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Halloween: Where Have We Gone Wrong?

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I walk through the halls of my high school, watching people in costume go by. The general conversation is about the big Halloween party after school, or trick or treating with friends. The occasional comment is made about it being an “excuse to dress up as a slut with no one complaining”. At that, I nodded my head in total agreement and made my way to class. For me, Halloween is a time for me to curl up with a book, shake my head and ask in despair, “Where have we gone wrong?”


Being 16, I know what it’s been like growing up in a culture where everyone is portrayed as equal, life is made of innocent fun, and we are shaped and molded by the media and the delusions passed on around us. Halloween is one such delusion. A holiday that originated as a celebration of the devil and spirits, we now turn it into simply a time to let go, get candy, dress up, and have fun. But when does this go too far?

I was listening recently to the nationally syndicated Michael Medved Show. He was arguing with his wife, Dr. Diane Medved, about how Halloween is based on evil, and asking her to list some positive things about it. Her first point was imagination. Supposedly, it gives kids a chance to express themselves through dressing up as various personas. In most cases, the child doesn’t care what they wear, as long as they get the candy they came looking for and get to eat it themselves. There are much better outlets with which to express imagination than dressing up once a year. Have them educated! As Hester Prynne say in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, “Be a scholar and a sage among the wisest and the most renowned of the cultivated world. Preach! Write! Act!” Teach your children to love music, to read and draw! That will be their future someday… not putting on costumes.

Dr. Medved went on to argue that this is one day out of the year for people, especially parents, to let go and slacken up a little on rules and activity. It makes me sick to think that she could sit there placing Halloween as a perfectly innocent thing when I can vouch that almost a quarter of my school will be using their parents' slack rules on this day to go and party. I cannot judge them all, but I live in an environment where that’s all the rage. So when parents and kids alike let go, all it does is feed the need for more and broader freedom to destroy them at a young age. When parents lose the ability to control or even know who their child truly is anymore, they have lost all power to raise them as is fit to give them the best life possible.

Another point Dr. Medved attempted to make was that the costume one decides to wear is a choice. If they want to show off most of their body, that’s okay. This was another point when I wanted to shout at the radio. Having your daughter (or son, should he choose to do so) go to school dressed promiscuously and portraying a “slutty” figure should not be a casual thing. The holiday has been twisted not only to ignore the fact of the original base in Satanism, but now to excuse improper attire and public appearance. Just because one has a body does not mean that the world wants to see that body shown off. I certainly don’t.

When mankind has seen fit to incorporate lies and excuses into culture today, it’s only taking away from the true values that should be taught to all. Halloween has evolved from a Satanic celebration to a free-for-all that centers around evil and commercialism. When we fail to realize this, and then are deluded ourselves into being blinded from the truth, we are opening up a whole new world of rationalization. What will be next? Sexual rampages? Free drug use? Chaotic, uncontrolled violence? All of these things seem like a mere worry for the future. But, all it takes is a single spark, and the allowance for society’s downfall will spread like wildfire. If Halloween is that spark, then who knows what we are getting ourselves into?

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  • Evan

    Let them eat candy!

    Seriously though, lighten up.

  • “A holiday that originated as a celebration of the devil and spirits”

    Did you actually read the description of the origin of Halloween that you linked to? The devil is nowhere mentioned.

    The Devil is a recent (i.e. last 1500 years), Christian addition to Halloween, added for the express purpose of discouraging a festival with pagan roots. The holiday is not based in Satanism, so the majority of your argument slamming Halloween is premised on crap…

    Almost all major Christian holidays have their origins in pagan or pre-Christian beliefs. It is no coincidence that Christmas falls near the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), a time when the cyclical darkness peaks and begins to recede. Easter as well, falls into the seasonal period of rebirth (death + resurrection – sound familiar?).

    If you travel Europe you will continually find major churches and Christian holy sites located atop ancient pagan sites of worship. This was a specific and deliberate choice by the Christians to both take advantage of an existing set of worshipers and beliefs for themselves and subjegate/diminish the earlier religions.

    If you want to look at the sociological factors that may be driving the intense commercialization of Halloween or rail about the morality / permissiveness of modern teen culture, go right ahead but kindly do a little bit of research before you start propagating false interpretations of Halloween as “evil” or “Satanic”.

    Lastly, I agree with the previous commenter – lighten up.

  • John Q. Public

    To the original poster,

    I might suggest you look up Samhein, the Druidic holiday from which the American custom of Halloween arises.

    Nothing to do with Satan, and any such conflation is completely erroneous, the product of other’s propaganda.

    In American cultural tradition, this is one of the more harmless holiday’s, and one that brings quite the bit of fun for children.

    That being said, it is in no way mandatory, and if some do not desire to participate, then they can, of course, opt out.

    Perhaps a moment to contemplate the real origins of the celebration, as well as how it has evolved in American culture might be worthwhile to study up on.

    In many communities, this harmless custom is indeed a time to come together, decorate the neighborhood in a spooky fashion, and join in on the fun and games as a community.

  • Bah, this is nonsense. Halloween is All Saints Eve, not a pagan or satanic festival at all. Never has been. Recent attempts to link it to Samhain and other old pagan rituals are misguided at best.

    No evil, no satan, never has been.

  • Baronius

    I’ve got to assume that much of this article is tongue-in-cheek, a parody of the standard “put the Christ back in Christmas” article. BTW, all indications are that All Saints’ Day originated in Italy, and had nothing to do with supplanting Samhein.

  • on the Samhain question…

    “trick or treat”

    the custom was from the Druids, who went around collecting wood for a ritual fire…you gave them some wood…or else

    you might wanna check the origin of the jack-o-lantern (gourds if memory serves, pumpkins when it got here to the US)

    bits and pieces cobbled together from other traditions, but don’t kid yourself.. this baby was commandeered by the Church

    and it goes to show just how powerful the Olde Ways can be….