It’s spooky season! Time to carve those pumpkins, watch lots of horror movies, and pick out some costumes — or whatever it is people usually do during October in preparation for Halloween. I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never actually celebrated the holiday.
I grew up in a religious household, and I was raised as a Christian. That means I never carved up jack-o’-lanterns, or watched scary movies. I never picked out a costume, and I never got a pillowcase full of candy, because I’ve never been trick-or-treating. Okay, that’s a lie; I went once when I was two, but my mom became religious after that, so I didn’t go again. So no, I have not been trick-or-treating in 17 years — and yes, it totally sucked growing up.
My parents’ methods stem from the Christian belief that Halloween is the “devil’s day.” It’s a satanic holiday that originated from sacrificial acts, and there’s nothing godly about it. If you dress up, you’re essentially celebrating the devil and all things hell-related. Doesn’t matter if your intentions are pure and you’re dressing up as an innocent angel, as opposed to an evil ax-murderer. A costume is a costume, and any Halloween festivities are a big no-no in the church.
Little intense, right? Trust me, I know. I was taught this at four years old.
Looking back, there are certain things I wish I’d been allowed to do, so that I didn’t have to feel as left out. Every year, my friends would wear their costumes to school and look super awesome, while I wore my bland, everyday clothes. The worst was when people would look at me and ask the dreadful question, “What are you supposed to be?” My answer every time would be, “Nothing, I don’t celebrate.” My friends would make plans to go trick-or-treating together, and the next day they’d talk about their amazing night and how much candy they got. Then, for the next month and a half, they’d bring that candy to school and I’d have to suffer in silence while they got to eat their sweets. Talk about FOMO.
My childhood Halloween nights were spent at home with my family, or at church. At home, my mom would buy a box of candy so we didn’t feel too left out, and then we’d watch a movie. My church also set up a night of funtivities for us Christian kids, and they gave us some candy to take home with us too. It was nice to feel compensated, knowing the church and my parents recognized the fun that I was missing out on. Unfortunately, my tiny plastic bag of candy from the church compared to my friends’ two garbage bags full of candy is all that mattered to me when I was a kid.
I think the issue with trying to remove kids from a holiday that 95% of the population celebrates is that it messes with their heads a bit. I was genuinely terrified on Halloween, and whenever someone knocked on our door for candy I thought it was some evil person who’d break in. I always felt left out too, and I was sort of embarrassed to admit that I didn’t celebrate. Now that I’m older, it’s been a bit of a culture shock for me, adapting to the holiday. I was never surrounded by costumes or Halloween-themed stuff, but now I actually am. I go to parties with my friends, who will definitely be dressing up this year, as they have in previous years. I finally have the opportunity to be a part of the holiday I was never allowed to be a part of, and I’m still not sure if I want to indulge myself in everything to make up for the things I missed over the years, or if I’m over it at this point because I’ve lived 17 years without it anyways.
Regardless of the FOMO I experienced growing up, I’m still grateful to my parents and my church for trying to make it fun for us. It’s also nice to have a different perspective about Halloween, because of the restrictions I had as a kid. Now that I’m older, I appreciate the freedom that comes with age. I’ve learned things about Halloween from my friends, I’ve witnessed some pretty cool costumes at some parties, and I have the choice of whether I want to be a part of it or not, which is what really matters.