Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Harvest Party or Halloween Party?

Harvest PartyMany parents, for varied reasons, are getting out of the traditional Halloween spirit of trick or treating. For some parents it is a fear of their children getting a hold of tampered with candy or being bullied by older and stronger gangs of teens who really shouldn’t be trick or treating in the first place.  For other parents it can be a decison based on religious beliefs.

Religion

Many of today’s parents who are Christians themselves when polled identified Christmas as their favorite holiday as a child. Many of those same parents chose Halloween as one of their favorite holidays as a child too. Alas, that was before we got so very, very politically correct and before just about everyone was offended by something or another.

Safety

In the 1970’s and 1980’s there were reports of razor blades and needles being put into apples being handed out to trick or treating children. Around the same time there were reports that candy and taffy were being laced with poison.

To my personal knowledge these incidents ended up being unfounded but Ann Landers and Dear Abby spoke of the dangers of trick or treating, and all over America concerned parents began to make changes to their Halloween traditions by either closely monitoring their children’s activities or changing their activities altogether when it came to Halloween and trick or treating.

Church sponsored parties for neighboring children first became popular in the 1980’s. During the hours of trick or treating it was common to find the church doors open offering children an alternative to traditional trick or treating. These alternatives still had every kid’s favorite part of the holiday – candy, but also included games and an overall safer way to spend the night. It was also common for churches to rather demonize Halloween by labeling it a pagan holiday. This was the start of Harvest parties replacing the trick or treating and scary Halloween parties.

To replace the door to door trick or treating or Halloween parties, some parents also considering Harvest or Fall parties. These are basically a watered down version of the traditional Halloween.

This leads us to wonder:

Where Exactly Did the Worry About Halloween in Christianity Come From?

Follow along as we see how it all came to be that many Christian parents’ now choose to celebrate Harvest without the “evil” and scary side of Halloween.

The Celtic’s celebrate the end of summer on Halloween by sacrificing to the gods of the Druidic tradition. Their belief was that the lord of death (Samhain) would send out evil spirits to attack the living. The only protection from the lord of death was for them to disguise themselves as evil beings or spirits, thus the costumes.

Wicca followers celebrate Halloween as one of two high and “holy” days. Following the Celtic belief as outlined above and worshipping Samhain, Halloween becomes a very evil day in the eyes of the Christian believer.

Fourth Century Christians, in an attempt to get away from this evil, began to focus and celebrate Christian saints. This is what we now know as All Saints Day on November 1st. It was during this time that parents, realizing that they could not completely get away from this day, began to allow their children to dress up in costumes that were non-evil such as brides, princesses, pumpkins and football players.

October 31st and Halloween will come each year. I hope this brief history on the emerging Harvest parties and Halloween will give you some insight when choosing how you will spend this day.

No matter which tradition you follow, be safe!

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2 Responses

August 28, 2010
Deborah Hart

Halloween has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday, and I have been around for more than for half a century. But just like Christmas, the EXTREME commercialization of it over the years have all but ruined the fun! Not to mention they way it has become “watered down” (for all of the reasons you mentioned in your article.) I still look forward to decorating, but don’t care at all for the cartoonish look of the stuff that’s sold these days. I am so glad I have managed to hang on to most of my decorations down through the years. Now they call my kinda stuff “vintage”.I never could understand the cutesy-tootsie costumes either, and even though I had to “let it go”, it even bugged me when my 2 daughters used to choose that type almost every year.
I still feel compelled to dress up myself (most years as a witch, although I have also been a pirate several times), and can’t really remember a year in my life when I didn’t. There may have been a cpl., but no doubt it depressed me so much much that I have blocked those memories out. Now I have 3 grandkids, and I only wish that we all lived in the same town, so I could be the one to take them trick-or-treating. I love pumpkin patches too, and carving jack-o-lanterns, and for as long as I can in this life I will always celebrate Halloween (hopefully) the old-fashioned way!


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