Double Take

Taking a second look at life experiences

Confession: I’m a Halloween Humbug



I don’t get it.

If Halloween is really Happy what’s with all the images of scary pumpkins, witches, goblins, ghosts, and ghouls?

This does not make for a Happy Holiday for me. Maybe because Halloween comes on the heels of starting the new school year in September, but that’s only part of it. The other part is that Halloween’s celebration of death-like imagery (skeletons, graveyards, blood-thirsty things, devils and more) just doesn’t appeal to my Jewish sensibility of revering life.

After years of reaping the candy rewards as a child, without so much as a second thought about any spooky connections that made that experience enjoyable, Halloween and I became only polite acquaintances once I became a parent.

It was a holiday I tolerated, because my kids were part of American culture. I gave out candy at my door, but hated the consistent door-bell ringing that peppered the few hours we had to ourselves after a day at work.

But every time I saw skeletons hanging from trees, ghosts posted by doorways, and front lawns turned into graveyards, I decided to back off from the holiday’s ghoulish behavior. Once my kids were old enough to get their candy fix in the proper way, by buying it—not by opening a bag at someone’s door, I’ve separated from it entirely.

Not even my fond memories of my mother’s creative home-made costumes can save my opinion of the Hallowed holiday now. Mind you, I am not judging your participation. I’m Happy if you’re Happy.…even if my version of Happy doesn’t involve gory costumed characters or spooky-looking carved pumpkins.


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2 thoughts on “Confession: I’m a Halloween Humbug

  1. Ronne Randall on said:

    You make an excellent point! This holiday has had numerous incarnations, going from a pagan celebration to a Christian festival to the secular mish-mash now celebrated in the US (and rapidly becoming more popular here in the UK, where it has generally been looked upon as a nasty American import). For little kids, it’s all about dressing up and candy — which Jewish children can do at Purim anyway. A little touch of scary stuff is OK — kids like ghosty stories, and witches are stock fairy tale characters — but the ghoulishness of all the vampires and skeletons and devils really turns me off. In the 30 years since I left the US, Halloween seems to have become a very over-the-top production, with hordes of children being choreographed through the streets in search of excessive amounts of sweets — so far from the low-key but fun stuff we did as kids (and we trick-or-treated for Unicef!) Hardly anyone in our neighborhood goes trick-or-treating, though friends in other parts of Nottingham say they have lots of kids ringing their doorbells. I actually like it when kids come to our door (though we won’t be home tomorrow night, so we’ll miss them). But I would rather it were just a fun holiday rather than a combination of grotesque horror and avarice.

    • Thank you for writing! Over-the-top is a statement about many holiday celebrations in the U.S.! Beginning in late August, huge ‘pop-up’ stores appear, devoted to selling all manner of Halloween paraphernalia. Most is fun stuff. I just don’t get the fun factor in glorifying gory, death-related merchandise. I too can live with the rest!

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