A time for sweets, treats and creative costumes, for most…
But, For a few, Halloween is truely the stuff of nightmares. I am one of those unfortunate few. No, This is not a tall-tale of ghouls and goblins, but a snippet into the world of child.
This is part 1 of several as I plan to really elaborate on my childhood, I’ve never really spoken about my personal life and my childhood has always been a no-go area. Not that I had a bad childhood, not at all. I had a loving family and felt we were in our own little bubble of happiness until my teenage years and the world sort of exploded around me. Showing me everything I was missing out on.. but let’s get to that later.
How I felt about Halloween
As a child I didn’t really understand Halloween, so I never missed it. I often get asked as a grown up, didn’t you miss out on all the sweets, the dressing up or the fun adventures with your parents? But, no. I didn’t think it was ever a ‘thing’ it was never an option so it was never missed. In hindsight, I really feel it hindered mine and my sibling’s social skills.
Being social is a vital part of being a Jehovah’s witness, however, it’s a rule to only socialize with other members of the religion or those who are interested in joining. My family certainly took that on, we didn’t ever attend social events with aunts and uncles, other than a holiday a year. As for celebrations we never attended any so we didn’t really get so spend time with anyone other than our siblings.
Kind of ironic isn’t it? A Jehovah’s witness not allowed to knock on other people’s doors for sweets but they’ll do it any other time of year.
It was scary, children really need proper understanding of things. Their imaginations run wild!
At the age of around eight, I was very serious about religion. We were told if you’re bad, God won’t let you into paradise so I would do anything I could to make God want to take me. So I could be with my family forever.
Imagine being told that if you’re naughty your family would all move on to a magical place without you and you would have to stay behind. Not to mention around Halloween time evil spirits might get into my house, that they were crowding the streets outside, knocking on my door, that was terrifying.
Bearing in mind that;
- my dad is a joker, In 2002 I was Ten-years-old. So pretty impressionable, right? My dad saw that film and decided to tell us that when we were home we were to wear these tinfoil hats to stop the bad sprits getting in. – I knew he was joking by the silly look on his face but there was this hidden feeling in my gut that it was a brilliant idea and that perhaps it would help..stop the devil getting in to my head = not going to paradise.
- We weren’t allowed to watch anything with witches or magic in, as it was a bad influence to us. Which to an eight-year-old means. “Magic exist in real life – it’s evil spirits” which means Witches=devils=Not going to paradise.
I remember one Halloween, I must’ve been no older then nine or ten. Sitting in the dark one and feeling genuinely scared. I think I’d asked my mum for the 1000th time… “Why don’t we dress up and get sweets?”. She had probably casually replied with “because they believe in evil spirits and evil spirits will get in. It’s all about monsters and scary things and god doesn’t like that”.
For an eight-year-old. To think that evil spirits might get into my house, that was horrifying. I’d peered out of the window and there were hoards of children with masks and capes and blooded shirts, walking around the streets. More children than I had ever seen (I had never been to big events) so it was absolutely terrifying to think all of these children, who’re corrupted with evil spirits, were coming to knock on our door. What if they ganged up and knocked the door down? Would they get me?
It’s not that my parents intentionally told us these stories, Perhaps they were just being silly? Making jokes for my older siblings and I mistook it for a warning or cautionary tale. It’s more probable as an adult that they had explained it so many times to us that they had begun shortening the explanations as to why we couldn’t take part in Halloween.
From the extended “Christians used to use Halloween to celebrate or think about their loved ones, the dead, we as Jehovah’s witness don’t believe that the dead go to any certain place. We believe that instead of the spirit of our loved ones they’re actually speaking to evil spirts, the devils spirts. So that’s why we don’t celebrate it”
To the “They’re worshiping devils and it’s a devils celebration”.
It’s understandable, they didn’t know what was going onin my little head. Explaining the same thing year after year to all of your children can become tiring. Explaining why we wear seatbelts to a 3-year-old took it out of me this week so I can’t imagine how tiring it would be for my mother to explain such a complex thing to all of her children, repeatedly would be.
Things we couldn’t do around Halloween:
Go to the harvest festival,
Step foot in a church,
Sing harvest songs or attend in-school harvest assemblies,
Dress up in Halloween clothes, Trick or Treat (obviously),
Eat Halloween specific sweets,
Watch Halloween films/anything with magic or other religions.
No Tom & Jerry -Until we were in our teens! It was too violent. I know this isn’t Halloween specific but I just thought it was good trivia on my childhood!
How we spent Halloween
We’d stay up late on Halloween days but every year we would switch the lights off after 6pm and watch tv in the dark, if we heard children walking down the road we’d gradually get quieter. Some times they’d knock on the door and I remember feeling genuinely scared that they wouldn’t go away. It was almost made a game, how quiet could we be? Do they know we’re in? We’d listen to them talking, asking why noone was answering the door.
School: From my memory I think we were pulled out of school a few days before the start of ‘term’ so just before the harvest celebrations. There must’ve been a few years where we weren’t able to take the time off as I remember my mom outside the classroom door as the other children were lining up for assembly. “Not Amy & Andrew, you’re staying back for this one, we have some activities for you” I remember thinking that we were cool, we didn’t have to sit in boring assembly and even our mom came to see us during school. We would sit in class with colouring pages and listen to the children from across the hall. Singing harvest songs. It felt naughty to listen-in as I knew mom didn’t want us to sing them.
It felt naughty to listen-in to them singing as I knew mom didn’t want us to sing them or be involved in it. I remember humming ‘Harvest for the world’ on the way home and my mum looked at me to remind me I shouldn’t be. It wasn’t an angry look just a cheeky smile.
Why I don’t celebrate Halloween
I think it’s just become a habit that and the fact that it would be somewhat disrespectful to celebrate it. My mum still calls it the day of the dead so it’s clearly something she still strongly objects to and I have to respect that and her wishes.
I say I don’t “celebrate” it but really no one does! The idea of celebrating the day of the dead isn’t that, it’s more just a day for dressing up and sweeties. That’s what I celebrate, I enjoy dressing dressing up and carving pumpkins but only when my mum’s away for the few days or if she’s mentioned it previously. I remember my first Halloween, I documented it on the site but I was horrendous with writing back then.
I don’t want you to think that my parents intentionally upset us or worried us. Nor do I wish to offend anyone who follows this religion ( My parents still do and I met a local blogger who does too) or any of the beliefs mentioned in this post. I will go into further detail, something less miserable at a later date but for now I hope you can bare with me until I can explain further. It was just one of my many experiences growing up, something I felt and something that affected me personally. I am sure other children growing up in this religion had plenty of different experiences (as do we all).
That being said, my parents were amazing, switching the lights off and sitting in the dark wasn’t punishment, it was a treat! They tried to make it fun, we got to watch a funny movie in the dark and we’d normally stay up past our bedtime. There were only a few scary moments in it and as a child your brain carries you away. It’s only after hearing about the exciting stories that Toby&Roo get up to that I wanted to share my story (and then I realized how different my experience was..Which leads me to some exciting stories about my childhood experiences!)
Sending love and Halloween wishes,