I don’t mark it as a societal progression that more homes on my block, which we moved into recently, were dark than I expected. I’d say a good half of the homes in our neighborhood target trick-or-treating area were dark. Maybe the families had other plans, maybe they were out of town, maybe they practice a faith that doesn’t allow trick-or-treating…
If it is the latter, then I refer to my former comment. I simply don’t count trick-or-treating as a sign of the apocalypse or the coming of satan or any other such nonsense. I say this as a Christian, as a man of faith. Sometimes a tradition is just a tradition–and while I confess that Halloween is not a real “treat” for me, since I became an adult I’ve never much enjoyed it, I certainly don’t frown its coming and I don’t think God is worried about what it means to our decadent society. I mean, I’m more inclined to think God might be concerned about other injustices and degradations–rather than Halloween.
Do some take it too far? As is the case in all human activities, yes–of course. Some see it as an excuse to escape their own identities and become someone else (though there is some psychological evidence that this done in moderation–can be healthy) and ignore their own humanity. Some use it as an excuse for gluttony and indulgence. Some even use it as a sort of time when evil can rear its head into the everyday world–owning us and guiding us if only for that day. But those are extremists….And we’re not all extremists.
Some of us have fond memories of growing up in Midwest towns where trick-or-treating meant a cold night, jackets put on over costumes, wandering the street and collecting candy. Some of us remember bobbing for apples, dipping them in carmel and eating them by candelight. We even remember autumn leaves making their last effort to cling to the branches, frayed and brittled by the late weather, and falling at our feet as we trudged on to fill the pillowcase, or the bag–with treats from our neighbors.
We don’t remember our church telling us not to go trick-or-treating. We don’t remember so much discussion about the supposed evils of dressing up in costume and enriching our chocolate inventory. We don’t remember why it is that jack-o-lanterns and fresh pumpkins, skeletons and ghosts, bats and witches–are bad for us. We think they’re cute–and sometimes funny. Sometimes, they’re even scary–and scary can be fun, too.
If Halloween disappears, if enough people lose interest, will it be the end of the world? No, certainly not. I don’t think I’d even mourn its passing too much. Neither, however, does Halloween signify the end of the world, some sort of apocalyptic, necromancing, evil-baiting ritual that only pagans, ne’er do wells and rapscallions enjoy….
It’s just a day, fallen from so many other days of our past. It began, like so many traditions, as a celebration of the harvest–and in some places, a feast before All Saints Day. In some places, it was the eve before “Dia Del Mureto,” the day of the dead–All Saints Day when we pay homage to those who went before. Whatever it is to you, or to your family—it’s a tradition. Worth ending? Maybe. But…then again the tyranny of tradition isn’t that we must obey it; it’s that we don’t know why we do.