With everything that goes on the world why, oh, why do so many people spend so much time complaining about Halloween (from the Christian Right) or Christmas decorations (from the left). I mean, as Rodney King said, can't we all just get along?
Let's start with Halloween since it is next up on the schedule.
With this one you've got these prickly Christians who seem to think if their children are exposed to witches and jack-o-lanterns they're going to run out and become followers of Lucifer. Get a life folks. Halloween is just good kid fun. Whatever it is based on historically, whatever someone once thought it meant, right now for kids it is just about dressing up in a costume and, if your little, getting some candy (or if your older maybe partying). That's it. If someone wants to worship the devil they can do it any day. So come on Christians, get off it and, at least, let the rest of us have a good time. Do you really have so little FAITH that you think Halloween is going to turn your little ones into raving heathens? You want to be Scrooge, do it on your own time. You don't own America...yet. If you're an uptight Christian I'd suggest trying to get your kid to think it would be cool to dress up as, I don't know, Luke, Mathew or Mark. I mean, I wouldn't get off much on that, but maybe you would. I'm a Jew but I'd still be glad to give a little Joseph a candy bar. What do I care?
And speaking of being a Jew, I am not worried about being exposed to Christmas decorations. Even little baby Jesus sleeping in his manager surrounded by mom, step dad, and those wise guys doesn't scare me. I kind of enjoy it all, especially the lights. I have never felt offended by someone wishing me a Merry Christmas. Seldom, in fact never, have I thought someone was doing it any sort of offensive manner or trying to convert me. I figured they're just wishing me well. I mean really. What is the big deal? It wasn't even that awful growing up with Christmas in the school. I knew who I was. I wasn't ashamed of being Jewish and neither should your kid, nor should your Muslim child be ashamed of being Muslim, or any atheist be ashamed of being an atheist (although that's a toughie in the USA). I understand that most Americans are Christians. I'm not interested in taking their holiday away from them. To tell the truth, if I were a Christian, I would be offended by the gross commercialization of the holiday, but that not up to me. But, I mean, you don't see big Passover sales (and as for Hanukkah, although it celebrates something which I think actually is important, it is only a big deal commercially because of Christmas - little Jews like presents as much as the next kid). Anyway, from my perspective as a kid, the Christmas pageant and the like was more fun then spelling lessons any day. I survived. I still know my heritage, culture, and religion (even if I'm not spending much time practicing the latter).
As for the Easter Bunny and Valentines Day, well save that for another time.
The following letter was printed in the Rutland Herald (Vermont).
Let Halloween be Halloween
This letter is sent in response to the recent article about the renaming of Lothrop Elementary School's Halloween Parade.
At a recent meeting of the Lothrop PTO, I, along with others, protested and Principal West defended the changing of the Halloween Parade to "Book Character Dress-Up Day Parade." The first and main reason he put forth was that he wanted to make the event more academic. Thus, he reasoned, by having the children dress up as characters from books, the parade would be more relevant to school work. What Principal West failed to note was that this objective would still be possible to achieve without changing the parade's name; it is possible to require the children to tie in their costumes with a book and still call it the Halloween Parade. So this argument does not in itself seem to justify the name change.
Later in the meeting Principal West alluded to the issues of inclusion and to possibilities of lawsuits concerning separation of church and state. These reasons seemed to be much more pertinent to the changing of the name.
Interestingly enough, just this September there was a federal ruling on the very issue of Halloween as a church and state matter. In this case a federal employee, because of religious convictions, objected to Halloween decorations in the work place, which was a government building. The judged stated in his ruling: "Halloween decorations, like valentines, Easter bunnies and egg hunts are all secular displays and activities that neither convey religious messages nor constitute religious symbols. Halloween lost its religious and superstitious overtones long ago. It has become instead a commercial holiday enjoyed by communities in its many forms of entertainment."
As to the inclusion issue, which may be Mr. West's best argument, it is no doubt hard to please everybody. Were I a person who sincerely objected to Halloween on a religious basis, I am not sure I would allow my children to participate in costume on the 31st of October in a parade which is described by Mr. West (in the Herald article) as "Halloween-like"; I would be wary of being duped into participating in something to which I was opposed. On the other hand, I am aware of many parents and residents that are incensed by the name change. Ultimately, Mr. West runs the risk of antagonizing more people than he manages to draw in.
The 31st of October has been called Halloween or variations thereof for close to 1,200 years. To change the name to "Book Character Dress-Up Day" represents a loss of culture and tradition. To me it seems to be a loss no part with the Taliban blowing up the giant Buddha statues carved into the Afghan mountains because it offended their religion.