Harvest Parties: the Halloween Alternative
The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University. We’re now at the end of October. School’s starting to pile up, the sky’s turning gray, the weather is finally getting colder, and if you’re like me then you’re starting to feel pretty homesick at this point. Fortunately, the waning of October marks the beginning of the holiday season, starting with Halloween. Candy-filled, festive, and the ultimate excuse to wear a crazy costume (or next to nothing, in a college town), Halloween is a great way to kick off the annual holiday medley and keep things upbeat during what otherwise could become a very dreary time of year.
In truth, I’m being a little presumptuous about Halloween though, because I’ve only celebrated it a couple times. Halloween wasn’t a recognized holiday growing up for me, because my mom doesn’t like the idea of celebrating something filled with witches, ghosts, and monster themes, as fun as it may be. To her it seems a bit counter-Christian to participate in a holiday like that, and in a way she kind of has a point. Fortunately, there was still celebrating when I was a kid, thanks to a lesser known practice common among homeschool communities and smaller churches: harvest parties.
Harvest parties are a lot like Halloween parties, but without the darker undertones. The name is self-explanatory, a celebrating of the harvest (even though in this day and age harvesting crops has nothing to do with it). It’s a nice forerunner leading up to the big November holiday, the ‘fun and games’ to Thanksgiving’s reflection and feast. Harvest parties tend to be aimed toward children mostly, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had for teens and adults too. A typical harvest party is complete with costumes (my personal favorite was when my friend and his two brothers showed up wearing the skins of coyotes they had shot, or when another friend bought a coat of real chain mail) and fun activities. Harvest parties I went to usually resembled a small carnival, with games like apple bobbing, bean bag tossing, and musical chairs; as well as best costume awards, lots of candy, good snacks, and plenty of laughs.
My favorite memory at a harvest party was competing with my friends on the obstacle course a bunch of men at our church had constructed on the lawn. It was great; there was a wall we had to climb over, a corridor to crawl through, tires we had to step through without tripping, and so on. We spent hours taking turns, trying to beat each other’s fastest times.
A harvest party is something everyone ought to experience at least once. If your church is putting one on I strongly encourage you to check it out! If they don’t, consider bringing up the possibility of starting one up. Even if you’re just volunteering it’s a rewarding experience, especially if traditional Halloween doesn’t appeal to you for whatever reason.