I have read a lot of crap lately from curmudgeons who don't like Halloween. People who complain about the adult parties. People who complain because they are pagans and are offended by the way "their" holiday has been co-opted. People of the "magic is evil" strain.
I can understand the offense of the pagans and the Wicca. I assume they're also offended that the winter solstice was upstaged by the celebration of Jesus' birthday, though most of what passes for Christmas in this country has about as much to do with Jesus as gifts have to do with the celebration of Chanukkah. That happens to be something that offends ME. But we practice religion freely in this country (as long as you're not a Muslim, that is) and being offended by other views just goes with that freedom.
I am with those who kvetch about the adult parties. I can't help wincing when I go into Party City looking for a costume for my 11 year old and have to pass risque adult costumes (with names I won't mention here least it win me some very weird traffic) and shelves full of fake dismembered body parts. In fact, I'm downright offended by it. Violence isn't funny, and the sexual innuendo costumes seem more fit for Mardi Gras than for Halloween.
But I don't have to deal with these folks. You can avoid Halloween parties. Hey, SC's friend's mom throws one every year and I always send a cheesecake and stay home to give out candy while the Man takes SC. Stay home and keep the doors closed and let the bacchanale go on elsewhere.
But the "magic is evil" people truly frost me. And I am going to rant on these folks and their "Harry Potter" views on of these days.
Yes, they are entitled to their religious beliefs. They can keep their kids home from trick or treating all they like. If they want to believe that a 2 year old's dressing up in a princess costume is setting her on the path to worshiping Satan as a teen, that's their problem. Until they make it mine. And yours.
Over the years these folks have attempted (and it's getting worse rather than better) to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.At my daughter's very liberal Episcopal preschool I vividly remember her getting Halloween treats such as "Jesus loves me" pencils. Harvest parties in elementary school. In the 3rd grade, to add insult to injury, JR's class had an "ancient cultures harvest party" to go with their social studies curriculum!
These "Halloween is devil worship" are the same folks who rant about "secular humanism" in the schools, who would bring back prayer in the schools. Do they get that by putting the screws to Halloween that they are if anything ENCOURAGING secular humanism?
But none of this will stop Halloween. It is the holiday kids love universally, more beloved for many than things like Christmas. It is the holiday for ALL children. You don't have to be a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim to celebrate Halloween. You just have to be a kid with a dream.
You get to dress up, and be a princess or a fireman or a dragon or whatever it is you long to be. You get CANDY. You get to go out at night with your friends and have fun.
That's all that kids care about. And in this current world, where we pen them up so much, where so little of their play is free and spontaneous, Halloween is one of the few days they have to JUST BE KIDS!
R.L. Stine, author of "Goosebumps" (a series I am NOT fond of, but that kids adore) put it well in the New York Times today:
Kids live in their own special and private world. And Halloween is still the holiday that proves it.
It's magic. It's a magic that the grownups will never preempt, that the religious fanatics will never manage to destroy.
And shame on anyone who would try to take it away from other people's children.