circles I run in, but I feel like the folks who don’t celebrate Halloween often don’t get a fair shake — in popular culture they’re ridiculed as being overzealous fanatics, and even in religious circles they’re often so far in the minority that when the Halloween debate comes up their voices are way outnumbered by people who enjoy the holiday.

So if you choose not to celebrate Halloween, this post is for you. I’d like to hear your side of the story: What led you to this decision? If you have kids, do they miss it? Do they do a different activity instead? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


  1. Courageous Grace

    This isn't a "why not" answer, but rather a "why" answer from a Catholic/Anglo-Catholic perspective.


    So far this is the best explanation of "why" Halloween SHOULD be celebrated and how to do it in a way that doesn't fall into the secular mindset of Holy days (holidays).

  2. Alisa

    Aha! I was just thinking about this very thing tonight!

    Growing up, I was surrounded by a big crowd of people who did NOT do Halloween. I got to go trick or treating sometimes as a kid and for the "Harvest" church functions, but then there were the years when the fundamentalist pressure to boycott any and all things Halloween. I heard so many arguments and counter-arguments, and frankly, most of the "anti-" crowd just wallowed in fear; plain and simple.

    It wasn't until my teens that I read an article pondering why Christians are suddenly barricaded in their homes on October 31st with all the lights out and shades drawn acting like they aren't home when some poor heathen kid is clueless enough to ring their doorbell (and yes, we did this for some years!). Then they shared their experience of meeting their neighbors for the first time over bowls of Snickers and pirate costumes, actually just being human and real and (gasp!) still a Christian. Huh. So that was what loving your neighbor might look like.

    And me? Well, my kids will get last minute costumes for the church activities, and, if I were ever home on Halloween, I would probably sit on my porch with candy and a pumpkin that says "I love Jesus" or something corny like that. I'd like to meet my neighbors. But somehow I'm never home!

    What I DO hate about Halloween in the world is the glorification of death and gore. Definitely NOT a part of a Christian's fun holiday, IMHO.

    But the earth is the Lord's and everything in it… even on October 31st. Let's reclaim it… or at least not let it be stolen from us.

  3. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jen, at the risk of being a rebel, again, I am going to paste in a post I wrote around this time last year that addresses the whole subject of Halloween. I'm among those who think it's okay to celebrate it, especially in light of this perspective:


    I'd been planning to write a revised version of this on Friday, so perhaps you'll see that one as well. At any rate, I TOTALLY relate with the dread of Halloween costume making/choosing. And by the way, my first-grader is going as St. Francis. 🙂

    And while we're on the subject, if you haven't seen Donna Marie's post sharing saint costume ideas, these are adorable:



  4. Jane D.

    We don't celebrate Halloween at all. Now, I live in England where I was born and brought up so my cultural experience of Halloween may be quite different.

    As an un churched child (20+ years ago) along with my brother and sister I was allowed to go trick and treating. There was no guidance given to us by my parents and no adult with us. I was chased down the street by an elderly gentleman whose door we had been continuously knocked on. This frightened me silly (I must have been about 11 years old) and never did it again.

    I became a Christian in my early twenties and started to experience 'Light' parties at the churches I attended, as alternatives to 'celebrating' something I had always felt was 'dark'.

    Before I had children after my conversion, I would always have some treats with a little Bible tract or badge for any children that came to my door – I saw it as an opportunity to tell kids about Jesus, they were coming to my door so I had a 'right' to tell them about Jesus.

    After having children my husband and I were of the same opinion that Halloween was about putting pressure on kids to accept that being frightened was okay, knocking on peoples doors (even if they were friends) and expecting goodies was a form on begging and was not the sort of activity that Jesus would ever have done. However He would have loved throwing a party having food and lots of fun.

    The last few years we have tried to either organise parties at church or do something nice with the children. This year the pressure and quantity of kids going door to door on our estate has got to the point where we do not feel we can stay at home so we are all going to the cinema.

    My son now 10 has been invited to a party and we have allowed him to make us his own mind about going and he wants to go, that is fine, he has to find out his own views. Sorry this is very long but you did ask :o)……………

  5. M. Swaim

    I was partially raised through proxy by Dr. James Dobson, and so Halloween wasn't exactly celebrated in our house. I never missed it- although it was always a little awkward when it came to costumes at school. I typically dressed in my tee-ball uniform to avoid questions.

    The biggest anti-Halloween force in evangelicalism in the mid-80's was a guy named Mike Warnke. You may recognize his name from this debacle. He was a born-again Christian comedian who claimed to have been a former high priest of Satan. It was later discovered that he had been lying about being a Satanic priest. Between you and me, I don't think he was really a comedian either.

    I do celebrate Halloween nowadays, though with less vigor than my peers, since I don't have the nostalgia factor going for me. I do the "All Saints" theme instead. But MY GOD- I walked into a Halloween store the other day and was tempted to commit arson. Maybe these three decades of life have made me a cynic, but I couldn't believe the overt whorishness and evil of the costumes I saw. I mean, seriously- if anyone shows up at my house dressed up as a priest with an erection, I will abandon my conditional pacifism and beat them senseless with their own prosthesis.

  6. Multiple Mom T

    Hmmm….I've never tried to put it into words. Hope this isn't too disjointed!

    I used to love Halloween as a kid. I'm almost 41 now, and the Halloween I celebrated and the Halloween that exists now are two very different "holidays". There is so much more emphasis on the scary, evil stuff.

    I know there is negative religious information out there…I'm sure I read it when my kids were very little but I don't remember it.

    We used to take our kids to a "Halloween alternative" Harvest party, but the church sponsoring it puts it on Wednesday right in the middle of homework and then bedtime. So last year I bowed to popular demand and let the kids go around the neighborhood.

    Apparently we're doing the same this year. I hate Halloween, and would so much rather it didn't exist. I know Christians on both sides of the fence. I try to downplay the whole Halloween thing and just let them get excited about the candy and dressing up, which is what I remember loving about it as a child.

  7. Judy

    Ok, I'm probably not the best person to be commenting here – not sure if I qualify…
    I live in Australia and have found halloween becoming more and more something 'done' here than it ever was before. I'm in my mid 30's and, when I was a kid, Halloween was something that was celebrated "in the U.S – not here". So we'd see pictures on tv of kids out 'trick or treat'ing or see it in movies (ie ET) and think "wouldn't that be fun?" but it just wasn't something that was done here. The fact that I grew up on a farm and our nearest neighbours were about a 10 minute drive away may have had something to do with it as well but I don't think it was something even the 'city kids' did when I was young.
    These days, however, things are different. Every year, for about the last four or five years, my doorbell starts to ring at about 4pm and doesn't stop until well after dark, with kids wanting treats. Most of them aren't dressed up, though, and are closer to teenagers than small kids so I'm not sure why they are doing it – maybe just to score some free lollies??. To be honest, halloween has always been something that's part of "American culture" and so to find it coming more and more into Australian culture kind of annoys me a little – particularly as it seems to be something the department stores focus on between father's day and christmas. It just seems like a very over-commercialized event that isn't really part of tradition or culture here and so doesn't seem to have much meaning. I often wonder if kids anywhere really know what it's about (not saying I do, just wondering if it's really something that's 'celebrated' or just done because it's fun).
    My kids (I have three – the oldest is 4) won't be celebrating it this year or any other year but not on religious grounds – more that I don't see it as something we (in Australia) do but who knows… maybe sometime in the future if they are really keen to be a part of it things might change.

  8. TL.

    I'd be interested to read the comments..
    Some practices are a little too extreme for me, like wearing a veil, or refusing to celebrate Halloween and calling it bad names, when it is actually pretty easy to make it what it is : the night before all saints days. Here now you can celebrate!! 🙂

  9. Michael

    We don't celebrate Halloween in the traditional way, but not for any of the reasons I've seen.

    I am the father of seven kids, ranging is ages from 2 to 17. We don't go trick-or-treating mainly because the kids see all of these scary costumes, get scared (duh) and then I have little people in bed with me for the next month.

    It's not a conviction that keeps us from going door-to-door, it's the desire for sleep.

    So, we go to parties with friends or harvest festivals at churches (as mentioned), or something like that where we know scary costumes are not allowed.

    We still dress up – and not just as saints. We still let them load up on sugar like they were trying to recover from some hypoglycemic near-death experience. But then (and this is key) THEY GO HOME AND SLEEP IN THEIR OWN LITTLE BEDS! To be sure, they're twitching in some post-sugar-high withdrawal syndrome, but they're doing it in their own beds.

    We will let the double-digits crew (the older kids) go door-to-door, if they want and if it's not too late. And we'll put out a big bowl of "help yourself" candy while we're gone. I, for one, value my sleep too much to bring the two year old out to see all of the ghoulies running around the neighborhood.

  10. Rachel B

    To me, refusing to celebrate is a Protestant superstition/prejudice, and the reasons I have been given could have been applied to Christmas and Easter, too. Many of the evangelical Christians I know don't celebrate Halloween because they believe it is a "pagan holiday" that celebrates witchcraft and death. Simple as that. There were a few years when we didn't celebrate when I was a kid, but then we knocked it off and had fun. As a Catholic convert who now knows what "Hallowe'en" is, I celebrate joyfully.

  11. Emma

    As a small child, I celebrated Halloween. My parents didn't fully approve of it, but went along with it. Eventually, we stopped celebrating and my parents took us out of school. We went on a trip to a monastery with gorgeous grounds (St Tikhon's in PA) and hung out there all day eating a picnic lunch and enjoying the monks. Afterward, my parents would treat us to 25 cents worth of penny candy at a little store nearby and take us to dinner at a diner. We LOVED it – except for missing out on getting a cool costume.

    Now that I am a mother, my husband and I have decided not to celebrate Halloween. We read The Pumpkin Parable with our little ones and carve a pumpkin with a cross (though I am considering one of those cool pro-life pumpkins this year!). We do pumpkin activities and bake a pumpkin pie. We've also started a tradition to get the kids a costume for their dress up box after Halloween (when they are super cheap) for their dress-up box (I like shops like Children's Place and Gymboree b/c they are so well made!).

    In addition to the above this year, we will be having a Saint Michael's Day Party at church on Nov. 1st (it is the Sunday between Halloween and St Michael's, which is Nov. 8th for those of us in the Orthodox Church). The kids will be dressing as Saints or Angels and will have a costume parade so that the adults can try to guess who they are. We'll have yummy food, candy, and a treasure hunt for things like mini pumpkins, pumpkin spice playdough, candy, a craft is a bag, and flashlights. It should be fun!!

  12. KimP

    I LOVED Halloween as a kid – it was the only time my brother and I had unfettered access to candy, glorious candy! After age 7 or 8, we made our own costumes. It was fun.

    I think it is harmless fun for kids, but I emphasize the KIDS part. I don't celebrate Halloween as an adult. It seems in the last 10 or 15 years, Halloween has been hijacked by the adults, as if adults do not want to actually grow up, and I find that disturbing. Also, the adult celebrations do seem to have a sinster component to them, or at the very least, seem like an excuse to drink to excess and dress like prostitutes.

    I say, give Halloween back to the kids. Let it be about making fun, simple costumes. Let the adults STAY HOME and give out candy, sober. Let's make it innocent again.

  13. Elizabeth

    We actually attend an All Saints party and the kids dress as someone Holy. There is lots of food, games and silliness. We also "trick or treat"…with friends earlier in the evening before the party and usually the costume is similar…if not the same. Two years ago #1 daughter was Saint Joan of Arc & got to do a lot of "spreading the faith" as she went door to door. This year, the kids have done the planning for me. A medaeval princess will become St Elizabeth of Hungary, Blessed Kateri will be an ordinary Indian girl and believe it or not…Yoda will transform into St Francis of Assisi. (snorkie is ALWAYS a Jedi/Franciscan…I have now made him two brown bathrobes!
    We stay away from the dark elements and our neighborhood tends toward "haunted house" type decorations…WHO LIKES that stuff, other than the parents and teens??? We also teach about the Communion of Saints Constantly.
    We have also given out LARGE candy bars with St Michael prayer cards enclosed in past years…can't hurt! 🙂
    I loved the comment about beating up the any sacriligious "piest" coming to the door. LOL

  14. Stacey

    Hi Jen,
    I was raised an evangelical Protestant who NEVER celebrated Halloween, because it was a pagan holiday. Honestly, now that I've become Catholic, I don't see that that has changed. The real reason not to celebrate Halloween is that it is an anti-Christian paganization of a Christian holiday. Celebrating All Saint's Day, visiting the graves of our departed loved ones, dressing up as saints and having candy, is all well and good. It's when this celebration of life, of the eternal nature of the soul, and the communion of saints, becomes a celebration of death that something has gone wrong. Our culture has many tendencies to focus on death instead of life, evidenced by the popular obsession with vampires, the occult, and horror movies. It all seems to come from the same source and it all focuses on the opposite of what is our joy in Christ and hope of eternal life.

    That's enough from me. Here from Spanish bishops who say it better:

  15. Barbara C.

    I took a supernatural folklore class in college, which was only taught in the fall of course. The professor talked about the cultural significance of Halloween as being magical for children because it is a time when "the rules" of childhood are broken for a short period:

    1. They are allowed to go around outside wearing costumes.
    2. They are encouraged to talk to strangers.
    3. They get to walk around outside after dark.
    4. They are allowed to get and consume tons of candy.

    The biggest thing that bothers me about "modern" Halloween is how regulated it has become by the government with villages "moving" Halloween or setting very constrictive time limits.

  16. Charlotte (Matilda)

    I posted my thoughts on that Building Cathedrals thread and linked to these thoughts on my own blog for anyone who cares to read them.

    I know it seems like semantics, but Halloween has been claimed by the secular world as a costume and candy holiday and like all things of the world, it can be an nice, community building experience, or it can be scary and bordering on child abuse with a little indecent exposure in front of children thrown in for fun. Those are not the traditions of the Church and for everyone who says, "We Catholics know how to celebrate Halloween!" I would challenge you by saying, "Call it All Hallows Eve because that is what it was whereas 'Halloween' is something completely different these days."

    We don't celebrate Halloween, but we do celebrate All Hallows Eve, the eve of the feast of All Saints. It is a long standing tradition of our faith that the feast day begins starting at sundown the day before (that's why Saturday night Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation, right?).

    I have heard all of the arguments in favor of Catholics celebrating Halloween and the one that really doesn't make sense to me is the ones that says, "We are celebrating Christ's triumph over sin and death and that's why we can dress up in ghoulish ways." Well OK, but did Christ also triumph over Captain James T. Kirk and Princess Ariel too? And wouldn't it make more sense to dress up like the friends of Christ who also triumphed over sin here on Earth using the virtues and sacraments as their weapons in Faith and Christ as their guide?

    Frankly, those arguments just sound like a good justification for "we like to dress up and go collect candy from our neighbors" which is fine, if that's what you like to do, but I don't see how that is celebrating the solemnity of All Saints.

    Personally, I like to buy my own candy, so that I can get what I really like and limit the quantity. I can also afford to splurge on the good stuff for me, my kids and my guests.

    Every Oct. 31st, we have a rockin' All Hallows Eve Party with games and cool costumes. I am firm believer that if you want to make it special for your kids, you have to put forth at least as much effort as those sweatshops in China to produce an interesting costume. Many times, you can easily alter a store bought costume to work.

    Our lights are always on, the music is playing, and there is a bucket of candy on the front porch with a sign that says, "Party in Progress, Happy All Hallows Eve!"

  17. Dani

    I hand out candy to the kids and put up my dollar store LED light pumpkin, but that's about it. I have been invited to parties this year (and the last few years), but I don't particularly like that element. It used to be this fun yearly event.

    Now everyone dresses up like sluts (slut nurse, slut cat (?), slut witch)…if you are an adult, you pretty much have be a slut for halloween if you have no creativity and are forced to buy something.

    Then when you get to said party, it's debauchary at it's worse. When did a day for the dead because a hedonism party.

    Not my cup of tea. So I pop in a classic move and hand out candy.

  18. fumblingtowardgrace

    My family celebrates Halloween, but we focus on celebrating it as the feast day All Hallows' Eve. So we're having a big, fancy fall dinner, having some friends over, and dressing as saints rather than ghouls. I've somewhat struggled with this as well, because I love the idea of Halloween as well.

    PS. My husband is dressing as St. Francis. I have not finished his costume yet. :0

  19. cindy kay

    I went trick-or-treating as a child, but we've never celebrated Halloween with our own children, for a few reasons.

    One, being an extreme introvert, I hated, as a child, walking up to strange houses and asking for candy, and that didn't change when I grew up. So I didn't want to put my kids through that.

    Two, I've never liked Halloween. I think the ghosties, and ghoulies, and all of that are distasteful and yucky.

    Three, I'm TERRIBLE at coming up with homemade costumes, and we could never afford to buy them, so reasons one and two gave me a good excuse to avoid the holiday–and its expectations– all together.

    We've gotten away with it because we homeschooled and we live in a rural area, so we could just go one with life as normal and nobody was the wiser.

  20. MotherGoose518

    We don't celebrate Halloween for much the same reason we don't "do" Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. It takes honor and glory away from God who is to be the center of all that we do.

    What is worse, is Halloween iconisizes (sp?) the occult. The picture you chose is a dog dressed up as a scorserer. Something very serious has been cutesified and made light of. Scorcery, witch craft, magic, etc. is a big deal to God and the Bible is very clear that we are to have NO PART of it.


  21. Michelle

    I don't look down on anyone who chooses to celebrate Halloween, and I get really frustrated when I'm treated like a freak for choosing not to celebrate it.

    This is how we look at it, and what we're telling our 3 little ones: you look at what the event celebrates, and decide if you want to celebrate it. We don't celebrate Chinese New Year, since we're not Chinese and it's not a new year for us. We don't celebrate Passover, since we're not Jewish. And when we look at what seems to be the focus of Halloween these days, scaring people and handing out/ consuming sugar, we simply don't want to celebrate that. If other people do, that's fine.

    Anyway, what we do is celebrate the fact that Christmas is coming. Being Canadians, we've already had Thanksgiving, so we watch our first Christmas movie of the season, drink hot chocolate, and eat tasty holiday treats. It's a really special family evening, and we all love it.

  22. Rebecca

    This is such an interesting discussion. And it is funny that a lot of people have posted about it; I did myself a few days ago. Basically we do celebrate hallowe'en (I have an 8- and a 10-year-old stepdaughter and they wouldn't miss it for the world), but I am very uncomfortable about it. Very very uncomfortable and I am not sure what I will do when my own boys are old enough to notice. Anyway here is the link to my post in case anyone cares to read it; I got some interesting comments (the point Katie made was particularly good, what she does not like the houses that are done up like torture chambers, etc. because it is too much like the real evil in the world).


  23. Jeana

    Way back before my husband and I had our first child, we decided that we would try to think through issues critically, and try our hardest not to do anything just because everyone else does it or just because that's how our parents did it. Simply put, I personally can not think of any reason for us to celebrate Halloween that doesn't fit into one of those two categories.

    Some Christians see it as an opportunity to reach out to the community and I think that's great! I also think medical missions to Africa are a great opportunity to reach out, but I do not feel personally obligated to reach out in either of those particular ways. And that's what bugs me about many online discussions–it inevitably falls into bashing the people who don't do what you do.

    I think there are Christians who say they do it as an outreach when really they just don't want to say no to their kids, and I think there are Christians who say they're avoiding all appearance of evil when really they just don't want to make the neighborhood rounds and deal with the sugar meltdown. Christians aren't perfect. What else is new?

    Halloween has no spiritual significance for us (us meaning our family, not the universal church). The only reason we would celebrate is because it's fun and we like candy. There are other things we do, all throughout the year, that involve fun and candy without all the dark associations. But we don't feel obligated to have big fun and candy on Oct 31 in particular, any more than we feel obligated to make merry during Hannukkah, Kwanza or Ramadan.

    I am not scandalized, offended or shocked when Christian friends have a jack o' lantern on their porch. I understand they aren't worshiping Satan and that they view things differently than we do. But decorating our home with dead things, witches, ghosts, etc would make me feel like I was not "fleeing all appearance of evil".

    Additionally, we intentionally looked up all reference to witchcraft in the Bible and became more aware than we were before how much God hate, detests, despises it. It's completely offensive to Him. (Don't take my word for it, look it up.) I tried to think of what issue I found that detestable. Racism came to mind. I imagined how I would feel if I went to the home of a friend or family and they had a KKK decoration, which they quickly assured me was "harmless" and "just for fun" and that they "weren't really racist". I would not be amused.

    To answer another question, I ask our kids every year if it bugs them and they always say no. They don't have fond memories attached to it because we've never done it. I think one reason it doesn't bother them is because we have not built it up as though our salvations depend on it, just as a personal choice for our family and we explain to them the reasons for our choice. They think the whole thing is rather bizarre, honestly, as they do Santa. But that's a whole other bag of worms. 🙂

    This year we're going camping. That might be one more reason why they don't feel deprived. Me, on the other hand…

  24. Christine

    I live in a very good community that treats Halloween as just a fun time to dress-up and get candy.

    It is fun and harmless unless you let your kids get into all the gore.

    Dressing up has always been big in our house. The costume box is full of odds and ends from garage sales.

    It is just for fun. Nothing more.

    The problem is that most American children do not even hear one ounce about All Saints and All Souls Day.

  25. ~Leyla~

    My ethics professor was kind enough to explain "genetic fallacies," and ever since then I don't worry too much about the fear of past/historical paganism sneaking into my holidays.
    As for the costume problem, Fireflies and Jellybeans has some great thrifty homemade costume ideas.

  26. TL.

    I really like comment 23, from Michelle, where she compares Halloween to a different culture's celebration. That really sheds a new light on it for me 🙂

  27. FrankCaiati

    A Catholic Priest told me last year that Halloween is a mockery of evil and of the devil.

    He said it was A-Ok in the Catholic Faith.

  28. Charlotte (Matilda)

    One thing I want to add is that my nieces (who are home schooled) trick or treated for years until my SIL became uncomfortable with some things going on in her neighborhood and made the decision to join us for our All Hallows Eve party. She took the time to explain to them what it was that she didn't like and how she no longer felt it was safe for them to continue and they have never looked back.

    I don't know how parents who are trying to wrestle with the secular celebrations and the peer pressure that institutional school children inflict on each other would walk this line.

  29. Katie

    I have to admit, I always thought the anti-Halloween "harvest parties" were kind of hilarious, since that's probably a lot closer to what actual pagans did/do than dressing up and getting candy!

    We do Halloween, but dh and I also love zombies and gory horror movies, which practically makes us Satan worshipers according to some. I wouldn't let the kids dress up as something sacrilegious or as Satan, but other than that, I don't care (dd1 was a werewolf a few years ago, this year she's an Egyptian princess and the little ones are a kitty cat and a bunny rabbit). I'm entirely unconcerned with whether or not someone else does Halloween (which I see as primarily a cultural event). We put more emphasis on All Saints Day. Normally we go to an All Saints party with our Catholic homeschooling group, but we won't be able to make it this year because of my recent miscarriage.

    I like the idea of handing out St. Michael prayer cards along with candy.

  30. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    Here is an Orthodox perspective. We in the west have All Saints and All Souls, and that is what our family has focused on for the most part.

    We can dress up any time we want, we can have too much candy, parties, carve pumpkins, etc, but we do not do Halloween. It is too steeped in the Satanic, IMO. I don't think that anyone who dresses up and goes trick or treating is evil or bad, but we don't do it because we found ourselves saying that the children could do it as long as they weren't engaged in the evil bits like witches and devils and vampires, etc. I figured if we had to qualify it so much, we probably ought not engage in it.

    Our church for many years had an All Saints' party where people could come dressed as their favorite saint, tell a little about that person. We'd have a feast, bob for apples, make pumpkin ice cream, carve pumpkins, dance, have a doughnut eating contest (doughnut on a string hanging from the ceiling), things like that. It was always fun and we had a great time.

    Our children are more interested in the fun and candy than in Halloween (I asked them), so we make sure they have plenty of dress up clothes for them to use throughout the year, get tons of candy for All Saints, sometimes we do a scavenger hunt to find the candy at different stations and celebrate life.

    Even if I weren't ambivalent about it for religious reasons, it celebrates death and evil, not simply recognizing it. There is also the whole Halloween as whore thing that's been going on for some time. Here is a post about that. Even secular, live and let live, friends have commented on this in our discussions, how it's become a pornographic holiday. I don't want to expose our children to that just yet.

  31. e2

    We decided to keep the dressing up and trick-or-treating, but to do it as the "Eve of All Saints" rather than "Halloween." Miriam dresses up as a saint (nuns habits are fun!) on the "Eve" part and I let her wear the costume to Mass on November 1st, too. She is a ham and gets a kick out of it; she also learns one thing about her saint to tell people who ask.

    The best thing we've ever done is a little "Trick-or-Treat Send-Off Party" for the neighborhod kids. We decorated our garden Mary statue with about 25 lit candles, baked pumpkin bread, made hot cocoa, and printed out about a dozen sheets of the reading from Revelation. At 5.30 a few families came over and in the front yard we sang a Litany of the Saints, did the reading, and handed out bags of holy cards (you can get these pretty cheaply in mixed bags of 100). The kids had to OFFER a holy card at every door they knocked on before they GOT candy.

    It was so much fun, and you'd be surprised how many neighbors "used to be Catholic." 🙂

  32. Hannah

    Hey Jenn,
    I posted about this topic last night, so I won't re-type it here, but basically is has to do with what our family chooses to focus on.




  33. Carrien

    I have never in my life been trick or treating, neither has my husband.

    Both of our parents opted out of Halloween, so it wasn't much of a discussion for us.

    My mom alternated handing out peanuts and tracts, taking us to the public pool that night, and throwing her own harvest parties in October that the whole neighborhood was invited to. As teen I went an awful lot of all night prayer vigils on Halloween.

    As an adult my objections to Halloween are as follows: Halloween is holiday whose roots are fear based. It comes from a druidic (animist/shamanic culture). It was based on the fear of the dead invading the homes of the living on the night they were able to cross over. Homes were left dark, fires were put out so they would not seem welcoming, and people dresses as ghouls themselves to blend in with the spirits they were afraid of on that night.

    Turnips were carved into the shape of human skulls with a candle placed inside to try and trick the spirits that required human sacrifice into believing that it had already been done. (Not until it reached N. America did the celebration use pumpkins.)

    Soon people realized that they could take advantage of this fear and bully people into giving them food and money in exchange for leaving them alone. Did they believe their neighbors were ghouls? It's hard to say, maybe.

    Now, why would I want my children to participate in something that came from such terror? Why should I participate in something that was begotten in such evil?

    We work with people who come from animist/shamanic backgrounds in the hill tribes in S. East Asia. The level of fear that governs these peoples lives is astounding. They are ruled, bound, and controlled by it. It negatively affects all aspects of their lives. When God redeems them it is a wonderful thing.

    That said, I have no problem with participating with my community on this night. Just as we teach our brothers and sisters in the tribes that their presence at village festivals can be redemptive because Christ is in them, I believe that we can be redemptive in Halloween. We can open our homes, invite out neighbors in to stay a while, serve them with games, refreshments, give freely and joyfully what was once taken through fear and intimidation, and love in a way that is opposite to fear.

    It's messy, you have to be willing to engage in people's real lives to do it. But it can be done.

    I have been toying with the idea of using light as a decorating theme some year, and see how far I can take it.

    My kids get to dress up all the time anyway, we have costume parties at random times, they get plenty of treats in their lives. They occasionally buy the idea that they are missing out on something cool, but usually they just answer, "We don't celebrate Halloween or go Trick or Treating, we just dress up for fun."

    We have talked, a lot, about the very things I have written here. I think they understand.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.

  34. Z

    I grew up not celebrating any holidays or birthdays. I hated it. I didn't really care about most of them except Christmas and birthdays. Those 2 hurt the most.
    Now, I know we're not to just do stuff just because everybody else is doing, blah blah blah. However, I think my life as a child was even more dreary with no special occasions to look forward to. Maybe if they had done something else in its place it would have been better.

    Today as a mom of 2 kids, we celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and sometimes Halloween (other minor days too if we feel like it). I'm lazy AND more introverted than you, so the first time my daughter went trick or treating with her daddy was when she was 6 years old. I certainly don't feel obligated to celebrate any and every holiday, and some years we don't. She didn't complain or notice before last year, and she probably wouldn't have last year either if we had skipped it. I think if you don't make a big deal out of it, it won't matter if you don't want to go.

    Considering some people don't celebrate Christmas for religious reasons, it's not a huge leap for some to not celebrate Halloween.

    My personal opinion is costumes and candy are fun. I like the commenter that said something like keep it innocent. Otherwise, I don't like the idea of glorifying gore and immodest outfits.

    This is just my personal opinion. These verses come to mind for me right now.

    "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Phillippians 3:8

    "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Galations 5:13

  35. Elizabeth

    Halloween is the eve of All Saints day. All Saints day was placed where it is to over take a pagan holiday (things do seem to be going a bit in the reverse though as with Christmas and Easter). As Catholic parents DH and I represent Halloween as a day when the evil spirits come out and try to retake the world. The next day all the saints come in Christ's name and defeat them – good conquering evil. For this reason we try to stick to costumes only of ghosts and ghouls and witches – no super heroes or princesses.

    My kids like looking at it this way – they get it. And it reminds them of the purpose of the holiday – All Saints Day.

    The three days: Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, are a good last holiday of the liturgical year – a reminder that good conquers evil, life conquers death through Christ.

    I like the person here who said "that Halloween is a mockery of evil and of the devil." On Halloween we laugh and make fun of the ghosts and goblins. But we can only do this because the next day we celebrate all that is good in the world.

  36. Amber

    We get to dodge a large portion of the problem of Halloween because we homeschool and we live in a rural area with absolutely no possibility of trick or treaters.

    Our church did a Halloween party for two years, and we went the first year… but it was really sad how many children were dressed as witches (probably 75% of the girls) or vampires or other such dark things. My princess was only one of two or three children dressed as such! It was rather disturbing, and my kids found the costumes pretty scary.

    Last year we had our own little festival – we made cookies, fudge, had candy, played games and the kids dressed up in various dress up clothes and had a great time. This year we're going to do pretty much the same thing, although the kids also want to carve a pumpkin. (Ack, must buy pumpkins very, very soon!!) I hate (no, loathe – with creepy crawly feelings – although I have no problem cutting up a pumpkin to get at the flesh to make pies… go figure) carving pumpkins, but I will do it this year for my 7 yr old's sake.

    All in all, not my favorite holiday at all, and I try to avoid it as much as I can because of how dark and ugly much of the decorations and costumes are.

  37. Catherine

    I do not celebrate Halloween, but I found the comments both for and against quite interesting. I was particularly struck by the person who thought about what it would mean to have a KKK symbol up with the caveat that it's just for fun or not something they really believe in.

    I posted my thoughts on Halloween a few years ago here: http://catherinewheels78.blogspot.com/2006/10/ghoulies-and-ghosties-long-leggity.html

  38. Martha

    We have always chosen to treat Halloween as a light-hearted, fun day to dress up and get candy. It is pretty much the only thing neighborhood kids do together here (there's always a party at someone's house and then all of them go trick-or-treating in a big pack.) However, I won't take my kids in to Party City or the Halloween section of Target once the Halloween decorations go up. They are celebrating something totally different than we are.

    That all said, this year we spent $900 on one child's cavities, so we are going to a pizza place with friends after the neighborhood party and skipping the candy. ;P

  39. Joy

    My husband wrote this article about how Christians may consider interacting with Halloween. I'm biased, but he argues for not hiding in the back of your house with the lights out because this shows an incredible lack of hospitality and graciousness toward ones neighbors.

    I also just found this article today, which argues for celebrating Halloween for similar reasons. Basically, Jesus did not avoid sinners — he went out and spent time with them on their "turf."

  40. B.

    For me Halloween is the triumph of american culture and commercialism over european culture, and the proof that people will do everything they are told on TV.

    Let me explain: I'm from Germany, and when I grew up (I'm in my late 20's), Halloween simply did not exist. I remember reading about in in a Donald Duck comic strip once, and hearing about it in English class in school. Then, somewhere aroung the turn of the millennium Halloween suddenly was all over TV, in the radio, shops were full of Halloween items, Halloween themed parties started to pop up everywhere etc. Shortly thereafter there were children ringing doorbells and demanding candy. I remember thinking that this is all an invention of people wanting to make money.

    Little did I know how correct I was about that. About a year or two ago I read a report about the guy who imported Halloween to Germany. Somewhere in the 90's there was a meeting of the toy industry of Germany and they decided that they needed something to bridge the gap before christmas and literally decided at that meeting to implement Halloween in Germany. The lobbied to TV stations, etc., et voila, here is Halloween.

    When I grew up, we had Saint Martin's Day, where children go around with self-built lanterns (and it's important that at least one needs to burn down to loud screaming each year) and our pastor riding a horse dressed as Saint Martin. This holiday did not involve candies or costumes that could be sold and it is therefore now being replaced with Halloween.

    All that said, I really hate Halloween, but only because I think that it does not belong here, and it's not part of our tradition. I wouldn't have a problem celebrating it, if I were living in the US.

  41. RCGirl

    I think this is such an interesting topic and I really think it's strange that some Christians are so fearful of Halloween. Don't they really believe in Christ? And doesn't Christ have power over death and evil? By not celebrating the holiday, they are giving power to evil. They are in essence saying that the "evil" in Halloween is so powerful that they must stay home, lock their doors, turn out the lights, and not allow their kids to trick or treat. Is that the message that, as Christians, we want to send our neighbors and, most of all, our children! When my kid is frightened of the ghost who knocks on our door (which did happen last year, and my daughter talked about it for weeks!) am I going to cower in the corner and tell her to "Look away!". NO! I say, (and this is what we need to say as Christians), "Yes, it is scary. Yes, evil is real and alive in the world. But, I do not let it overcome me and paralyze me. I do not allow it to have power (and again, by not celebrating Halloween, I believe we are giving evil power). Christ is more powerful than evil and as Christian believers we hold to that truth every day of the year."
    By the way, I used quotation marks around the word evil in one of the above sentences because I wanted to make a point. Yes, I do believe evil is real (every day of the year, in fact–not just on Halloween), but I use the above emphasis to make the point (again!) that people are attributing evil to a day. It's a day. The day is not evil. Just like the kid who wears a ghost costume is not evil or the carved jack-o-lantern is not evil. When we give these things such a significant amount of power, we really lose sight of the fun of the holiday and become too focused, almost obsessive, on small details. Hmmm…doesn't that kind of sound like something THE evil one would want us to do?

  42. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    I have a response to the people who are arguing that we should be "hospitable" by celebrating Halloween or that it is more Christ like to engage in it rather than "hiding" from the culture. First, we are not to be hospitable if it means to compromise our faith (and this is coming from someone who is not against Halloween, necessarily, but is ambivalent), we are not to imitate the world. Hospitality to our neighbors does not mean accommodating sin or participating in every thing they do. Second, when Jesus was out with the sinners, he did not engage in their behavior, he did not live as they lived, he did not do as they did, he simply sought them where they were. I despise how people talk about going out in to the world like Jesus, when it is just a way to wallow in worldliness. "How are you going to change the world if you don't engage it?" Is a question I hear from people justifying Las Vegas to indecent popular culture to whatever else. My question is: What did you do to change it while you were there/engaged in that behavior? With very rare exception, the answer is nothing.

  43. Tom F.

    Jen, great discussion and many much smarter than I have already left very good comments. But in case you haven't seen this before, here is a good link from the Catholics United for the Faith website that explains where many of our Halloween customs originate from and provides a good perspective http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=9.

  44. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    I think I need to unsub from the comments now.

    I believe Christ has power over all sin and evil. That doesn't mean I should decorate with Satan themed decor and have buckets of pigs blood lying around. I believe Jesus can heal people addicted to pornography, that having it around one day a year is okay.

    I believe that the LORD can heal all sorts of evil, but I don't think that telling people they are giving power to the devil or evil when they choose not to engage in what seems a little too close to it is useful. Trivializing evil by pretending about it and making light of it is just as dangerous as cowering in fear.

    On top of that, I know nobody, though I will admit there must be someone, who avoids Halloween because they are afraid. They do so because they choose to focus on Church holidays, or because they don't like the trashiness and darkness of what it has become, because they don't like the overeating of candy, because they are convinced that it would be immoral to participate in (not simply engage) something that is so pagan, they wish to celebrate life not death, they see the fruit of the celebration in bacchanalian celebrations and debauchery and wish to refrain. There are many reasons not to celebrate this holiday that have nothing to do with fear.

    I don't have a problem with other people celebrating it, but when they become so defensive about it, I do wonder why it is they feel like they have to defend it.

  45. Karen

    We take a middle-of-the-road approach. We do not dress as ghouls or bad guys–not even the black Spiderman, or Darth Vader. I think I even nixed Anakin Skywalker one year.

    We go around and trick or treat, but explain to the kids that some people will dress up as bad guys. To my oldest, I have explained the reason behind that tradition (people once believed that the dead came back, and so you had to dress as one of them to confuse them, yada yada, the age of superstition). The younger kids are told that nothing they see is real, that it's all pretend. And Dad and Mom both go trick or treating with them, so they feel safe.

    My kids love to dress up, and hey, dressing up and getting candy? Awesome. We just avoid the ghoulish side of it. That said, I really do wish we knew people who did those awesome Fall Harvest parties, or Saints' parties, because I'd much rather go to one of those then walk around in the cold, in the dark, with my two year old telling me to carry his bucket and him at the same time.

  46. Kelly Bireta

    We celebrate Halloween here, but with young kids we keep it cutsie (smiling ghosts, spiders, bats, jack-o-lanterns, no monsters and our witches are in Chronicles of Narnia). There are some people that I know that celebrate it as the vigil for All Saints Day with an All Saints party, etc instead of trick-or-treating. I don't know if they decorate or not.

  47. RCGirl

    I definitely don't defend the trashiness or the gruesome, gross costumes or any of the evil stuff on Halloween. I agree that so much of this holiday has been taken way overboard. I don't condone that or want my kids to have anything to do with that.

    I see it as we live in this world, which is full of imperfections and evil (I would never make light or pretend about evil at all. I am constantly praying to my kids' guardian angels and to St. Michael) and our kids are going to see all the hype about Halloween, just as they are going to see and hear stuff as they enter high school and college and stray from home as they grow into adults. I won't be able to always shade them from this world. I'm hoping that I can give them a healthy understanding of what is the truth, of good over evil, of Jesus' power over the things of this world, and Halloween is just one of those "living in this world" situations–perhaps a time to teach about living "in the world, but not of it."

  48. Doris Sturm

    This dog looks very smart 😉

    oh, Happy Halloween,guys! I'll be having a "Trick or Treat" Giveaway on my blog and everyone's welcome…I'm giving away a very nice gift (I think) and would love for you to stop by.
    It starts tomorrow through the 31st

    Enjoy and God bless you all!

  49. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    Active, as always, Jen.

    I find it interesting that you (as in, generic you, not just you personally) can make a specific request and still get other than you asked for.

    I too, wrote a post on rejecting Halloween, but last year.

    The summary: We don't celebrate Halloween (for reasons not involving the genetic fallacy, which I've argued against, too). I am very much a sheltering parent, and I want to limit what my kids are exposed to at this young age.

    I will admit that the intensity of my feelings has muted somewhat as my children have grown, even since the first time I formed my current opinion two years ago. Before I felt a very personal assault against my babies. Currently I stand by the conclusion I reached in that season of "passion" when I really investigated the topic.

    I really liked what Michelle said ("I don't look down on anyone who chooses to celebrate Halloween, and I get really frustrated when I'm treated like a freak for choosing not to celebrate it.") and Jeana's observations about motivation.

    Another observation that did not make it into the post: I object unequivocally to the GORE of Halloween. The fact is you cannot have gore without violence. (Except in play, and I'm one of those parents who do not allow such play.)

    We reject Halloween, not out of fear, but out of disgust. We create other opportunities for sweets and dressing up (like a "Fairy party" 2 weeks ago for our girls). And, while I wish there was a better response to the neighbors than a dark house, I haven't been able to come up yet with one I like.

    It's my own quiet protest.

  50. Stacey

    Ranee has made some very good points. Thank you, Ranee!

    When we choose not to join in (we do join in some of the time), it's not because we're afraid of evil or giving power to evil! Being hospitable doesn't mean you have to join people in celebrating evil. That's just it. I'd rather celebrate life than death, and good than evil. A holiday is a celebration. Halloween is a celebration of evil. Whatever history you want to rationalize it with, a trip down the costume aisle at Walmart or flipping on the tv with all the horror flicks, horror movie commercials and scary themed shows, there is no denying what Halloween actually is.

  51. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    To clarify re: the "Not afraid, just disgusted" comment.

    I am of course not talking about any of you people who see it as a sweet memory-building time with your kids– I'm referring to the "market-driven" (i.e. pervasive) visuals that I cannot justify with or without my children.

  52. ekbell

    When we lived in a rural area with younger childern we would go to an All Saint's Day party instead of trick-or-treating. They suggested children dress up as saints or 'Noah's animals' and everyone enjoyed themselves. We would 'trick or treat' at a friend of the family on the way home, just so she could see the children in their costumes.

    Trick or treating would have had to be out-of-neighbourhood which to my mind defeats it's good qualities and the All Saint's day party brought home the meaning of the vigil. We didn't feel like we were missing out on anything.

    We've since moved to a city and our parish doesn't have a All Saint's party.

    I'm not particularly worried about Halloween around here, as thing's aren't taken to a nasty extreme and it's a pretty nice neighbourhood [and too cold for 'slut' costumes 🙂 ].

    The younger children pick out one of the dress-up costumes that I've picked up on sale in previous years and the eight and eleven year olds are making their own. We'll go trick or treating for half an hour and have plenty of sweets for the feasting on All Saint's Day. My husband will hand out candy to the little children and we'll have fun.

    On All Saint's day we'll have stories, Mass and Adoration (mainly because our parish has children's adoration the first Sunday of the month) and candy to feast on.

    My children painted our patio door (with permission) with scary things and wrote above "God Saves".

    The intended message is that these are the things God saves us from. That (and maybe a Jack-o-lantern) will be the extent of our 'halloween' decorations although we will be making more Saint decorations.

  53. Monnie

    I haven't read any of the other comments yet, so I hope that this isn't redundant, but here is the reasoning in my mind…

    November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a great feast day and a holy day of obligation. Traditionally, the vigil/day before such feasts was a day of fasting and recollection as a way of better preparing for the feast, both spiritually and physically. One can hardly deny the wonderful effects of prayerful fasting in drawing our minds and souls to God.

    I firmly believe that the focus that our modern/godless society puts on Halloween (a contraction of "All Hallows' Eve") is rooted in a denial of the feast day that follows. In and of itself (taken as a fall activity in which children have a "costume party" and get candy from neighbors), I think that Halloween is a relatively harmless event. However, the trend toward Satan-izing the holiday has become almost universal.
    Halloween (with the exception of the innocent children's costumes, such as pumpkins, bunnies, etc.) has become an opportunity to celebrate all the ugliest things that life has to offer. (On a slight tangent, I will mention that I have trouble with this from the perspective that our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost and deliberately disfiguring them is a sin against the fifth commandment. Granted, Halloween garb is only temporary disfigurement… but why celebrate such ugly things as dismembered bodies, demons, etc.??!)

    I think that Halloween may also be a take-off on All Souls' Day (November 2)… but there again, I think that it is – at best – a distortion of the true meaning of that day… if not a distraction from it. All Souls' Day is the day on which the Church calls our attention especially to the souls suffering in Purgatory and asks our prayers for them. It is easy to see the connection between that and the costumes depicting ghosts, but celebrating Halloween secularizes these two great days in the Liturgical Year and effectively neutralizes them – thereby, also neutralizing the good effects that they may have had on the faithful.

    While it could be argued that Halloween is not evil in itself, why play with fire? why compromise?
    If we want to save our souls and do God's Will, then we will try to do that which pleases Him most perfectly… I just don't see how Halloween could be pleasing to Him.

    That being said, I DO NOT criminalize those who celebrate Halloween – especially those who do so in the spirit of fun with innocent costumes. However, it just seems better to avoid altogether supporting a holiday that is so easily turned into a celebration of all that is dark, evil, and ugly. It isn't seem becoming to a child of God and heir of Heaven.

    (I hope I haven't come across too harsh. I have a tendency to speak my mind fairly plainly!)

    I would love to hear any further thoughts of yours on this topic!

  54. Tina

    I'm afraid I don't have a "why not" comment either. But let me tell you about my Halloween experience with a couple of my favorite priests. My family lives across the street from our church/school. One year the priest at the time had an orphan from Haiti staying with him while awaiting surgery. I had dressed as a nun that year to greet kids at the door. Out the window, I saw that Fr. John was bringing Joseph, the Haitian boy, to our door. I panicked a bit, thinking I would seem blasphemous. When I opened the door, Joseph was dressed as a priest. We had a good laugh and got a great photo.

    The next priest we had just happens to be the current bishop of the Fort Worth diocese. He carved pumpkins and set them out every year as well as passing out candy at the rectory. One year he ran out of candy and came across the street to ask us if he could have some of ours so he wouldn't have to quit early. He also wore a big orange Jack-0-lantern tee shirt over his blacks every year.

    These are two of the most holy priests I know (as well as being just great men), and if they revel in celebrating Halloween, that's good enough for me.

  55. Rose

    As a mother of 5 small children, I've been having a mental battle with myself over Halloween this year. Up until now, we've never celebrated Halloween at all. Honestly, it was mostly because I was raised that way, but also because it does seem to be all about fear and evil – the horrible costumes, and horror movies, and haunted houses…those are things I just do not want my children exposed to.

    However, a few months ago, we moved back to my hometown where my family lives, and some of them celebrate Halloween. For the first time ever, my kids are asking why they can't 'do' Halloween and I'm pondering my answer. I guess I don't have a great answer but here's my conclusion:

    My nieces and nephews get cute costumes and go trick or treating..some of the local churches even have trick or trunk parties, and my kids want to participate. My cousin also hosted a "pumpkin carving party" and we attended, only finding out after we got there that it was a Halloween Party. Most of the activities were innocent, but there was still the 'fear factor' with ghost stories around a campfire. I just do not think God intended for us to glorify/celebrate fear and death and call it 'entertainment' and 'fun' for our children. Even if I put my kids in cute, innocent costumes to go get candy, they will be exposed to everyone else's not so innocent costumes and dreadful decorations if we go out on the streets trick or treating. I can't even walk down the aisles in Wal-Mart with my small children without them being frightened by the extreme evil represented in the costumes and decorations. I guess I don't have any deep spiritual answers, but for now, I think we're going to stick to NOT celebrating Halloween. God is about love and life – not fear and death, and in American culture, fear and death and horror is what Halloween is all about.

  56. Judith

    I, too was a "sheltering Mom" when my kids were little (I saw that as my job!) We went to Halloween parties at church — NO scary costumes allowed) — and picked the homes our kids went to (with us). At our home there were pumpkins and kitties but no witches or ghouls. In other words, we were in control and we kept it safe and calm. No Haunted Hayrides. No bloody decor. As the kids grew up we talked with them about All Hallow's Eve, about avoiding gore and overtly sexual costumes. They respected that because it was consistent with our family's values and actions. We also ended Trick or Treating at age 14. After that they stayed home and handed out candy (and got to dress up and have the leftover candy!), plus got to go to some selected parties.
    I think Halloween has gotten out of hand because the adults have taken it over; we live in a culture where many adults act like adolescents, so it's consistent! As families we can work together to "hold the line" — or if things are awful in our neighborhoods, refuse to participate in what we deplore.

  57. Anna

    This is sort of off-topic, and feel free not to post it publicly if you don't want, but have you thought about maybe, instead of dreaming of perfect costumes, just giving in and shopping a bit beforehand for cheap storebought costumes so you don't have to freak out at the last moment?

  58. Katharine B.

    As recent Catholic converts we are considering celebrating Halloween for the first time, with an emphasis on the All Hallows Eve. We had not celebrated it before as evangelical Christians because of the modern demonic elements and the pagan history of the day.
    But now as Catholics we love the idea that God has redeemed old pagan days and made them his own.
    I got costumes for my kids and was considering letting them go door to door, but I am still very uncomfortable with the down right demonic decorations the people put up.
    I am all for remembering the dead, celebrating the martyrs, and keeping the knowledge of death around like Ash Wednesday. But I think the decorations that people are using are disrespectful to the dead. I remember when Halloween came a few days after my Mother died and I was completely outraged at the zombies and ghouls and demonic looking gravestones.
    So we will likely not trick or treat but dress up and find some Harvest Fest instead.

  59. Marie

    We go out trick or treating. No violent gory costumes allowed.

  60. Marie

    Also I told my daugter when she entered the teens, no "HO"lloween costumes.

  61. Chris

    St. Francis of Assisi once wrote the following words as part of his grand hymn, "All Creatures of Our God and King":

    And thou most kind and gentle Death,
    Waiting to hush our latest breath,
    O praise Him! Alleluia!
    Thou leadest home the child of God,
    And Christ our Lord the way hath trod. (Choral Public Domain Library: http://tinyurl.com/yg7ucnb )

    Death has always been a sacred topic for the saints for exactly the reasons that St. Francis points out. It has often been a frightening topic (even for the saints), often aroused much curiosity, and certainly it has lead to lots of questions. But the Catholic Church did not appropriate the Eve all Hallows in order to sanitize it or to refocus it away from death. The Church blessed it and now recognizes it officially (for Halloween is nothing if not the vigil of All Saints) because it saw the expression of a Natural good in the remembrance of those who have gone before us. To dismiss Halloween as nothing but a pagan holiday, then, is to ignore this part of history — which is open to both religiously-inclined and secularly-inclined folks.

    But our culture is littered with bad history. Even some of the comments here seem to refute the existence of a Natural Law to which pagans have as much access as Christians. Let me repeat: the Church did not "rescue" Halloween from the pagans. It recognized a Natural good and then explained that good in terms of revealed Truth. The result is our celebration of All Saints Day (which still begins with the vigil one evening prior). The souls we contact on the Eve of All Hallows are the same ones we talk to in Heaven and Purgatory. They are the same souls who attend Mass with us. The same souls who pray the Rosary with us. The same souls.

    That doesn't mean that cultural Halloween is any of this, and refusing to celebrate the cultural holiday is entirely justified if your bigger concerns are praying with your departed friends and family. But there is something wrong in completely retreating from the cultural celebration because (as another commenter implied), the same justification can serve for retreating from the cultural celebrations of Christmas and Easter (i.e. "Spring Break").

    This year we're camping out at a state park in Huntsville, TX, on Oct. 30 and 31. The kids will have costumes; we will have gobs of candy. And we will recognize our blessed and purgative departed beginning Saturday night.

  62. Valery

    My husband and I have had many conversations about this since we have been children's pastors at our church for the last three years and also have a 15 month old daughter (and one due any day!).

    Personally, we are quite uncomfortable with the secularization of the holiday and the emphasis on fear as well as the natural conflict with many of our family values (the greediness/entitlement I see present in the trick-or-treating). We've evaluated many holidays to sort out how we intend to celebrate them as a family in contrast to how they may be "traditionally" or "secularly" celebrated.

    As children's pastors, however…our church is in the inner city, in an area with lots of children that can be dangerous on Halloween. And so, we have something called the Fall Fiesta on October 31st in our church parking lot. We rent stadium lights so the whole area is lit up and have lots of games and candy and we use it as an opportunity for our church to be a refuge. We make our stance clear but also explain why we feel it's so important to provide a safe place for the kids in our area.

  63. Anonymous

    I think of Hallowe'en and All Saints as a classic pair-in-opposition (a concept identified by the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss: basically they are interdependent in meaning, neither can be understood properly without the other). They're rather like Carnival and Lent used to be in the Middle Ages and the shunning of Hallowe'en resembles the criticisms of the sixteenth century reformers (both Catholic and Protestant) that Carnival was "pagan." Like Carnival and Lent, Hallowe'en and All Saints between embrace the outer poles of human life. They go beyond the bounds of what is ordinarily acceptable and talked about, to those outer reaches. They are times when society stops, suspends its ordinary rules and afterwards somehow feels re-energised, shaken down, re-ordered.

    This is how it's meant to be…as I see it, the difficulty is that so many people celebrate Hallowe'en without All Saints. Often Christians react by either suppressing Hallowe'en or turning it right away into All Saints instead. But in Christ, all is transformed, even the poles of death, violence, suffering. So Hallowe'en should be celebrated – an acknowledgement of these realities – and the resonance of All Saints depends on this.

    That's nice and theoretical. Practice is harder to figure out – how to redress the balance in general culture, without somehow diminishing Christian practice and understanding?

  64. Smoochagator

    I grew up without Halloween and, to be honest, I resented my mom for it. I vaguely remember trick-or-treating once when I was two-almost-three, and then never again. Sometimes we went to church events, and those were fun enough, but I still felt painfully left out at school. It seemed all of my friends had mountains of candy in their lunch bags on Nov. 1, and I had none; when I explained why, they looked at me like I was an alien invader. The concept of "Halloween is evil because of all the pagan associations, blah blah, Samhain, blah blah, magic, blah blah, violence and gore," went right over their heads. Even other church-going kids didn't get it – to them, Halloween was what you made of it, not what it may have been to other people of other religions in the past, so they figured as long as they weren't dressing up as demons and witches, it was all innocent fun.

    If a parent chooses to NOT allow their kids to celebrate Halloween, I have a little bit of advice – which may or may not be necessary for most families! Firstly, it's important that your child have something to do on Halloween night. Many church "Harvest Parties" take place the Saturday before Halloween, so churches don't feel they're inconveniencing parents' schedules. (And sometimes because they figure the attendance will be better if they don't actually have to "compete" with the holiday!) The problem with that is that kids who aren't allowed to trick-or-treat are home on Halloween night and see all their neighborhood buddies running around having fun without them.

    Secondly, make whatever you do instead of Halloween just as fun as the actual holiday. Some church-y events can be pretty… I hate to say it… LAME. Make sure your kids are having a ton of fun, even if you and a couple of other families just get together and go to Chuck-E-Cheese. You want your kids to not even WISH they'd been running around the neighborhood with their buddies that night. You want them to prefer their Hallow-alternative celebrations.

    And thirdly, unless you're opposed to sugary snacks for a completely different, non-religious reason, get your kids a truckload of candy. Especially if they're young, because that's the currency that speaks to most little ones 😉

    I imagine for homeschooled kids who have a circle of friends with like-minded parents, the issues I dealt with as a kid aren't so much of a problem. But I went to public school, so my mother's religious beliefs were WAY out of the norm, making ME way out of the norm – and many kids would do anything to avoid going against the grain. I know some parents might say, "Well, I'm raising my kids to be salt and light, to be transformed by God's word instead of conformed to this world, etc. etc., they should be more concerned with what's right than what their friends think." Yes, that's true, they should. But in reality, most kids are painfully aware of what their peers think of them.

    Now I think I need to write a blog post about this…

  65. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    I thought of something else. Modern celebrations of Halloween have nothing to do with honoring, remembering and praying for the dead. It is instead a glorification of death.

    Those of us who are hesitant to participate are hesitant because it isn't about joining the great cloud of witnesses in prayer or praying for the souls of those departed, but instead is some pagan debauchery which joins lewdness and darkness. It _is_ pagan.

    All Hallows' Eve, All Saints and All Souls are not; but what Halloween is today is a split between the frankly and open pagan and the child like fun of dress up. I have no issue with the latter, though I think it is inappropriate to the celebration of All Saints if it is about Ariel and Buzz Lightyear and the Incredibles, but the former is far more than a disturbing tangent, it is the main focus of the culture on Halloween. All Hallows' Eve is a vigil, not a revelry, it is a time of fasting, not gluttony. What have modern Halloween to do with either? It is that from which people choose to refrain.

    Dressing up as holy people, saints, etc, is absolutely fine, but again more appropriate to All Saints, when we remember all those who are already surrounding the throne of God. Judith was right that our culture encourages adults to remain in adolescence. Their lewd and uncontrolled celebrations of this solemn day are just one evidence of how this has affected children.

    Acting like those who refrain are doing so by ignoring All Hallows', All Saints and All Souls, or acting as though they are trying to avoid pondering the depths of death with the church is disingenuous at best.

    Were Halloween only a strictly secular, fun childrens' holiday, there would be no argument. It is not, however. It is neither the solemn vigil of the Church, nor is it the silly make believe of children any more. It has deliberately taken the elements of the pagan, which were not what the Church celebrated (and in fact did not intersect with Church history until after All Saints was already commemorated), including the fear mongering, the celebration of death, the superstition, the sexual immorality, the violence and gore. This is not something I wish to impress upon my children. Please do not impute any other reason to me or others like me.

  66. Karyn

    We do the typical Halloween celebration but my children aren't allowed to dress up as bad guys or devils or such. I work hard to connect Halloween to All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day – just as the Church did.

  67. RR

    I never thought about having an all Saints party, that sounds like fun! We usually take the kids to a safe trick or treat or party for Halloween and I do let my boys dress up. We make our own costumes though and I make my neice's costume as well(because my sister in law doesn't sew) becaue all of the costumes out there are getting way too racy. She is a very tall 5 year old, and all the store bought costumes in her size are better suited for streetwalkers than little girls. I am not a prude, but I think we should let little girls be little girls.

  68. TaraS

    Hi, this is not about Hallowe'en, just a "thanks" for your blog! I have been struggling on-and-off for three years with the idea of NFP (the alternative has felt increasingly wrong, but NFP is such a terrifying leap of faith!). I have finally got to the point where I feel like I can discuss it thoroughly with my husband, and I sent him links to three of your posts that really illustrate my thoughts on it.


  69. Anonymous

    As a Catholic you can celebrate "All Hallows Eve" as a preparation for All Saints and All Souls. For a great orthodox Catholic podcast, see:


    Fr. Mark Spruill gives a presentation on how All Hallow’s Eve came to be and what we can do to live this Christian holiday despite the secular influences all around.

  70. Anonymous

    Ranee, I wonder if you think my post at 9:47 was directed at you? Truly, no criticism of you or anyone here was intended – as I said, working out what to *do* in the light of a complicated cultural and religious history is very difficult.

  71. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    Anonymous: Rest assured, I did not. 🙂

  72. Anonymous

    Trick or treating is definitely dying out (here in our Bible Belt, at least) in favor of church carnivals and trunk-or-treat events. We choose non-scary costumes and enjoy the creativity and meeting our neighbors. Honestly, I have always dismissed the worries about occult and death focus until 2 things happened this year:

    1. I read your earlier post and comments about the Ouija board and scaring myself silly. Inviting spirits through childish play didn't seem so fun anymore.


    2. Standing vigil during 40 Days For Life, we saw that a couple of clinic employees were putting Halloween decorations in the rear windows of their cars so that the plastic skulls, etc. would face the people gathered for prayer.

    When a Target decoration can be used to celebrate the culture of death, then, yes, I will have to pause and rethink.


  73. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings

    I have a 3 and 5 yr old. We do not "do" Halloween. DaHubby didn't participate growing up; I did. We are still conflicted about it but – as short as I can be – it's fallen to a couple reasons…

    1. How can I tell the Vikings not to take things from strangers but on this one night ask them to go door-to-door taking treats from strangers?

    2. Halloween is not what it was when DaHubs and I were little. "Trunk and Treat" through a parking lot? Metal detectors for candy? Don't want all the candy in the house anyway. The darkness, fear, anxiety, traffic concerns, etc. have taken every last bit of "childlike innocence" out of the whole thing in our opinion.

    3. My kids have already shown fear of all the "dark elements" about Halloween – ghosts, skeletons, etc. freak 'em out so dress 'em up and take them out in the dark? No thank you.

    4. Then, yes, finally, the religious angle. Nothing about Halloween speaks Biblical principles to us at this point.

    We've told the Vikings we'll revisit it and discuss it with them when they're older but for now we just aren't comfortable with it and don't feel it's appropriate for them.

    Additional two cents…we don't "do" Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter Bunny either so it's kind of a package thing. LOL

  74. Chris


    "I have been struggling on-and-off for three years with the idea of NFP (the alternative has felt increasingly wrong, but NFP is such a terrifying leap of faith!)."

    Please, do not be terrified by NFP! My wife and I had concerns about it at the beginning, too (would it work for us, would we resent it, etc.), but it has turned out just fine, and we can heartily recommend it as a great good for anyone's marriage.

    I have no idea what your husband makes of it, but I am thankful for NFP because it gives my relationship with my wife an added dimension that I would never want to give up for the "convenience" of artificial contraception, and it gives me a wonderful opportunity to learn self-mastery which also benefits my relationship with my wife, too.

    Do not be afraid! Commit yourselves to NFP, and God will see you through the rest.

    (To everyone: Sorry for hijacking the comments with a different discussion. I just wanted to give some encouragement.)

  75. Anonymous


    I've been reading here for a long time, and I admire your zeal, but at times I do feel like you are always looking for ways to be more Catholic than the pope and to cultivate a greater degree of religiosity than others. At times, this leads you away from and beyond the guidance of the church.

    Shunning halloween is pretty much a protestant thing, as others have pointed out. The Catholic church does not forbid it, and you know that. A lot of churches even hand out candy to trick-or-treaters or have costume parades in church. So the real question is, why are you trying to get an A+ in all things Catholic, when you are already pulling A's? You don't get "points" in the afterlife for doing extra stuff or being more Catholic than your neighbor, and I think it's pretty fair to assume that like most humans you have work to do on the "regular" stuff like loving your neighbor, etc. Part of being Catholic is taking guidance from the magisterium. Who are you to decide that their instructions are insufficient and there are other rules and regs that good Catholics should be following?

  76. Charlotte (Matilda)

    Thought you might enjoy the musings of another redhead if you haven't already seen it.

  77. Stacey

    To the most recent "Anonymous"

    I don't think you're being fair by saying Jen might be trying to have a "greater degree of religiosity" by confronting all aspects of being Catholic. A search for the truth of things is not an attempt to be better than others or put them down. Just because the majority of people might think these questions are unimportant doesn't mean they are. After all, the majority of people think the question of the Eucharist is unimportant, and that is most decidedly not true.

    Shunning Halloween is not a Protestant thing, nor is a preference to focus on life rather than death a Protestant thing. It is not Catholic to be lazy about pursuing holiness, look at Opus Dei. While you are right that cultivating a right attitude toward our neighbor is of utmost priority, it's not really possible to have a right attitude without giving your life over to Christ, and setting it apart for Him–being "holy".

    Just because the Magesterium hasn't forbidden celebrating Halloween doesn't mean they haven't said anything about it. You can look at my earlier link to the Spanish bishops. Also, there's a difference between participating in certain Halloween customs without being puritanical and snooty (which is okay), and exposing your self and kids to all the death and evil centered things that abound on this holiday (which I don't think is okay).

  78. Charlotte

    I would like to point out that many of the answers here have a decidedly Catholic or non-Catholic (i.e. Protestant) persepctive. Which, given the TRADITION of the Catholic Church, makes a difference in perspective on holidays and the subject of "pagan" practices. For us Catholics, there is more than the Bible to consider in considering our options. I find it fascinating how many Protestants read this blog (and I wish Jennifer would write a post as to why she thinks that is!)

  79. Anonymous

    Anonymous 9:40 pm:
    I don't think Jennifer is Catholic enough! Ha! Guess it all depends on perspective – and a person's desired level of holiness. Perhaps, as a convert, she just wants to make sure she's doing it right. I applaud her for that.

  80. Anonymous

    Jen, check out the article over at First Things, 'The Drama of Hallowmas', by Sally Thomas. She expresses much of what I was trying to say yesterday, but so much more clearly…

  81. Whimsy

    Here's our Halloween tradition.

    1. The week before the Big Day, I take the kids to a fabric store and buy one yard of fabric for each. I won't pay more than $3 per yard. And I buy safety pins and one remnant each for any kid who wants one.

    2. The kids come home and fashion some sort of Saint's costume out their single yard of fabric and safety pins, as well as any accessories that they scrounge up.

    3. On the 30th or 31st, after pumpkins go on sale, we carve pumpkins, drink hot chocolate, put the pumpkins out with Christmas lights strung through them, and then watch Charlie Brown.

    4. The nearest Saturday to Halloween we go to the Catholic Homeschool group's All Saints party. They are very forgiving of the kids' non-commercial costumes. We come home with a lunch bag full of candy, instead of a garbage bag full of candy.

    Then we wait for Advent!

  82. Kate

    Interesting reading!

    It inspired me to muse on all the reasons I LOVE Halloween. LOL.

    I wrote up a post on my blog. It's totally non-combative – I have no problem with other parents making whatever choices they think are best. My perspective is about a zillion times lighter than most of those posted here.

    After all – different neighborhoods, different cities – different countries in some cases – different customs, different kids, different sensitivities. So…different perspectives and different choices.

    Anyway…here's my post: http://peaceandpekoe.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-i-love-halloween.html

  83. Anonymous

    We are supposed to mock the devil and demons on this day; dressing up like them helps with the fun, because, yeah, it's supposed to be fun. Dressing up in black with a green face and pointy hat is a MOCKERY of witches; witches (or "wiccans", which is the PC term these days) don't really look like that. Actually, those things we call "witches" just don't exist, nor can they really fly on charmed broomsticks. Just sayin'.

    "What did you do to change it while you were there/engaged in that behavior? With very rare exception, the answer is nothing."

    Wrong. What I did was be IN this world, not of it and show my community that devout Catholics can be happy and normal and take part in innocent trick-or-treating and Halloween parties and handing out candy and still go to church the next day. That's a powerful witness. That, plus nobody gets their soul stolen by demons on Halloween. So when the sun comes up the next day, and they see me going to mass, it's all good.

    I think some of these people need to get out of thier protestant American towns and take a trip to the the heart and history of Christendom: Rome. You would freak out at the signs of Medieval Catholicism with ghouls, gargoyles and skulls carved in marble all over cathedrals and churches…Death (St. Francis and his ever-present skull) and Bone Churches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capuchin_Crypt) and crypts and relics are some of the coolest parts about Catholicism. I'm Catholic, not Puritan.

    It's the same reason you let them get spooked by evil witches, crones, trolls, etc. in fairy tales and later, stories of all kinds of good vs. evil. You can't have light without dark in this world. To me, that's more sickeningly sweet than all that candy.


  84. Anna

    A positive, theological take on Halloween as a fitting precursor to All Saint's Day.

  85. Chris

    To "Anonymous":

    "We are supposed to mock the devil and demons on this day"

    Is that what the Church teaches?

    "Dressing up in black with a green face and pointy hat is a MOCKERY of witches"

    By that reasoning, is it ok for Christians to dress up as anything evil, so long as we're making a mockery of it? Well then, why stop at witches? Why don't you dress your kids up as porn stars next year, or maybe as raging gay rights activists at a Mardis Gras parade? Or how about murderers, adulterers, thieves, child molesters, little Hitlers? It must be ok, just as long as we're IN the world and not OF it, right?

    "You would freak out at the signs of Medieval Catholicism with ghouls, gargoyles and skulls carved in marble all over cathedrals and churches…


    It's the same reason you let them get spooked by evil witches, crones, trolls, etc. in fairy tales and later, stories of all kinds of good vs. evil."

    Notice how the medieval Church used symbols of death to teach people about the reality of Hell, the Devil, and eternal damnation? They didn't dress up as witches, ghosts, demons, etc., in order to have some "innocent fun" because medieval Christians were serious about that stuff, they were serious about the pursuit of holiness.

    There's a huge difference between the purpose of ghoulish imagery used in the medieval Church and the purpose of the ghoulishness seen in North America on Halloween. Today, we're not using the imagery of horror to teach eternal truths, but society is actually glorifying and glamorizing death, horror, violence, and fear.

    It's simply naive and foolish to equate the imagery of the medieval Church and modern-day Halloween in North America.

    "You can't have light without dark in this world."

    What a stupid statement. Even if they were dying of thirst, would you let your children drink a glass of water knowing that it contained just a tiniest drop of the most rancid sewage imaginable?

    All I can say to you is that if you were really serious about salvation, about holiness, about imitating God, then you would be serious about not even wanting to give the appearance of evil. From what you've written in your last comment, I can only conclude that you are not simply serious about salvation and sanctification. Let those of you out there who are, take due note.

  86. Anonymous

    Hey, Chris!

"We are supposed to mock the devil and demons on this day"

    Is that what the Church teaches?

    Yup; it's part of our (small "t") tradition. It's part of fundamentalist protestant "tradition" to have a case of the vapors over such things (if they even have anything like "tradition", but if they argue they do, it's only a few years old, so YMMV).

"Dressing up in black with a green face and pointy hat is a MOCKERY of witches"

By that reasoning, is it ok for Christians to dress up as anything evil, so long as we're making a mockery of it?

    Nope; never said that. It's the time to mock devils, demons, witches, spooks, ghouls, goblins, skeletons, etc. because the day after is All Saints Day – a prereq for making it to the level of Saint is that you also happen to have to be dead. And the next day is All Souls Day; same deal. So we're obviously talking about the realm of the dead. Not your list of real-live scary people. Because porn stars are real live people living lives of sin. Do I really need to spell that out for you? Consider it done.

    …and as for all the other points you thought you were making, well, you need multiple lessons in logic, Church history and biblical exegesis. 

 "Today, we're not using the imagery of horror to teach eternal truths, but society is actually glorifying and glamorizing death, horror, violence, and fear."

    I can't speak for everyone, but I'm certainly not "glamorizing" it; I'm looking it square in the face and laughing at it, at my own mortality and my eventual death. It's gonna happen; no reason to be surprised when it does.

    And just for fascinations sake, you've never told a ghost story? Never thrilled to a late-night viewing of "Night of the Living Dead"? or "The Exorcist"? Never read any supernatural thriller/murder mysteries?

    Oh, wait; let me guess. Harry Potter has already turned the entire generation of fans into hell-bent occultists, right? I knew it! What do I win?

    "You can't have light without dark in this world."

"What a stupid statement. Even if they were dying of thirst, would you let your children drink a glass of water knowing that it contained just a tiniest drop of the most rancid sewage imaginable?"

    First of all, what I said wasn't the least bit "stupid", thanks. It was true. There IS dark in this world and to ignore it or hope it goes away is immature at best.

    Yes re: the tainted water, and we all do it all the time (although that line is used by the pseudo-clever with "aresenic" instead of sewage. There are trace elements of all kinds of poisons in drinkable water; those levels don't hurt you.) 

    You know something? It's puritans like you that suck the fun out of the world. I notice your Christian charity overflows at judging the state of my soul; surely if I'm "not serious" about salvation, then my salvation is for naught. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Hope you had a Happy Halloween; I did!

  87. Chris

    To "Anonymous":

    "Yup; it's part of our (small "t") tradition."

    Since when? And what makes you think the Church approves of it?

    "It's the time to mock devils, demons, witches, spooks, ghouls, goblins, skeletons, etc. because the day after is All Saints Day – a prereq for making it to the level of Saint is that you also happen to have to be dead."

    I'm still at a loss as to how this "tradition" (with a small 't') came about, and that we, as Catholics, are to precede the feast of All Saints by dressing up as witches and spiritual entities related to the demonic.

    Surely, yes, a prerequisite for Sainthood is that one must have died, but I fail to see how dressing up as witches, ghouls, and reveling in the glamourizing and glorification of death, murder, and fear (whether you perceive it that way or not doesn't matter, because that's what it is) is in any way an appropriate commemoration of the Saints.

    "So we're obviously talking about the realm of the dead. Not your list of real-live scary people. Because porn stars are real live people living lives of sin. Do I really need to spell that out for you? Consider it done."

    I'm sure there are plenty of dead porn stars too. So, why not dress up as one? If it's legitimate to dress up as a witch or a demon in order to commemorate the Saints, then why exclude dead porn stars, or any of the other types of individuals I mentioned in my last comment?

    "I can't speak for everyone, but I'm certainly not "glamorizing" it; I'm looking it square in the face and laughing at it, at my own mortality and my eventual death. It's gonna happen; no reason to be surprised when it does."

    This is like justifying your attendance at a pornography party by claiming that you're looking porn straight in the face and laughing at it because you think it's not affecting you. Like it or not, the other people at the party don't perceive the purpose of their being there in quite the same manner you do. And what would your presence there say to them? That Catholicism is not at odds with the spirit of what's going on, which would be incorrect. Do you ever think that maybe there's such a thing as giving a false witness to people?

    "You know something? It's puritans like you that suck the fun out of the world. I notice your Christian charity overflows at judging the state of my soul; surely if I'm "not serious" about salvation, then my salvation is for naught. Thanks for clearing that up."

    I never said anything about the state of your soul. I simply observed, based on what you had written, that you do not seem to be concerned about the pursuit of holiness. If you can imagine St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Vianney, or St. Maximilian Kolbe dressed up as witches or ghouls on the eve of All Saints, then I suppose there's not much more I can say to you.

  88. Stacey


    I'm a little tired of being accused of being a puritanical Protestant just for refraining from the scare and gore side of Halloween, not even all of it. I'd like to clear up, if you will allow me, exactly what puritanical Protestantism is about…

    There is a fundamental difference between the way Catholics and Protestants view good and evil. In Catholic theology, good is the fulfillment of God's good purpose for anything. This means that everything has a good end and essence. Evil, for Catholics, is a privation (or lack) of goodness, falling short of God's purpose and departing from His will. Since it is a lack of goodness, it has no real substance. This especially makes sense when we understand that all things come from God, God is all good and no evil comes from Him, so evil is really nothing. Nothing is inherently evil. This is not true for most Protestants. The Reformation brought to light a certain concept called privatio actuosa. This means that although they still believe that evil is a lack of goodness, they believe that it is a substantial, essential lack of goodness. Then for Protestants, evil has substance, and certain things are inherently good OR inherently evil. This is why there are Puritans who believe things of the flesh are evil, like sex and good food. Refraining from the popular ghoulish scary side of Halloween is not puritanical, since we are not saying there is anything inherently evil in death. Instead we choose to focus on the good side of death, the hope in Christ and the resurrection, than trying to give my three year old daughter nightmares from the horrible costumes the neighbor kids dress up in when we go out trick-or-treating like we tried last year. For the record, she is a very intelligent little girl who is already asking questions about death, the resurrection and how Christ fits into all this. She understands death, and like any normal person is somewhat frightened by the unknown. There's no reason to further her apprehension by throwing her in the path of the secular glorifying of sick and twisted minds, monsters, and evil. Even if you only mock these things, I doubt that's what everyone else who dresses up as the stupid Scream murderer is doing.

    Why do you feel the need to attack those of us who refrain from Halloween, call us puritanical, Protestant, say we're giving fear power, not being charitable, etc.? If you think that you're celebrating Halloween for the glory of God, then go for it. As for me, it gives me a sick feeling and I wonder how so many people are entertained by the perverse, demented, twisted side of human nature. No, I do not watch horror movies and tell ghost stories, never have, never wanted to. I just don't like it. I would appreciate it if you would stop going so far to justify your own position that you attack those who aren't with you on it.

  89. Helen

    Halloween is one of the top selling days for business owners in US and in some other countries. Most people do not know why they celebrate Halloween and what is Halloween for? They are happy to wear different kinds of scary costumes and attend parties and entertainment parks. Business owners are happy as their business booms. Children also have fun to collect candies during Trick-or-treats, wear different costumes at school and decorate homes with monsters, vampires, witches, etc.
    In my case, I experience so much negativity during Halloween especially at night.

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