MICHAEL WOLSEY: Enjoy the treat, that’s the trick
IT was the first week in October and some neighbours had decorated their homes for Halloween. “They never used to put up the decorations so early,” said my daughter.
They never used to put up the decorations at all, I thought, although I didn’t say so, not wanting to attract the sort of look that adult daughters reserve for antediluvian fathers.
I’m surprised, nonetheless, at the way this trend has grown. When did we start to deck our halls for Halloween in a way that used to be reserved for Christmas?
I remember when the whole affair was over in a day. The girls dressed as witches, the boys dressed as demons, and nobody went trick or treating – they collected “something for the Halloween party”.
Nowadays we turn the whole country into a Halloween party.
I’m not complaining. Halloween is a great time of year. For adults who haven’t forgotten how to be children, it’s the best fun you can have with your clothes on. Or, at least, with a witch’s clothes on. Or maybe a goblin suit.
Even if you can’t get out to a fancy dress party this Halloween, you can buy a set of Dracula teeth or borrow a broomstick and accompany your kids as they go trick-or-treating.
It’s great fun. And that, I would have thought, was a pretty uncontentious opinion.
But a couple of years back, when I wrote something of the sort for a daily newspaper, I was surprised by the amount of criticism, and, indeed, downright abuse, I attracted from readers from several countries – online reaction being one of the perils of modern journalism.
The criticism came not from people who objected, in general, to trick-or-treating, or dressing up, but from people who believed there was something intrinsically evil about Halloween itself. One reader accused me of encouraging satanic practices, another said adults who celebrated Halloween were leading children down the path of devil worship.
Now don’t get me wrong, this was far rom a flood of letters; maybe half-a-dozen emails in all. But the fact that there was anyone out there with these views surprised me.
However, try Googling ‘Halloween’ and a few other appropriate words and you will discover that such beliefs are not at all uncommon. You will find, for instance, the web site of the Church of God, an American religious group which calls Halloween “a celebration of evil” and cautions against its “bizarre practices” which “emphasise the morbid and macabre.” And you will meet one of its followers, a Mr Jerold Aust, who believes that “frankly, Halloween is anything but harmless.”
He warns: “When parents not only allow but also encourage their children to celebrate witches and goblins, they are teaching them that it is acceptable to deal in demonism.”
Seems a bit mad, although I’m not sure it is any odder than the Bishop of Waterford warning against the teaching of mindfulness and yoga because they are “not of Christian origin”.
But, like kids on the trick or treat trail, I digress. Back on the Halloween front I find a website called Let God be True which reminds us that “when God wrote the laws for Israel, all witches and any related persons were to be put to death”.
It stops short of recommending that fate for trick-or-treating children and their parents but warns: “Halloween is an evil day … based on blackness, darkness, night, unrighteousness, and infidelity.”
And there’s more where that came from. So what do you think? Should you risk your immortal soul and accompany your children on the Halloween round? I hope so.
For those of us who live in the real world and not on the set of an old Hammer film, Halloween is a time of great fun. Enjoy the treat, that’s the trick.