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.
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?
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.