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Whether Halloween evil a matter of interpretation

Oct. 28, 2005

by GENTRA CARTWRIGHT, columnist

Halloween is Monday. For the past month or so, everything from witches to goblins to pumpkins have been covering the shelves of grocery stores and party factories.

Growing up, it was never a question as to whether my family would celebrate Halloween. I was always taught that it was a time to play dress-up and go from door to door and ask for candy.

Whether I was dressing up as my favorite character from the latest Disney movie or pulling the sheets off my bed and transforming into a ghost, Halloween was always a holiday I looked forward to.

One of my most favorite moments is going home after a night of trick or treating and laying all my candy out with my sisters to see who was lucky enough to receive the "best" candy.

I was raised in a Christian home and we attended church every Sunday. Was it wrong for me to think that celebrating Halloween was OK?

That question never really came to mind until recently, when I was at the check out counter of Family Dollar about two weeks ago. The store was crammed full of orange and black Halloween candy and decorations.

While waiting in line, I saw a little boy and his mother enter the store. Just as the little boy saw of all the Halloween candy, he said to his mother, "I want all this candy for Halloween." His mother grabbed him by the arm and said, "Baby, we don't celebrate Halloween -- that's the devil's birthday."

Astonished, I listened and replayed the conversation I had just overheard back in my head. Did parents still have this overly conservative view of a holiday that had become so accepted?

It was amazing to me that instead of looking at Halloween as a chance to become someone or something else for one night out of the year, people still view Oct. 31 as the devil's birthday.

Now, don't get me wrong, I would never like to think that I would even agree to celebrating the birthday of the devil.

But since I was raised with the idea that Halloween was a fun night full of costumes and candy, the thought never really crossed my mind.

To see if there were others like me, I decided to take a look at the statistics out for this year's Halloween.

The national Shopping in America survey said that of "59 percent of people taking part in Halloween activities, 56 percent plan to dress up in costume." Hmm ... it seems like I'm not the only "hellyun" who thinks celebrating Halloween is an OK thing to do, since more than half of America plans to participate in this year's fright night festivities.

Another surprising statistic I found was that Americans plan to spend a total of $3.12 billion on Halloween, up from $2.96 billion last year. This means that we're giving out some pretty serious dough for a holiday that is looked upon as the devil's birthday.

What does that say about us as a nation? Specifically at Baylor, residence halls are traditionally decorated from top to bottom with Halloween décor, as freshmen girls dress in costume to hand out candy to the children of faculty and staff.

A conservative private university endorsing a holiday such as Halloween? Usually, this would seem out of the question. I, like most other Americans, like to agree with my parents and Baylor.

It's all how you look at things as to determine a right or wrong way to celebrate holidays like Halloween.

I don't look at it as the devil's birthday, and personally, I think parents should tell their children the same. With so many bad things happening around us, why does a silly holiday like Halloween have to be put in such a bad light?

Even at our age, we should all make costumes, buy some candy and celebrate Halloween the way it was meant to be celebrated.

Gentra Cartwright is a senior communication specialist and public relations major from Montgomery.