I am working on a big Pinecraft photo post for tomorrow and, phew, have finally finished “traveling season” (for a few months, at least).  I just did a quick tally – over the past 5 months I’ve rented a total of 7 cars, making 6 trips to Amish communities in 4 states.

And since most Amish communities are some drive from North Carolina, I don’t think I am the ideal customer for rental car companies–far from it.  Not that I treat their cars poorly–I always return them in good condition, but usually with 1000-2000 miles more than when they left the lot.  What can I say–if you give me unlimited miles, I’m going to take them.

Thoughts on Halloween

Meanwhile, with trick or treaters on the prowl today, I thought it might be a good time to revisit a Halloween post from a couple of years ago.

Unsurprisingly, Amish do not do anything for Halloween, though last month I saw, for the first time, a Jack-o-Lantern set outside an Amish home.  Well, almost a Jack-o-Lantern–it looked like a child had scribbled a face along with some other doodles on the front of the pumpkin in black marker.  A sign of things to come?  Probably not, but it caught my eye.

Three Jack-o-Lanterns

It seems that Halloween is more and more prominent in popular culture, however.  It struck me lately that people do a lot more decorating, earlier, than they did 10-15  years ago.  Also, Halloween has become a day for adults as well–witness Halloween themed parties and costumes for grown-ups.

Despite its popularity, Halloween elicits objections.  In the original post (in full below), published two years ago today, I asked how you viewed Halloween.  Re-reading the comments, I found some very interesting insights and quite a range of views on the day.

A number of commenters noted how Halloween had become “darker” since their childhoods.  Some saw little issue with it when younger but have more concerns about it today.  Some are less worried about the implications of the day, seeing it as a fun event for the young.

Here is one commenter’s pro-Halloween view:

I’m pretty sure the majority of American’s celebrate Halloween and a lot of kids enjoy it more than Christmas. I’d be surprised if any more than the smallest minority saw any connection between Halloween and the occult.

Just the greatest thing, pretending to be someone different, sticking out a bag and having grown-ups put snickers, chips, and butterfingers in it. And in this day and age when some of us in the city hardly ever see our neighbors, a chance to be neighborly!

And another:

Some of my favorite memories are from Halloween. My children love it, too. I was an adult before I had ever even heard that some people associated this holiday with the occult. My children’s school even decided to outlaw the yearly Halloween Party, but they then replaced it with a “Fall Party,” no dressing up allowed.

This comment captures concerns over un-Christian influences in the event:

As a child I, too, celebrated Halloween. We never got into the dark, goulish, Satanic costumes or behavior that goes on today. It was just a fun day to dress in a costume, and collect candy with friends.

As the celebration became more and more a glorification of all things dark, we removed our children from the event. They went to harvest parties at church.

Today we keep our porch lights off and don’t give out candy, as my husband and I don’t want to participate in such a crazy “holiday”.

I teach the kids in Sunday school about the holiday’s dark origins and try to explain that God does not give us a spirit of fear.

Safety is another worry:

We celebrated Halloween as kids and really enjoyed all the candy. I also remember the next few weeks in school being wasted because the students and sometimes even the teachers were in a sugar induced state.

When my children were young we continued the tradition but soon due to multiple reasons stopped celebrating this holiday. Halloween became darker and more filled with frightening costumes and daring behavior from the older kids. Not the most important reason for stopping but the last time our kids went trick o treating they were egged, chased, and threatened by violence.

At least in our part of the country, because the older kids/adults are incognito they use it to vandalized and act on whatever prejudices they have. Aside from a religious standpoint, Halloween to me is just not safe.

Trick-or-Treaters

This commenter has embraced the opportunity to promote a higher cause:

Oh, I totally LOVED Halloween as a child. My parents brought me into the nearest city and took me door to door collecting candy. Since I seldom got candy otherwise, this was about the neatest thing that ever happened. Then, when I got married and had children of my own, it was just a really fun time to take them around to collect candy in fun costumes. We never got into the dark side of the day. It was all fun and games. A fun holiday with no big dinners to fix and no presents to buy…who could ask for more.

Tonight (Halloween) we will go out on the front lawn of our city church and give away hot dogs, donuts, cider, hot chocolate, coffee and bags of candy to all the kids and parents who pass by. Each bag of candy contains a gospel tract. What Satan means for evil, we will use for good. We also open up our restrooms to the people who come by. We will minister to hundreds and hundreds of people this way. This is the day the Lord has made…we will rejoice and be glad (and do good) in it!!

Here is a recollection of Halloween from another era:

I was a Depression Baby and there weren’t that many of us. I shudder when I think of this, but my parents used to let me go out alone in the dark when I was six years old, to trick or treat in our neighborhood!

In those days, the thing wasn’t costumes it was masks. They were a real horrible thing, though: made out of heavy material that would hardly permit one to breathe and with elastic strings that always come off before the last house was approached.

These were the days that “trick or treat” was taken literally. People expected you to come into their houses and sing or recite a poem or something else that would be a treat and then they would give you something. I don’t remember lots of candy, but cookies and doughnuts and in the generous homes, a penny if you performed well enough.

Finally, I appreciated this candid response:

I did trick or treat as a kid, but since we don’t have kids yet, I usually hide in my house with the lights off or go out somewhere on Halloween night. I see no reason to fatten up other people’s children with candy and sugar.

These are just a few of the responses; you’ll find many more on the original comment thread.

I grew up in a “Halloween family”, and it was a fun evening, with little thought given to implications beyond the dress-up aspect and treats.  We didn’t get into the gory stuff with our costumes.  The costume was more a box to check.  It’s what got you access to the candy.

Halloween Questions

Originally posted on October 31st, 2011

I went trick-or-treating as a kid, as did pretty much all my friends.  It was seen as a harmless chance to dress up as your favorite superhero or ghost or whatever, and bring home a huge haul of sweets.

I rememember how my brother and I would come home at the end of the evening and dump out kilos of candy on the family room floor to begin the ever-important task of Taking Inventory.

All the Butterfingers over here in a neat row, next the Baby Ruths, then a long line of Snickers, and on and on. Neither of us took much to math in school, but were miraculously transformed into junior accountants on those Halloween eves.

Dad, a real accountant, would soon appear to levy the inevitable “Halloween tax”. The choicest items would begin to disappear as he audited his merry way through our winnings. I guess he figured he was getting us ready for the fun of paying real taxes in the real world. Thanks, Pop.

Halloween was an accepted and much-anticipated event in our household, but I know that’s not the case in all families. Amish do not celebrate Halloween, but I don’t have a really good sense of how many other folks out there do not.

Did you celebrate as a child? How about your kids? If not, why not? Would be very interested to hear.

And for those that do/did “do” Halloween, what is your favorite Halloween candy? And the worst?

I’ll take a crack at those last two…the best has to be anything Reeses–pieces, peanut butter cups, pumpkins. I’m also partial to candy corn, but it’s really one of those things you can only eat a couple of days a year before you don’t want to even look at the stuff.

The worst Halloween candy?

An apple, of course!

Jack-o-Lanterns image: Teo/flickr; Trick-or-treaters: Chris Devers/flickr