Celebrating Halloween

I know a woman who used to live in our ward but moved to Utah a few years ago. She just reported that she was excoriated by a friend for putting out Halloween decorations, her friend arguing that as Christians we need to set the example and not celebrate the devil’s day. My friend was completely unprepared for that comment and taken aback and wondered how one responds to something like that.

Imagine my friend has come to you for advice. What would you tell her? Should Mormons celebrate Halloween? Are there lines we shouldn’t cross? Even if one has misgivings about this particular celebration, is it appropriate to critique another’s choices in this way? And what’s the deal with the no mask rule at Church Halloween parties anyway?

In other words, here is your chance to hold forth on all things Halloween.

Comments

  1. There are lines we shouldn’t cross. In choosing her costume, your friend should be sure to find a modest witch, vampiress, or dominatrix costume.

    The appropriate way to respond is to say, “I appreciate your choice to not celebrate Halloween, be my family enjoys it and we’re going to keep on celebrating it.”

    The “no mask” rule is probably helpful to avoid accidents, but I don’t know if there’s another reason for it.

  2. Our ward in Utah had a Haunted House set up for the Primary kids in the cultural hall one year. I found Utah Mormons to be much les hard nosed about Halloween than the people out here in the MF. I think your friend should do what she feels is right. That is what our family does, up to and including the raven that says “Beware, beware the end is near. ”

    I suppse the no mask rule would keep out weirdos who might crash the party, too.

  3. I have no problem with Halloween and think Christian aversion to it is akin to anti-Harry Potter silliness.

    That said, I find it fascinating that Mormons embrace it so readily.

    Our ward will probably be the only establishment in all of England, religious or not, holding a “Trunk n’ Treat.” We would never dream of holding a Harvest Festival or celebrating All Saints, but somehow an American Halloween tradition has become central to our social calendar. Strange, fascinating, and marvellously indicative in equal measure.

  4. Latter-day Guy says:

    I find this video enlightening.

    What would you tell her? Should Mormons celebrate Halloween? Are there lines we shouldn’t cross? Even if one has misgivings about this particular celebration, is it appropriate to critique another’s choices in this way? And what’s the deal with the no mask rule at Church Halloween parties anyway?

    1. Her friend is a joyless curmudgeon.
    2. If they want to, sure!
    3. Double yellows.
    4. No.
    5. I suspect it is partly about safety and partly about behavior. If nobody can recognize you, it might tempt you to behave in a way you otherwise would not. That being said, I’m not for sure. Is there anything about it in Bruce’s Believe It or Else! (Mormon Doctrine).

    Honestly, she might try researching the religious foundations of the holiday. Information is frequently useful ammunition against idiocy.

  5. Tell her neighbor to shut the heck up. And then keep buying more and more Halloween decorations. That neighbor surely has more problems going on behind closed doors if she is so forward in trying to condem your friend.

  6. This is where the perception that Mormons aren’t christians is kind of helpful.

  7. My kids are going as Lilburn Boggs, Jon Krakauer, and a cup of coffee.

  8. Anonthistime says:

    I was in a ward where the best attended (and most successful) ward activity of the whole year was the Halloween Carnival. A new Bishop was called the next year, who said that Halloween was inappropriate, so they nixed the carnival and said that the ward couldn’t attend the trunk-or-treat either. Kind of seemed like a case of pushing your own “values” on everyone else.

    We decorate with pumpkins and bats and avoid the icky stuff. I think Halloween is one of the most family-friendly holidays of the year. It’s a great time to do stuff with your kids like booing the neighbors, trick-or-treat, making candy apples.

    We also buy the costumes a month or even just a few weeks early to give the kids time to play in them and really enjoy them during the season. Fun times.

    Just ignore the neighbor.

  9. RJH,

    Please excuse these stupid questions. So you celebrate Halloween in the UK pretty much like we do here? What are the similarities/differences? From what I understand it originated across the pond with you guys, but then fell out of favor for a time. Do you carve pumpkins to?

  10. @rjh “That said, I find it fascinating that Mormons embrace it so readily.”
    Yes, why do people who say that they seek all that is good and praiseworthy choose to celebrate darkness and fear for a season every year, and then seek to justify that tradition? How do we reconcile this celebration with Moroni 7:16-17, where we are taught that everything that invites us to do good and believe in Christ is of God and if it doesn’t persuade belief in Christ it is of the devil? The contradictions are curious.

  11. On my mission, we once taught a first discussion to a family of born-agains a couple of weeks before Halloween. They asked us what we thought of the holiday, and we gave them the standard “we look at it as a time to spend with family/ward” answer. They proceeded to tell us how evil they thought Halloween is and how they would never participate.

    Halloween night, we were asked to stay in our apartments after 5 or so for safety reasons. So, we gave out candy (wrapped in the pamphlet 12 signs of the true church) instead. And guess who came to the door but that family. Needless to say, they were a little embarrassed.

    I think the mask thing is because masks scare little kids. I’ve known lots of little kids that get scared by them.

  12. Silly neighbor. There is a “dark side” to Halloween, but throwing the holiday out altogether seems like a baby-bathwater thing. That said, I find myself having less and less use for the holiday each year. If there was a Halloween equivalent to the silver reindeer bell from Polar Express , I probably wouldn’t be able to hear it anymore.

    As far as the mask thing goes, I think I’ve heard it explained that people on both sides of a mask tend to feel less inhibited and often act in dumber ways toward each other than without one. I mean, just look at how Daniel LaRusso got pushed around by those boys when he was behind that shower curtain. In all seriousness, though, while this wouldn’t hold true for everyone, but it’s a fair line to draw, I suppose.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 7, I have extremely fond memories of taking my kids around the neighborhood, with lots of other parents doing the same. I agree that it’s a family-friendly celebration, at least the way I remember it.

  14. rk,
    American-style Halloween started in the UK around the time of ET. That said, the Loughborough Mormon Trunk-n-Treat is, as I said, probably the only such event in the entire kingdom.

  15. My husband likes to tell people who rag on him about loving Halloween when it is the Devil’s holiday, that for him it isn’t a celebration of evil and darkness– rather, it is a celebration of overcoming one’s fears and conquering evil.

  16. The mask rule isn’t just for Halloween, it is a year round rule. It can eliminate so many things that aren’t appropriate to go on in the church building. When someone is wearing a mask they are anonymous and people around them do not know their identity. It usually only comes up at Halloween these days and if you are a parent, the no mask rule means you can choose whether you are comfortable with your children being around those in attendance (since you can identify all the adults/teenagers there).
    Our schools do not celebrate Halloween but often have an evening family school event near Halloween that you can dress up for. No masks and no weapons is always the rule there. (I have to complain about the no light saber rule though. The light saber isn’t actually real so it is closer to a flashlight than a weapon so it should have been in the category of a fairly wand or a broom).
    Most people I know don’t celebrate evil on Halloween. It is a dress-up day. That is the Halloween fun from my childhood days. Dressing up in a costume! Carving a pumpkin and putting a candle in it! Receiving candy from friends and neighbors? What’s evil or scary about all that? Beats me. For every ghost there are far more pumpkins. For every witch there are far more fairies. For every phantom there are far more Spidermans. For every vampire there are far more princesses.

  17. Like many of you have mentioned, the holiday itself is a lot of fun, which is how my wife has always approached it. I’m inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead and have taught our kids that the holiday can be a remembrance of bygone peoples and ways of life and thereby avoid the fearful or destructive aspects people bring into it. By seeking a constructive spirit in connection with this, there is a great treat involved with Halloween!

  18. Left Field says:

    Last I knew, masks were permitted at church dramatic productions.

  19. I know some people who would scare little children less if they wore masks.

  20. Of course, Christmas is a pagan festival. Bah humbug.

  21. ummquestion says:

    How about responding with correct information and dispelling the “false tradition” she seems to have fallen prey to? Might be a great idea to invite her and her family over for a historical FHE activity. *g*

    The actual “pagan” holiday of Samhain was a celebration of the end of summer and a fruitful harvest season-which I’m sure as an American Christian her friend has no problem celebrating in November. When “Christianity” decided to overwhelm and erase ancient pagan celebrations, the Catholic church moved their holy holiday called “All Saints Day” (which is the equivalent of our American Memorial Day) from May to November 1st. Neither holiday was “Satanic” nor was the original “pagan” holiday evil or dark or mysterious.

  22. I have no interest in reconciling Halloween and the Church. I love both, for different reasons. I’ve only ever been to one Trunk or Treat, although our ward here apparently does it (I’ll be out of town, but my wife and girls will be going). But the night before Halloween, apparently the shops around us do trick-or-treating, and Halloween night, we’ve been told our neighborhood gets crazily into the spirit of Halloween. So my girls will celebrate it three times, which seems just about the right number of times for one year.

    I have no interest in religious opposition to Halloween. When I lived in New York, we’d always go to the Halloween Extravaganza at the Episcopal cathedral. A silent horror film, accompanied by the cathedral organist, and then a parade of the ghouls seems the perfect religious attitude toward the holiday.

  23. If we were to wear masks at church parties, countless comedies of errors could occur, with ensuing hilarity and a chance of great literature.

    and the correct plural is Spidermenschen

  24. ummquestion says:

    P.S. I have to ask….did the woman actually use the word “excoriated”??? Now THAT would be scary. :P

  25. ummquestion says:

    P.S.S. and PAINFUL.

  26. RJH

    So J.K. Rowling must have borrowed a lot from American Halloween traditions in the Harry Potter series. I’ve wondered about how much she borrowed. I thought pumpkins were just a North American thing.

  27. I LOVE Halloween, and I see nothing truly evil or Satanic about it. If anything, the only really bad part about it is that it gives older girls an excuse to dress up like s…. well, you know.

    That said, I would say to the neighbor, “Oh, are you one of those ultra conservative nuts that has twisted everything fun into something evil? ‘scuse me, I gotta go put up my bloody headless scarecrow now. Bye!”

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 23, no, that was my translation. (g)

  29. We enjoy halloween and visiting with neighbors. Most cul de sacs in our neighborhood set up tables with hot chocolate, adult beverages and finger food so the parents can visit while the kids go door to door in each cul de sac. Our kids really enjoy it. I have noticed, though, the home halloween decorations get more elaborate every year creating subtle pressure to keep up.

    The real Halloween fun comes next year when it falls on Sunday. In our neighborhood we’ll celebrate Halloween the same way we do every other year, but I look forward to bloggernacle discussion and calls to repentance for those of us who will fellowship our neighbors next Halloween.

  30. I detest parts of Halloween…mostly the sugar and the fear parts. This is because I can’t eat sugar and I’m a total wimp. Sugar gives me migraines and can induce fainting. I’m fine with that, everybody has a health thing and mine is relatively easy to deal with. I raelly wish people wouldn’t suffer for me-oh that’s awful, I could never do it, are you okay?-um people I’m good really, it’s not cancer and I already know how to make honey brownies. Scary stuff makes me jump and gives me nightmare fodder for months. Oh how fun you say, scare the jumpy girl. Bad, bad, bad…may you have a life of teletubbies and barney and pingu torture. Do not scare my young children either. It’s not funny and it’s not clever. Do not scare them unless you plan on covering the night shift at my house for months. They are my children and have nightmares easily and my kingsize bed is only so big.

    That said I do love dressing up. My children love dressing up. I like meeting my neighbors, and prefer going out early and chatting with people, instead of the race for the candy version.

    I like chili cook offs and ward parties at which my daughters can act like cats acceptably.

    I homeschool and that means I frequently hang out with weirdos. In many cases this comes in quite handy. It also means I have quite a few friends that don’t do halloween. The whole -we seek after virtuous praiseworthy…avoid the appearance of evil…dont’ celebrate evil because it really does exist and really is bad thing. Some of them just quietly go about having a movie night, others change it and have hero and harvest parties (complete with raw food, honey desserts and nuts), others speak loudly about how peculiar we are to be (is peculiar the same as obnoxious? sometimes it is).

    As for the neighbor I would say, isn’t it amazing how differently people follow Christ and then go on your way.

  31. Justmeherenow says:

    Do Wiccans get up in arms about people making fun of witches?

  32. I only have one Wiccan friend (that I know of), and she finds the use of “witch” in place of a word that rhymes with “witch” far more offensive than cartoon depictions of witches. FWIW.

    I’ve gone back and forth on the appropriateness of Halloween but am now on the side of “harmless fun.” I do find the prevalence of “sexy witch/nurse/firefighter/M&M/whatever” costumes for women and adolescent girls disconcerting, though.

    Trunk-or-Treat: I was really taken aback a couple of years ago at the vehemence with which a co-worker lambasted this tradition. He finds it exclusionary to an incredibly offensive degree. I had a devil of a time convincing him that Mormons didn’t invent it. (It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I can see how it could seem like another example of our insularity. I just figured church parking lots were a logical place for Trunk-or-Treat because they’re large, well-lighted and generally not in use on a Halloween night.)

    Halloween on Sunday: (I have a sister-in-law who is certain that on those years when Oct. 31 is a Sunday, the “red states” observe the holiday on Saturday while the “blue states” observe it on Sunday. Because all Democrats are heathens and Sabbath-breakers, I guess.) Personally, last time this happened, I took the kids round on Saturday night (it was pretty easy to tell which houses were offering candy) and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters on both nights.

  33. During the four years we lived on Quebec St in northwest DC, I had a great time decorating our house for Halloween: two fog machines, spider webs and giant spiders in the hedges, skeletons and body parts in the front yard, and a talking skull with a witch’s hat and wig (I would speak into a mike inside the house; the skull’s jaw would move in sync with the words, while amplifying and distorting my voice). Oh, and lots of Halloween sounds playing. It was great fun, and we got lots of positive comments (particularly from the parents and older kids).

    The real payoff, however, was one summer when we were getting rid of some old deck furniture. A young couple came to take a look at it; they explained that they tried to bring their 5-year-old daughter along, but she refused to go with them to our front door, saying, “That’s the house where the witch lives!”, referring to the previous Halloween. Yesss!

    BTW, our ward here in Colorado does a trunk-or-treat, and about half of the people who attend are non-members who live near the chapel. I think they really appreciate having a place to take their kids without having to actually go door to door. ..bruce..

  34. Cynthia L. says:

    I do find the prevalence of “sexy witch/nurse/firefighter/M&M/whatever” costumes for women and adolescent girls disconcerting, though.

    In case anyone thinks Cathy is exaggerating the list of costumes that can be sexified, I present for your consideration: Sexy Finding Nemo [edit: sorry about the earlier link.] I do believe this indicates some kind of sexy-costume Singularity has been reached.

  35. I recommend buying a couple rotisserie chickens and pretending you’ve sacrificed them. Sort of puts Halloween in perspective.

  36. My parents wouldn’t let me trick or treat when I was growing up (Dad wasn’t baptized till I was 20) because they didn’t like the implication of extortion in it. When I was very small, they’d dress me up and we’d go to friends’ doors and give them things with a cry of “Happy Halloween.” They had no problem with Halloween per se, though. When I was 10, some friends came by, and I was home alone (Dad was on a business trip and Mom taught craft classes), so they told me to put on a costume and come with them, so I got to trick or treat three times before I was too old (10, 11 and 13, because I was at a Church party for 12).

    I was recently talking to a non-member friend about Mormons getting along with Baptists, and I told her that we traditionally don’t get on well because we don’t like it when they say we aren’t Christian, and they don’t like it that we worship Satan. She said “Seriously? Do you have pictures?” So, we should definitely celebrate Halloween. Think of the Baptists.

  37. I found this post interesting mainly because a non-LDS friend living in Utah for grad school recently commented on how much Mormons love Halloween, based on the prevalence of haunted houses. There are really a lot of them here. I told her it’s not a Mormon thing, just a Utah thing, but I’m not sure she believed me.

    I don’t do haunted houses. Actually, if I could get away with it I wouldn’t do Halloween. I don’t like dressing up. I like chocolate way too much and am always happy when we don’t get many kids at our door. So I’ve always made costumes for my kids and handed out candy, but I’m not a fan.

    On prevalence of costumes, at my kids’ elementary school the most common costume for boys was the black hooded cape with the face mask with red liquid in it so it looks like blood is running down it. For girls it was dead brides (that is, brides that have been murdered and are covered in blood).

  38. Far creepier and more scary than Halloween is someone who would excoriate another for putting up Halloween decorations. Sheesh! I have lived in Utah all my life and we have always had a great time celebrating Halloween without reservation! When we lived briefly in Nebraska, as my husband got his graduate degree, the ward there had a “trunk or treat” and their stated reason was primarily that it was due to safety concerns. That the children would be safer contained in a parking lot among people who knew each other rather well. This year however our ward primary in Utah held a “Fall Festival” rather than a Halloween Party. I found it very odd and with the posting of this story I am going to look into it and find out why and whose idea it was to change from a Halloween Party to a Fall Festival. I wonder if this denotes an anti-Halloween trend in the church gaining popularity. Hmmmmm.

  39. We joined the church when our oldest two were teens and our youngest two had not yet been born. We had always celebrated Halloween and had a dummy made up using my husbands old clothes and a particularly homely mask. We had him for years. When my second son was 16 he and his friend tied our dummy to the bumper of a car and drug him down State St in SLC. I am still grieving.

  40. I think it’s a bit odd when people really get into the evil nasty stuff. I’m not throwing out skeletons or anything like that, but some stuff really does cross the line into the sinister side (bones are fine, we all have them, chainsaw wielding serial rapists who dress up in the skin of those they raped and ate… not so much). I don’t think the admonition to be holy on one hand and trying to look as sinister and downright evil as possible on the other makes a lot of sense.

    There are plenty of fun Halloween costumes that don’t have to be so sinister feeling. And I’m not just talking about fluffy bunnies or pumpkins outfits, but those are fun too :)

  41. Usually I find it it is best to invite the friend to your next seance or animal sacrifice. After that, Halloween is less of an issue.

    Or you could ask the friend if he/she celebrates that pagan holiday, Christmas?

  42. Stephanie says:

    I homeschool and that means I frequently hang out with weirdos.

    Best comment of the day. No, not everyone who homeschools is wierd, but yes, there are a lot of weirdos who homeschool. Glad someone is willing to admit it.

    There are some pretty nasty/creepy Halloween decorations. I don’t go for the stuff with people crawling out of graves, etc.

    This isn’t related to Halloween, but a lot of boys’ clothes have skulls on them. I don’t like that.

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    Deborah, when I was in SLC this past summer my son pointed out to me several haunted houses and told me that in October there will be long lines for all of them. I didn’t think anything about it until your comment.

  44. Molly Bennion says:

    rbc, you’ve made me so homesick for our Texas cul de sac. All the neighbors with children gathered and went to each house together with the kids. When we reached one of our houses, a parent would rush in and pass out candy, then rejoin the group. We stopped for cupcakes and cider for everyone at the home of a radiologist who dressed as a skeleton and hid in a casket surrounded by candles and bathed in spooky music, then creaked open the lid to peer at the kids, all of whom were expecting it and giggling only a little nervously. Such a great time to enjoy neighbors. Lots of good Baptists in the group too.
    This year I will recreate a family tradition and pay homage to my great aunt who made a ghost mask out of pie dough, wrapped herself in a sheet and recited a spooky poem about poor Aunt Polly who died. Happy Halloween!

  45. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 10,

    You know, I find children dressed in gory costumes frighten me far less than supercilious statements of judgment charading as mere observations of “curious” contradictions.

  46. #32 – I didn’t know m&m is famous enough to have a Halloween costume made in her likeness. I’m impressed.

  47. Re: 18 from Left Field
    When I was directing a ward road show in the late 70’s, the Church’s official road show manual said that masks weren’t allowed in church drama productions. I remember this clearly because I was also stake YA chairman at the same time, and the mask issue was discussed by us before a regional YA Halloween dance. So either the rule has been dropped since then, or whatever ward/stake allowed masks on stage didn’t know about the rule.

    The scary thing I remember about Halloween when younger was getting candy cigarettes. The scary thing was that they tasted good.

  48. Halloween is such a great holiday. I trick-or-treated until I was about 16, I think, because I didn’t want it to be over. When I got my own place I always had tons of great candy, the kind I wanted most back when I was trick-or-treating myself. For a while the kids came, and of course they let each other know which were the best houses, so I got a lot of custom. Then I moved and not a soul showed up. It was so sad. I had to take all that candy into work so I wouldn’t eat it all. I moved again and it’s been years now since any kids have come. It’s very sad to me. We let fear destroy such a joyful holiday.

    I would tell the neighbor she was nuts, that Halloween is all about childhood joy and fun, and after all, what’s a little extortion among friends?

  49. I love candy apples and corn mazes and all that, but freely admit to enjoying the “darker” side of the holiday. When I lived with roommates in Provo, they decorated the apartment for Halloween and I contributed a small gothic-looking tombstone on top of the television. It mysteriously disappeared, and was replaced by a cutesy be-ribboned pumpkin. Oh, well.

  50. One year for Halloween my husband went as a rich old grey haired man, complete with an oxygen tube up his nose and money falling out of the pockets of his robe. I donned a blonde wig, fake eylashes, and pranced about in my sparkly purple stilletos while I pushed him around in a wheelchair. I was, of course, Anna Nichole Smith… Who needs a mask to be tawdry? It’s Hallo-freakin-ween.

  51. I live in a blue state. It would never occur to ANYONE around here to trick or treat on a Saturday if Halloween was on a Sunday (except Mormons in their trunk or treat). Do other red states besides Utah do a push for Saturday night door to door trick or treating?

  52. MikeInWeHo says:

    What is a Trunk-n-Treat ??

  53. Blackjazz says:

    I don’t condone telling off one’s neighbour about Halloween, but I don’t like Halloween either. Normally I’m not a kill-joy (unless you ask my teenage son!), but in it’s current form in the UK I see the drawbacks as:
    1. Trick or Treat should be renamed “demanding money with menaces”.
    2. Dressing up as mythical evils creatures doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.
    3. Mainly it’s an overly commercial activity promoted by shops to boost sales.
    4. We’re adopting a US tradition for no good reason. (I’m not saying Halloween was a US invention, but the way it’s celebrated now is.)
    5. Pumping children with as much unhealthy food as possible is contributing to the epidemic of obesity. (Isn’t there a contradiction in the way we preach the abstinence part of the Word of Wisdom but feed people unhealthy foods in our church socials?)

    So far masks is concerned, the handbook says (p280) that Church units may not sponsor wearing masks, except in dramatic productions. No reason is given, but I’ve always understood the reason to be that people tend to behave differently when their identity is concealed.

    And BTW… I know who you are, RJH, and we’ll be discussing this :-)

  54. Justmeherenow says:

    W/re Cynthia L’s post #34:

    Maybe there’s something wrong w/me cos I sorta think the sexy clownfish costume is kinds cute. http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/finding-clownfish-costume

  55. I hate Halloween, but not for any religious reason. I’m just a killjoy.

  56. I didn’t know m&m is famous enough to have a Halloween costume made in her likeness. I’m impressed.

    HA.

    But really, to the original comment, how do you make the chocolate candy kind of M&M into a sexy costume?

    Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

    Halloween? I have never liked it much, but good grief. I have lived in Utah in different periods of my life and have never run into the extreme point of view your friend did. I respect a person’s right to make his/her own choices on something like this, but to impose such on others? Completely and totally uncalled for, imo.

    I could quote Pres. Uchtdorf’s latest talk about how individual ideas can be wrongly made out to be doctrinal, but I won’t. ;)

  57. BTW, Mike, a trunk-and-treat is when people gather in a parking lot rather than go around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. Everyone parks their cars, puts the candy in the open trunks, and kids walk from car to car getting their loot.

  58. > I could quote Pres. Uchtdorf’s latest talk about how individual ideas can be wrongly made out to be doctrinal, but I won’t.

    LOL! Love ya, m&m.

  59. 50 years ago in my small town Halloween was like a progressive talent show.
    The way it worked was, you pounded on the door and hollered Trick or Treat, they’d open the door and say, “I think I’d like a trick,” and you’d have to do a trick for them. A song, a poem, a tumbling run through their livingroom avoiding knocking the knick-knacks off of the end-table. Usually avoiding knocking the knick-knacks . . ..

    Symbols mean what we determine them to mean. For most Mormons, Halloween is about community, lighthearted fun and sugar.

  60. ummquestion says:

    #37 and #43

    Keep in mind that Utah’s population is only half “Mormon”-but yes, they love Halloween in Utah.

    I know of at least 10 “Haunted House/thrill venues” off the top of my head, but there’s also Boo at the Zoo, Frightmares at Lagoon, about 5 “corn maze” type places, plus city “festivals” in nearly every town (with things like costume parades/face painting, games, candy etc.), all the malls host indoor “trick or treating” to every store on the big night, and most of the art/dance/performance groups do Halloween concerts-you can attend anything from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow performed by the Utah Ballet to a Halloween concert with the Utah Symphony.

    Oh, and hundreds of ward/stake parties to boot. But for what it’s worth, my children’s elementary school forbids masks to be worn except for during the costume parade and no weapons, even obviously fake ones are permitted.

  61. My recomended response:

    “Well, I don’t know why you choose to search for the face of Satan wherever you can, but as for me and my house, we believe the prophets when they say that all things typify Christ. Why, my son is dressing as a zombie so that when his mother and I raid his Halloween candy over the next few weeks, we will be reminded of the sweet gift of the resurrection.”

  62. Blackjazz,
    >I know who you are, RJH, and we’ll be discussing this

    Sounds sinister!

    You should fill up your car boot with celery and apples and photocopies of D&C 89.

  63. Peter LLC says:
  64. I remember being told that masks were forbidden as a gesture of respect to Joseph Smith, whose murderers had painted their faces to conceal their identities — which never made any sense to me, given that face paint is allowed! Was anyone else told that as a child?

  65. Stephanie says:

    Pumping children with as much unhealthy food as possible is contributing to the epidemic of obesity.

    Bah. Pigging out on candy one day a year is not going to make a kid fat. (In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t let my kids pig out. They eat a few pieces that night and then use their candy for their treats over the next few months. And my kids aren’t fat)

  66. I’m glad to hear that your children aren’t overwieght, Stephanie. This acticle may interest you about the problem in the UK:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8269462.stm

    And this one about the USA:

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Obesity-in-America—-The-Growing-Epidemic!&id=7567

    I’m not saying that Halloween is responsible for this. But I am saying that it’s part of the problem. You don’t get lung cancer from smoking one cigarette…

    BTW – I’m not a skinny person being horrible about overweight people; I’m an overweight person who’s trying to lose weight, with some success but with a way to go still.

  67. Tanya Spackman says:

    I love Halloween. Love! I’m actually wondering if the anti-Halloween phenomenon amongst Mormons (minimal though it currently may be) isn’t somehow related to our attempts to fight for the right be called Christians, mixed with our political ties to the religious right, which has a very evangelical Christian leaning, and my experience with evangelical Christians is that they are, in general, anti-Halloween.

    But whatever, ’cause it’s a fabulous holiday.

    When I was a kid, for three years I went as a giant blue cat. Lots of bright blue fur. Very warm costume. Long story to explain how that came about, but each year I won an award in my elementary school’s costume contest. A number of years ago (but as an adult) I went as blue. Just blue. I wore blue clothes and became one with blue food coloring. It was an abstract costume open to interpretation :-)

    I’ve just been invited to a Halloween party on Saturday. The theme is “famous dead people.” Any suggestions? It needs to be something that requires minimum effort to put together because I don’t have much time till then, and also because there will be a lot of alcohol and drunk people are amusing for only about half an hour, so I don’t want to put much effort into something I’ll only get to show off only until the drunk people become annoying.

  68. Is she for real? Doesn’t her ward have Halloween parties? We have one every year, and I think it’s the perfect event to invite my nonmember friends with kiddies to.

  69. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 57
    Ah, I see. And they still call it this in the U.K, Ronan? You guys should call it Boot-n-Booty instead. :)

    Here in West Hollywood the 40,000 usual residents close the main boulevard and host about 1/2 million guests for the evening. http://www.westhollywoodhalloween.com/
    Seriously. Not for the easily offended, however.

  70. >And they still call it this in the U.K, Ronan?

    If by “they” you mean one LDS ward, yes. I like Boot-n-Booty!

  71. Its called ‘Trunk-o-Treat’ in our ward (and I suspect throughout the UK, but I offer no proof of this). Members come to the chapel and open their trunks (car boots in the US) where children come and eat sweets. We don’t get the attendance records MIW states, but its a nice opportunity for children to do Halloween stuff without having to bother neighbours or getting in to a ginger bread house :)

  72. Re: 53 from Blackjazz.
    Can you tell me page 280 of which handbook? If it’s a new drama/road show handbook, what is the year of publication? Thanks.

  73. Justmeherenow says:

    @ Mike in West Hollywood:

    I was in the East Village last Halloween. I admit I blushed when this particular huge group of guys paraded by obviously dressed as Fundamentalist LDS women in their pastel prairie dresses and braided-and-bouffanted wigs. My cheeks reddened cos, in a way, I felt my Utah’s (well, no, in truth Nevada’s) Dixie heritage was vaguely being spoofed, I guess!

    Felt in a way that my

  74. iguacufalls says:

    I enjoy Halloween, but hate Trunck or Treats. At least the ones I’ve been to tend to be huge crowds of pushing around each car, and no one gets the time to appreciate anyone’s costume or spend a minute chatting. It’s just 1-2 hours of frenetic handing out of Smarties and everyone goes home. I much prefer going around the neighborhood.

  75. Big signs on all the doors at my chapel invite all three wards to attend a trunk or treat on halloween. I am quite happy to celebrate halloween as LDS.

    We do have a local leader that frowns on Halloween and when he is in charge at either a stake or ward level there is no Halloween celebration. Its not a hill to die on for a PH leader.

    I have met one other person an evangelical who also does not celebrate Halloween.

  76. Paul, I really don’t think that candy is the cause of obesity – unless it is eaten in excess on a regular basis or as a substitute for meals. I think the cause of obesity in kids is cocoa puffs for breakfast, PB&J on white bread with cheetos and soda for lunch and corn dogs (with more soda) for dinner while playing video games indoors all day. My kids eat whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean proteins – and get two small treats a day (and know the difference between a “treat” and a “snack”). They also play outside a lot because their t.v./computers/DS time is limited. I’m not concerned about them getting fat because of Halloween – even if I did let them pig out. One day a year is not going to cause obesity.

  77. re 72 from Zefram

    There’s only one set of page numbers in the Church Handbook of Instructions. Page 280 is in Book 2 in chapter 10 “Activities” and is also published separately as the Activities handbook. CHI Book 2 was published in 1998 and is the one in current usage. It’s under the heading “Unapproved Activities”. (I’m not convinced that “unapproved” is a real word.)

    I don’t know anything about a new drama or roadshow handbook.

    Hope that helps.

  78. Andy Hardwick says:

    If “Christian” neighbors don’t want to celebrate Halloween because of pagan origins, why do they celebrate Christmas (Saturnalia) and why do they call resurrection Sunday Easter (after the pagan goddess). I find my Christian neighbors to be very selective in what they consider evil.

  79. I’ll take almost anything over our ward’s trunk-o-treat.

    Because we are relatively isolated, the candy to child ratio is really high. The kids go round and round and round the parking lot gathering 10 times the amount of candy they would in their neighborhoods. And of course, that means the expectation is that the adults have to have tons of candy for them to collect. I brought one Costco bag and it was gone in 15 minutes. I peeked into another ward member’s car and they had at least 20 bags of Costco candy.

    I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. It felt like a $$$ competition — who can afford to give the most candy. (It definitely wasn’t me. I closed up shop early and went socializing.)

    And while I’m all for the treat part of trick-or-treating, there is just no rational need for the amount of candy my kids collected. A good lot of it went right into the trash. (so much for the wealthy member’s money…)

    Luckily we only do trunk-or-treat on years where Halloween falls on Sunday. I’ll probably attend again next year (complaining all the way).

  80. Stephanie says:

    RT, I know exactly what you are talking about. We have a huge tri-ward trunk-or-treat where you need plenty of candy to just get through one round of kids, but when they start going around again, it just bugs me. How obnoxious. If I see the same kid twice, I just say, “Sorry, we already saw you” and give them a knowing look. We usually shut up shop early. And we never let our kids go around twice. I just find it rude.

  81. #77: (I’m not convinced that “unapproved” is a real word.)

    1.8 million hits on Google. As the linguists over at Language Log would say, yep, that’s a real word. Oh, and the OED has John Milton(!) using it in this sense back in 1667. :-) ..bruce..

  82. Glenn Smith says:

    A few years ago, OK, several, when serving as YM President, I asked the mask question in a Ward Conference Priesthood Leadership Meeting. A Stake President’s councilor found the answer in the Activities Manual. Sadly, I don’t recall all the wording other than saying masks were inappropriate. Not having read all the previous posts, my guess is that back in the day, some people at a church function did harmful things while wearing masks . The masks concealed their identity. To protect others from harm, the ‘ no mask’ rule was introduced. Similarly, as a mask hides our identity, we may choose actions that otherwise we would not do. And, of course, masks are more than Snow White or Barney. They often portray very scary characters., especially scary to young children.

    Our small town is still safe for door-to-door trick or treating. Our grandchildren, who live with us, come home with candy that lasts until Easter (because Grandma puts it away and doles it out for chores, etc.).

    When Halloween falls on Sunday, our children and now grandchildren stay home. No discussion. No Saturday trunk event in our ward.

  83. Blackjazz says:

    #81 bfwebster

    Thanks for straightening me out. Who can argue with 1.8 million Google hits? Having considered it, I think the reason I wanted to unapprove the word is that I expect the prefix for approve to be dis :-)

  84. Blackjazz says:

    #78 Andy Hardwick

    I guess the answer to your question about Christmas and Easter is that while Christmas may have been timed to coincide with a pagan festival and the word Easter may have its origins in a pagan goddess, they are celebrations and commemorations of the birth and resurrection of Christ respectively.

    Perhaps Halloween marks the days before All Saints day but that’s not a festival normally found in the LDS calendar. More likely it marks the start of the darker part of the year (in the northern hemisphere) and has no Christian significance.

  85. Never had a problem with Halloween until we moved to Utah. Then we were introduced to a “Harvest Festival” celebration instead, which included costumes, carved pumpkins and “trunk-or-treating”. Hmmmm.
    Now we’re in a new ward that never had a Halloween activity, but being one of the WAC chairs, my husband approached the bishop, and he said, fine, as long as we called it a “Celebration of Paganism” for all those “hard-cores” in the ward.
    Ah, I love that man…

  86. My experience is that it depends on who is in charge of the activities for the ward. We’ve lived in this ward for just over four years, with essentially the same bishopric. For the first couple of years in the ward we had a Halloween party in the chapel, with “haunted house” games for the kids, a costume contest and a chili cook-off. Last year, we had a trunk-n-treat with the other wards. Nothing else. Costumes were optional. This year we are having a “Harvest Festival” potluck while the other wards in the building are having trunk-n-treat and chili cook-offs.

  87. RJH
    I have news for you! Loughborough will sadly no longer be able to claim to be the only ward trunk n treating in the entire kingdom…. swindon is holding a movie themed one this year too!

  88. Blackjazz says:

    That’s it then! We may as well cancel ;-)

  89. As a kid we were told that nobody could wear masks at church because if they did Satan might be able to sneak in behind a mask.

  90. Glenn Smith says:

    RE: #89 RobF
    That’s too funny. There’s doctrine according to man for you.

  91. “American-style Halloween started in the UK around the time of ET.”

    Around the time of E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial? Circa 1982? Fascinating. Was it because everyone wanted to dress up like an alien?

  92. It was the Reese’s Pieces.

  93. I like Halloween because it is one of the few celebrations we Americans have left that necessarily involves the community outside one’s own home. It is the last vestige of an earlier time when all holidays were community events celebrated in the streets (though the 4th of July may be another one.)

    Conversely, I think the opposition to Halloween may be a by-product of the anti-social tendencies of the suburbs, with the associated big screen TVs, burgeoning McMansions and increasing fears of the outside world. Though it may be expressed in religious terms, I suspect it is fear of strangers and distrust of the community at large that motivates the anti-Halloweenies. There is a little social contract implicit in the understanding that candy will be given when my kids go to otherwise unknown homes in the neighborhood. I’d like to think that honoring the Halloween contract is a little sign that the neighbors I may not otherwise talk to may have the necessary community spirit to be involved in times of crisis – such as turning on their hose when my house is on fire, etc.

  94. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 73
    That is an awesome costume idea. Elna Baker, if you’re reading this here’s a suggestion from some gay dude in L.A.: gather your friends and go to this year’s New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance as a group of FLDS wives!

    (If I see any drag polygamists walking around WeHo this year I will attempt to take a photo and get them to post it here. I’m not surprised somebody got that idea; the hair alone just screams great halloween costume.)

  95. When I started elementary school in 1972, we weren’t allowed to wear masks for Halloween b/c of liability reasons. – kids tripping over their costumes, etc. Tlod the same thing @ church. Plenty of members here in NC oppose Halloween, but it’s usually the ones from Utah, Idaho, etc. Trunk or Treats held on Halloween are usually attended by the ‘Westerners’ while everyone else heads to the neighborhoods. I agree w/ #67 that Mormons have been guilted by evangelicals (but Muslims were 1st) to oppose Halloween. I ‘ve always heard that from the most conservative Baptists. FYI – most outside Utah do NOT appreciate being referred to as the ‘misssion field’.

  96. Glenn Smith says:

    Our current Bishop is the biggest Halloween home decorator in town. He does a really good (spooky) job.
    It seems that some negative personal attitudes have infested some wards. The thing to do is to make a personal choice. If you want to trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, go for it. If you prefer to participate in a trunk-or-treat, do that. If you wish to refrain from Halloween events, fine. Halloween is one of those things where we govern ourselves because we don’t need to be commanded in all things.

  97. Now we’re in a new ward that never had a Halloween activity, but being one of the WAC chairs, my husband approached the bishop, and he said, fine, as long as we called it a “Celebration of Paganism” for all those “hard-cores” in the ward.

    LOL. I needed a good chuckle today. Thanks.

  98. Glenn Smith says:

    And just for fun I wore my Halloween tie to church today.

  99. Glenn Smith says:

    And check out the article on Mormon Times about the Polynesian Cultural Center holding a spook alley to drum up business.

  100. How does one respond to something like that?

    By selecting a cherished, harmless activity that the neighbor enjoys, and finding a way to be harshly and self-righteously critical about it, of course.

    And then you smile sweetly and bid them have a nice day.

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