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Friday, 16 October 2009

Halloween Ponderings

Halloween has been on my mind for a few weeks now thanks to a not so lovely display of horror masks, devil's forks etc. in our local Coop. Through Heather's Halloween post, I found this interesting article on whether Christians should celebrate Halloween. I do actually agree with a lot of the points Dr Bucher makes but in my experience, whilst the activities of trick or treating and Halloween parties may not be morally objectionable, the obligatory costumes which go with them are.

Aside from needing to prevent Little Girl from grabbing the devils forks and Halloween sweets every time we go to the shop, the only thing different to last year is we need to decide how to deal with trick or treaters. I think the first two years we were married we happened to be out on Halloween anyway and after that people didn't bother so we never had to deal with them. This year however, we live in a house which most people in our estate pass on the way to school and they will have noticed that we are new people in our house so there is a high likelihood of people calling.

We could view people coming to our house asking us to give them something as an opportunity to give them something of greater worth than sweets (which rot your teeth) and give them say a children's story bible:

I know some people give tracts but I think a children's bible is probably more likely to be kept and read and has more content in it too. We are unsure whether it is a good idea to encourage what could be considered to be begging* by giving anything out at all even if it isn't what they are expecting but in Acts 3, Peter healed the beggar who asked for money.

The alternative of course would be to just not answer the door but this seems like such a waste of an opportunity.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

*Since this has been a bit controversial I feel I should add a bit of clarification. When I used the term "begging", the definition I had in my mind was something like this: "Begging is the practice whereby a person obtains money, food, shelter or other things from people they encounter by request." (Which can be found at the bottom of this page.) I was not trying to imply that trick or treaters are beggars in the usual meaning of the term "beggar" any more than a person who runs once a year could be considered to be a runner. Also the trick or treaters I am talking about are unaccompanied children knocking on the doors of random strangers who have done nothing to solicit such calls - I am not talking about children accompanied by their parents calling on people who have indicated they welcome such calls. My only experience of trick or treating is the former and I have never come across the latter in real life. I am sorry I caused offence with my choice of words.


Just Me said...

I do think the Bible story book is a great idea,something I might do if we ever got trick or treaters.

I have to say though, I don't consider trick or treaters to be beggars. We haven't trick or treated in years ,but when we did , my kids politely went to the door and said "trick or treat". The people that choose to hand out candy, did it happily. They purposely and specifically purchased the candy for the occasion. I don't know how that would equate to begging.
I appreciated Heather's post. I think it certainly gave a logical perspective,most posts(not all) I've read are "you are evil if you celebrate Halloween by trick or treating" or "your a staunch legalist if you don't".

Saved Sinner said...

Thanks for your comment Just Me. I hope I didn't come across as offensive with the begging comment - I deliberately put "could be considered" because it is not how everyone views it and it is a description which can be open to interpratation in many different ways (e.g. you appear to understand it to mean that the people concerned are bad mannered whereas I do not). If I did sound offensive, I apologise as that was not my intention.

Heather said...

Susan, I agree with the above commenter about the "begging" aspect. Where we live, the people who give out candy do so because they love to see all the little kids, so we certainly don't consider trick-or-treating to be begging. Those who don't want to participate don't turn their porch lights on, and so the kids don't stop at their houses.

Our house is rather isolated, so we don't get trick-or-treaters, and also we're usually out with our own kids anyway. However, I think my kids would be thrilled to get a bible storybook.

Saved Sinner said...

I'm thinking maybe there are slight differences in how trick or treating works here vs. the US.

Here there is no particular way of indicating whether or not trick or treaters are welcome and lots of children go round unsupervised knocking on the doors of complete strangers.

Going to people you know and to people who you know want to give stuff out is a bit different to going round knocking on random strangers' doors.

My elderly Auntie actually feels very intimidated by trick or treaters - she gets people calling up to a week before Halloween despite putting a note on her doors.

I think having a system like you describe where people can choose to opt in or out of having callers makes a big difference.

Saved Sinner said...

I've added a clarification to my post which I hope helps.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

Hello Susan
I'm inclined to think you are right about the difference between the US and here.
We don't have a 'sign' to indicate that trick or treaters are welcome. They tend to just knock on every door and the kid in the Freddy Kruger mask holds out a bag and says "trick or treat". I hate it. I don't answer the door anymore because the costumes are so scary they frighten our younger children.
I think that traditionally Halloween in the US was much more child/family friendly with fun costumes etc.
My impression is that here it is typically a bit more 'aggressive' with lots of ghoulish costumes and teenagers banging on the door shouting 'trick or treat'.

Buffy said...

Well strictly speaking when children I have never seen before knock on my door and ask for goodies I suppose they are begging. I live in England like you, of course so I think maybe the whole trick and treat thing works differently in the US. Actually I had one charming group do damage to my front door when I didn't open it (I was in the bath). So at that point it looked rather like extortion to me.

I think there may be ways to celebrate Halloween that are OK but trick or treating is not one of them. Good luck with the bible stories.

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