Happy . . . now, what day is it?

My prize-winning Pollyanna costume

My prize-winning Pollyanna costume

Tomorrow, not Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July and certainly not Easter, is now the second most popular holiday in America, second only to Christmas. Halloween brings mixed feelings to many of us. I have fond memories of Halloween as a child, often winning the Creative Costume category, thanks to my mother’s active imagination.

But others, in reaction to our society’s obsession with vampires, the occult, and grisly murders, don’t celebrate it at all. Concerned parents who don’t want to deprive their children from playing dress-up and eating candy until they get sick, rename the holiday. I’ve heard it called Harvest Party, Fall Festival, and The Great Pumpkin Day. Churches here in North Carolina refer to it as Trunk or Treat, with the children scooping candy out of open car trunks in the church parking lot. Many believers prefer to commemorate Reformation Day instead. The Protestant Reformation began on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral.

But Halloween simply means the eve before All Hallows or All Saints Day. When I moved to Cluj, Romania, I experienced the intended reverence of November 1st, vastly different from its American counterpart. Most of the townsfolk silently ambled to the cemetery on top of the hill, lovingly tidying up the resting places of their relatives and placing fresh white flowers on their graves. At night, I watched the beautiful procession of white candlelight winding down the hillside, as they returned to their homes. There was nothing ghoulish about the day at all.

In almost 10 years of marriage, I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where children either feel safe or welcome to Trick or Treat. No one could even find our door in our last place in California. Steve and I are armed with bags of candy this year, hoping to see some cute costumes. But, please, no vampires, witches, or grim reapers.

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