I have always loved Halloween. Walking around with my friends, in the dark, while dressed up in great costumes? All that and collecting candy, too? Come on! What could be better?
As I got older, I went from a small orange paper bag to a bigger paper Halloween bag until I achieved the ultimate storage method: a pillow case. Of course, I believed it to be my civic duty to fill the case, which I never accomplished, though not for lack of trying.
Despite the occasional stories that make parents and kids anxious: loose candy laced with LSD, razors in apples, etc., there has never been a reported case of poisoned or laced candy. There has never been a report of injury due to bobby trapped fruit. Why wouldn’t every kid in America be on the streets?
That’s certainly what it feels like on my block. We’ve become a destination Halloween street. Cars pull up disgorging kids from all over the greater Boston area. It’s like the Halloween scene in Spielberg’s ET!
So it always surprises me when our co-religionists get so uptight about Halloween. Today on the URJ website a featured story was titled, “How to Prevent Halloween from Overwhelming Your Family”, and it was written by a Reform rabbi! I felt badly for her. She refuses any Halloween decorations. She won’t carve pumpkins (do it on Sukkot she opines…). She will only allow her kids to go in their cul de sac (they’ll never fill a pillow case like that!). How sad for her kids that the true joy and fun of this day is minimized because “it’s not Jewish.”
It’s all good, clean American fun. Halloween has absolutely nothing to do with any direct religious observance. The Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding says that while Halloween “may have served a religious function in the past, today it is rather devoid of religious connotations; it serves much more as a civic celebration,” according to a statement from the group released by Co-Chair Ritu Zazzaro. “Halloween provides us all a wonderful opportunity for celebrating alongside our neighbors and joining together with the larger community. And we can all bring our particular religious values into a secular holiday like Halloween.” http://goo.gl/ol7voI
So get out there and enjoy! With all of the things that divide us, how nice that there is still a tradition that transcends barriers of culture and religion and politics.