Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween, or Not

It's Halloween and for me the scariest thing about today is how much money one must spend on candy to keep up with the demand in our town. Being a rural village, families come into our town from the hinterland to go trick-or-treating and we've had over 300 visitors in 1 and a half hours, but it's great for the kids having a nice safe environment in which to celebrate. I'm always a little curious, however, about how many local kids must be sitting at home unable to participate because their parents are evangelical Xians.

If you've been reading my posts (of course you have) or following the Freshwater hearing going on (well, off and on) a few miles up the road from me, you're aware that there is a large fundy population around here, and I've heard local parents express concerns about participating in a "satanic" holiday. So, there must be some especially paranoid Xians trying to shelter their kids from evil while making mental notes of which neighbors have devil-worship decorations (like inflatable ghosts or fake cemeteries) or dress their kids like witches or devils (because, if you dress like a witch, you either are or want to be a witch). Maybe the number of non-celebrants is lower here because the trick-or-treat activity is such a long-standing tradition in our town it seems more benign.

I first encountered fundyhalloweenophobia when I worked at a living history village. We put together programs for school groups to let them participate in 19th cen. style holiday celebrations but got requests from group leaders that the students not participate in our Halloween activities. I wasn't too surprised since many of our groups were of Xian home-schoolers, but it was irritating that apparently they not only didn't celebrate Halloween, they weren't even to learn that it was celebrated 150 years ago.

Our Halloween public evening programs sometimes drew complaints as well; some didn't like the fortune tellers or the ghosts or anything else they could find offence at. One incident stands out in my memory; we had a black woman that told traditional ghost stories in one of the houses. To add to the drama she had confederates who would scream or bang a door or make other noises at appropriate cues. One family, after visiting this story teller, complained to the organizers that Voodoo was being practiced in that house and they wanted it stopped! We'd scored a twofer; religious bigotry and racial bigotry at the same time. Of course she was shut down lest bigots stop buying tickets.

I suppose the most important thing is lots of kids get to enjoy a safe, fun Halloween that will leave them with many happy memories and if some chose not to participate, there's more candy for the rest of us. Have a fun Halloween and ,if you get a cut or something, wipe off the blood quickly so your neighbors don't suspect you of sacrificing a baby.

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