Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I would get dressed up in my costume and go out and get bag loads of candy from obliging neighbors. Even the wax bottles and wax lips were fun though the question remain, what in the world were they? My choice of costume for the year would reflect who I was more interested in being like at the time. One year I wore blue tights and a blue sweater with red underwear on the outside to look like super man – don’t ask me where all of these items came from. I have not idea why we would have royal blue tights in the house.
The next year I wore my father’s old fireman uniform, complete with heavy coat, helmet and boots. It was an unusually warm day and I was about 10 so I almost died from the 30 pounds of equipment weight I had on me – but it was fun I tell you! My friends wore similar costumes – policemen, fireman, baseball players, and army men for the boys. For the girls wonder woman, the Bionic Woman, princesses, and a good number of policemen and firemen were all the rage. There was the occasional ghost, but it was of the white sheet Caspar the Friendly Ghost variety.
I know it sounds cliche, but it really was a simpler more innocent time. That time is long gone. The Halloween that I knew as a kid looks nothing like what is being celebrated today. It has been replaced, at least around here, with something very, very dark and filled with every evil and twisted image imaginable. Though the origins of the holiday are enough to give me pause alone, the sheer darkness of the celebration is why we choose to stay home on Halloween.
After having kids, as a family we continued the Halloween trick or treating even after we came to Christ. While the little ones were still small pageants at school were fun with the children proud of the princess costumes, their fairy wings and their fireman’s axe. They were innocent and joyful in playing dress up like all kids love to do, plus getting to eat candy is pretty awesome for everyone involved. There is nothing wrong with dress up, right and the idea that we would not continue dressing up seemed very wrong, perhaps legalistic.
As they got older though, we began to see a change in the nature of the celebration and the nature of costumes. Young children started showing up for 2nd grade Halloween pageants dressed as zombies, complete with carefully drawn in rotting flesh. First it was the one kid whose parents were super permissive, but eventually it was most of the kids. Babe Ruth was replaced by slender man, a mythical creepy killer.
Everything undead became all the rage and dress up changed from innocent kids dressing like their favorite superheroes to kids dressing up like serial killers, deranged monsters and other expressions of evil. Super sexualized versions of older costumes also were added in after a few years. It was as if the kids were directly reflecting the changes in a society that has embraced sin and darkness more and more as time passes.
It was not just the costumes changing either. The decorations in the neighborhood went from cartoonish at worst and goofy at best to despicable. Who in the world thinks realistic decapitated bodies on the front lawn is a good idea – Hey honey, this will be a lark, let’s give the neighbors nightmares and cause counseling for the local children!
Parents are also reflecting the changes along with their kids. The house that ended our trick or treat experience was one that I will never forget. My then very small son went to the darkened doorway dressed as a sweet innocent little cowboy – I think he was Woody from Toy Story. He waddled in that little kid kind of way up to the front door and knocked and waited for someone to answer.
When the door opened, there was another cowboy who answered – an adult who dressed up as Cowboy Bob, the demented serial killer from the movie Silence of the Lambs. My son held his little bag out and said trick or treat and the adult responded in character as Cowboy Bob and tried to get my very small son to understand that he was playing the serial killer character from a horrible movie. Ok, wrap it up, that’s it – we are done.
Halloween itself has troubling roots that would make me pause before deciding to go out and celebrate but I understand that people have different opinions. It also may look different where you live. But for this family, when looking at what Halloween looks like, what it celebrates and what it brings out in people, it just became a contradiction to walk every day with Christ and join this type of celebration. What fellowship does darkness have with light?
We would much rather just stay home and watch tv – my kids play dress up all the time and already eat enough candy.
It certainly is an issue that we as followers of Christ can disagree on though in good conscience.