Friday, October 15, 2010


A friend from Australia recently asked me to explain America's love affair with Halloween. She just "didn't get" our preoccupation with the holiday, as a Christian nation. After some thought, I confessed that our infatuation more likely was tied to the sugary treats and the chance to dress up as adults, than actually celebrating the day of the dead.

Long before churches began holding fall festivals as a trick or treating alternative, I dressed my children in costumes and drove them around the neighborhood just like the next mom. I even baked pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies for their class parties. But in the last few decades, there has been a disturbing shift in the trend.

First, Kleenex ghosts appeared hanging from trees. Not too dangerous, that. Next someone stuffed a pair of jeans and humorously stuck them in the middle of one of those huge round bales of hay. Quite funny. But then, makeshift graveyards began appearing in residential yards. And now, it has become an art form. Every year, the decorations get darker and darker. At this point several weeks before Halloween, it seems that no holds are barred. Anything goes. The raunchier the better. And it grieves my heart.

The Celt and Druid origins of the customs we blindly practice are not pleasant things. I doubt many who observe the holiday really understand its origin. Some dismiss it simply as one night of fun during the year. But I think it’s time we stop walking the same path of the person in front of us, and take a look at where we are going. Decide for yourself what you want to participate in and what you do not.

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