Friday, October 28, 2005
Thoughts on Halloween Costumes
I've never been one of those Christians who made a big, silly fuss over the evils of Halloween. They're overreacting. Pick your battles wisely, I say, and cute kids dressing up imaginatively, having some fun and savoring candy is not a wise battle. It's no battle at all. It's charming, childhood memory-making.
But...we recently got a junk mail ad from Party City, a 20-store Southern Caifornia retail chain that sells colorful party plates and napkins, hundreds of invites and cards, streamers and party decor, wrapping papers and ribbons, baby and wedding shower do-dads and apparently, Halloween costumes.
I opened the ad, expecting to admire cute costumes...bunnies, pumpkins, ballerinas, firemen and football players. Instead, I found something entirely different.
Over 90% of the large-format, full-color six-page ad was devoted to ...well, here's a sampling of the costume names.
For teens (teen need costumes?), Draco dark underlord, zombie cheerleader, dark angel, gothic pirate lady, graveyard fairy, Prince Alarming, phantom, gauze zombie, vampire mistress, teen witch, punk pirate, crypt master, Demonica and gothic ballerina.
And for teens searching for a sex-infused Halloween look, there's sexy rag doll, Venus, French maid deluxe, dragon geisha, runaway princess and....I kid you not....Handy Candy.
The majority of the ad is devoted to costumes for elementary school boys and girls. For boys' costumes, Party City offers bleeding chest skeleton, Lord Lucifer, Commander Blade, ghoul with light-up eyes, crypt master and scorpion shadow ninja. And yes, a limited collection of uniforms for weapon-wielding professions....SWAT team, policeman and Delta Force.
For elementary-age girls, devil flames diva, jazzy witch, vampiretta, sparkle spiderella, goth hoop vamp, red hot, double trouble, glam rock diva and some sort of anti-cheerleader thng dubbed bad spirit.
The small ad section for infants/ toddlers was admittedly adorable to this new grandmother....pea in a pod, butterfly, Raggedy Ann, Thomas the Tank Engine and the cutest pink leopard.
I suppose I'm hopelessly out of tune with the trends. But I'm now having second thoughts about Halloween....
The intense darkness of the costumes in this ad speaks volumes about what appeals to kids and teenagers today. Supressing silly costumes solves almost nothing.....it's our country's current culture of death, darkness and meanness that causes this spiritual blackness.
But do we need a special occasion to celebrate and embrace the dark side?
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My husband and I wrestled with this a lot. I grew up in a family that didn't celebrate any holidays with pagan roots, and now we do celebrate Christmas and Easter, with carefully-chosen symbols and celebrations that capitalize on the newer, Christian meanings of the holidays.
But Halloween is one that everyone recognizes, even in today's culture, as a celebration of evil.
So, we haven't made a big deal out of it (and we do hand out candy if we happen to be home and kids ring the doorbell despite the fact that the front porch isn't lit). But we don't go out of our way to take part in it. We're not really interested in celebrating darkness, evil, scariness and horror.
We do try to provide other opportunities throughout the year for our kids to dress up in fun, cute costumes.
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