I loved Halloween when I was a child. In the neighborhood where we lived in east Tennessee, when I was five or six, the family at the bottom of the hill opened their home to Trick-or-Treaters. They had big bowls of popcorn on the table, and hot chocolate and hot cider, and we were welcome to go inside and eat snacks and check out what was in our loot bags and warm up until we were ready to leave.

A couple of years later, I lived in Michigan. One of the neighbors there had a Polaroid camera when they were still brand new, and the cameras were a big deal. They set up a lovely Halloween scene on their carport, with hay bales and a scarecrow and pumpkins. Each child who came to their house got to pose for a picture. Before you left their house, you got a piece of candy and an instant photograph.

Why I Still Love Halloween

Honestly, I still love Halloween. I don’t like the genuinely scary stuff much. And I don’t go all crazy, like some people do, with orange lights and fake spiderwebs and tombstones in my front yard. I don’t carve pumpkins into elaborate works of art. But I do love the cute costumes on the little kids. And I love the opportunity to offer hospitality to everyone who comes to my door.

Halloween gives us the opportunity to practice hospitality on a small scale: just a bit of candy, with a compliment on the pretty/scary/fancy/funny costume. I’m always happy to have opportunities to practice hospitality with friends and family. But this one time of the year, I offer hospitality to strangers, to children, to people who can’t and won’t repay my hospitality. I offer hospitality to the little ones in their cute costumes and to the big ones who don’t bother to dress up.

Hospitality is a spiritual exercise. It takes practice. I hope that, by practicing hospitality at Halloween, I’ll be quicker to offer hospitality and kindness to strangers at other times. May God make it so.

If You Worry About Halloween

Perhaps you worry that Halloween is pagan, demonic, unfit for Christians. Fear not! John Sanidopoulos has written a thorough explanation of the history of Halloween from an Orthodox Christian perspective. If his treatise doesn’t calm your fears, he provides a page of Halloween resources for your further consideration.

Halloween Costumes

My only real worry at Halloween has always been the costumes. Store-bought costumes are expensive. The masks obstruct vision, creating a hazard. Costumes for adults are sleazy and inappropriate. How do you deal with the costumes?

When I was young, we made Halloween costumes from regular clothes and accessories. Hats, capes, jewelry, and makeup could turn a pair of jeans or a long skirt and a warm shirt into almost anything! That was how I handled costumes for my children as well. After Halloween, the clothing went into the closet, and the accessories went into the dress-up basket.

If you don’t have costumes for yourself or your children yet, there’s still plenty of time to make your own. If you need ideas, try Take Back Halloween. They provide step-by-step instructions for amazing costumes for women – mostly costumes of amazing women. Many of the costumes can be adapted for girls and boys.

If you need more inspiration for costumes for kids, Parenting has costume ideas that are easy and adorable.

If your little girl wants to dress up as Catherine, you could find a mint green or seafoam green church dress. If the dress doesn’t come with layers of petticoat built in, put the dress on over a tutu to give it lots of fullness. Put a pink sash around her waist and a green ribbon in her hair. If you sew, you can add pink binding to the neckline and sleeves, but that’s not necessary. White tights and black dress shoes complete the outfit. And a basket! “Catherine” can collect treats in a Pascha basket instead of a pumpkin or a pillowcase. After Halloween, put the dress in her closet, and put the tutu back in the dress-up box. Easy-peasy.

I hope you have fun getting ready for Halloween!

Read More

17 essential picture books for Orthodox Christian kids: If you’re looking for picture books that include stories about Orthodox Christian people and traditions, you’ll find them on this list.

Disabilities and Special Needs in the Church: Some people are uncomfortable around people with disabilities. They don’t know what to do or say. You can get some advice here, from people with disabilities, to make it easier.

Justinian and Theodora: A Love Story: St. Theodora, the wife and co-ruler with St. Justinian the Great, is one of my very favorite saints.

Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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