I’ve been a parent for nearly 34 years. Like most parents might attest, I have gone through numerous stages in my parenting journey over the course of the three-plus decades that I’ve been on the job. Various factors have an impact on the overall ebb and flow of my parenting tide, including but not limited to my own increasing age, the number of children I happen to have had at any given time and hopefully, a continued development of my own education and life experience, wisdom, spiritual development and all such good things.
There’s a particularly controversial topic that rears its ugly head every year that I have finally become more comfortable discussing: Halloween. If you want to observe an all-out contentious mommy war on Facebook or other social network, you need only do a quick search using Halloween as a keyword and there will be no shortage of posts; I assure you.
In my experience, I have learned that human beings will generally find ways to justify any behavior they wish to pursue, whether said behavior can be objectively proved as bad or is an action, custom, tradition or thought process that is quite subjective and neither inherently good or bad.
When it comes to Halloween, any number of arguments can be made regarding its origin, supposed spiritual contexts of the celebration, tradition, secular norms, etc. My own history in celebrating or not celebrating this holiday with my family has also evolved and, at certain points along the way, has repeated itself, then changed again.
The great thing about being in my 50s as opposed to my 30s is that along with time that has added gray hair to my head, pounds to my hips and lessons to my heart through years of daily living experience, I have grown more confident in who I am and have gained the courage to live life according to what I believe is best for me, not what I think I should think or say or do because of what others think or say or do. This sometimes leads to quizzical looks or acrimonious reactions in others; in fact, it sometimes leads to outright persecution but at least I have inner peace that I am no longer slave to the worry and anxiety that comes from comparing myself to others or guiding my own life decisions out of fear of how others perceive me.
This freedom and liberation have allowed me to change, eliminate or add various customs, traditions or habits to my life and to incorporate or un-incorporate certain things from my family’s lifestyle as I see fit rather than to continue keeping up with the Joneses or to celebrate something simply because it is typical for life in America.
Regarding Halloween, my ultimate decision to not celebrate it came as a sort of epiphany when I was weighing the benefits or downsides as I saw them when the season was oncoming, a few years ago. If you can picture that virtual image of the little light bulb suddenly and unexpectedly illuminating as portrayed in visual graphics that show epiphanies, you’ll have a good idea of exactly how I felt when it hit me like a ton of bricks that I no longer wanted to celebrate something I could not define.
When I ask my children what or whom we celebrate, as well as why we celebrate a particular holiday, they can usually swiftly, easily and thoroughly provide an answer. For instance, when I ask why we celebrate Christmas, they typically say that we do so to honor the day that Jesus Christ was born on earth and that we want to take time to remember that event and to celebrate our belief that Jesus is the Savior of the World which is why we are glad He was born. If ask why we celebrate Thanksgiving, my kids say that we do so to give thanks to God for His many blessings in our lives, in particular the abundance of food we have for our tables.
However, when I ask, “Why do we celebrate or what or whom do we celebrate on Halloween?” no one can answer. At times, one or another of my children have said that the holiday is really All Hallows Eve and is a holy day in our Catholic Faith but that doesn’t really foot the bill for me because with minimal research I was able to point out that All Hallows Eve is meant (according to the history of our faith) to be a vigil toward the holy day that follows, All Saints Day, which is November 1 and which is also a day when we often have costume parties and special festivities. Vigils are typically kept through prayer, fasting and worship, none of which coincide with the typical celebrating we see throughout the nation on Halloween.
There are 100s of available explanations and justifications as to why various groups of people celebrate Halloween but they all leave me with the unanswered question as to what exactly is being celebrated. Yes, there are costumes and candy and trips from door to door but “what” or “whom” are we celebrating? Why are we doing that? Beyond the fact that I decided to not celebrate Halloween because I can’t definitively state what the celebration is about, I also spend the rest of the year trying to get my kids to avoid white, processed sugar, so from a health standpoint, it seemed logical to ditch this holiday as well. At Easter, I am able to control what goes into their baskets and I will often include healthy options to the traditional processed sugary treats (Okay, so I’m guilty of adding a chocolate cross or Skittles here or there but you get the idea.) and other meaningful items.
In short, it was quite a liberating feeling for me to decide that I no longer wanted to celebrate something I could not explain or define. I tell my kids they are free to have a costume party at any time if they want to dress up and have fun with their friends. We can call it, “Random Costume Day!”
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.