Good Idea, Bad Idea: Halloween

October 28, 2011

Hey everyone, today I’ve got a cool guest post from Tor Constantino a lifelong believer, former journalist, current PR guy and blogger from DC. You can find him here on Twitter and on Facebook.

Halloween is nearly here, and it’s a tricky (pardon the pun) holiday for Christians given its pagan roots and association with various festivals of the dead.  Some Christians are dead set against it, but thanks to slick Madison Avenue packaging and hyper-candy-consumerism, Halloween can be as acceptable to Christians as a “fun-sized” Baby Ruth® bar.

Yet, for a holiday intended for children, adults still manage to screw it up a lot, with sexy costumes and lousy candy.  Consider this: Good Idea, Bad Idea, Halloween Edition.

Costumes

GOOD IDEA: Allow your kids to dress as an angel, shepherd, wise man, Mary, Joseph or a sheep or goat.  My rule of thumb is that if it’s a costume that’s acceptable for a Christmas pageant at a neighborhood church, it should be okay for your kids to wear as they mooch candy from your neighborhood.  Maybe you could get kind of esoteric and dress your kids as a box of frankincense.

Yes, Zombie Jesus is a big deal. Do a Google image search.

BAD IDEA: Let your kids to dress as any of the aforementioned options with the word “Zombie” in front of it. While precocious PKs may try to pull off the Zombie Jesus costume, passionately asserting that Jesus did rise from the dead, a quick witted parent will counter that He did NOT, however, rise from the UNdead.

Jack-O-Lanterns

GOOD IDEA: Get creative with your gourd-carving skills. A pumpkin bearing a large heart-shaped hole with a glowing candle inside beneath a cross whittled out of the pumpkin stem shows your little light shining.

BAD IDEA: Let your Christian teens go around smashing pumpkins on Halloween, even if  your name is Billy Corgan and you had a string of alternative-Goth hits off of two multi-platinum albums.

Candy

GOOD IDEA: If secular chocolate is too “of the world” for you, have an ample supply of the Good News® candy bar.  This is a bona fide confection consisting of rich milk chocolate, peanuts and caramel. In fact, it’s the number one selling candy bar in Hawaii (for real) and it’s the perfect option for believers who want to share the “Good News” with trick-or-treaters.

BAD IDEA – Give out any of the following: apples, pencils, toothbrushes, handfuls of loose Circus Peanut marshmallows, any “old timer” candy (i.e. Mary Janes, Bit-O-Honey, Black Jack Taffy, anything that comes in wax paper), or any Christian-themed handouts that aren’t also bagged with copious amounts of good candy.  (The bag is key so there’s no question that the Jesus stuff came with candy.)  Nothing says, “Egg my house” like one of these melancholy freebies.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you had parents egging your house if you give out toothbrushes.  It kind of insults other parents to imply their kids don’t already have toothbrushes.

Witnessing

GOOD IDEA: Keep it subtle. Maybe have your kids carry a goodie bag that’s logoed with an Ichthys gobbling up candy corns.

BAD IDEA: Aggressively proselytize.  Counter to what some Christians believe, a holiday fueled by sugar-induced greed and dressed up with witches, Spidermen and Obamas is not the most opportune time to share Jesus.  Not with preaching to trick-or-treaters.  Not with “hell houses.”  You’ll be fighting the tide of kids who want to get to the next house, and parents who want to get their kids home.  So let it go this one night, and wait for Christmas or Easter.

Ultimately, Christians are going to disagree as to whether or not we should partake in Halloween.

Boo.

However, I think we can all agree that Necco® Wafers are the worst candy on the planet – in fact they should be called Necro Wafers since they taste like chalky death in your mouth. The absolute worst flavor of those detestable discs is the licorice variety, followed closely by the gritty chocolate wafer.  I’d just as soon gnaw a Rolaids.  At least you get a preventive antacid effect.

Question: What’s the worst Halloween candy or freebie you ever got as a kid?  What was the candy you always hoarded like it was gold?

41 responses to Good Idea, Bad Idea: Halloween

  1. Hi Matt & Tor,

    For the first time in 45 years, Ginny and I will not be doing Halloween this year. I regret that.

    In the past we have gone all out to make sure that the people who come to our door go away with the very best treats we can give.

    We’ve felt that’s the Christian thing to do.

    The week before Halloween we set up a yard display illustrating Psalm 23, the one they read at funerals, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You, Lord, are with me”.

    We put out happy signs welcoming Trick’rTreaters on October 31.

    Then we prepare Ziploc bags containing rings, whistles, glider airplanes, crayons & bike safety color books, bits of costume jewelry we pick up over the year at garage sales, toy trucks, paper hats, one full-size chocolate bar and a handful of individually-wrapped smaller candies–and two Gospel tracts in comic book format.

    I think some of my October/November blog entries from past years have photos.

    We set up a distribution table at the end of our drive, build a small bonfire, and put out lawn chairs and a coffee pot to welcome weary parents to sit and chat while their kids browse.

    Our purpose in this endeavor has been to present a non-threatening Gospel message to folks who would be coming to our front door anyhow.

    One word of caution: Read any comic book tract yourself before handing it to anyone else (some are offensive trash). The two I like best are Chick tracts called “One Way” a Gospel presentation for non-readers, and “Cleo”, a tale of a lost puppy. Sometimes we put together treat packets for older kids with a different set of comic book tracts–but do read ’em before handing them out at your front door.

    We have never had a bit of trouble with unruly strangers but we keep a cell phone at hand and a baseball bat leaning out of sight on a table leg. Everybody’s welcome at our house but I don’t cotton to no crap.

    Ginny and I would sit at the end of our drive to welcome visitors. We played soft music on the radio, sipped mugs of coffee, read between callers, talked, and watched the Harvest Moon rise–a romantic time together.

    Life and money and health preclude our doing Halloween this year.
    It was always fun. I miss it.

    John Cowart

  2. I agree those chalky discs are the worst candy ever! My favorite was Snickers and Muskateers.

  3. The zombie Jesus reminds me of a tee shirt I want.
    “Lazarus: The 1st Zombie”

    As a kid I hated the butterscotch hard candies, so disgusting and lame. My fave was twix or some nerds.

    I hear a lot of people this year are going to dress up as Steve Jobs as a tribute.

    • Hadn’t thought of the Steve Jobs thing. That’ll be interesting to see how people pull it off convincingly…unless they just go buy a full costume with mask.

    • Charlie – I completely agree with you on the Butterscotch business – just nasty. Now I know I’m really going to offend people with this next one…I hate Tootsie Rolls. What is a Tootsie Roll trying to be?? It’s not real chocolate – it’s like a candy poser. Am I wrong?

    • You mean the reincarnated Steve Jobs that is a factory worker in China making iPhones for $3 a day? 😉

  4. I might be one of the few people on this planet who enjoys candy corn. Always have, and always ate too much until I got a sugar headache.

  5. Last year was the first year our kids participated in Halloween in any way. Our church had “trunk or treat” as part of their “Heavenly HALO-Ween”– see what they did there? Snark.

    This year, I’m getting in on the action and dressing up as Amy Pond from Dr. Who. Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid, but of course my parents were apparently pagan Lutherans for letting us partake. ; )

    Actually, pretty much any Christian Holiday (Christmas, Easter….) has some pagan roots in it, when we really dissect things. I have no problem with Christians staying out of the Halloween festivities… its when they claim that doing so makes one a child of the devil, more than say, having a Christmas TREE, which is a pagan symbol. Tee hee. I wonder if this is sort a 1 Corinthians 8 kind of issue.

    • Hmmmm….Alias, it’s as I’ve always suspected, you Lutherans are one potluck-church-basement-luncheon away from hell fire (kidding…only kidding). Thanks for the funny comment!

      • Technically I don’t consider myself a Lutheran anymore….just a Christian. I’ve been a part of a prophetic ministry, a non-denom church, and now a (gasp!) Southern Baptist Church. The “one potluck-church-basement-luncheon away from hell fire ” comment probably still applies though…. hah hah. Just kidding!

  6. I forgot the CANDY!

    Really, anything with chocolate is good. M&M’s, Twix, Snickers. 100 Grand were always my favorites. And Smarties! They aren’t chocolate, just tasty tasty sugar.

  7. Great post. I’ve actually never thought of it from that perspective! Good to hear some refreshing information about Halloween this year.

  8. My favorite treat I remember getting while Trick or Treating when I was a kid would be frowned upon these days. A lady down the street made these huge, amazing popcorn balls that she’d wrap up in wax paper and give to all the kids. They were so yummy!

    While I participated in Halloween and Trick or Treating, my children do not. It’s just not worth it for me to attempt to wade around the bad aspects of the holiday so my kids can dress up and mooch candy. Plus, my kids are too little for candy, which means I would have to eat it all.

    Hmm. On second thought….

    ;0)

  9. I like chocolate, but in the old days there was cider, apples, pumpkin seeds, and stuff I just tossed out. Love Payday bars and anything chocolate – any kind. I think it is awesome that dark chocolate is on my heart recovery list!

    If holidays are a problem because of roots, then chuck them all. We are under the new covenant – so forget the Jewish holidays, and all the pagan wannabe feasts from Halloween to Christmas and Easter – or just enjoy them as you would any other day, or even your birthday – which also has pagan roots; you weren’t born saved.

  10. Sarabeth, those popcorn balls sound awesome! My parents were kind of freakishly paranoid and never let us eat any homemade Halloween goodies. So whenever we got caramel popcorn balls, we had to save them, varnish them and use ’em as Christmas ornaments. I’m not sure if that’s candy recycling or candy redemption…..

  11. Our family goal is to shed light in a dark holiday. In the past, we have gone all out and bought the best candy, or even bags of M&M cookies for kids, printed out verses that fit on an address label and put them on the candy. We have also had the kids ask for spare change for some cause. One year it was to help get schoolbooks for kids in Africa for a friend that goes to a Unitarian Universalist Church, as much to witness to her as to help others. We also collected for “Free the Slaves”. Our family always has matched whatever spare change our neighbors can give. Dressing up is fun, so our kids have gone trick or treating. Our kids dress up as animals or people who are not bad. I don’t even like them to dress us as pirates because, as fun as pirates are made out to be, they are essentially robbers and liars. This year, one child is a WWI nurse, another is Charles Lindbergh, one is going as a spider if she can get her costume ready in time and the third is going to be a jungle missionary. And we are collecting cans for a local food pantry.

  12. Best halloween candy? Hard to remember life before chocolate. Worst was hands down store bought popcorn balls. Didn’t need to shalac those bad boys, it was done before they hit the shelves!
    Neccos belong in a bottle of coke. Ka-Bloowie!
    And has anyone ever thought that full size tootsie rolls look like doggie doo?
    My kiddo’s worst candy is suckers that have no brand name. Ya know, the kind with strings loops attached to the sucker? And then there were those orange and black wrapped candies. *shudder* Usually too hard to eat, but great for throwing at someone who tried to steal your candy.
    Just stick to dark chocolate, and nobody gets hurt.

  13. Sorry, I love Necco wafers, esp. the licorice ones. Although they’re not as good as lots of other stuff. Don’t have a favorite, although I prefer chocolate, chewy, or both chocolate and chewy, but worst ever is anything with shredded coconut in it.

    We live too far out of town to get any trick-or-treaters, and I kind of miss all the cute little kids dressed up in their store-bought trademarked cartoon character costumes.

  14. And Rolaids taste better than Necco Wafers too. Those things are awful!

  15. I actually did get a rock one year. I figure some wise guy wanted to make a Charlie Brown joke.

  16. Another Necco Wafer lover here. And licorice happens to be my favorite. Word on the street is that you used to be able to use them in toll booths. Not that I would ever do such a thing. But I received my favorite candy years ago – a house on our street was giving out the full-size box of Cracker Jack. Talk about hitting the jackpot!!

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