Some American evangelicals have engaged in vociferous hand-wringing about the spiritual dangers of Halloween: Will our kids think we’re glamorizing the occult if we let them go trick-or-treating? Are we breaking the Bible’s taboo against sorcery if we not only suffered a witch to live, but dressed that pint-sized Hermione in an adorable pointy hat and plied her with candy?
In my twenty years as a Mormon, I’ve not heard boo about the alleged spiritual dangers of Halloween. I’m sure there are some Mormons out there who don’t celebrate it, and I’ve heard a couple of stories about wards renaming their annual Halloween party a “Fall Festival.” But in general, Mormons seem to love Halloween.
Love, love, love it.
In fact, here are the only “don’ts” I’ve heard with any consistency:
1. Don’t let your daughters dress like hookers. In recent years, girls’ Halloween costumes have gotten, shall we say, kittenish. (For a hilarious take on the increasing sluttiness of Halloween costumes for women and girls, see this clip from The Daily Show.) But Mormons aren’t having it. Basically, the same modesty rules that apply the other 364 days of the year go for October 31 too, so if you dress as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz make sure the costume is more like this than like this.
2. Don’t wear masks. I don’t know why this is a “thing” in Mormonism, but the Church Handbook of Instruction actually forbids masks in any church activity except in dramatic productions (CHI 13.6.25). Sorry, Spiderman.
3. Focus on the fun, wholesome parts of the holiday and not the gore/death/fear elements. Mormons tend to emphasize the family time, silliness, and pumpkin-carving. (Pumpkin-carving, in fact, appears to have become a mandatory Family Home Evening activity on the Monday before Halloween.) Mormons tend to skip over the darker, more frightening aspects of the day. On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of haunted houses in Utah . . . go figure.
Why is Halloween so popular? While anti-Mormons would probably point to this as just one more example of how Mormonism isn’t really Christian, yada, yada, I think we love Halloween because it’s a holiday devoted to the things Mormons enjoy most:
- America (where else in the world do they celebrate this holiday?)
- Going door to door, often in pairs . . .
I have a feeling that any Mormon holdouts who might oppose this holiday will soon be forced to give way to the rising orange tide. For myself, I’ll be the one in the Angry Bird costume handing out candy this weekend.
And eating a lot of it myself.
Editorial note: This post was originally published in October 2013. But since Mormons still have our love affair with sugar and costumes and such, I thought I’d repost it this week. Happy Halloween!