Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Defense of Halloween

That Halloween should be debatable is something few American children consider--unless they hear it from their parents.  As our neighborhood front yards become blanketed in giant cottony webs, hanging ghosts, tombstones, stuffed witches, and orange outdoor lights, it appears that even in the midst of economic uncertainty, our community is more enthusiastic about this holiday than ever.

A local charity held a kids' Halloween party a few days ago, offering families storytelling, costume-judging, pumpkin carving and oodles of sweet treats, in exchange for a donation.  It sounded wholesome and positive, yet I couldn't think of any in our circle who would let their children participate.  Being Jewish, many of them think Halloween sends a counter-religious message.

Not me. I'd defend Halloween as a secular American diversion--not a real "holiday" but a year marker, pleasantly unique in its lack of real meaning, hidden agenda or malevolent purpose. Every elementary public school classroom in the land boasts fat construction-paper pumpkins, arching black cats, prancing oversized spiders, and for the older grades, skeletons, warty witches and ghouls.  I've yet to meet kids who take the festivities as something serious--for them, it's a chance to indulge fantasy through costume, and, of course, collect a sack of chocolate. No child means "Trick or Treat" as a threat to the smiling neighbors who willingly open their doors bearing platters of sweets; instead, most think it's a single word sounding like "triggertreat," as in "these syllables trigger my getting a yummy treat!"

The way we celebrate is clearly American, even if you somehow make the precarious link to its supposed origins.  Those who condemn it point with disdain to the Celtic holiday of Samhain 2,000 years ago, when ancients, worried about winter, hoped the dead might give their priests a weather warning.  It morphed dramatically, though, when the Romans invaded and combined it with two of their goddess holidays.  When Catholics came along in 800 AD, they put their stamp on it, turning it into All Hallows Eve.

But there was no Halloween in Protestant colonial America--clear up to the mid-1800s, when the Irish potato famine brought Catholic immigrants, whose observance of the day was already pretty benign.

Americans immediately made sure the festival was stripped of any deathly associations, and observed mainly in community get-togethers. Trick-or-treating didn't start until about 1930, and didn't really catch on until the Boomers turned the nation kid-centric. Now the holiday is seen as a chance to carve jack-o-lanterns, take the joyful kids around the neighborhood, and sneak a few pieces of the stash you've bought to hand out at your own door.  College students consider it one of their thousand excuses to party.

Some people glean their smiles from ookey costumes of ghouls with fake blood, but even more choose to dress up as princesses, cats, pirates and cowboys. Vampires have made a resurgence due to the popularity of "Twilight" and its ilk.  In every case, the purpose is enjoyment.  The pickle-people who frown upon it are certainly free to keep their porch lights off. 

Aside from the fun re-connecting with neighbors, our economy gets a big boost from the holiday, with happy revelers choosing to spend an average of $56 this year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, down $10 from before the economy tanked. That's the second biggest spending occasion, behind Christmas.  You may want to return or recycle your yule gift, but nobody takes back his extra candy.

While I respect their views, I think parents who negate Halloween deprive their kids of a cultural celebration, a chance for families to notice the season, and take it in the direction they choose.  Some churches mark this time with "harvest parties" where costumed kids play games; many parents who let their kids trick-or-treat make sure they spin the outing so their children know it's a fun time, and not a scary or religious one.  Given that Halloween is ubiquitous, we might as well embrace it as an American tradition, though it's inconsequential and weightless as the blowing autumn leaves.


  1. I think some can get carried away with the dark side of Halloween, but I think it is mostly harmless fun.

  2. I looooooooooooooooooove the bit about syllables triggering a yummy treat! So funny! No can stop laughing!

  3. The best revenge against the dark side of Halloween is to make as much positive fun out of it as possible. My two Jedi apprentices practiced using the Force (doing that funny hand thing) all week in an attempt to be able to extort as much candy from the neighbors as possible. Last night they were part of a pack of twelve chidren (ages 1-12) traversing the neighborhood for almost two hours. (They didn't actually hit that many houses, as much time was spent waiting for the three-year-old's short bunny legs to catch up.) Full buckets were brought home and another hour was spent with the twelve trading away for their favorite candies. If I could have bottled the fun, friendship, and joy...Revenge (and candy) is sweet!

  4. Alas, this was the first year ever that I have no photos of costumed children or candy-sorting! Sniff!

  5. شركة شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض والقصيم وجدة
    شركة المستقبل من اهم وافضل الشركات التى تعمل فى مجال
    شراء لااثاث المستعمل بالرياض
    ؛ تتعامل شركة المستقبل منذ عقود كبيرة فى اعمال الشراء للاثاث المستعمل والعمل على كيفيه القيام بكل الطرق الاساسية المميزة فى الشراء دون ان يتم تحمل اعباء عملاءنا الكرام فى الشراء ولا تكتفى شركة المستقبل بخدمة مكان معين فلدينا القدره على القيام باعمال الشراء فى اى مكان فى الرياض او الدمام او جدة والوصول الى اعلى مستوى من التميز فلا تتردد فى التعاقد والتعاون مع افضل شركة شراء اثاث متوفره فى الاسواق الان . تهتم
    شركة شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض
    بتقديم عدد من النصائح والاستشارات المميزة فى اعمال الشراء والعمل على تقديم افضل الطرق التى تساعد فى اعمال الشراء على اعلى مستوى من الخدمة فاذا احتاجت اى استشارة شراء اثاث او القيام بالتخلص من اى قطعه من الاثاث
    فعليك ان تتواصل مع شركة المستقبل
    محلات شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالرياض
    والدمام وجدة والقدرة على الوصول الى اى مكان فى المملكة العربيه السعودية ؛امر الشراء للاثاث المستعمل سواء الاثاث المكتبى – الاثاث المنزلى – اى قطعه من الاثاث من غرف النوم – غرف الاطفال – الكنب – الركنيات – المطابخ – الصالونات – السفرة – النيش ........ وغيرها من اى قطعه من الاثاث فشركة المستقبل هى التى تقوم باعمال الشراء لاى قطعه من الاثاث على الفور .
    شركة شراء الاثاث المستعمل
    والدمام وجدة .
    شراء اثاث مستعمل بالقصيم
    من الكركبة والفوضى فقط .

    • تعرف على الاسباب التى تم من خلالها وما هو السبب الذى ادى الى بيعها هل هى
    شراء اثاث مستعمل جدة
    بيها روائح كريهه فهذه لا تصلح على الاطلاق .
    • ابتعد عزيزى العميل كل البعد عن اى قطعه من الاثاث يتواجد بيها اى نوع من انواع الحشرات وبالاخص الصراصير المتواجده فى الاخشاب لان تكاثرها يكن اكبر مما تتخيل .
    • تنصحك شركة المستقبل بالقيام باعمال الشراء للقطع الاثاثية المميزه التى تصلح للدهانات وسهوله وضعها فى اى مكان ولا تقوم باختيار القطع الاثاثية التالفه او الغير مدهونه .
    هذه افضل النصائح التى تستطيع من خلال تطبيقها ان تقوم باعمال الشراء لاى قطعه من الاثاث وبالاضافة الى ان الشركة تعمل على تقديم عدد من الاستشارات فى اعمال الشراء بالاضافة الى اننا نهتم بتطبيق عدد من الخدمات وعدد من النصائح بالاضافة الى عدد من الافراد المتخصصين فى اعمال الشراء للاثاث المستعمل ؛ فمعاناه عملاءنا الكرام فى الشراء اعطتت لنا فرصه كبيرة فى عمل فحص كامل وشامل فى اعمال البحث والوصول الى افضل النتائج المميزة فى شراء اى قطعه من الاثاث المستعمل فنحن متميزين وطريق المثالى الذى يعطى لك فرصه شراء للاثاث دون ان تشعر انها كانت مستعمله من قبل هو شركة المستقبل .