Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to fantasy, games, dress-up, and such. And if you promise not to tell anyone: I’ve read most everything Stephen King has written. Harry Potter? Used to be opposed, now I’ve read ’em all.
I’m just not interested in celebrating this feast.
I did as a kid. It was a parent thing. (Hi Mom!) That and, well, a candy thing. When I got older I was confused. One year, honest to goodness, we had a Haunted House IN the church! [Folks, even now I get the willies just recalling it.] Like the Haunted House rides at the Fair, it was more silly than spooky. But, you gotta admit, Wee Erd.
Much has changed since I was a jitter-bug. More people are more kooky. And not all Christian “histories of Halloween” are accurate. [Here’s my own collection of lore from ago — along with its “correction.”]
I used to provide letters to parents asking school administrators to excuse Orthodox kids from Halloween celebrations.
As mentioned in one of the posts linked above, my son really wants to participate in Trick-or-Treat and revels in any and all Halloween decorations. Just the other day he told his 3-year old sister, “Helen … we don’t celebrate Halloween. But, when you get to be a grown-up, you can if you want to. Right, Dad?”
Right … son.
Okay, so here’s the hypocrite part. Back at Nashotah House, there was a legend of the Black Monk. You can read it here. It was our first year in seminary and they were taking all the seminarians’ kids on a wagon ride trick-or-treating. I was in my really anti-Halloween twisted phase. We didn’t have kids; there was no reason for us to go, but everyone knew my proclivities.
Then something got into me. I remembered a ghoulish mask that I’d packed away in a back closet. We’d used it in some radio gig and, for some reason, I still had it. When I heard the tractor and wagon approaching our apartment on the return trip, I quickly donned a cassock and the hooded mask and went and stood by the road. Motionless. Staring. Those kids screamed their heads off! (My wife couldn’t believe what I was doing.)
After they’d passed, I ran into the apartment, de-costumed, and walked down to where all the hub-bub was to bask in my ghoulish glory.
One of the students, a Middler, rushed up to me and said, “That was great! Man! You were awesome!”
Speechless, I just stood and smiled at him. Then he said, “You really got us good when you were standing in the cemetery!”
(Uh, folks … though I never told him, I didn’t go up to the cemetery that night.)
That said, for those interested — listen to Fr George Morelli’s excellent (and gentle) expose on this very non-Orthodox celebration.