One commenter wondered if we celebrated Halloween or if I had any ideas on alternatively celebrating this holiday. I'm a bit hesitant to enter this topic - but since it has been on my mind as well and with my hubby's approval - I will share my opinion. And, it is just that - an opinion. Each family will need to decide for themselves what they feel is right and what God has called them to do.
Many of you may be like me ~ you have happy memories of dressing up in lovely costumes such as princesses, angels, a clown or pumpkin. Fun memories of deciding what your costume would be and then the thrill of picking up your plastic pumpkin to head out the door and gather treats at the neighbors. Upon arriving home, you may have been like my sister and I where we would dump everything out and begin to trade with each other!
Today, Halloween feels very different to me. First, of all because I am a mom and have small ones in my care - I see things through their eyes and there are many stores we won't go in right now because of all the frightening things. Second, because I'm still trying to get a grip on how I really do feel about this holiday and what it looks like for my family.
We have opted not to celebrate Halloween, but that does not mean I am not on the lookout for other ways to bring fun into my home!
In a quick search of the history of Halloween, I was hoping to somehow be able to pull a thread of hope that could be tied to Christian character or principles - this would be my obvious choice of how to celebrate the holiday! However, I could find no such thing. From what I could find - it was a pagan holiday from the beginning celebrating nothing that is honoring to our Father.
One reference did mention that in the beginning the holiday centered around the end of the Harvest season and ushered in the winter. Ok, that is something I can go with! While I realize that this was merely the timing of the holiday is minor in comparison to the actual purpose and representation - I think I will choose to focus on the Harvest theme in our family.
Here are a few ideas that have come to mind:
~ One idea of course is to simply avoid celebrating at all. And, I have done this too. But, there are so many wonderful things about the Harvest season - this would be a wonderful opportunity to share some of these things with our families.
~ In recent days, I've wondered if a smaller scale Homespun Harvest would be our best bet for this holiday. Bobbing for apples, playing old fashioned games, etc... Here are a few thoughts on planning your own.
~ My Mom just mentioned to me about a group who does "Trunk or Treat" ~ all the families meet in the church parking lot and let their littles dress up. They go around from trunk to trunk collecting treats - very creative!
~ Last year, we did a pumpkin theme - tying a spiritual message into the carving of pumpkins.
~ This year, I think we may do a little costume party for our Family Night. After all, dressing up can be a very fun thing for children and to see their parents do so too! I think we will make mini caramel apples and carve our pumpkins.
~ Many churches now host parties for families to attend. These parties can vary greatly - some encourage dressing up and have carnival games while others discourage dressing up and focus on the Harvest feeling with hayrides and a huge potluck picnic. Either way, these are a great option!
In Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests several options:
* A Pumpkin-Carving Party: obvious activity of carving; serve cider, popcorn and taffy apples. For younger children - provide small pumpkins and gourds with craft supplies to decorate.
* All Hallows' Eve Home Frolic, "Mrs. Sharp says it is time to turn the focus of this old-fashioned young people's holiday back to where it belongs: in the home."
~ bobbing for apples, apples suspended from ceiling, Nut Shower (English walnuts have been cracked open and had small trinkets put inside - reglue shells together) guests gather nuts and crack open to find surprises.
~ Supper partners are found by following a trail of yarn which will connect two friends to dine together. What does she serve? Vegetable soup, sandwiches cut in Halloween shapes, stuffed baked potatoes, popcorn balls, pecan tarts, pumpkin muffins and cider.
~ After dinner more games are included. And, she concludes, "Halloween offers us all the opportunity to remember that the most potent magic spell any parent can cast is the one that makes the home a place where the family's happiest hours are spent."
* Harvest Home, "the traditional Victorian English celebration after all the gathering in the fields had been completed. Over a community feast, families would come together to rejoice in their bounty of blessings." She suggests that All Saints' Day (November 1st) is an ideal time to celebrate this occasion.
Now that I've written this post - I can see that even just processing these things this way has been helpful to me in forming my opinion for our family! What stands out to me from the above is focusing our celebration on home and harvest. Fun and charming! We can enjoy the blessings of the season while teaching our children about where they came from and beginning to enter into the season of giving thanks.
I think a good point is that we don't want our children to feel left out because we don't celebrate Halloween, but to have so much fun doing other things that they don't even miss it!
I am interested in learning how your family handles this and simply ask that you keep your comments positive and edifying.