Thursday, October 22, 2009


The Annual Orthodox Blogosphere Halloween Debate is heating up again, and I have no answers for you. Emily’s advice is always the best: ask your spiritual father.

I used to be an avid fan of Halloween, and yes, my house was sometimes one of the scary ones; we turned our carport into a dark, twisty passageway kids had to walk through to get to the door, and in the passageway were various live and non-live spooks and scenes. I threw a costume party most years and decorated with those skull-shaped candles and spiders and such. Oh, yes, we held séances, too, and by a bit of family choreography, made sure the spirits from the other side would manifest themselves. I always wore glow-in-the-dark makeup and performed a couple of magic tricks.

Flashback: I was trying out my makeup a week ahead of the party one year when I heard a terrible crashing sound outside. A 16-year-old boy, driving while intoxicated, had missed a sharp curve, hit the embankment on the right, been sent sailing in the air all the way across to the left, where his car first hit a telephone pole, then landed back on the ground. Then the telephone pole fell on top of his car.

I grabbed my first aid kit and ran to the scene. The boy was sitting there, dazed. His window was open. “Are you alright?” I shouted.

He didn’t answer. He opened the door and ran.

I had forgotten I was wearing glow-in-the-dark makeup.

It took that boy half an hour to return to his wrecked car, by which time, the police were already there. They kept asking him to tell them who to call, and he kept saying, “Nobody.” Finally, he said, “I just rent a room from an old lady.”

“Who is she?” an officer asked.

“Ethel Young. But I’ve only lived there a couple of days and I don’t even know her number.”

Ethel happened, just happened, to be a friend of mine. I knew her number by heart. But I didn’t say any of that. Conscious by now of my glowing face, I just slowly recited the telephone number, and then I went home.

When I became Orthodox, my interest in Halloween dissolved all by itself. I knew it was a pagan feast (see an upcoming post for more details) but that wasn’t the reason. I just didn’t care for it anymore. Especially for the ugliness. Scary faces and blood and gore and spiders… why? What did I want with those?

But I have to confess there are two aspects of Halloween I love. One is costumes. I’ve a passion for them. I once spoiled my chances with a guy I adored when he finally asked me on a date. It was to a Halloween dance. Common sense would’ve told me to go as a princess, but I was determined to win the prize for Best Costume, so I dressed up as an African Witch Doctor, complete with an Afro, blackface and ring in my nose. I won the prize and lost the guy.  Okay, so whether a costume is appropriate for a Christian maybe depends upon what it is.  Some photos I've seen of Mardi Gras in New Orleans show absolutely lewd costumes.  But decent, modest, non-frightening costumes? 

And the other thing I love is carving pumpkins. Okay, so some of them are gross and NOT alright. But have a look at these.  (No, I didn't carve any of them.)

(Now there's a challenge!)

Until last year, it had been many years since I carved a pumpkin, but last year I became aware of a new (to me) pumpkin-carving technique: shading. You can achieve shading by removing the outer skin of the pumpkin and then not necessarily cutting all the way through, but only deep enough to let in whatever amount of light you wish. This technique also eliminates the need for your pattern to be in the form of a stencil.  See examples above.  So last year I carved a portrait of a certain presidential candidate, and many folks thought a pumpkin was where that face belonged, too!

I just think you can carve a pumpkin without endorsing human sacrifice, and you can wear a costume without giving aid and comfort to Wiccans.

But maybe not.  Don’t go by my feelings. Take Emily’s advice and ask your spiritual father. Doing what he advises will always be best for you and for your soul.

And I'll do the same.


Anonymous said...

Tee heeee....I can just picture you with your glow-in-the-dark make-up on....glad the lad was OK (somewhat)...

DebD said...

the Ortho-blogsphere is heating up??!! Really? I must have missed those blogs.

loved your story but glad it had a happy ending. We're middle of the road Halloweeners! LOL Kids gotta have their candy :)

elizabeth said...

Fun pictures of pumpkins! Yea!!!

I love dressing up too... a few years ago, when I was doing my masters of library and info science, I wore a beautiful blue flowingly long statin-like dress (from my sister's wedding some years back) downtown with a friend and had ice cream in the market and went to my fave bookstore and took pictures! It was fun! And free, which is a good price when in grad school!!

Yeah. I have been feeling the need for some chocolate myself...

I agree with the not liking a lot of the look of some costums - there is a store just down the street where I live that has a holloween store that is really creep looking. I always make a point to NOT look!

Michelle M. said...

Great post :) You are right that the debate is heating up. I've seen it on at least four Orthodox blogs in the last week.

Anonymous said...

An insightful post on Kyrie, Eleison
I did come across a website It’s has all information on first aid emergencies. It has information on Human emergencies and even for pets like cat or dog. Hope it help you guys too.

Signature: Online First Aid Kit

Chocolatesa said...

I hadn't noticed the debate myself, I don't read that many Orthodox blogs. This week they came around at work with the sign-up sheet for the halloween potluck lunch. I made a fool of myself, I was unsure of what to do and hesitated, finally saying I wouldn't be participating, to the mystified looks of my coworker. Then after 5 minutes of feeling like an idiot I ran back and told her I'd changed my mind lol. At least I'll get to try out my recipe for pumpkin swirl brownies :P

Steve Robinson said...

"Heating up" is appropriate. Heat but not much light. I usually tell people "If YOU can't dress up without making a human sacrifice or becoming a witch etc. then you probably shouldn't do it. Personally, I can (but don't because I just don't want to.) But that doesn't make me "more Orthodox than thou.""

Unknown said...

Don't see much of this thought on protestant blogs, other than the fundementalist ones. Even that if few and far between.
Most ancient customs change and evolve into days or events that have little or nothing to do with their original purpose. I would imagine that if you asked the next trick or treater that came to your door why they were participating in a pagan ritual that promotes human sacifice, both they, their parents, and probably grandparents would be mystified. I have fond memories of Halloween from my childhood, and would think it a shame that future generations should not get to create their own memories as well!