Well, we are one day away from our autumnal celebration of costumes and candy, and I must admit to you, dear reader, that I am something of a Halloween Scrooge. Rob and I never buy candy and always turn off our front light and hide somewhere in the back of the house so trick-or-treaters can't tell that we're at home. In our defense, we have often gone to whatever fall festival is being put on by whatever church we're going to at the time and volunteered to run a booth/game/activity where small costumed children come by and complete some goofy task to earn some candy. This will come as a shock to no one, but I'm not really a fan of the darker excesses of the holiday. (But no! don't worry! I love all things Hogwartsian so don't dismiss me quite yet as an extremist crazy type! We can save that for another day.)
Growing up, we didn't celebrate Halloween at all. For most of my elementary school years, in fact, I celebrated an alternative holiday that I shall now share with you all: Reformation Day! October 31 is not only the day ancient Celts believed the dead could come back to this world, but also the day in 1517 on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, signaling the start of the Protestant Reformation. Woo hoo, anti-papist fun! Just imagine a classroom of first graders learning about indulgences and penance and why they are bad...
So on Reformation Day at my elementary school (a Christian one of the Reformed inclination, if you haven't figured that out by now), we had a fun party with face painting and outdoor games and candy and such. And don't mourn too much for the child version of me, because I did in fact get to dress up every year, just within certain, um, restrictions. You were only allowed to dress up as a Bible character. It must have been quite a sight, my whole little elementary school dressed up in slight variations of this type of pattern sewn up by our mothers. It was convenient for families with more than one child, because you didn't have to do much to the costume when it was handed down to the younger child to change it up to be a different person. Heck, you could probably even share between boy and girl siblings. Just change your accessories: Are you Mary? Carry around a baby doll! Are you Pharaoh's daughter or Miriam? Put the baby doll in a basket! Are you Esther? Get all dolled up with lots of metallic trim and bling on your dress! It was an early lesson in the power of accessorizing.
It always felt like a bit of a challenge to come up with someone creative to be for Reformation Day, especially as a girl. The Bible is not bereft of interesting female characters but they are certainly outnumbered by the male ones. As you can imagine, there were a lot of Mary's running around (despite our anti-Catholic bent), as well as a lot of angels (even though angels in the Bible are always male), both of which I refused to be on the grounds that it would be an unimaginative choice. I was Deborah one year (I had a gavel-- anachronistic, I know, but effective in identifying me), I was Lydia one time (with a purple dress/tunic thing), and I remember I was the woman at the well one year (I carried a pewter pitcher). My year as the woman at the well (with her 5 or 6 husbands) reminds me that it seems somewhat awkward to dress up small girls as women of loose morals and out-and-out prostitutes, and let's face it, a LOT of the women in the Bible fit those descriptions.
You will be happy to know that we are not dressing Grace up as Rahab or Mary Magdalene or Bathsheba this year; she's going to be the Cat in the Hat. I still have the luxury of picking out her costume without any real input from her; in fact, I'm pretty sure she has no idea what is going on, despite a few half-hearted attempts on my part to explain it to her. Hopefully she does not utterly freak out tomorrow when I try to draw whiskers on her and put a giant tall hat on her. Then we will be off to a big party at church where we can gather unholy amounts of candy and hopefully have a grand time.