Should Christians Enjoy Halloween? Funny You Should Ask

I personally would like to offer $10,000 to anyone who can come up with a question more stupid than “Should Christians enjoy Halloween?”

Though, actually, that’s obnoxious to say. Good Christians (well … adequate Christians) across the country are just now seriously asking themselves that very question. They worry, of course, that Halloween is … I don’t know … too good for dentists? Encourages begging in their children? Will be so much fun for their kids that ever afterwards their kids will hate every day that’s not Halloween, Christmas, or their birthday?

That’s a pretty reasonable fear, actually.

As a kid I was basically insane for Halloween. I could not believe that if all I did was put on one of my dad’s old sports coats, one his 50′s-style grey hats, and smear on my face some charcoal from our barbeque, I was totally qualified to go to people’s houses and ask them to give me candy for free.

Any other day, I’d get arrested for doing that. I’d tried it before. When I was about three, I derived from experiencing Halloween the lesson that if you dressed oddly your neighbors were obliged to give you free candy. So about three weeks after my first Halloween I put back on my Casper the Ghost outfit and mask, and, in the middle of the day, returned to trick-or-treating.

I thought those were the rules: you had to give free candy to little kids who dressed weird and knocked on your door.

The weird thing is, it worked. People gave me stuff. They gave me candy! Well, sort of. Most people didn’t have too much regular candy around. But they gave me Fizzies, or cookies, or half-sandwiches. Whatever. Old pizza. Cigarettes. I remember one old lady gave me some walnuts. I wasn’t all that keen on walnuts I had to break open, but I remember watching them fall to the bottom of my pillow case, and thinking, “Well, it’s food. If I had to, I could actually survive this way.”

Which, looking back on it now, I can see is a pretty disturbing perspective.

One old lady asked me in for tea. Tea! I was like, “Who am I, Alice in Wonderland? Are we supposed to visit? I appreciate your old-time cordial ways, but I’m on a mission. If you wanna give me a couple of sugar cubes, fine. But get on it. I’m busy.

She was so sweet. I thought how later I’d return to her house and be nice to her. I don’t remember if I ever did. Which means I didn’t. Bummer. (Dear lady up in heaven right now: sorry I never came back to your house to enjoy some tea with you. I should have. You seemed totally nice.)

Anyway, my mom was not thrilled when I came wandering back home with a pillowcase one-third full of weird foodstuffs people had given me. I remember there was half a bottle of pancake syrup in there.

Who gives a kid pancake syrup? People are so weird.

Halloween—actual Halloween, when I was older—was for me always about volume. I could never understand kids I saw on Halloween walking from one house to another. Didn’t they understand the system? And what was the deal with staying on the sidewalk? I could never freakin’ believe how many kids would walk all the way down the walkway to the porch, back onto the sidewalk, and then all the way over to the next house.

Screw that. Unless there was an electrical fence between one house and the other, I was barging straight through. Shrubbery, low fences, parked cars: I didn’t care. It was all about efficacy of access.

By the end of the night, my Halloween costumes were always pretty destroyed: shredded, torn, branches and mud all over them. I usually did look pretty scary by the end of the night. But less in a fun, Halloweeny kind of way than in a Wanted by the Police kind of way.

Here’s how seriously I used to take Halloween night: I carried an extra trick-or-treat bag with me. When my first bag got too full, I’d hide it somewhere, pull out my new bag, and keep going. I didn’t want to be weighed down.

God, I was such a maniac.

I can totally see, looking back, why my friends were never with me throughout Halloween night. We’d always start out together—the old, fun gang, embarking on the frenetic joy that was Halloween night. But then, about twenty minutes into it, I’d basically ditch them for being too slow. And by then they were always happy to see me go; they were already tired of me bitching at them to pick up the pace.

Awful. I was an awful friend.

But the next day, they’d show me how much candy they’d snagged the night before—and I’d be, like, “What?! Where’s the rest of it? I could have gotten this much if I was in a wheelchair. What the hell’s the matter with you? How do you sleep at night knowing this is all the candy you got?”

You know who always impressed me with the quality of her haul? My sister. She was no me or anything, but she always did surprisingly well. And whenever I saw her out there in the dark going from house to house, I never saw her running. I have no idea how she did it.

She probably beat up other kids and took their candy. But that’s really a whole other story.

Once I became a Christian (at thirty-eight and out of nowhere—an experience you can read about here), I started learning all kinds of things about Christians I wouldn’t have suspected in a million years. Chief amongst them was that many of them were Seriously Opposed to Halloween.

My first Halloween as a Christian I went to a function put on by my church—one of those “Safe and Jesus-Centered Hallelujahween!”-type events, done the night of Halloween. The kids there were actually having a good time, running all around, screaming and laughing. The parents were engaged with them, and otherwise talking and being friendly with one another. It all felt so healthy, and happy. We were in a big brightly lit room. From inside the room I looked out a window. But the reflected lights kept me from seeing how dark it was out there.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    TabooJive! Good to hear from you!

  • typoqueen

    Your sister and I got LOTS of candy because we stayed out really late. When most of the kids went home for the night, we were still knocking on doors. Some folks just dumped their bowls into our bags so they could turn off the lights and close up shop. SCORE! Oh, and we ran too.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      OH! Yeah, I do recall Nancy coming home at, like, two in the morning. So THAT explains it!!

  • Joey Boyd via Facebook

    I adored Casper!

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    Hi John,

    I actually had the reverse of your story, in a way: I was not allowed to participate in Halloween at all when I was a kid, but now that I’ve left fundamentalism (not Christianity, just fundamentalism) behind, I’m free to enjoy it as I will. And I definitely will. This year I’m going to be a Jedi Knight.

    http://frenchizal.blogspot.com/2010/10/october-31st-my-200th-post.html

    • Diana A.

      Cool!

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

    The church to which my college roommate belonged had two events on Halloween each year: Kids were invited to a “Hallellujah Party” which had nothing to do with Halloween, of course, but involved dressing up as Bible characters and getting candy. Adults went to a big prayer meeting to pray against the evil spirits that would be extra-powerful that night because so many people were out worshiping Satan.

    But, to the fun … I’ve never been into Halloween that much, but I think that that’s more because my food vices tend more toward the fat than sugar. If it was about handing out cheeseburgers, bacon, pork chops, and sausage biscuits, I’d have been much more into it.

    And the only costume I’d ever be able to use is Kingpin from the Marvel comics, probably. Or Jabba the Hutt, I suppose.

  • Audrey EqualityNow Smith via Facebook

    I wore Casper one year, too! :)

  • Debbie

    Too funny! Why? Because I can identify with a LOT of that… hee hee. Halloween has always been a big deal for me and I always made my own costumes which extended the fun for me. This year, it’s the mommie mummy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Mommie mummy. You HAVE to send me a picture of that.

  • Val P.

    How sad that some religious parents won’t allow their kids to enjoy what started out as a religious holiday! All Hallow’s Eve – All Souls Evening before All Saint’s Day.

    “For the first 1,000 years of Christianity there was no collective memorial for All Souls. Relatives and loved ones were remembered at Mass on the anniversary of their death, or until they passed out of living memory. But by the seventh century monasteries were celebrating an annual Mass for all the deceased of their order, an idea which spread to the laity. About 1048, an influential abbot chose November 2 to commemorate All Souls because it was an obvious companion date and extension of the Feast of All Saints. Both days are reminders that all of us, living and dead, are united in a living communion with Christ and one another.”

    People who get hung up on ghost and goblin costumes on Halloween need to let their kids have a life! I think sometimes parents use the “pagan holiday” excuse as a reason not to have to walk the neighborhood with their little kids. Just drop them off at the Fall Festival at church and go home to watch Dancing with the Stars.

    • Val P.

      And yes, I’ve done my time and walked many a mile with my 3 kids on Halloween. Lots of happy memories with my little goblins – and a few that maybe weren’t so happy. Had my foot stomped on by a big dad in a gorilla suit whose enthusiasm got the best of him (had to call from his house for a ride home), tripped on tree roots and fell, breaking my glasses – got home with the assistance of seeing eye kids. It’s easy to drop the kids off at the church pumpkin festival – but makes much better stories to torment them with as teenagers when you go into the trenches with them.

  • Amy Mitchell via Facebook

    I was never Casper, sadly. But once I was the ghost of Mickey Mouse (bed sheet + Mouseketeer ears).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      TOO FUNNY! One time for a costume a friend of mine put a pillow under his t-shirt. That was it; that was his whole costume. I go, “What the heck kind of costume is that?” He goes, “What? Everyone knows I’m skinny!”

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        My sister and her best-friend-when-they-were-teens have done even worse.

        I remember trick-or-treating in costume with my cousins in one of my aunts’/uncles’ rather lucrative-for-candy neighborhoods. My sister and her friend came along to watch us – that is, to watch us with a big pillow case in tow and they would hit whatever houses my cousin and I hit as we were shuffling away. Didn’t even dress up, were all just “Give us candy!”

        And they actually got a haul!

        Too old to dress up, but still immature enough to want the goods.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I didn’t get to grow up celebrating Halloween. The church my parent attended thought it celebrated paganess and God forbid we do anything remotely related to something pagan. For the record Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter were off limits as well.

    We too hid in the dark, while all the kids had a grand time getting candy. I missed every single school holiday party growing up too. I guess participating would have been too tempting in the way of converting a kid to the wicked wiles of apostasy. (I just wanted cupcakes and for other kids to like me)

    Now that I am grown, I do Halloween. Not in a big way, cause I usually have to work that evening. but when I can, I dress up and give out candy. I even got to participate last year with my daughter and her two kids. She dressed as Big Bird, her son was a flannel clad, sound asleep 24 pound lump of little bird, and big sis was Tinkerbelle. It took that three year old about 30 seconds to figure out the purpose of our outing. It took some serious convincing to get her to go back to the house when her bag was full.

    This year I have to work. My costume will be tossed together (as always) I’m going as a nerd. (not all that far from reality) I will look utterly ridiculous and not care one bit.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa. This is awesome, SD. Thanks, very much, for sharing this.

  • Bobbi

    I always loved haloween. Being a trans person it was always the one day of the year that I could take off my costume and be myself. Every year I would come up with some kind of costume that would allow me to cross dress and go out and have fun withoiut anybody thinking I was wierd (well no wierder than any one else). Luckily the church I belonged to didn’t have any big hang ups with Halloween so long as we didn’t worship Satan or start drawing pentagrams that night. My favorite Haloween was the year my best gal pal and I went to a church party as a football player and cheerleader, only I was the cheerleader and she was the quarterback. We won a prize for most original idea ( I wonder what they would have done if they new that outside of the cheerleader part I wasn’t in costume. They were nice people and probably would have just made me put on boy clothes and prayed over me to save my soul).

    After reliving Haloween’s past I started thinking about other things I did as a kid. I find it amazing that I lived through some of the dumb (but really really fun at the time) things we did. What an enjoyable article that brought back a bunch of great memories. Thanks, John, for reminding me about the fun and stupid things I did as a kid.

    • Bobbi

      How strange that I spelled weird wrong twice in the same sentence… it must be the haloween spirits.

      • Bobbi

        For that matter I should just give up I evidently forgot how to write readin’ all the way through this comment. So please forgive my poor spelling. I just so got caught up in being a kid and having fun that I rushed through my homework.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Amundsen/100001101098317 Scott Amundsen via Facebook

    The best costume I ever came up with was as an adult. One Halloween when I was working at Revlon, I went to work dressed as a priest. My VERY CATHOLIC snoopervisor was so appalled she could not look at me or speak to me for the entire day! :-P

  • A’isha

    Our church has one of those Halloween alternative parties, the Hallelujah Carnival. What’s interesting is it’s really fun and most kids in the community go. About 5 years ago it outgrew the church and now we rent a building at the fairgrounds. There are tons of games to play for candy, free hot dogs and chili dogs, popcorn and soda, plus those huge blow up bouncy houses. The Fire Dept brings a fire truck into the building (I said it’s a BIG building, right??) that the kids can check out. For a community of 8000 between 2 towns we end up with about 2-3000 people coming to the carnival. As a parent I love it. You don’t have to worry about getting creepy stuff in the candy, you don’t have to worry about getting cold in case it snows or rains, and you don’t have to worry about the kids getting run over by cars when they’re running house to house. Plus it gives a major excuse for parents to dress up too which is always a plus. :) They advertise not to wear scary costumes but there always are a bunch anyway. It’s not like there’s a scare-police at the door turning vampires away.

    Sooo…my point was not all those crazy church Halloween alternatives are bad. :)

    • Diana A.

      This is true. My elementary schools had safe Halloween carnivals, not because they were “Oo, Halloween satanic!” but because my childhood was around the time that the whole “people put scary things into Halloween candy” thing started picking up.

      So, my friends and I started out at these carnivals–then we’d come home and go trick or treating. Yes! The best of both worlds!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Niiiiiice. Love it.

  • A’isha

    Oh, and John, I did the second bag for trick-or-treating too when I was a kid. I timed it right so I’d be close to the house and could drop off one bag and go back out. I reserved a big drawer in a dresser just to store my candy for the year. :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I’ve met my match! Good thing I didn’t know you when we were kids. I wouldn’t have a tooth left in my head.

  • textjunkie

    I haven’t seen trick or treaters in years. :( But yeah, now that I’m an adult I decorate my office for Halloween, I have a blow-up pumpkin in the front yard, and yesterday I carved my first-ever pumpkin!! :) :)

  • http://thegirlinthemiddle.wordpress.com Molly

    When I was in High School our church had a haunted house, once. No, not a hell house, we did a haunted house complete with chainsaws, ‘sketti guts and strobe lights. I think we did it as a fund raiser for our Choir trip….now, they have trunk or treat during the harvestival…

    And, when I was a kid, I had that exact same casper costume. my parents have a picture of me in it, but behind the mask I am screaming like a crazy woman because I wanted to be a princess! wah. I think I am still recovering ;)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, no! Pffft. Parents.

    • Mindy

      The only picture I have of myself on Halloween was along about age 5. I was Fred Flintstone. My little saddle oxfords stick out underneath my polyester “caveman”outfit, and I’m lost behind a giant plastic Fred mask. If only I could’ve been Casper.

      We were fine with Halloween, thank goodness. The best costume either kid ever did was to simply carry and umbrella, with Beanie Baby cats and dogs safety pinned all over it. :)

    • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

      @Molly — re “…behind the mask I am screaming like a crazy woman because I wanted to be a princess!” Here’s a photo I took at this year’s San Diego Comic Con of a little girl with a similar problem: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=256804890997465&set=a.256804637664157.76080.100000038681044&type=3&theater

      (If that link doesn’t work directly you should be able to go to the album on FB; it’s photo #9: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.256804637664157.76080.100000038681044&type=1&l=5e1025e8c9)

  • Christelle Lotze Jones via Facebook

    Don’t anybody steal my idea! I want to be Christine and Hubs to be the Phantom… sadly, he’s not grasping my brilliant idea…

    • Christelle

      oh- I always forget that my FB comments post to the blog site! Yikes! well, aside from my attempt at humor above- I was raised anti-halloween… watched all the anti-movies, read the books, listened to the sermons and lectures… I really thought Satan himself was running rampid on Halloween night- ready to steal the souls of all participants… Once, however, I was allowed to dress up as an angel and go trick or treating… ha ha ha!!!

      • Christelle

        rampid- rampant… excuse my english John!!!

        • Christelle

          I should add that at a Halloween party this weekend, I wore devil horns on my head. I blame johnshore.com for my regression…

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

    We started going to a church when we moved to this city where the pastor was majorly against Halloween. He had all these pamphlets in the church office about it and witchcraft, I remember. It was weird. His salvation story involved The Exorcist, and all that.

    I never went trick-or-treating. Or got to wear a costume. We were hyper-paranoid of DEMONS EVERYWHERE. At least three separate times, we had “prayer warriors” over to our house to “rebuke” them. My father had “the spirit of alcoholism” and “the spirit of lust” that apparently hung around him and influenced everything he did. My mother had “the spirit of fear.” That of course, was TOTALLY not a rational response to my abusive father, but rather DEMONS. Everything was demons. They were the only thing standing between us and a happy bubble land existence, apparently.

    Interestingly, after my mother kicked my father out of the house, and my brother was arrested…the “demons” disappeared.

    When I got older, and was still a Christian, I tried to explain to my mother that I didn’t feel like living in fear of Satan and demons anymore, because God was far greater that that. She said, “I don’t think you’re taking the devil seriously.” And then told me that wearing a skeleton costume as a child contributed to her teenage depression and suicide. Apparently the demonic is like germs, it attaches itself to Halloween costumes and then crawls onto humans when you wear them?

    Needless to say, all I want to do now is go to haunted places, I have a stack of ghost fiction, horror, and non-fiction haunting books to read, and I write creepy stories. My mother tried to forbid us from seeing the devil and it just drove me right into his arms. ;)

    • Christy

      “And then told me that wearing a skeleton costume as a child contributed to her teenage depression and suicide. ”

      Blaming intangible outside sources for what ails us is so much easier than looking at and having to face reality and the real tangible causes of our pain and suffering. Denial is powerful. It and learned helplessness are some of the many sad and reinforcing symptoms that are the product of Fundamentalism.

      • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

        Oh yeah. That’s why I think there were always “demons” when my father was around. Far easier to think that we were under constant “demonic attack” than think that our family was really this messed up. Probably far easier to admit to/ask for help from the church when you can say it’s demons rather than “we’re like this.”

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Oh, dude! I so know what I should do for Halloween now before I go to work….

      Must find my big book of Edgar Allan Poe stories…. must take a walk across the street (I live next to a graveyard) and sit in front of the chapel reading stuff like The Raven, or the Murders at the Rue Morgue and other selections. Heee.

      Thus far, I don’t think my cememtary’s actually haunted, though. Been living here two years and haven’t seen a thing – except those really cool solar garden lights people put on graves – I’ve taken walks there at night just to see those things. I find them rather touching.

      Then again, an online friend of mine who claims to see ghosts says that ghosts don’t like cemetaries becuase it’s not where their happy memories are. Makes sense to me.

      • LSS

        my renter keeps saying there are ghosts in my parents’ old house. i told her “remember, if you find ghosts, it costs extra.”

        seriously that place has ghosts for me … like psychological ghosts of our dysfunctional life there. but i think my renter is getting in touch with the people that built the house over 100yrs ago or something. ok for her… not my thing. alive people are trouble enough.

  • A question more stupid…

    “I personally would like to offer $10,000 to anyone who can come up with a question more stupid than “Should Christians enjoy Halloween?”

    When Barack Obama was elected president, some of my relatives were wondering whether they should start stocking up on canned goods because the end of civilization/the Second Coming was nigh.

    Does this count? Can I have my $10,000?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa. That IS a contender.

      • LSS

        a friend of mine told me that “the world is going to end because Obama just handed Israel over to the Palestinians” … that was some months ago whenever he made that speech saying he wanted Israel to defend themselves… she said that makes him the antichrist. i said “well how come the Palestinians are still miserable?!” (note i was raised extremely zionist by a reformed presbyterian jewish mother, so this was a big step for me). i think she will stop thinking he is the antichrist if that free birth control thing ever becomes a reality.

        ok i guess that wasn’t a question, but … whatever.

  • Nicole

    I, too, wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween as a kid and as a an adult I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s just fun. :)

  • Jeffrey Bates

    Should Christians enjoy Santa? The Easter Bunny? Leprechauns? Gnomes? That is like $40k you owe me by my count. I accept PayPal and Cash.

  • Jeffrey Bates

    Wait. Should Christians celebrate the Tooth Fairy? After all she flitters around on wings, waves a wand and is obviously gay….what fairy isn’t? That tops my earlier response. I accept the $10K. You can keep the other $30k you owe me — donate it to your therapist…that person has their hands full.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    Back when I used a double-edged razor to shave, I’d wait until the week before Halloween to go to the grocery store & buy packs of razor blades.

    As well as apples.

    The looks on the clerks’ faces were priceless.

    BTW, you have not really experienced Halloween until you’ve done so in Hollywood and/or West Hollywood.

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I keep telling my guy in the event that we’re actually home (last couple of years, Halloween has been “go to work” for me), and in the unlikely event that we actually get trick-or-treaters (I’m surprised that we wouldn’t being that we live across the street from a cemetary – how Halloween can you get? We don’t need to decorate)! ….

      That I’d like to come to the door with some of my artwork. http://shadsie.deviantart.com/gallery/6553783

      This piece would be especially nice to show off to ghouls and goblins, don’t you think? http://shadsie.deviantart.com/gallery/6553783#/d3imu44

      But ol’ stick in the mud fears I’ll get arrested. You know, freaked out parents and all. (It’s all legally-obtained stuff, I can even show you a couple of places to get the raw materials. I even know a place online that deals with human as well as animal, but you basically have to be an institution of higher learning to get anything hominid).

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I remember when I first had my conversion experience and got into (a Baptist) church for a while. They were opposed to Halloween. I remember being *really glad* I was a teenager/half-grown/already “too old” by the time I was in that mode, though, because Halloween carries a lot of happy memories for me. I was really glad I’d had my fun when I did, instead of being like the pastor’s kid who was convinced that it was “Satan’s Birthday” and who was consoled with “Well, we buy you candy all the time, those poor kids have to dress up and bef for it.”

    Um… the fun of Halloween for me when I was a child was in the dressing up. My Mom made me costumes (she sewed and most years, my costumes were lovingly homemade… I remember being a bumblebee one year, the animal, not the Transformer. Being a leopard was fun, as was being an angel, a witch… the one non-hommade costume I remember wearing I wore as a teenager – a thrift store find Cleopatra getup. Also fun. I actually wore the wig to school past Halloween to gague reactions to me having black hair becuase I was thinking of doing a dye job. Everyone liked me as the natural blonde that I am best so I never did it – the wig made a good test-run).

    The thing that I loved best about Halloween wasn’t the candy (though the candy was AWESOME), it was getting to dress up and play pretend at being a character or creature. Sure, preacher’s kids can get candy all year round, but kids don’t get to do that all year ’round -dressed up as ghosts, superheroes, historical figures, and creatures.

    In the unlikely event that I ever have kids, we’ll do the Halloween thing. I don’t find anything evil about it – except for those who think imagination is evil, in which case me and my own are pretty much hellbound, anyway. If God didn’t want me to have an imagination, why’d he give me one? In fact, I feel ashamed of those few years that the church had me convinced that it was evil and made me miss the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror out of fear of “sin.” (I wound up watching them anyway, later).

    I *still* do the cosplay thing… well, I am thinking I’m getting a bit old for it…. at ANIME CONVENTIONS. I like dressing up as favorite characters. Anime/sci fi conventions typically happen in the summer, though. They’re a spring/summer thing for geeks. I most like to go as Vash the Stampede from the series “Trigun” – I had the costume custom made by a friend and got a part of it signed by the director of the anime back in 2003.

    • Diana A.

      “I *still* do the cosplay thing… well, I am thinking I’m getting a bit old for it”–don’t fall for that, Shadsie. You’re never too old to have fun–or if you are, what’s the point?

    • LSS

      (before we stopped doing ALL holidays for religious reasons) i used to always dress as a “gypsy” (my Rroma ancestors probably spinning in their graves at this) because i could find the elements for that costume in my own closet. with the amount of brightly colored clothing i own, i could usually manage “clown” if i needed 2 costumes.

      i was thinking of going as an OCCUPY protestor this year, but it was already in a top-10 list online so i think i need something more inventive.

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        One of my cosplay costumes for anime conventions was largely purchased at a thrift store. It makes it *more authentic* to the character I played, too!

        There is an anime series I like called “Haibane Renmei” (aka “The Charcoal Feathers Federation” if you want to take a literal translation). It’s the story of a mysterious walled town and people born into it from coccoons. The people become angels – of sorts. (The creator says “they’re not angels, they’re just Haibane). If you’re a young person born into this town, hatched from a cocoon, you grow a pair of small, soft-gray wings that you cannot fly with (but are cute) and receive a halo as an idenitfying mark. The Haibane live alongside human beings in this town they’re all stuck in, but are not allowed to use anything new or still useful to humans. Everything they use is old/castoff. Therefore, for clothing, the Haibane shop at thrift stores!

        For my Hikari costume, I bought a longsleeved shirt and a long skirt that just so happened to mimic her winter-wear – from a thrift store. I bought a small pair of white wings online and dyed them soft gray with ink, and I have a couple of halos for the outfit – one I made out of a styrofoam wreath, paint and glitter and other one my fiance’ made that was light-up LED but wouldn’t stay on my head and wound up falling apart. I also made a prop halo-mold out of styrofoam and wood (because the character Hikari was in charge of making the halo for the new-arrival protagonist, Rakka). If I could find an old-style bed-warmer in an antique shop, that would be even better for the costume becuase that’s what the halo-mold looks like.

        Fun series, easy to cosplay by shopping like a Haibane!

        • LSS

          that’s great … i will have to make my husband watch that show (he’s more the anime expert in the house) and maybe it will cure him of his dislike of thrift shops

          • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            It is a really good series, but I must warn – it’s not very “action.” A lot of people think action when they think of anime and HR is a very quiet sort of drama. It’s mainly about self-discovery, people coming to terms with themselves and carries a lot of mystery. It is beautifully-done. Aside from liking the story, it’s very pretty to look at.

            The town for example – think about a drive through Lancaster County, PA or some quaint little village.

            The creator/writer of it is one of the guys who did Serial Experiments Lain (though Haibane Renmei is considerbly lighter than that series, SEL was very dark, HR is rather light).

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Mary @Barnmaven.com

    My biggest pet peeve about Halloween these days (and yes, we enjoy the hell out of it and no, I don’t think its sacreligious) is that 90% of the costumes for women are all basic variations of “whore.” SEXY — pirate, ghost, nurse, maid, fairy, blah blah blah you name it. Is this the only costume retailers believe is appropriate for women? For crying out loud. And the little girl costumes are getting almost as bad. I almost threw up when I saw some of the stuff they’re marketing for tweens.

    This year I’m dressing as a nun — which really fits, since my man has been on the road for work since mid-September. But also because it is my personal protest against costumes that involve fishnets, stripper heels and micro-minis.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

      I could not believe what I saw in the costume aisle for girls!

      I mean, why would I want to dress a tween daughter as a streetwalker?

    • Diana A.

      I like your style…and your sense of humor!

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      I am actually going for the slightly unattractive. I work in a salon and every year we do a theme…This year the theme is Hair Nerds….Yeah its a stretch…but nerds have hair right? The outfit will be an over-sized menswear shirt, leggings, softball socks and tennis shoes. If I do the hair and uni-brow right. I hope to be unrecognizable. The cost? mild embarrassment.

      I went into my first Halloween store last year looking for idea, and wondered if I had entered the wardrobe warehouse for the local porn studio.Then I saw the price tags for the poorly made outfits and accessories, left and promptly went to Goodwill where I bought the makings for my hippy costume. (decades was the theme last year) Price $4

      • Carol VanderNat

        My hippie costume is free…every year…

  • Lorraine Seaman via Facebook

    is this freaking hilarious… you, my friend, are a man after my own heart :)

  • Janie Blakely via Facebook

    Woo hoo! That Casper was my first costume! I loved the silky feel of the material. But alas, I cut my tongue on the little rectangle in his smile for breathing. Not sure how I managed that… PS. I always envied you Halloween runners. For my part, I often felt like Charlie Brown….. “I gotta rock.” :)

  • Janet Lynn via Facebook

    That was so great!! :))

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.e.weisner Jane E Weisner via Facebook

    Sure Christians should celebrate, they stole the holiday from the Celts.

  • Joanne

    I love Halloween. And we grew up quite conservative, but Halloween was NOT a problem in our family or our church. LOVED it – who wouldn’t? We always made our own costumes. My aunt would sew costumes for our cousins (we lived on the same street) and we just threw something together. We used to come home, dump our full pillowcases on our beds and go back out for more. When we all got home my brothers and I would swap since we all had things we liked better than others. When they were kids my husband’s brother used to map out the most efficient route in his town in order to maximize his haul. Then he would sort his candy out and ration it so that it would last until Easter, when he would get more candy. My husband would then sneak in and steal candy since he had eaten all his in a big orgy of candy. Messed with his system and did it every year.

    We moved to Yucatan a few years ago and they don’t celebrate Halloween but they celebrate Hanal Pixan (Day of the Dead). We are starting to see Halloween costumes in the stores but there is no trick or treating. I miss seeing kids at the door.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blake-Parker/32601632 Blake Parker via Facebook

    Celts!

  • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com/ Blake

    Childlike innocence? More like childlike laziness!

    Kids should stop whining for free candy hand outs. If they would just quit going to elementary school and get real jobs they could buy their own candy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      this is so funny!

  • http://www.facebook.com/framboinga Frank Rambo via Facebook

    I was Casper one year, too!

  • http://theaspirationalagnostic.wordpress.com Eva

    I’m SO relieved that we don’t ‘do’ Halloween in Australia. My children really don’t need the official sanction of bailing up complete strangers and asking them for candy. They’d never stop.

  • http://www.cindymurphythinkingoutloud.blogspot.com Cindy

    Despite coming from a very conservative background where movie theatres and secular music was off limits, my parents thankfully never had a problem with Halloween (as long as we didn’t dress in any evil costumes like witches and such of course). But I remember when I was in grade 7 and my father had gotten out of the ministry. We were living in a town where my dad had pastored a couple of years before but the the new pastor in town was against Halloween. It didn’t seem to bother any of the other parishioners but his 3 daughters were not allowed to go trick-or-treating. His youngest told me that I was worshiping the devil, but his oldest was my best friend. As the town was fairly small and I knew that I would need to share my loot with my less privileged best friend, I actually covered the whole town twice that year; Once in costume and once out. Fortunately for my friend, her parents odd objection to Halloween (it was the first time I had come across this since up until that point my dad was also my pastor) didn’t extend to her not being able to enjoy my ill gotten booty.

    I loved Halloween because I loved candy of course (what kid doesn’t) and I was pretty miserable the first year that I decided I was too old to go trick-or-treating. I still love buying different packages of the marked down candy after Halloween and mixing it all together in a big bag to fake the experience :-D

  • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

    As a kid, I did Holloween. It was different for my 5 kids. We attend a quite conservative “mega-church” with a Christian school that was against Holloween but not so much so that if you wanted to dress your kids up and have them go out, you had the option with no condemnation and they also had ” Halloween alternatives” for church /school kids. It was no big deal.

    My kids actually liked dressing up and just handing out candy and/or scaring kids as they came to the house. They would go out sometimes but they really didn’t like it all that much because I always made sure my wife bought the GOOD candy and not that gawd awful candy corn. Since my wife bought the good candy to hand out, we had enough “left overs” for my kids, we had the best candy anyway!!

    The wife and I never made a big deal over Holloween (either fun or evil), since we didn’t they didn’t. Also when my kids were at the Holloween age, not that many kids came by our house so they assumed it must not be that big of a day if only a dozen or so kid groups came by the house.

    Most people (even Christians) associate October 31st with Holloween, but there is even a more important historical event that occured on that date. Does anyone know what that was? Even secular historians list it as one of the most significant events in history over the last 2000 years.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com/ Lore

      Reformation Day, as anyone who grew up with Halloween alternatives knows.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        Ding….ding…..ding….ding, you win a bag of delicious candy corn (from last years Holloween)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I used to like you, Brian W. But that was before you said that you don’t think candy-corn is insanely delicious.

      • Melody

        I guess you won’t like me anymore, John. :-) Never did like it myself.

      • Mindy

        Oh, goody, I’m still John’s favorite – because I LOVE candy corn! I could eat it til my teeth hurt.

        Can anyone say “sugar addiction?”

        • LSS

          i buy those mellocreme (sp?) pumpkins at halloween because you can’t find them any other time. i find them even more addictive than candy corn.

          • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            I like the “Indian corn” candy corn – the kind with the chocolate tips.

            Of course, pure gold for a kid is going to that rich person’s house where they give away whole, big Hershey bars.

          • LSS

            they used to sell the “fall mix” which had chocolate mellocreme cats, and maple(?) fall leaves as well as the pumpkins … that stuff was the best.

        • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

          Candy corn is one of the best things in this world.

          I just wish it wasn’t made with honey; I can only eat so much without getting a headache and sore throat.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Oh, you just have to plow through that phase of it, straight into that sort of buzzing pre-diabetic coma fun part, where basically your whole whole head is numb and you can’t hold a pencil.

          • LSS

            i think only the good kind is made with honey? maybe get the cheap kind? but i am not sure…

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        LOL!! Yea, I just hated that stuff when I was a kid. For one of my kids first Holloweens, my wife bought that stuff and even my kids hated it, yuk…I knew there must be some people that like it, cuzz they sell so much of it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Oh, so it’s a genetic defect. Sorry I called everyone’s attention to it. It must be so difficult for you, living with that.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            yea, we all have our faults and short comings, yours is you like candy corn…..

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            BWAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!! Brian, the hilarious side emerges. Touche.

      • cat rennolds

        candy corn is good in coffee.

    • DR

      You – you don’t like candy corn? What is this blasphemy???

      BAN WORTHY COMMENT.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        BAN WORTHY!!!!

        • DR

          I KNEW HE WAS A LOST SOUL.

  • Soulmentor

    I did Halloween as a farm kid but it was limited because mom or dad had to drive into town for it. Those were days when parents didn’t feel like they had to hover over their kids for safety. It was small town enuf to let us loose with a set time to return to a designated location.

    By the time I was a teen, we kinda grew out of it and I haven’t really believed in it since. I shared it with my sons a few times, but didn’t make a big deal of it and they got over it after a few years too. But I remember when I was older my year younger bro and Dad and I went around the neighborhood to Dad’s friends trick or treating with highball glasses with ice in them. Now THAT was a hoot…especially after a few houses.

    I regard death as something evil. Necessary evil, but evil all the same and as a young father (now single gay and 67), if I’d known about the focus today on all the horrors we see on the TV and video stores I would have said, “No way!!” Today I’m just appalled by all the gratuitist visual slasher and horror crap children are exposed to even just walking around the video store, let alone letting them watch it. Hell, mom had to take me out of the old time theater 60 years ago when the lion showed up in the Wizard of Oz. Now they think it’s entertaining to see people cut up with chain saws!!! I remember my nephew laughing uproariously when someone’s head got chopped of. Well, he became a tame photographer so I guess it didn’t totally warp him.

    So, tho on the one hand I’m appalled by it all today, I have to say I very much like the TV show THE WALKING DEAD. The premise is preposterous of course. Rotting muscles can’t possibly support movement and rotting eyes can’t possibly see and what happens to all that flesh they devour…..never mind. I have a theater degree and understand the idea of suspension of disbelief. Indeed, all theater and movies depend on that. But I like TWD for the drama, the development of interpersonal relationships and what I regard at the metaphor it is for good against evil, our better natures doing battle with our worst. There is some seriously good drama going on in that show.

    Or maybe it’s just because Andy Lincoln is soooooo gorgeous!!!!

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    At our Christian school we had to dress up as Bible characters. No cross dressing allowed (of course)……and since it was rather frowned upon to pick the (uh-hem) “women of questionable morals” and they didn’t teach us about the kick-ass girls like Judith……it made the choices fairly slim. Mary, Ruth, Mrs. Noah…..

    My friend Mary went as a lion once.

    But, man, what a costume it would have been to carry in the head of Holofernes.

  • Melanie

    I adore Halloween and the Dia de los Muertos and All Saints/Souls days. Many American Christians behave as though their denomination is the end all to Christianity and that the way we practice Christianity *is* being Christian, rather than culturally American.

    The thing that galls me is when people say “But dressing up/jack’o’lanterns/tricks are symbols of a pagan holiday!” So’s that fir tree you bring in your house at Solstice and the eggs/rabbits at Eostre.

  • Jean E. Whalen

    I don’t understand the ending of this story! What does the last sentence mean?

    • Julie

      Yeah, me too. Glad I wasn’t the only confused soul!

  • denver

    Pancake syrup had me in tears… and then the great candy corn debate. Thank you for that. :D

    PS: I look forward to Easter every year because of the Cadbury Creme Eggs. So I understand the once-a-year candy crazies. I literally eat probably a full dozen of those things every spring. I should just go to the store with an empty egg carton and fill ‘er up.

  • Sonja

    Ahahaha… haha…

    I’m celebrating Halloween by dressing up in male drag and going to a party hosted by a gay man with activities including “music, drinking, dancing, drunk dancing, and drinking”.

    Yep, very Christian. :D Just kidding. I love Halloween, just because the world turns upside-down for a weekend and everyone can get out of themselves and have fun. I’m aware that Halloween does have a dark side, and it is a time to be cautious in our revelry, but I’ve never understood why people are so anxious about their kids dressing up in costume and getting candy. If a kid wants to be Dracula for Halloween, that doesn’t mean he’s going to turn into a Satan-worshiping goth who believes that he really is the Prince of Darkness. It means he wants to be in a scary costume. Period.

    I say, dress up, stay safe (parents, chaperone the trick-or-treating children), and HAVE FUN. :D

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Sonja: Perfect. Perfectly said.

  • Jeannie

    Halloween was my all time favorite holiday! I loved it. I loved being able to be out after dark. I love the safely scarey stuff. I loved the costumes and of course I loved the candy. That is until I got to be about 10 and my mom brother and I all became “born again” watching the 700 club. Then Halloween was placed in the pile of stuff that no good Christian should ever have anything to do with. I mean to flirt with the darkness like that might even be inviting demonic oppression or possession right? Yeah, I actually believed that.

    So, at the ripe old age of 10 I hung up my trick or treat bag and retired to staying home on Halloween. I answered the door and gave candy to other kids who no doubt were innocent of the dark evil they were participating in. (Blissfully unware – lucky dogs!)

    So glad that’s over. At least I get to relive it with my kids. I took both of them out dressed as a ninja from my favorite manga (gasp! no good Christian reads comics or manga either), my older girl was a Pokemon (demon) and my little girl was a vampire (oh God, we are all so going to hell).

    I wish I could say that I laugh at this stuff now. I kinda do. I kinda don’t. This stupidity robbed me of a lot of good stuff from my childhood. Of course, they also robbed me of a lot of cool stuff that should have happened during my teenage years and young adulthood, but that’s a different story for another time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.sewell Doug Sewell via Facebook

    wouldn’t it be “les archives” ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    How would I know? I barely speak English.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.sewell Doug Sewell via Facebook

    :-)

  • Jill Hileman via Facebook

    Just made me laugh out loud.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.sewell Doug Sewell via Facebook

    John, I appreciate you … your passion and honesty stir me, even when I disagree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Ha, ha, Doug Sewell! It’s funny to think of anyone ever disagreeing with me. Good one.

  • Janie

    I grew up in a ‘sunday christian’ kind of home. My husband grew up Baptist (hands to your side…not hands in the air Baptist) We always enjoyed Halloween. I remember my parents “checking my candy”. I’m thinking this sounds eerily similar to me “checking the candy” to make sure the chocolate is fresh. Tonight was the first time in 37 years that I haven’t dressed up. I’m thinking that my darling husband made up for it by dressing as a Zombie Preacher. Who does that? So if you are looking for an answer to the question….No. It encourages violence (pushing down children for candy). Gluttony ( I can eat a lot of candy corn and peanut butter cups) among other things. Damn….I can’t wait until next year.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Man, I don’t suppose you have a photo you can share with us of your husband dressed up as a Zombie Preacher?????

      Thank you for this. It was delightful.

  • http://www.christenhansel.wordpress.com Christen

    This was hilarious! My favorite part of Halloween is that it’s such a community holiday. On all the other holidays, people are together with their families, which is special in its own way, but I love what it feels like to have the whole neighborhood out and feeling like a real community. I think it’s too bad for Christians to feel like they shouldn’t be part of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.withee.1 Kelly Withee via Facebook

    I’m a Christian, and I love Halloween! Great writing, John. :-)

  • Dan(Chicago)

    One day I’ll write a short story about this, but when I was still in my charismatic/pentecostal mode, I was guilted into taking on the annual Harvest Fest(the children’s director was new to her post and preferred the role of thorn in my side rather than the lead role), during which we celebrated someone somewhere harvesting their crops. The church was in the north side of the city of Chicago in one of the densest urban neighborhoods in the country. The basement of the church was decorated with gourds and colored corn cobs and hay stacks, no hint of ghosts or goblins until later when we opened the doors to the neighborhood children, hoping our Jesus puppet show would turn the little witches and mummies into soldiers for Jesus. Directing an event of this size — we had 900 children coming thru the church doors — was headache enough, but a good portion of the church believed that even our Harvest Festival was of the devil, so they held an alternative event(which took away many of my volunteers) in the church sanctuary, bringing in a fiery evangelist who preached not too subtly against the goings on in the church basement. Hard to believe now that I was such a smuck! Memories.

  • Mari Baynard

    Um, I’m a Christian… and if they say that “Halloween” is wrong, and bad bad… very bad holiday, then i’ll say “WHAT BOOK CHAPTER AND VERSE DOES IT SAY THAT HALLOWEEN IS BAD??” honestly, if halloween is a sin, then so is being in drama/theatre arts, or being a actress period.You constantly dress up and act like something that you’re not! WHAT ABOUT THE PASSOVER MOVIE? THE GUY THAT PLAYED SATAN? IS HE ACTUALLY GOING TO HELL, B/C HE “PLAYED” SATAN!? i roll my eyes, @ Halloween being something as… “The devil’s birthday.” It is a day where u can dress up as a fictional character… or real one, and get candy. That is it. NOthing wrong with it. My dad is a very Godly person, and he will make me boycott something in a heart beat that may be considered suggestive in the Christian community. But as for Halloween… even he allows us to celebrate it, we just can’t be a dark character/villain, and things of that sort. Friendly-scary costumes are okay, like a spiderweb queen… or the wife on the Addams family. But being a “witch” or “darth vador” (although my brother was that two years ago… <..> ) so we cheated. Nobody’s perfect. I gotta work it. –hannah montana. (she noted a bible verse in her song! How Holy is she!?) -note sarcasm. But anywho yeah, NO dark evil like costumes! and if he participated, he’d would freaking put Bible Verses taped to each candy he’d give out! See Christians, be creative! Bottom line.

    Fellow Christians… Celebrating halloween is not a sin. Nothing wrong with it. But How you celebrate it could be sinful!

    So, maybe put a Bible verse on each candy you give out! Or make your child dress up in a Good-guy Costume! Or just go to the Fall Festivals! But even if you do dress up in a freaking… idk “witch” costume… ur not going to go to hell…. -___-. Just make sure your not a real witch.

  • Bones

    My wife asked me what Halloween was abut the other say as our kids are interested. It’s slowly catching on in Australia. I knew it had something to do with All Saints Day but for most of my Christian walk I was told how evil it was. I decided to check it out to tell my kids the truth.

    I couldn’t find anything that backed up the occultic claims I’ve heard about Halloween.

    It seems Christians have been watching too many horror movies.

    Btw my kids didn’t go out.

    I’m not convinced it’s all that safe knocking on people’s doors we don’t know.


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