For his Halloween party at school on Friday, Anders went as Luke Skywalker. He was going to go as a mummy, but Beth worked the 2 nights before then, and I just didn't get the outfit together. He kept going back and forth between what he wanted to dress up as anyway.
It was kind of that way tonight, too. We weren't too sure what they were going to walk out the door as until a few minutes before we did. Anders wanted to go as Luke Skywalker again. We convinced him to go in his outfit from the ice planet Hoth, so we could work in his winter coat and other warm clothing. Nils finally ended up going with Spiderman (which was what he had initally decided upon), but wanted a cowboy hat to go with it. His coat underneath gave him some nice muscles.
I commented tonight on how we used to get popcorn balls and sugar cookies and apples when I was young. We were also by a small town where we started the evening with a costume parade in the school's old gymnasium and the bank gave each kid a half-dollar coin. Our town also had set hours for trick-or-treating (not always on Halloween night--especially if Halloween was on a Sunday).
They don't do that around here. I've never heard of any of the towns in the Twin Cities area that have set trick-or-treating hours. People just start when the first kids show up (I'm not sure how those kids decide to go out).
Halloween is an odd holiday. People can get very polarized over it--though very few that I know. For most people it's all about the candy--just like Christmas is about the presents and Easter about the chocolate eggs.
Most Christian holidays were existing pagan festivals that believers reclaim (I also feel that Christianity isn't so much a religion but a transforming agent--transforming people in the culture they're in). We don't have our own original holidays outside of the ones originating in the Old Testament--which we don't tend to celebrate.
And so, somewhere along the line, when people in Ireland first followed Jesus, they decided to take the celebration of Samhain (which was a harvest/end-of-summer festival as well as the day when the spiritual world became more open to the material) and blend it with the church's celebration of the saints--those who had passed on before them. And so, to simplify the history, All Saints Day was born (or All Hallow's Day, which started on the evening of October 31, so All Hallow's Eve became Hallowe'en). Most of our churches pay little attention to All Saints Day (and few give a passing nod to Reformation Day on October 31, observing Martin Luther's call for the church to stop some of it's practices that went against Christ's teachings).
So, Halloween has become a celebration of fear instead of us taking the time to remember the faith of our predecessors. Our culture's attraction to fear is another odd thing. St. John tells us that "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). Fear isn't always a bad thing--but it is meant to drive us toward reverence of God, rather than being scared.
So, as I get ready for bed, and enjoy the big pile of candy in our cupboard, I remind myself to take sometime to remember the examples of those gone before me. Like Martin Luther. Like Martin Luther King. Like my grandfathers and my great-grandparents.