Halloween approaches. My youngest, who is in kindergarten, is gearing up for her class party, which is still considered a "Halloween party" and she will be able to wear a costume and load up on sugar. My oldest, I have learned, has a few offspring of party-poopers in her class. Her teacher reported to my mother-in-law (who picked my little ladies up from school the other day) that she was still deciding on how to hold the party and that she will send out a letter soon.

The party will be called a "Harvest Party," and the children might not get to dress up. I have found myself getting all kinds of riled up about this. I am not out to punish any children. It is not the fault of these poor little kids (who probably wish their parents didn't suck so much and would let them dress up like all the other little kids!) that their parents are judgmental ignorant theists. I am all for finding a fair compromise. The key word here, though, is definitely fair. I don't feel that the belief system of one or two kids should dictate the party structure for a dozen other children whose parents are perfectly down with Halloween.

If the parents of these children have such definite views on the evils of Halloween, then I feel that part of teaching their children their belief system involves their kids maybe not getting to participate in certain things. I don't feel it involves manipulating the world around them to accommodate them. I don't feel it involves disrupting my own child's belief system (or lack thereof) to make these theistic parents more comfortable.

An interesting note is that term "Harvest Party." If these people were slightly more educated (or took the time to look it up), they would know that historically, Halloween is a freaking harvest party-- a pagan harvest party! And by calling it a harvest party, thinking they are protesting and making things nicer and more Christian-acceptable, they are really feeding into it. It reminds me of those decals people have on their car with the Jesus fish eating the Darwin fish. I always think, "You are just displaying evolution on your car, you boneheads! Are you a special kind of stupid?"

I will be writing a letter. I would like to thank Thing Atheist for bringing out the advocate and activist in me. Before, though I was very open with my atheism, I wasn't so outspoken about issues I find oppressive of others' rights. Now, I feel like I need to speak up, or things are never going to change.

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Comment by Jon Heim on October 21, 2010 at 2:01pm
You've made some interesting points. I actually think it's a better idea to have a "harvest party" then a "Halloween party" It would be more historically accurate and in my opinion wouldn't promote any religious doctrine....esp since no Christians actually know about any pagan beliefs...

either way, I'm glad they are not calling it a "all hallows eve party".

as far as not dressing up, I think that's pretty ridiculous. If the parents of these children think that it's evil, then they just shouldn't let their kids dress up.

you know, either way their doesn't seem to be a "fair" compromise in sight. You're children's lack of belief is certainly a minority. Christians are the majority, but also, the children with parents who think Halloween is evil are also a minority.

How old is you're oldest, if I may ask?

I think that this would be a great chance to teach children about history and how people with different beliefs are effected when religion is brought into certain situations.
Comment by M on October 21, 2010 at 3:41pm
My eldest is seven. I live in a small rural town where the majority of the citizens don't think deeply enough about holidays in general to protest them. There is always a few, but most have no issues whatsoever with covering their kids in fake blood and sending them out to beg for candy from strangers.

My idea is that calling it a "Harvest Party" is A-OK, but I think that the kids should be able to dress up if they want to or not if they don't (or their parents are ignorant meanies who won't let them). When the rest of the school gets to dress up (or one sibling gets to see the other sibling dress up, like at my house this year) and this little minority doesn't get to, that upsets kids. I know in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. I just get irked when Christians get to dictate how my kiddos get to celebrate a holiday. I am an atheist who loves holidays. I attach no religious significance to them, and every year I use it as a way to teach my kids about the history of the holiday, but by golly, I think they're fun.
Comment by Gaytor on October 21, 2010 at 4:19pm
I read Harvest Panties and thought, now I gotta read this!

Isn't it ironic... offended by Happy Holidays because it's too benign and doesn't recognize their "Lord". But you can't call October 31st, Halloween which really has no religious implication to virtually everyone because if you dig far enough, there is a potential pagan spirit origin. Not to get off track, but most of your religious holidays go back to a worship of the sun, it's phase, and paganism. Should we not call it Christmas but Rebirth Day as the days begin to get longer? And Easter, Seed Day as the sun says it's time to plant the crops?
Comment by Jon Heim on October 21, 2010 at 5:07pm
Gaytor, I go back even father to the original names of these holidays. even if they are religious to pagans.

I tend to use the Celtic pagan names for "holidays", with an exception of dec 25..I use the Germanic pagan name for it, because it is older and doesn't have so many religious traditions attached to it.

Oct. 31 to me is Semhian.
Dec. 25 to me is Saturnalia.
Easter...I don't really celebrate..there isn't a very notable sabbat for this "holiday"...Usually I just "celebrate" the spring season.

The thing is, its all in the name and how you interpret history.
Comment by Jon Heim on October 21, 2010 at 5:08pm
actually dec. 25, I celebrate two ways....Yule with my pagan fiance, and I personally observe Saturnalia just because of its history.
Comment by M on October 22, 2010 at 10:05pm
So, it turns out a letter was not necessary. The teacher went in favor of the majority and the kids get to dress up. I think it's still a "Harvest Party," which I kind of like. My daughter is very happy. Of course, they still aren't allowed to have any fake blood or makeup at all, but that's a school rule rather than a religious-ruled rule.

As for other holidays, I've written a previous blog on this. I grew up with these holidays in a totally non-religious family, so they have always been completely not related to religion to me. I attached my own meanings to them, and so I still celebrate them as I always have. I have no qualms about that. However, I do make up my own booklets complete with pictures to teach my kids the history of the holiday so that no one can ever try to tell them what they think the holiday is about. Knowledge is power!


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