Today is All Hallows Eve ... or Halloween as it's more commonly known. It's on the 'Eve' of All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. It's difficult to imagine with all the hype that goes along with it today, that it had anything to do with honouring the Saints of God at some point!
There is such a dark, almost evil element to the 'holiday' now, and since moving to the States I've noticed what a HUGE commercialised event it is to celebrate out here. Way, way, WAY, more than I ever imagined it would be from the UK, where the Brits efforts are positively pathetic compared to their American counterparts.
While there is a totally harmless side to it all, with all kinds of fun and ingenious costumes there are also the more spooky elements on display ... with toddlers running around pretending to be zombies, monsters, wrapped up as mummy's, with fake blood dripping from their mouths and necks or as scary skeletons.
Call me old fashioned but is it really necessary to expose such little ones to all that stuff so early? It may seem harmless but there is also the more sinister side that surely they really don't need to be aware of just yet. Abigail won't even walk down the aisle in the store that sells those things because she finds them scary, she's certainly not going to wear any of them! Even all the kids tv channels this week put their most 'spooktacular' episodes on back-to-back to celebrate Halloween. Overkill ... needless to say it's been more DVD's than TV this week in our house!
Trick or treating is a much more organised business here in Ohio. There is a designated couple of hours, one evening which is well publicised in advance where if someone is on their front porch it means they welcome 'trick or treaters' and will have all kinds of goodies ready for them. So, I will admit, it is relatively safe and fun. Back at home I know of older folk (and younger ones too!) who dread Halloween and hearing their doorbells ring, for fear of who or what will be on the other side and if they stick a 'no trick or treating' sign up on their door, can find that they get their house 'egged' because they're not entering into the spirit of things! Nice!
In a culture, here in the States, that is acceptably so much more Christian than we're allowed to be by law in the UK, it surprised us that Churches celebrate Halloween here too ... the same way as everyone else, just on their premises. Costumes, trunk or treat (going round to the trunk/boots of people's cars in the church carpark to get the goodies rather than going door-to-door) etc. Almost embracing it rather than being the light in the midst of it.
Back in the UK, I have been used to churches organising 'Light Parties' on Halloween. Fun without the sinister, using it as an opportunity to draw attention to and praise God rather than embrace the encroaching darkness of the world today, particularly on October 31st when it all just gets that little bit darker.
We have successfully missed 'celebrating' Halloween each year we've lived here as we've usually been back in the UK visiting visas. This year however we have been surrounded by it. Wondering what the correct response to the cashier at the store is when they greet you with 'Happy Halloween'. Trying to work out how to explain it all to Abigail who is full of questions.
In the build up to Halloween, Abigail was telling us she didn't like it because all the advertising made it look 'too scary'. I was relieved! Then she saw an advert where a little girl was dressed up as a princess and from that point on she was hooked, saying 'I like Halloween', 'On Halloween I'm going to be a princess'. And she made a very beautiful Rapunzel for both our church event last weekend and for pre-school this morning ...
All I can say is, I'm very grateful that we'll soon be moving on somewhere where all this hype and marketing won't affect us when it comes to Halloween. It won't hurt our girls one bit, to grow up slightly more protected from it all until they're just a little bit older.
I know, I know, I'm a fuddy-duddy ... but on this topic, I really don't care!