Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown all have one thing in common. With only slight differences, the movies all have that scene with some fall leaves blowing blissfully in the wind, the camera descends from a shot of the full moon to a festive neighborhood bustling with the commotion of kids dressed as ghosts, superheroes, pumpkins, princesses and anything in between. Reluctant parents or older siblings follow behind, knowing that the night has only begun and that the real challenge will be when the kids get home, wanting to eat three pounds of candy in one sitting. This illustration is why I think Halloween is such a beloved holiday. Most people have the memories of going door to door, asking your neighbors for candy and going to a Halloween party where you would bob for apples or touch some peeled grapes that felt like what eyeballs apparently feel like. Then, you would go home and eat candy until you either crashed in your bed, or your parents pried the jack o’ lantern bucket out of your hands.
I’m not most people.
When I tell most people that I was never allowed to trick or treat, I’m met with a gasp of shock and pity or a knowing look that seems to say, “Girl, me neither! Let’s be sheltered weirdos together!” I think it is safe to say I never really experienced the childlike spooky atmosphere that comes with Halloween.
Now, before you assume that this is an article where I flame my parents for depriving me of childhood, think again. Growing up in a safe, supportive and God-filled home has been a blessing like nothing else in my life. My parents are fun and goofy, and we have always laughed together as a family, but they were pretty dang strict about what I watched and participated in when I wasn’t old enough to make my own decisions. Of course, I got to pick what sports or instrument I wanted to play, and I got to pick from hundreds of Disney and Dreamworks movies that I fully enjoyed watching. I was not at all deprived or robbed of even a little bit of a happy and fulfilling childhood. My parents just wanted me to stay innocent of any notion of what could be dark or evil forces for as long as they could. Also, our Church would always put on fall festivals, so I still had the opportunity to dress up and receive extreme amounts of candy. The festivals were more like a celebration of the fall season, hence the name fall festival.
I split Halloween into two different views. The first is what I like to call the Disney Approach. This is the Halloween that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You get your candy and a fun costume to wear. People watch The Haunted Mansion, The Nightmare Before Christmas (my personal favorite) and if you want something with a little more edge, Monster House or Coraline. Obviously, not all of these movies are Disney related, but you get the picture. One views Halloween as whimsical and an excuse to dress up as a fictional character they’ve secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to be. The other approach I sadly don’t have a cool name for, but it’s one that takes Halloween a little more seriously. Halloween has historical significance that I think a lot of people might have overlooked or forgotten about. A surface level and my personal way of summarizing Halloween is that it was considered a day that spirits were able to enter the world of the living more freely than any other day of the year. This originated from a 2,000-year-old Celtic festival where people would wear costumes to keep spirits away. Now, you may think it a little overzealous to take Halloween this seriously centuries later, and my family didn’t take it that seriously. Although growing up in a household that believes in the forces of good and evil outside of this world, we are very careful of what we participate in and allow filling our minds with. Does this mean that now, as an adult, I don’t enjoy a good horror movie? Not at all! In fact, as I have gotten older, I have fun memories watching horror movies with my mom. Now that I am more mature and set in my beliefs, I am not so easily influenced by movies and the fictional storylines they play out. My parents were just looking out for me when I was young before I hit my teens when I was more easily influenced. So even though most, if not all people, consider Halloween as just a fun candy-filled holiday, it does have a pretty serious history behind it, and my parents wanted to protect me from that for as long as they could.
Remember that Disney Approach I was talking about? That is my jam now! I absolutely L-O-V-E LOVE spooky season! The carving jack o’ lanterns and watching cute spooky movies with a cup of coffee while the smell of pumpkin spice (you heard right, I love pumpkin spice, and I’m proud of it too) fills my nostrils is what I live for nowadays! Ironically, I have my parents to thank for this. Because I didn’t discover all of these Halloween movies and fun traditions until I was around the age of 15, I had to make up for the lost time! Now, Halloween is probably second only to Christmas in my list of favorite holidays. Long story short, I was a weird sheltered kid who blossomed into a Halloween loving, spooky season endorser. I hope you enjoyed my long-winded tale of how I fell in love with Halloween.