Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.
The prompt for this week is:
What was Halloween like when you were growing up? Did your family participate? If not, was there a substitute activity? Did your school or church have a fall festival or carnival? Were there stipulations regarding costumes? What sorts of activities did they have? What about Halloween parties? Have you ever bobbed for apples or been on a hayride? What are your memories of “haunted houses”? (I’m not referring to the ultra-scary, secular ones, just the fun kid ones, with bowls of grapes and cold spaghetti!) If you went trick-or-treating, what were the rules, both for trick-or-treating and for candy consumption? What types of costumes did you wear? Were they store-bought or homemade? Did you carve a jack-o-lantern? How are your children’s experiences similar or different to yours? And the most important question: Do you like candy corn? What is your favorite (and least favorite!) Halloween candy?
My family did allow us to trick-or-treat. I can’t remember any of my costumes except I know I wanted to be a princess one year. We usually had store-bought costumes with the plastic face masks, and I can remember the masks getting all sweaty and irritating after a short while. But it was fun to dress up and get candy and wasn’t a terribly big deal.
One cousin did have not so much a haunted house but a creepy scary tour in his garage with low lights, boiled eggs for eyeballs, spaghetti for “guts,” etc, that we were supposed to run our hands through. It was pretty well done for his age and wasn’t scary so much as icky, but one other cousin got pretty shaken up by it. That’s the only thing like that I can remember going to — I had no interest in them as I got older.
I was a teen-ager before I heard of or attended an alternate party — the church I attended had something, but I don’t remember what it was called. It was basically a youth activity with games and food and fall decorations — wholesome, nothing scary, no costumes. I enjoyed it.
As a young wife and mom, I was pretty anti-Halloween. I had become a Christian as a teen-ager, and you can find a lot of reading material about the negative influences and symbolism of Halloween. Naturally I wanted to protect my children from anything evil. Plus the day seemed to stray from just innocent dressing up and gathering candy from neighbors to something darker and gory, and stories sprang up across the country about tainted candy. So I was very surprised when I saw faculty and staff from my Christian college let their kids trick-or-treat on campus in the faulty housing area. Of course, it was probably the safest place in the country to trick-or-treat, but, still, what about all those evil origins?
Well, over the years, after observing what several other Christian families did, I did come to the conclusion that it would be possible to celebrate the day as we did in my childhood, with just an opportunity to dress up and get candy, without endorsing evil. I never did feel comfortable letting my own children trick or treat, but we did give out candy as well as children’s tracts and a little leaflet a family in town published with a phone number kids could call to hear Bible stories. If I had young children today, I would probably let them trick-or-treat just on our street or maybe at a mall or zoo or somewhere like that with an organized candy distribution.I would still feel uncomfortable taking them to total strangers.
One of my close Mom friends did have a fall party several years in a row which I just loved. She purposefully kept it away from the day or week of Halloween for those who had problems with it, but she did ask kids to dress up. She had a theme each year: one year it was storybook or fairy tale characters (Jeremy and Jason were Robin Hood and Little John); another year it was clowns, another it was “what you want to be when you grow up.” She had games and prizes and fall decorations. It was a lot of fun.
One year when we were in GA and were discussing with the Awana leaders whether to have any kind of fall party with the kids, one couple strongly objected: they were so adamantly against Halloween that they were against doing anything at all related to costumes or candy or parties anywhere near the date. But I have no objections at all to alternate activities. In fact, in many missionary stories I read, they came up with alternate activities to some of the pagan or unwholesome ones on purpose to help the Christians who might have been tempted to go back to situations that would have proven a major temptation for them.
The only time I dressed up for Halloween as an adult was when I worked at a fabric store in a mall and had to work Halloween Day. I made a Raggedy Ann costume and wore the dress (without the pinafore) for many years afterward. My kids used the “hair” for clown costumes.
Working at a fabric shop, it was fun to see what different people came up with.
I do remember bobbing for apples once — I didn’t like it very well (mainly getting water up my nose). Now the unsanitariness of several people putting their mouths (and sometimes noses) in the same tub of water grosses me out. I can remember going on a hayride or two — it was ok, but I didn’t really see the point. I don’t remember ever carving a jack-o-lantern. I don’t like candy corn. I ate it some as a child and thought it was okay, thought not a favorite, but I can’t stand it now. My favorite candy is Lindt Lindor Truffles, but people don’t usually give those out at Halloween. 🙂 But I like the little fun-size M&Ms, Three Musketeers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as well as the Hershey’s Miniatures (except for the dark chocolate ones).
And for a nostalgic visit to some of the old-style candies —