Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What About Halloween?

Many Christians are very concerned about the meanings of Halloween customs, the seeming glorification and celebration of witches, ghosts and other spiritual beings, and the whole idea of having a holiday related to the dead. I am one of them.  So I thought I would do a little research and learn about the holiday I loathe the most.  I actually went back and took a look at Halloween history, customs, the dead and the question of Christian involvement in the celebration. I was startled by some of the surprising things I learned. What Is Halloween? The word comes an abbreviation of "All Hallows Eve." This is the night before All Hallows (All Saints) Day, when the Church honors the past (dead) Christians. All Saints Day is also known as the day Martin Luther nailed his protest of the Catholic Church and began the Protestant movement. There have been different dates for All Saints Day. It's commonly believed that November 1st was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations and festivals in order to more easily assimilate these cultures into the Church, just like the dates for Easter and Christmas celebrations. It's this assimilation of festivals that makes Halloween a confusing holiday. Where Did Halloween Customs Come From? When All Saints Day and the pagan festivals were combined, the rituals and customs were also combined. Wearing costumes, ghosts, witches, carrying lighted ornaments to represent spirits, the whole trick-or-treat thing, harvest parties, etc. got combined over the centuries with what had been a somber event in the Christian calendar. Some of these rituals had been sacrifices to pagan gods before the pagans were Christianized. And there's the rub! Christians, who have no problem with the Christmas Tree or Easter Egg (pagan rituals), seem to draw the line when it comes to the Halloween pagan rituals and customs...particularly those involving the dead.  Boy is my face red.  This would be me.  I seem to not like ghosts and goblins....yet have no problem with a fat man and fuzzy woodland creature.  BUSTED! What Does It Have To Do With The Dead? Actually, All Saints Day and Halloween share the idea of honoring the dead...they just differ on the methods. Many of the pagan rituals include tributes to the dead. That's probably why ghost costumes and tombstones have become Halloween classics. I don't understand the discomfort many Christians have with the idea of spirits being everywhere, or of spiritual life beyond physical's the cornerstone of Christianity as taught in the Bible. Why would we be so frightened of what's on the other side of death? Many are so afraid, they keep their children from participating in the fun of Halloween.  Ok....I have to say....this is NOT me.  My kids a point.  So let me ask you, "Should A Christian Refrain From Halloween Celebration?" Once, early in my Christian walk, I believed it was a sin to have anything that had represented a belief in any power but God. I got rid of 4 leaf clovers, horseshoes, totem poles...symbols of pagan these things would have no power over me. After I grew a little in Christ and read the Bible a little more, It hit me...nothing has power over me because Christ is in me. In fact, by thinking these things had power, I was giving them the very power I opposed.  Well let me tell you all that it's the same with Christians and Halloween. Carving pumpkins, setting up witch statues, wearing ghost costumes, going to people's doors to collect treats...all of these rituals are mere games as long as we don't make anything more out of them. As a Christian, the most powerful being in all eternity lives within you. There is no power that can harm you. I'm not denying that evil spirits exist but when we Christians live in fear of them, we're giving them power they don't have.  So, should Christians take part in Halloween? Yes...and no! If you believe it's a sin, pagan worship or anti-Christian in any way, you should refrain. Spend some time in Bible study and prayer to grow your faith until you have confidence that He who is in you is greater than all. If you've already reached that point in your spiritual growth, go have fun! Let your kids have fun, too! While you're at it, don't forget to teach your kids about All Saints Day and about the power of Jesus in them, protecting them from all harm...even from goblins.  You can also when you give out candy....slip in a Christian tract.  What a great way to witness.  One of the ladies at the trunk or treat last night had the kids recite a Bible verse before they got their candy....Why did I not think of that?    You know if celebrating Halloween or some of the customs associated with it scares or concerns you some I know of a ton of churches that offer some "Harvest Festival" as a healthy alternative for celebration so you won't get left out of the fun.   Even Mr. James Dobson was asked once by a group of Christians...."What About Halloween."  His reply was,
"Halloween is a rather different story. Whereas it can be argued that Christmas is a Christian holiday with Christian origins that has suffered the effects of growing secularism, Halloween can be traced to distinctly pagan sources. It is reasonable, then, that many believers would find some aspects of its celebration disturbing. I agree with them in that regard. The traditional emphasis upon the occult, witches, devils, death, and evil sends messages to our kids that godly parents can only regard with alarm. There is clearly no place in the Christian community for this "darker side" of Halloween. Even here, however, there is a place for some harmless fun. Kids love to dress up and pretend. If the Halloween experience is focused on fantasy rather than the occult, I see no harm in it. Make costumes for your children that represent fun characters, such
as Mickey Mouse or an elderly grandmother, and then let them go door-to-door asking for treats. This side of Halloween can be thoroughly enjoyable for the little ones. Let me add, again, that I¹ve given you my personal opinion. I realize that the topic is controversial among committed Christians, and I¹m sensitive to the reasons for their misgivings. My final word to parents on the subject would be "Stay true to your own
convictions." I have said it several times over the past few days....I am not a big Halloween person.  It is not a holiday I enjoy one little bit.  Frank's sister. Ann and her two grandsons came to see us today. Ann came down to Warner Robbins, GA via Greenville, SC to keep the boys so that their parents, niece Kelly and her husband Ronnie, could go to the races in Talladega.  She was just going to come for a visit and when we told her about trunk or treat she said they would come and spend the night with us. Nicholas is in the 3rd grade and very smart.  He was a ninja.  Trevor, almost two was the cutest puppy dog ever.....the problem arose here.  Trevor was terrified of Nicholas when he put the ninja mask on.  Mask off....fine....mask on....not fine.  My sweet Frank dressed up as a clown (minus the white paint) and Trevor thought he was funny.  We got to the church a little before 5 and set up.  I put some webbing on the trunk of my car and there we were....the Rock Mills Methodists and Baptists in the parking lot having Trunk or Treat.  It was fun seeing the little ones in their scariest and prettiest costumes.  After an hour we were out of candy and we went to see a couple of church members so the kids could get some more candy.  We got back home about 7 and both boys were on a sugar rush. The adults sagged in the recliners and watched the guys ping off the walls for the next two hours.  We called it a night a little after 10 and Ann and the boys left for Warner Robbins a little after 9.  Today was Youth/Children Sunday and I put together a program called "God is the Glue That Holds Us Together."  Our kids were amazing.  The talked about Laminin and then they sang Our God and Come Now Is The Time To Worship."  I have never been so proud.  Frank preached on Halloween....and finished his sermon with the cutest little story and I just had to finish my blog with it today. Laurie Beth Jones tells in her book, Grow Something Besides Old. She talks about one Halloween night when she had underestimated the number of children who would come to the door to trick or treat, and she ran out of candy. In desperation, she began giving out quarters, nickels, and dimes. (I know this has never happened to you....and it reminds me of Dobby and her pennies when I used to trick or treat.)  One little girl about 5-years-old dressed as a fairy princess came to her door. She had the little crown and wand and everything.  Jones dropped two quarters into the child¹s sack, and said to her, "I¹ve run out of candy, but tomorrow you can take these coins to the store and turn them into real candy." The little girl stepped back, looked at the two quarters, looked up at her, and said, "Lady, this isn¹t a real wand.  Have a safe weekend.  Don't forget that the drawing is October 31st at midnight.


Jacki said...

OK, now I'm hanging my head here!
We have not given out candy for Halloween in 15 years, I bet.
We DO go to the church to do a"Holyween Praise" party.
Trunk or treat included.
And...we RUN to the kids house to see Lyric dressed up before she goes out trick or treating!
I feel like a hipocrite!

Guess I need to study more before I make decisions. Thanks for the enlightenment!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Karen -- this is a great Halloween post! I think you've answered that question perfectly. I've always enjoyed the "fun" of Halloween -- never fearing that there was a "boogie man" about to take me to the "dark side" --- however I do respect those who choose not to participate for the very reasons you've mentioned. Thant being said -- I've never enjoyed the blood and gore that also seems to be a part of this holiday. A little spooky -- ok -- grose and gore? No!

Sweet Tea said...

When my children were little we didn't observe traditional Halloween, but instead went somewhere fun as a family, Pizza, Putt-Putt Golf, etc. If I had it to do over again I would let them do Halloween. In my opinion, so much has changed from "days of old" to now. It seems that good old fashioned Trick or Treating is totally harmless and fun.

That corgi :) said...

my pastor, like I might have mentioned before, said ever so wisely that all days belong to Jesus since he redeemed everything through his death on the cross and his resurrection.

I think people who are prone to want to do evil will do evil no matter what day of the year it is. And those who are prone to do good will do good no matter what day of the year it is.

I think Jesus looks at the heart and he knows where we stand on how we choose or not choose to "celebrate" this day.

Our church puts on a big October Extravaganza they call it where there are games and tons of fun for all kids who want to come. Its free, they pass out tons of candy and by opening it up to the community, they hope people might want to come and see what goes on there other days other than Halloween and perhaps come to know Jesus and then really have a life altering wonderful experience as Him being their Lord and Savior :)


Mary said...

Loved this post! My friend was almost ostracized for wanting to do a trunk or treat b/c the majority of her congregation had decided that it was an evil holiday (based on their own assumptions, and without looking into any research).
It's amazing the things we find when we open up our mind and do a little digging!