Friday, October 29, 2010

Is Halloween Okay?

I went trick-or-treating as a kid. I really enjoyed it, especially before I was ten or so. Sometimes when I think about having kids (God willing, but not within the next nine months, if you catch my drift), I think about taking them trick-or-treating, and so does TH.

But I really think it might be seriously assur (prohibited) to do so. I mean, first of all, this is a holiday that began as a Christian holiday (eve of All Saints' Day, November 1) and is now seriously observed by some as a pagan holiday, although obviously most people don't celebrate it in any kind of religious way. If there were no pagans anymore, that would be a different issue, but there are people who claim that they worship the devil or the sun or what have you. How is dressing up on Halloween different from observing XMas or Easter in some way? I am not including going to church in that, because going to church is so obviously not okay that it is not analogous.

Last year, I read what R. Student had to say on Hirhurim about just passing out candy to non-Jews. I realize that R. Student tends to be way to the right of me hashkafically, plus I live in an apartment in NYC and don't have to deal with it. I also don't get the point of adults dressing up for Halloween (I try to get into it on Purim, but it's hard), so I'm not worried right now. But I am curious.

So what do you guys think, beloved readers? How comfortable are you with Halloween? What does halakhah as you understand it have to say about it?


Janet said...

I don't feel any type of conflict about either Halloween or Valentine's Day, or for that matter non-kosher wine, so I follow the standard Orthodox position of not doing them. It seems like they would probably be prohibited for the standard reasons given, but on the other hand there's the "no one takes anything seriously anymore" which is even more true now than it was 50 or 500 or 1500 years ago given how everything has to be done ironically, but I don't feel strongly either way. If I were in a different place in life, such as living in a house with kids in public school without substantial Muslim or evangelical population (who also may not celebrate), I might feel more temptation, and then I would probably let the kids participate if they wanted to since you it's worse to have kids feeling resentful about halacha.

Woodrow/Conservadox said...

I have no problem ignoring Halloween- but since I'm single its easy for me. I'm not sure how my Imaginary Future Wife (IFW) will feel though.

As a halachic matter, I know Michael Broyde, an O rabbi more moderate than Student, wrote against observing Halloween. But he is pro-candy. For an abbreviated version of his responsa, see