Halloween Questions

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!

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    1. Valerie

      My Perspective on Halloween

      Hi Erik, I wondered if you would bring this up!

      One thing I’ve learned to appreciate about the Amish is their non-compromising of what the world buy’s into as innocent. Although I don’t agree with them entirely, I do admire their recognition of the slippery slope.

      When I was growing up, Halloween seemed innocent enough, & I enjoyed it as a child. However when I became a Christian, I felt the kingdom of darkness was not something I wanted my children to find fun, entertaining, or innocent. So many churches have alternatives & have Harvest Festivals, non-scarey costumes, & a fun filled evening in the church.

      Tonight, we will pass out candy, but along with it each child will receive a specially written Christian tract to share Christ, sowing seeds of truth they might not otherwise be exposed to.

      Through the years it has become increasing “darker”, bloodier costumes, in fact my town has 2 large Halloween stores. The news said over a billion dollars has been spent so far on this exhaltation of the occult-could we be judged for this? I don’t know, alot of hungry & homeless could have been fed with that-

      Just my thoughts on it, thankful, the Amish know better.

      1. Joan Sheldon

        I agree with Valerie and appreciate that the Amish have a non-compromising view of what the world buys into as innocent. The more I learn from the Amish, the more I appreciate their views of not celebrating any holidays except for their own birthdays.
        I have not given out candy in over 10 years. I used to like the Halloween movies on TV until this year. The Amish have only been here in Unity for 2 1/2 years, so I am just beginning to really learn their ways. They have lent me several books and I get all the Pathway publications and Plain Interests. Much more sensible reading than the junk I used to read.
        Erik, thank you for telling us about the book “An Amish Paradox”. I got my copy today. And thank you for your web site.

        1. Valerie

          Unity & Smyrna Mills ME Communities

          I was wondering how Unity Amish were doing there. Have you talked to Ervin Hochstetler of Unity? These 2 sister communities are ones that are Old Order but will embrace outsiders. I had called Ervin about 1 1/2 yrs ago as a college student I heard of was interested in staying with them for the summer to learn Amish ways. I know Smyrna has had several outside families join, but only 2-3 stuck it out permanantly. They also allowed a divorced “english” woman to become a member, unusual for Amish I believe.

          I knew they didn’t celebrate Christmas & why, which personally I felt a little sad to hear that it was a work day just like any other day, to me the birth of our Saviour is worthy of a special day of acknowledgement at least, as they do celebrate their own birthdays I understand.

          1. Jessica


            As I’ve been moving more of a conservative direction in the past several years, Christmas was one of the issues that came up. The music and trees and presents all had a great sentimental hold on me right from childhood, but as I researched the history it became clear that a lot of it is based on pagan traditions… Easter too. Even the date itself was just requisitioned by the Catholics from an old solstice celebration. So while I think it’s good to celebrate the birth and death of Christ, it’s just a tradition that I can’t in conscience follow along with knowing that Christ never was the reason or center of the celebration.

    2. Lisa

      As a child in the 70s, I trick or treated but never really enjoyed it, except for the Reeses Cups, which were almost extinct because there was only one “good” trick or treating house in the neighborhood. Everyone else gave out the cheap stuff. I hated wearing costumes; all the other kids’ were cooler than mine.

      As a mother, it became my most dreaded day of the year, and I am still certain it was because if the costumes. Some mother out there would always have the perfect idea that transformed into the perfect costume. My children suffered greatly due to my lack of creativity. My three girls never trick or treated, but did go to church alternatives dressed as the usual angels, Miriam, Mary or Lydia.

      My youngest is 15 now and we have since learned that Oct 31 is an important day to celebrate, not because of halloween but because of the Protestant Reformation. Today, we celebrate the Reformation and reflect on God’s faithfulness to raise up men like Luther, Calvin, Wycliff and Tyndale who ensured that today we have printed copies of scripture and are able to read it for ourselves and know its true message.

    3. Karen

      I agree, Valerie, well said! My grandson goes to a Christian school and they choose their favorite bible character. They dress in costume, mostly made from home, and tell about their character and why he/she is their favorite. They have refreshments and games. Everyone has a great time and they look forward to this annual gathering. Thank you for this wonderful blog. I enjoy this reading daily.

    4. OldKat

      No tricks or treats; thank you.

      When I was a child in the early to mid 1960’s Halloween was a big deal, but it was more about the children “trick-or-treating” and less about how grotesque and macabre the costumes could be. I never once saw an adult in a Halloween costume until I was well into my 20’s and didn’t know what to make of it when I did see one.

      When I was a freshman in college there was a well known case of a dentist in a nearby large city who poisoned some Halloween candy in order to kill his own young son for the insurance money. He was caught, convicted and … Texas being Texas was sentenced to the death chamber & the punishment was enacted. He did not get away with this sick deed; however, it put a damper on enthusiasm for Halloween in our area for a decade or more.

      Slowly things began to change and it started gaining steam again, eventually it was almost back to what it had been 20 to 25 years before. About 19 or 20 years ago or so there was young man that was a medical student at the University of Texas Medical School who went to Mexico on Spring Break. Somehow he came in contact with the wrong element and ended up being tortured, murdered and some of his internal organs, notably his heart, were eaten by some members of a drug cartel that were heavily into the occult. They said they believed that these practices would make them immune to police actions. While this incident had no DIRECT tie to Halloween my wife and I started seriously considering the dark tone much of the secular society was taking, and continues to take. Much like Valerie, we concluded that it was not a positive Christian thing to be celebrating a holiday that is so given over to traditions and practices that border on the occult or even Satanic beliefs. We were not the only ones that made that connection, because several people that we knew commented about how they were losing enthusiasm for Halloween and it took another hit locally.

      The following Halloween we had a windy, damp and cold (by our standards) October 31st. We took our children who were then 4 and 8 years old out to trick-or-treat. The oldest was scared by some teenagers who were out pulling pranks in the neighborhood, while the youngest complained bitterly about the cold weather for the entire evening. The following year we asked if they wanted to go out for trick-or-treats again and both were adamant that they did not. Perfect!

      I think Valerie makes some very good points. In the future we may follow her lead hand out a Christian message with the trick-or-treat candy. However, we will not be prepared to do so tonight, so we will do what we have for the last couple of decades & go out to dinner or sit in the den and watch a movie with all of our house lights off.

    5. Nadege

      Halloween - Unsafe

      Worst candy ever: Good n Plenty (I shudder just thinking of it)

      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.

      1. Ack, Good n Plenty. I don’t know what was good about it. And there was always plenty too much left in the box to eat!

        Vandalism, yes I forgot about that aspect.

    6. Melissa

      God, Family, Country only...


      As a kid my sister and I would go trick-or-treating. But now that I have a family of my own, things have changed…

      My husband and I decided before our (4) children came along that we would not celebrate Halloween. We keep to this simple formula for our family–we celebrate things that celebrate: (1) God, (2) family, and (3) country. We feel this keeps our family’s priorities straight and easy to understand. When the older two kids were old enough to begin asking why we don’t celebrate I relayed our God, Family, Country moto, and they we’re able to understand, and accept it without question. (It also helps that 2 of my children can’t have dairy products–Halloween could be very dangerous to them).

      Instead, we use Halloween night as a Family Fun Night. Usually that means a trip to Chuck E Cheese or bowling where we can all have fun playing followed by a movie at home.

      1. Melissa, I definitely do respect yours and others’ approach here to Halloween, doing an alternative. Something to think about.

    7. Beth

      Baby Ruth? You’ve aged yourself, Erik(:

      1. I didn’t realize I’d date myself with the Baby Ruth but I guess you’re right! Kind of an 80s candy bar . Are they even around anymore?

    8. Marilyn from New York

      When I was a child in the late 1950’s and early 60’s we use to go trick or treating. In our small town you know whose house to go that would give you candy and who wouldn’t by the light on outside. My favorite was anything that had chocolate in it. I still love chocolate. I didn’t like those round bitter tasting candy that people sometimes came up with. We also use to have a parade down Main Street and costume contest. Now days they do the costume judging in the elemetary school like they did last Friday and served donuts and cider for the children. On Saturday they had children going trick or threat to the stores on Main Street. It is for store promotion, but you get more kids than adults. As I don’t have children I asked my friend if they will be coming door to door at her house and she and her husband expect about 200 kids at their door tonight. In our small town there isn’t anything for children to be scared of. Not like places where people put poison in candy or tiny pins in it. As a Christian I don’t like the devil background of Halloween, but I don’t think it is bad for little kids to go trick or treating either.

    9. I grew up trick or treating with my brothers in a very small Midwest town. I think the scariest thing I ever saw was someone w/a sheet over their head. But it was all about fun for the kids in the 60’s and 70’s. Back when we could step into a neighbor’s home to warm up and have a homemade popcorn ball or caramel apple!

      With my own children, a darker side of Halloween was being celebrated by then. Having Christian beliefs, it was a perfect opportunity to address the occult and Satanic worship. I always sewed my children’s costumes so they were not scary…a pumpkin, pig, clown, princess, or pirate. They always had a unique costume, and we made plenty of pumpkin, and fall leaf sugar cookies, too.

      As for favorite candy…always a 3 Musketeers for me. The worst,(and up for trading) was either the peanut butter “kisses” in the orange wrappers or Bit o’ Honey.

    10. Robin Miller

      Four years ago my husband and I were staying in Strasburg, PA pre-Halloween. The town had their annual Halloween parade and we did observe some young Amish families pulling their children in wagons into town to watch the parade … hope their bishop wasn’t watching!

      Growing up in the 1960s, our town in Maryland observed “Beggar’s Night” on 30 October, the night for trick or treat. The 31st was reserved for parties. We were turned lose to trick or treat to our heart’s content, out for at least 2 hours and covering about a mile. There was no fear about going to “strangers” homes. We’d dump our treats out, just as you described. However “we” was “me” as I was by far the baby of the family. I’d sort into piles. Butterfingers, Mounds and Reeses P-nutbutter cups were (and still are) my favorites. Of course my father would get a “cut” too. Things changed when my daughters came along in the 1980s. The years when we lived in military housing were the best. So many children and still that sense of security. We also had that annual tradition of going out to the country and picking out two perfect pumpkins to be carved on our picnic table a couple days before the big day. Today I am the grandmother of two toddlers. They will come to my house for trick or treat, visit my next door neighbors and help me answer the door. Of course can’t forget to mention the wonderful Halloween parties at school. We’d parade around the block where our school stood,then back to our classrooms for an afternoon of homemade cupcakes, punch and games. My daughters enjoyed this tradition as now are my grandchildren.bc

    11. Kim

      Comment on Halloween Questions

      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.
      Favorite candy is anything chocolate, and I think my favorite one in my youth, Erik, was Milky Way!

    12. Betsy

      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!

    13. Stephanie Rollins

      My kids were so excited about the fun dip they got this year. They did get raisins. As my oldest kid said, you know there is going to be one house handing out the healthy stuff!

    14. Halloween

      I find a lot of misinformation about Halloween online, perpetuating the myth that is is oriented toward satan worship, which is far from the truth. Hallowe’en is All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day, which is still in the calendar for Roman Catholics and Anglicans. It does coincide, not accidentally, with the old Celtic Samhain, which seems to have been something of a harvest festival. I think for many of us who come from families that originated in the British Isles, Halloween was very much a festival still. Older people (who would be the age of my great-grandparents) said it was a time they gathered for bonfires, new cider and a late evening meal. I take it that meant that a lot of the young people got together and some courting was done after the harvest was over. In the 1960s, it became more of the trick or treating festival we have now. My Baptist church had parties and we went trick or treating, although if you live in a rural neighborhood, that means Mum drives you to a half dozen houses where you get cookies, candy and homemade popcorn balls. As a minister, I had evening prayer followed by a children’s party at the church for the youngest ones, with baked sweets,punch and candy, and games supervised by some of the teenagers. A favourite game was my variation on the old church fete game of the “bran dip” but instead of a tub of bran, I hid the prizes in a large tub of autumn leaves. The kids reach in, grope around, and pull out little prizes in wrapping paper. There was also a fishing pond game with prizes, and a ball toss, also with prizes. Young children can be amused for hours in the anticipation that there will be cheap toys to be won, along with cake and ginger ale punch. I discouraged scary costumes and gory tricks – the scariest thing was the big cardboard spider with crepe paper legs hanging over the door. This meant the littlest ones could participate in fun without parents having to comfort a howling child all night waking from nightmares.

    15. Joan


      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!!

    16. Lattice

      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.

      It was always great fun to us!

    17. Emily

      Halloween is great!

      My family celebrated Halloween when I was a child. My sister and I were just reminiscing about some of the costumes my mom made for us when we were small. We were fairy princesses (simple dress with gold rickrack for trim), Gypsies (embarrassing now, but the costumes were cool), and all sorts of things that required only simple sewing and rickrack. Oh, for the days when rickrack was the height of fashion. 🙂

      Candy-wise, anything chocolate was the best, particularly Milky Way. Worst were the non-candy houses. You’d get excited to see what these people would give, and it was a toothbrush. A close runner-up was those peanut butter candies in the orange and black wrappers. Not yummy.

    18. We are Lutheran, not Amish. When I was young we didn’t “celebrate” Halloween. Usually something special was done at church for a Reformation festival. We usually observed Halloween at our house with jack-o-lantern carving and candy, but other than that the event was downplayed in favor of the usual religious festivals. We had candy to give to trick-or-treaters, and I remember going trick-or-treating myself once. If I went more than that I don’t remember it. It was allowed, but not particularly encouraged. My parents didn’t go to any effort to get me rigged out in a costume. Coming up with something was up to me. I remember being warned away from occult things, but there wasn’t a big fuss over it, and it wasn’t necessarily in connection with Halloween, though somehow or other I learned that there might be a concern over a connection between the two.

      We did something similar with our kids. Halloween was always a minor event at our house. Now that our kids are grown and we live out in the country away from the main trick-or-treat routes we hardly pay attention to it.

      Nowadays when stores put out halloween things weeks in advance of the event, it’s easy to ignore it as just background noise.

      1. Yes to hoof it trick or treating in the country you must have to be pretty determined. What about a good trail bike though? 🙂

    19. Halloween

      My family of six children went trick or treating on Halloween and even had a Cub Scout haunted house at our home one year, but it was pretty lighthearted and not scary. In the 50’s and 60’s we knew all the neighbors for as far as we could walk with our grocery bags. We made our own costumes – they weren’t usually very scary either, the classic sheet with two holes for eyes being the closest to any thing having to do with death. My brother was a robot one year, made from cardboard boxes and silver spray paint, there was often a witch in the family. I think it was just innocent fun then but things have changed. The country has become more mobile, with people moving more often so that many of us do not know our neighbors. It doesn’t seem all that innocent anymore either, against a cultural background that includes a fascination with vampires and werewolves. Teenagers and even adults participate. The creativity is gone and costumes and decorations are so commercial, and expensive.
      I worked in traffic safety for more than a decade, where I learned how dangerous it is to have a lot of excited children, often wearing costumes that limit their vision, out and about in traffic.
      I like what the churches are doing – giving the children a way to participate in a happy, healthy and safe way.
      The best candy is any kind of chocolate. The worst is anything that is homemade, unless it comes from someone whose kitchen you have seen.
      Happy Reformation Day!

    20. Christina

      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.

      Best candy to get: Kit Kat (or anything else involving chocolate except Butterfingers)

      Worst candy to get: Any kind of hard candy, including lollipops. And fruit because that would have been thrown away asap by my parents since it wasn’t wrapped. Tootsie Pops are exempt from this since they have a Tootsie Roll center!

    21. Alice Mary

      A time for fun, even now!

      Growing up Catholic (and attending Catholic school for 12 years of my life), we were well informed about Halloween being All Hallow’s Eve (night before All Saints Day, which is the day befor All Souls Day, aka Day of the Dead in Mexico, etc.). The Sisters (in one of the two grade schools i attended) wncouraged “saintly” costumes. One year, my mother cut up and sewed me a “Blessed Mother” (Mary, Jesus’ mother) costume, and another year, I was a nun (my mother sewed up her own version of a habit). I remember one elderly woman in the neighborhood actually thought I WAS a nun! I remember she gave me an apple (I agree with Erik—apples were ok if they were in pies, but not in Trick or Treat bags!). I LOVED (and still do)Reese’s peanut butter cups. We did not dwell on the occult—we knew the story of scaring away evil, malevolent spirits with Jack–Lanterns, etc.), and I did dress as a witch a couple of times, but not a “scary” one. I never pulled a prank (back then, soaped windows was one of the worst, in my neighborhood). The suburbs I’ve lived in have always had set “trick or treat” hours, and the police do make their presence known. The worst prank i’ve heard of acctually occurred in the 1930’s, I think, when someone (I heard it was a few young men) moved an outhouse in front of a local bank (now an attorney’s offic, i think). Nowadays, the pumpkin smashers wreak the most havoc. Halloween is a fun time to dress up as someone other than yourself (as stated by others here) and have fun with your friends and neighbors, no matter what your age.

      Happy All Hallow’s Eve to all (I’ll be going home early from work just to be on hand for the trick-or-treaters—there are a lot of great homemade costumes in my area!)(My 7-mo. old granddaughter is a ladybug!)

      Alice Mary

      1. I’m getting to these comments a day or two late, but Alice Mary your mention of the outhouse prank made me recall Amish wedding pranks (see Rich Stevick’s Growing Up Amish).

        Pumpking smashing was the big one in my trick or treating days. I don’t think we ever got ours smashed but you often saw signs in the street. That was an undisputed negative about the day.

        Apparently my folks don’t get many trick or treaters anymore down our street, sometimes just one or two. My Dad the other night told me he makes sure my Mom buys a candy he likes, since he knows it’s just probably going to bulk up his stockpile.

    22. Debbie Welsh

      We loved Halloween and my mom always made our costumes, too. She would drive us to a more populated neighborhood and move the car as we went along, and when our bags got too full we’d empty them into our own pillowcases in the car. Then when we got home we did the same thing as most of you’s, empty our loot on the living room floor and sort it out. I did the same thing with my two sons who also loved it and we went to and participated in many Halloween parades and school parties. And there was never anything dark or occultish about it, and I still don’t think there is, except I do admit some of the costumes and props are a bit too scary and gory these days.

      I agree with you Erik, an apple was the worst, and the best was getting money – especially quarters and fifty-cent pieces which really added up!

      We live in a 55+ adult community that doesn’t get any trick-or-treaters, so for the last several years my husband & I have gone over to my sister’s to give out to the kids ( she gets atleast 150 or more) so that she can take her own son out, and we always have a blast and get such a kick out of seeing everyone’s costumes and such.

      1. I only remember getting money a few times Debbie. I think the apples were a source of a scare at one point. Were the razor-blades and pins in candy and apples ever verified, or was that an urban legend?

        One test of character were the homes that left out a basket of candy and a “Take One” sign. Those were apt to get wiped out by the more easily-tempted kids.

    23. Lois Morgan

      Halloween In Days of Old

      I haven’t yet seen a reply that seems to come from someone my age.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.
      Can you imagine these days allowing young children to go out alone and then going into everybody’s homes to sing or recite? It was actually safe and my parents knew it, but what I want to know is : what happened to this country that we can’t even imagine it now?

    24. Valerie

      What Happened Lois?

      Well, it’s called fulfillment of prophechy:
      I Timothy 3:1-4
      This know also, that in the last days perious times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
      and then 3:13: But evil men and secucers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived?

      Are we there yet?

      My children would never believe your Halloween experience ever existed, nor do they really believe things are worse today than ever. Hmm.

    25. Halloween

      Several bunches of kids in costumes have come and gone, collecting treats that are bad for their teeth. I hope they brush their teeth before they go to bed tonight. The kids seem to come in waves. Here I sit, waiting for the next wave.

    26. Neil

      History of Halloween

      Perhaps this is why the Amish don’t celebrate or participate,
      It’s roots and history:

    27. Ellie

      Trick or Treating

      A child of the 80’s, I have many memories of walking through drying leaves or the already-chrunchy kind, making my way loudly up to neighbors’, friends’, and strangers’ front doors, usually my costume hidden or distorted by a heavy coat and several pairs of blue jeans. Some years we’d get our first big OH snow around this time, and go trudging through, amazing how hot we’d get in the below-30 degree weather! For us, it was in no way connected or even considered to be related to darkness or evil; even the kids who donned the devil costumes simply were “dressing up” – it was by far more about the unique experience of adults sharing with us unknown children all sorts of candy. I usually was a cat, once a baseball player, various things I’d never wear on a daily basis. The best candy for me were the “Nerds”, Sweetarts, and chocolate mini-bars, all inspected by parents before eating. Sometimes the “worst” – little peanut butter-type taffy in orange and black wax paper lasted long into December. *grin* Knowing what I know know about Halloween, should I have children, I perhaps might choose some sort of alternative. Maybe a non-Halloween-decorated costume party, something minus the “evil” element. But for us, trick or treating was never mixed with evil; it was a night for excitedly dressing up and candy-seeking. Nothing more!

      1. Orange and black Peanut butter taffy

        I forgot about the taffy Ellie–that was kind of like the candy corn for me–great for a day or two, but yes I could see it lasting well into the next season!

        I appreciate your comments about not seeing it as connected to evil…maybe some people take things too far, but I also think if parents put a head on a kid’s shoulders it’s not much more than spooky fun for youngsters.

        In other words I think there are a lot more tangible threats out there than this once-a-year event. And if kids are being led to evil by Halloween, there are probably a lot bigger problems in that household to begin with.

        However I do agree with commenters like Oldkat on the idea that society has taken a darker tone in many ways. It’s been 20-some years since I’ve had much to do with Halloween, so maybe I am missing the way things are now.

    28. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Ellie, I was a kid of the 1980s and early 1990s, and I think I’d describe my larger neighborhood as having dark whimsy on Halloween night. People would decorate their homes, or at very least their doorstep with decorations of the day, and there where a lot of lighted up pumpkins in windows.

      There where neighbors who went the whole haunted house route and it was very fun, innocent but fun. Of course some neighbors got more into the decoration than others. In fact, in our neighborhood there was a family who always had one of the coolest spooky front yards in the area. The father would spend a good deal of time with their kids ghouling up their property. They were always a highlight stop. Rumor has it the father was actually an un-baptized Old Order Mennonite who left and found work here, and he was gun-ho on the whole Halloween thing.
      Happy Halloween

    29. I’ve loved reading these responses. Two initial observations:

      1-In my Halloween bubble I didn’t realize how many people chose to ignore or observe it differently; and

      2-growing up in the suburbs I never gave much thought to the logistical challenges of trick-or-treating in the country.

    30. kerry

      There are many around here who don’t acknowledge Halloween and also quite a few who won’t even do “fall parties” as a substitute.

      I was part of a very conservative church growing up but my parents had no problem with trick or treating as a fun neighborhood activity. Lived out in the country so no trick or treat there, but everyone was welcome to come into the nearby town. The mild “scary” things were just considered silly by us kids.

      This was in the 70’s. Where I live now it is still very much like the fun small-village trick or treats of my childhood.

      Favorite candy of my brother and I – Marathon bars and Hershey bars! The “reject” pile was full of anything taffy, fruit, or hard candy related.)

      (Valerie, the church of my youth also did not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, although some families did on their own. Most Amish where I live do, but it is very much downplayed).

      1. Marathon bars–sounds like a sports energy snack?? 🙂

    31. Paula


      You have such a way with words. I love your writing.

      The story about your Dad and the Halloween tax is priceless!

      I was a kid in Latin America in the 70s (I’m old!) and candy manufacturers imported and promoted an American-style Halloween even back then. So witches, cats and pumpkins along with costumes and candy are also part of many international childhoods.

      However, I’m troubled by Halloween here in the US (I’ve been here many, many years). Costumes, candy, friendly pranks and Casper ghosts are fine, but when did it become OK to have horrific skeletons, graveyards and bloody items strewn on the front lawn? When did it become OK for restaurants to put plastic bloody arms and truly malevolent-looking creature masks out for decor? Don’t even get me started on the zombie obsession that parents allow kids to partake in. The scariest thing, though? Genuine “Happy holiday” greetings that clerks call out at the stores. As if Halloween was some sort of meaningful practice! I understand the social function of festive and carnavalesque outlets in human societies across time and place but that makes the sanctification of Halloween in the US both troubling and ironic.

      Anyway, that’s my two cents.



      1. Paula, the ole cheeks turned a bit red! Thanks! It is fun to write about these childhood memories, and if you knew my Dad you’d get a chuckle (as would he–I wonder if he’s read this yet 🙂 )

        “Happy Holidays” is the neutered blanket expression used to not “offend” anyone. I did not realize it was being applied to Halloween as well, but color me unsurprised 🙂

    32. Valerie

      Things have changed


      I appreciate your post & realization of the changing times here. It wasn’t always this way in America for Halloween. It was interesting to read the many comments/perspectives. I remember last year at our Dairy Queen in town, a very horrific animated monster in the DQ, made awful noise as well. The parents of a very young child were trying to almost force the child to enjoy this, and he was obviously disturbed by it-was hard for me to sit still & watch them trying to influence an enjoyment of this over the little guy who seemed to have more spiritual discernment than his parents. Driving home from work all month, the yards almost seemed in competition for horror displays on some streets. Why would this appeal to anyone? What in us, is drawn to this type of sensationalism? A man I heard on a message from a South American tribe, said when he came to America and saw the Halloween paraphanalia, it reminded him of what they saw in his past demonic experiences in his tribal life.

      1. Appeal of the dark/grotesque

        Valerie, interesting observations. Yes there seems to be a fascination with the “horror” side of things, ie with the popularity of vampire and zombie films, books, etc. No, I don’t really get it either. An attraction to the forbidden/dark as a form of rebellion? No kids of my own, and certainly no teens, so maybe I won’t speculate on the youth. But it also appeals to adults in large measure.

      2. Paula

        @Valerie: Thanks for reading and taking the trouble to respond! I totally understand that there’s been a transformation of Halloween. And I’m pretty sure it happens overseas as well-I haven’t travelled much out of the US in years. Grownups are entitled to have as much gore and dreadful Halloween stuff-in the privacy of their home (unless they have kids-your DQ story is the perfect example of why this stuff is not OK. Children DO get traumatized). I’m just troubled about what has become acceptable in a “public” setting. Either way, whether it’s casper ghosts or exorcist movie type stuff-Halloween should not be made a “national holiday” as it is informally becoming.

        @Eric-“Happy Holiday”-yes, an expression crafted to avoid offending different faiths, creeds and the atheist/believing interpretations or non-interpretation or non-practice of Christmas. It makes sense to apply it to Halloween as well, doesn’t it? Everyone has such different approaches to the holiday…I’m kidding! *Wink* You never know how one’s comments come across on the internet!

      3. Paula

        I’m not sure the first posting of this went through…if so, my apologies!

        @Valerie: Thanks for reading and taking the trouble to respond! I totally understand that there’s been a transformation of Halloween. And I’m pretty sure it happens overseas as well-I haven’t travelled much out of the US in years. Grownups are entitled to have as much gore and dreadful Halloween stuff-in the privacy of their home (unless they have kids-your DQ story is the perfect example of why this stuff is not OK. Children DO get traumatized). I’m just troubled about what has become acceptable in a “public” setting. Either way, whether it’s casper ghosts or exorcist movie type stuff-Halloween should not be made a “national holiday” as it is informally becoming.

        @Eric-“Happy Holiday”-yes, an expression crafted to avoid offending different faiths, creeds and the atheist/believing interpretations or non-interpretation or non-practice of Christmas. It makes sense to apply it to Halloween as well, doesn’t it? Everyone has such different approaches to the holiday…I’m kidding! *Wink* You never know how one’s comments come across on the internet!

        1. Well put Paula, and yes you never do know how things come across 🙂 I guess emoticons can help, though I just now finished an interesting discussion on when it’s appropriate to use them. I think in blog comments is fine; formal business email, probably not 😉

    33. Halloween and All Saints' Day in Poland

      Yesterday, here in Poland we spent the evening visiting dead relatives in the cemetery as is customary every Nov. 1. All Saints and All Souls are revered days in this heavily Catholic country. It’s a very family-oriented time and most folks go home for a few days; the cities are (relatively) quiet. Religious meaning aside, I think of it as analogous to Thanksgiving, for it happening in autumn and for the family aspect.

      There is a bit of controversy here (or pseudo-controversy, could be more a media creation) over the infiltration of Halloween customs into Polish culture. You’re starting to see a lot of Jack-o-lanterns decorating restaurants and other public places though. Part of it is probably an attraction to things Western and of course commercialism creeping in. There is about a 1% chance you’ll ever see Polish kids trick or treating though.

    34. Sharyn Ecker


      Well Erik … you should visit Mesopotamia , Ohio during trick or treat , you’ll find Amish kids trick or treating along side the “yankee” kids . It’s great ! The ones I have spoken to about Halloween know that it is “All Hallows Eve ” the night before All Saints day ,a Christian holiday .

      1. Well, that’d be a new one for me, Sharyn! Older, running-around kids?

    35. Bonne Campbell


      Halloween is one of the most misunderstood of holidays. Samhain represented the final harvest. Harvest-time was a big deal in the old days, as you needed to put away enough to survive the long cold winter~worthy of celebration and ritual. As a kid in the 60’s, I loved Halloween~my friends and I would trick or treat our way down to the local florists shop as they always gave carameled apples in return for singing a song. We’d make up a song along the way. Of course Halloween has been sensationalized over the years because “grown-ups” will buy into it….literally. It’s become a commercial affair, long detached from it’s humble beginnings. There’s an article here explaining a little of the Irish folklore of Samhain/Halloween. http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/1777/halloween-or-pagan-new-year Many holidays we now celebrate are rooted in pagan tradition. It was done in an attempt to convert the “Heathens” (people of the Heath, or countryside) in a more agreeable manner. They’d take to it better if this “new” religion was similar to their age old customs. Devil? Satan? Pagans don’t acknowledge the concept of Satan~ that’s a Christian entity.

    36. kerry

      Looks like the same thought is going around…

      (from one of our local papers, Holmes Cty Bargain Hunter)


    37. Shawn


      Well for me, the worst Halloween candy I ever got were those drab-colored wafer things, discs…I think they come from Britain or somewhere. So disgusting! As for the Amish not celebrating Halloween, or any other religion not celebrating it for that matter, I don’t really think it’s such a big deal as to not celebrate it. I just recently attended an extremely evil Baptist church in New Wilmington, and those people, (especially the pastor, getting up in front of the church and calling Jesus a liar!), were very evil. And I don’t think they celebrate Halloween either. It’s called, “Harvest Parties,” not Halloween parties, you know! Well, living in New Wilmington last month, I discovered that even the Amish aren’t all necessarily the saints that I imagined them to be. So, whether or not somebody celebrates Halloween, I really don’t see that that has anything to do with anything. It’s sort of like people arguing about which day is actually the correct day to celebrate Christmas on! I mean, come on! Some people just like to argue, really! So, I’ve always had happy memories of celebrating Halloween, growing up, and I see nothing wrong with it. And I’m a Bible-thumping Christian, so to speak.

    38. Sharyn Ecker

      Erik , it’s all ages , some mothers walk with them but in most cases the younger kids are with their older siblings . No costumes ,which is ok ,last year four of them walked with my children and I .We had a blast . Since most of them go to the public school they fit right in .

    39. Lindsay

      I love Halloween. I actually think it is good to have a darker day and to acknowledge there are darker aspects to life, but in a fun way. I went to a Catholic church growing up and we had Halloween parties (they encouraged everyone to dress as their favorite saint though it wasn’t necessary).

      It’s by far my favorite holiday still…it seems like there isn’t as much trick or treating, as I think a lot of parents I know are scared to let their kids get candy from strangers.

      I’m only asking this as a rhetorical question, but to some people it comes across as being insecure in one’s faith if Halloween is considered a day of serious evil. Do some of you feel Halloween is a legitimate threat to your faith?