For years I’ve had one dream costume in mind, one character I’d love to portray on Halloween: The Great Pumpkin (I wrote about this last year too). Unless I’m mistaken, the idea for this Halloween costume came to me while I was in Brazil. There, Halloween is still a foreign holiday celebrated only at parties and with no tradition of Trick-or-Treating. Almost always it is associated with images of death, gloom and the occult. It wasn’t easy to explain to people there that in the United States an adult or child can dress up as a princess, a robot, a ballet dancer or some other innocuous character without anyone thinking it odd or inappropriate. For many it’s a time of fantasy, not necessarily darkness.
When I was growing up my elementary school had an annual Halloween party. Local ladies were brought in to judge the costumes in the afternoon, so we had a fun half-day of school. My mother always complained that the judges – ladies who were children during the Great Depression – always chose the kids dressed as hobos, despite whatever elaborate homemade outfit some other parent had made for their kids. I think she was right. Anyway, the two years I most remember were when I went as a spaceman, and then as a wizard. My oldest brother had a certain genius for making excellent costumes from ordinary items. For example, the spaceman outfit came with a ray-gun made from a mop handle and a red metal clamp. All my classmates thought it was the best part of my outfit.
Sure, this is the season when Wiccans celebrate Samhain (other neo-pagan groups have other festivals either earlier or later in this season). It doesn’t bother me that Satanic groups (described by most neo-pagans as a subset or branch of Christianity rather than true paganism) may be meeting in cemeteries or elsewhere for Black Masses, so long as no crimes are being committed. I’m not phased if a Wiccan at home or with her/his coven practices special ceremonies on or around Halloween. None of that has anything to do with what I see in this holiday, or what I teach my family or promote in my church. Above all, I do not believe the true and living God is threatened by any of these practices.
When I dressed up as a child for Halloween, I was captivated by the fantasy, and as I have written recently, the fantasy for me served to provide a glimpse of the divine behind creation. Though I respect parents who decide not to allow their children to participate in Halloween activities due to issues of conscience, that’s not a decision I feel comfortable making for my children. I would hate to deprive them of something of the mystery and “magic” of childhood, something that could well provide a step into trusting the Creator. For the same reason I am saddened by “Autumn Festivals” or “Harvest Festivals” put on by churches wherein children are discouraged from wearing costumes, or else are told to dress as biblical characters (how can you tell the prophet Isaiah from Paul the apostle?). Zombies and occult figures may reasonably be prohibited from such church festivities, but why not allow a fairy princess, robot or even the Great Pumpkin?
Linus sat in that pumpkin patch, year after year, going without candy and fun in the hope of meeting his private mythical hero. It seems to me that perhaps Linus had a better grasp of things than most of us. He denied the seen in favor of the unseen. By faith, however misplaced, he sought someone just behind the scenes, perhaps even the One who made the Reality behind the fantasy.
What’s so bad about Halloween? Not much, when I really think about it.
Read All The October Synchrobloggers!
Our Own Private Zombie: Death and the Spirit of Fear by Lainie Petersen
Julie Clawson at One HandClapping
John Morehead at JohnMorehead’s Musings
Vampire Protection by Sonja Andrews
What’s So Bad About Halloween? at Igneous Quill
H-A-double-L-O-double-U-double-E-N Erin Word
Halloween….why all the madness? by Reba Baskett
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
KW Leslie at The Evening ofKent
Hallmark Halloween by John Smulo
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Removing Christendom from Halloween at On Earth as in Heaven
Vampires or Leeches: A conversation about making the Day of the Dead meaningful by David Fisher
Encountering hallow-tide creatively by Sally Coleman
Kay at Chaotic Spirit
Apples and Razorblades at Johnny Beloved
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
Fall Festivals and Scary Masks at The Assembling of the Church
Why Christians don’t like Zombies at Hollow Again
Peering through the negatives of mission Paul Walker
Sea Raven at GaiaRising
Halloween: My experiences by Tim Victor’s Musings
Making Space for Halloween by Nic Paton