"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Halloween

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


After the recent posts about Halloween, I thought I'd start a new thread on the subject. My OALC family celebrated Halloween, and I have happy memories of home-made costumes and trick-or-treating in our suburban Minneapolis neighborhood. There were houses that thrilled (full-size candy bars) and houses that didn't (sticky candy popcorn balls in wax paper). We had pillowcases for treats, and after we little kids came home tired, the big kids made their rounds. Later, we would tally and trade. I loved Smarties, but thought Necco wafers tasted like chalk. Still do.

One year my older sister and I were Indian princesses in "buckskin" (brown cloth) and long braids. One year I was an angel in a repurposed pillowcase with gold rickrack. A big brother (now an OALC preacher) took a photograph of me flying on the picnic table. Another year I was Pippy Longstocking with a coathanger wired through my braids. The brothers were usually cowboys or hoboes, with coffee grounds for whiskers. It was more of a carnival than a parade of horrors. I don't remember anything scarier than ghosts.

WIth our own children, we've tried to emphasize that carnival aspect, and until recently made their costumes (a favorite: our tubby, tuneful 1-year old dressed as a Wagnerian opera singer, complete with with breastplate and helmet and gold braids). As with their birthday celebrations, we've emphasized imagination and discouraged Disney or other commercial characters.

This year our daughter (after a few years of princessy ideation) is yearning to be a big, white dog (inspired by her little, white dog). I get to be their veterinarian, pockets stuffed with kibble.

Our son, who has avoided all things ghoulish in the past, asked this year if he could purchase a skeleton costume (a black bodysuit with plastic bones on it). Given the alternatives available, it was fairly tame, and I thought his rationale profound. He said "I get really, really scared, but if I look scary, then I can scare away the scary stuff before it gets me." Having had death on our minds so much lately, I think this is also his way of being brave about it. I bought the costume, and darned if he isn't the cutest skeleton I've every seen. Of course I didn't tell him that.

And I hope it isn't a trend. There is a difference between looking scary and looking gruesome. Some of the costumes I've seen make me question the wearer's sanity!

We'll go trick-or-treating while my husband tends to the parade that shows up at our door, and afterward, the kids will tally and trade, save a dozen pieces, and sell the rest to daddy, who will take it to work for his candy-loving coworkers.

I'm looking forward to Halloween. Like with so much else, what WE make of it is what matters.


  1. More memories since my last posting: We always dressed for the school Halloween party in elementary, homemade costumes of old clothes, etc. At the end of the day, after wearing our costumes all day, the classes paraded through (it was a small school) and then each room had a party. We brought our own snacks, and there was usually some kind mother who made goodies for the entire class. Then we played quiet games like word searches and coloring.

    Our children dressed up for school on that day, cute things like princess, cat, desperado (he didn't call himself a hobo!), cowboy. I don't recall ever doing scary things.

    Trick or Treating has been scaled way down around here, so we've resorted to keeping the lights off and/or going out for the evening. Very few kids do the house rounds. Many churches have special events for their members and the local malls sponsor trick or treating for the little kids. I think that's a great alternative.

  2. We never had any problem with letting our kids enjoy Halloween by dressing up and going trick or treating. I always figured that the folks who frowned on it as devil's worship or worse needed badly to go get a life and stop trying to make everything into doom and gloom. I do not really care what the ancient origins of the holiday are -- all I know is that kids will enjoy it if we adults stay the heck out the way and stop trying desperately to find some way to ruin it.

    Of course, that's kind of the theme for the OALC isn't it? Halloween is fun; therefore it must be evil. Sports are fun; therefore they must be evil. A glass of wine is fun; therefore it must be evil. A game of cards is fun; therefore it must be evil. (Oh wait! If you play with cards that only have numbers on them, then it's ok. hmmmm...) I try to remember to thank the Lord he delivered me from that load of malarkey.

    Now I will say that I don't enjoy it when the high school kids hit my doorstep begging for candy. After the little ones are through -- quite early in the evening usually -- then we'll turn off the light and that usually sorts out the "big kid" problem.

  3. I just thought of some early Halloween stories I heard from my folks. In the "old days", Halloween was a night of pranks, ranging from the mundane tipping of outhouses to pulling a buggy on top of a barn roof and leaving it there -- two wheels on each side of the ridge row at the top. Now that took some doing and obviously wasn't done by kids! However, after a good chuckle the next day by all, then everyone pitched in and got the darned thing down again and righted the outhouses.

  4. Halloween is coming to Finland, too, but I haven't noticed any trick-or-treating yet. I guess it hasn't reached that stage yet, just masquerades/costume parties with a Halloween theme for kids and grown ups. Stores have started selling Halloween decorations and stuff, and some people actually buy them, but it's not too common though. Traditionally Halloween has not been anything big for the Finns, but the following day, All Saints Day (Halloween comes from "Hallow Eve" or "All Hallows' Eve") is characterized by lighting of candles on the graves of one's deceased relatives.

    However, there's another tradition in Finland that is somehow similar to the American Halloween trick-or-treating. On Palm Sunday the Orthodox population has always decorated willow twigs with paper flowers and the kids go to their relatives with the decorated twigs and wish them good luck for the coming year, in return they are given candy on Easter Sunday. The Lutheran population has adopted this tradition, adding their own twist on it. While the Orthodox tradition has never included any dressing up or going to strangers' houses, the Lutheran kids nowadays dress up like witches and make a round in the neighborhood begging for candy in return for the decorateg willow twigs. They collect the candy in baskets or old coffee pots. Pretty much like Halloween trick-or-treating. The Orthodox in general are very much opposed to this distortion of their tradition and don't let their kids participate. Laestadians don't seem to have a problem with letting their kids do that, but of course, there might be also families who don't.

    Personally I'm pretty indifferent to Halloween. However, I find some of the costumes I've seen pretty macabre and can't see why any sane person would want to dress up like that. The best Halloween tradition is pumpkin pie, there's nothing better than pumpkin pie with whipped cream! :)

  5. Cvow,

    I remember those stories of Halloween 'pranks' too.. my grandparents generation talked about the tipping outhouses and wagons on barn roofs.. Although those same grandparents were very strict about other things, even whistling, for some reason Halloween wasn't considered harmful. We always dressed up and trudged from door to door and it was a lot of fun.. We also did the Halloween things with our own kids, but tried to stay away from the gruesome stuff.. which has only gotten worse over the last 20 years.. eeek. Anyway, this holiday has never been seen as problematic in our circles..


  6. I spent some time growning up in Mpls, but I cant remember any halloween festivities being 'allowed.'

    My mom was great though, she always tried to make things fun and let us be kids. she let us dress up all year round, and halloween was the time of year we were allowed out of the house looking like that! (well to school anyhow) My 4 brothers and I used to all go to our rooms, except one, and the one would get to knock on the other 4 doors and go 'trick or treating' or we would play fishing for candy. and my mom would set up the popcorn popper in the living room, in the middle of a sheet, and take the lid off the popper. It would rain popcorn and we would chase it and catch it like snowflakes in our mouths. What a blast!

    the best memories were going over to grandmas (cause there are a couple halloween birthdays in the family) and eating carmal popcorn balls till I was sick and playing kick the can in the dark. there's no place like a farm for that... :)

    Once time my aunt and uncle let us go trick or treating around thier neighborhood with my cousins, but my mom and dad made us throw out all our candy with stories about razor blades in apples and poison soaked tootsie rolls.

    Today I let my kids dress up all year round too. In FUN or "when I grow up" costumes. Nothing gorey or scary is allowed. I think having fun all year round makes halloween lose some of its allure. (Im hoping anyways)that and I love to dress up with my daughter in flowing renesance dresses, white gloves and cowboy hats, and have tea anytime we feel like it :)

    And I dont dare go trick or treating because of the gross costumes. Last year we went to a friends house for a party, but on the way we encountered a bloody grim reaper of sorts and my poor kids still have nightmares. Thats the part I feel is wrong about Halloween. surprises are fun, but not scaring. My brothers and I used to make haunted houses for ourselves. It usually consisted of a box ontop of a door that would fall on you when you went through, or jumping out at someone, or soaking them with a waterballoon. hee hee!

    Yes its what I make of it with my kids, but I have a serious problem with what most of the world makes of it these days.

    My neighbor across the street has stuffed people hanging by their necks from her tree, and I dont even know how to begin explaining that one to my children. so we celebrate by going to a kids club party with games and innocence, or we stay at home and have a family/friends game night.

    Do I worry about 'celebrating' a holiday that is typically celebrated with gore and glorification of the gross and evil after life? sometimes. but i have to admit Im ignorent in my history on this one, and until i prioritize learning more, i will just let my kids be kids. heck maybe even after too :p because we can have our kind of fun all year round.

  7. one year our baby was a pea pod, all snug in a onesie with a hat. and our 4 year old was a rock and roll star with pink and purple hair and an electric guitar.

    And the skeleton doesnt have to be scary, it is after all, part of biology, and something we all have to live with!

    I personally have been trying to put together a blue fairy costume for about 3 years. pink and purple are the thing it seems... maybe I will have to be little bunny foo foo?

  8. I remember dressing up when I was a kid (which wasn't too long ago) and having a school party and then trick or treating in one of the small towns by where we lived. We knew almost everyone in the town. I think I was even a witch one year. Most of the time it was a clown, princess, doctor, or other such costumes. I did have a halloween party at my sister's house when I was a teenager and that was one of the best halloweens. People had dressed up anonymously and we had to try guess who they were. It was a hoot! Also, my parents (OALCers) had a halloween party at their farm a couple years ago and we trick or treated at all the outbuildings. My mom even dressed up!! Most people were at the church gathering but we prefered to just have a family night. This year I'm going to my church for a carnival. My little kids are excited to dress up!

  9. Lefty Laestadian10/16/2006 12:55:00 PM

    Another book available in English with Laestadian references: Troll by Johanna Sinisalo. She is originally from Kemi (Finnish Lapland). It's about a young photographer in Helsinki named Angel who finds a young troll and harbors it in his apartment, with disastrous implications. The points of views shift between Angel, his past and present boyfriends, a Philipina woman living in his apartment complex, and with varying fictional and real sources about trolls (who are treated as a legitimate but rare species) from sources ranging from fairy tales, "encyclopedias", and a Lars Levi Laestadius sermon. (Remember his sermons about the creatures who live underground?) A strange but interesting read.

  10. That's right, the earthlings who will snatch your children and take them under the earth where they dwell if you're not vigilantly watching. (LLL New Year's sermon, read every New Year's Day in the OALC.)
    Sounds like the musings of a rational mind.

  11. Nope, no Halloween. That was devil's stuff. We'd go out to eat to avoid the trick-or-treaters.

    I enjoy this old Disney Silly Symphony: The Skeleton Dance. Dancing is fun, and skeletons are so cool!

  12. As a kid growing up in the "World", I loved halloween. My brothers and sisters all dressed up in home made costumes and knocked on doors all over town. It was a small town, and everyone knew everybody. The adults would try to guess who we were, and then gave us treats. I can still remember homemade cookies, gingerbread, fudge, and of course penny candy. My spouse, who was raised oalc, was also allowed to go trick-or-treating, however the official church position was that it was a wordly sin and should be avoided. We always allowed our kids to enjoy halloween, and our grandchildren are now doing the same. Our family always treated halloween as a fun thing, and still do to this day.