Michelle Martin

Happy Halloween

October 24, 2018

We used to have pumpkins for Halloween.

Not actual carved pumpkin, though we had those too.

I mean we had the kids, babies at that point, dress up as pumpkins. I’m pretty sure all three of them wore the same costume for their first Halloween.

We also, over the years, have had a bunny and a cat, multiple doctors, and lots and lots of kids’ cartoon characters: Disney princesses, a Teletubby, Thomas the Tank Engine, and last year, Joy from the movie “Inside Out.” For my daughters, at least, Halloween offered an opportunity to glam it up. The more sparkles the better.

This year? We have a zombie. A Minecraft zombie, to be specific, complete with ragged blue clothes and green skin and hair.

As scary costumes go, this is really very mild. Sure, zombies can kill (or be killed by) Minecraft characters. But it’s a very pixelated and bloodless event, especially since the character can just start over.

Nevertheless, it marks a change into the world of frightening costumes.

Being scared — or at least pretending to be scared, or scary — is part of the point of Halloween. (The other part is absurd amounts of candy.) The holiday’s name is a shortened version of All Hallow’s Eve, or the eve of All Saints Day, but it has its roots in the Celtic holiday of Samhain, when people would dress up to trick the spirits that were abroad in the dark evenings at the waning of the year.

That’s why the holiday has always had an emphasis on ghosts and graveyards and things that go bump in the night. Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, which also take place as summer is dying, are different; they honor the souls of deceased loved ones.

To be honest, we’ve never treated Halloween as a religious holiday. It’s always been about the fun, about the license to do what is usually forbidden: going out after dark, knocking on strangers’ doors, begging for candy and then eating way too much before going to bed.

In that spirit, we never seriously considered saying no to a Minecraft zombie costume. Here’s hoping we can get all the green out of her hair and off her face in time for school the next day.

To be honest, I’m not sure how many more Halloweens we have in our household, or at least Halloweens where we have to go door-to-door with a little one. It seems to me that both of our older kids probably stopped trick-or-treating altogether by the time they were teenagers. In the middle-school years, trick-or-treating was best done with friends, as parents became an afterthought best left on the sidewalk a couple of houses away.

To those who complain of 13- and 14-year-olds appearing at the doors in makeshift costumes, absconding with the candy corn meant for cute pre-schoolers, remember trick-or-treating has its roots in the Samhain practice of young men demanding food and drink for their revels. Giving a pack of Skittles to a young teenager doesn’t seem like it should be too much.


  • family life
  • halloween