Halloween is Harmless

It happens every October. A handful of particularly uptight Christians prohibit their children from participating in Halloween, because they consider it “satanic.”

While a parent has every right to control his child’s activities, I think the claim is just plain silly.

The implication that the Prince of Darkness, if you believe in such, would count it a coup that kids annually garb up and tramp around the neighborhood collecting candy, is ridiculous. I mean, can you picture Satan sitting in Hell, rubbing his hooves together in satisfaction of his great “victory” that youngsters dressed as firemen, werewolves, ballerinas and mermaids are engaging in the dastardly act of eating too much chocolate? It makes the devil sound more like Dr. Evil (from “Austin Powers”) than evil incarnate, some goofball with cappuccino froth on his nose and a lamebrain plan to conquer the world. Gee, maybe the “Antichrist,” whom fundamentalists are on the lookout for, will be nothing more than a drunken frat boy toilet papering people’s lawns. Oh, the horror!

But notice that the Halloween-hating Christians have a double standard when it comes to holidays. For example, they typically gripe that the commercialization of Christmas detracts from the true “reason for the season” (an anti-capitalist sentiment not shared by this writer). Well, if you accept the premise that flashy advertising and romps to the mall undermine the supposed meaning of Christmas, wouldn’t that hold true also for Satan’s alleged holiday? In other words, wouldn’t the crass commercialization of Halloween –the cheezy costumes, plastic pumpkins, brightly-packaged candy, and the like– upset so-called satanists by belittling their special, “evil” day? Well, then, instead of boycotting Halloween, Christians ought to actually encourage its commercialization so as to “demean” it in the same manner they feel Christmas gets demeaned.

Regardless, there are some attributes of Halloween that religionists should adore. For example, the little trick-or-treaters aren’t out stealing candy– as that ole’ commandment-breaking devil would have them do–but instead are reminded by accompanying parents to say “thank you” to contributors–an exercise in politeness that Beelzebub must find most distressing.

Moreover, you’d think protesting Christians would at least affirm the Halloween practice of donating food to children, even strangers, who show up on one’s doorstep, i.e., handing out goodies. But apparently that won’t fly, because it’s not genuine altruism: the kids aren’t really beggars going hungry and the “hand-outs” don’t involve sacrifice. If however our streets were filled with starving orphans rapping on doors and crying for table scraps, then that would be something Christians could really sink their teeth into; they’d gladly honor a holiday associated with those circumstances. But since Halloween consists of make-up caked kids having fun instead of dirt-caked urchins begging food, Christendom hasn’t much use for it.

In truth, the fake blood, “spider webs,” and plastic fangs that typically accessorize October 31st are nowhere near as gruesome as some of the ceremonies and paraphernalia related to Christian tradition. Indeed, churches are adorned with imagery of a man nailed to a cross, blood running down his pain-contorted face. And if children don’t find that disturbing enough, there’s the ritual in which Christians actually pretend to drink blood and eat flesh, which sounds more like something out of “Dracula” or “Night of the Living Dead” than it does communion with anything holy.

So come on, all ye faithful, lighten up. Church services may run like a B-grade movie, but Halloween is just a little candy, costumes and fun.