To celebrate Halloween or not?

Several years ago I had to make a choice between following God and celebrating Halloween. I had an opportunity to go to Cursillo, but it was the same weekend as the annual Halloween party.  I chose Cursillo, and it made a huge difference in my life.  While I have been to subsequent parties, I really am wondering about it this year.

I am part of a social group that really likes Halloween. And when I say really like it, I mean that they decorate their homes for Halloween every day of the year. They eat sleep and breathe Halloween.

Don’t get me wrong – I like October and the crisp fall air the same as anyone else. I love free candy and I love the idea of costumes. But every year I have to start thinking to myself is this really the best way to show that I am a Christ follower?

Some of the people in the group are starting to discover the darker side of their hobby. They’re constantly getting sick and having to go to the emergency room. The husband is constantly being attacked by wasps. He could lose his life because of these little tiny things because he is so allergic. I think the same thing is true of his love for Halloween. Something that he sees as small and innocuous is leading towards death. The wife is now having nightmares and believes there is a poltergeist in their home.

The devil can’t bite you if you’re not playing with his tail.

The Bible tells us that every day we have a choice between life and death. We are asked to choose life, but it is a choice.

In the Hebrew scriptures God tells Israel repeatedly to make themselves holy because he is holy. They must purge the iniquity for among them. They must separate themselves out in order to remain a distinct and distinguished people. They are not to take up the habits or worship the idols or follow the traditions of the communities that they stay in. Then Jesus comes along and associates with the outcasts. Jesus does not advocate that we spend our lives separate from everyone else.  Jesus identifies with those who are lost or broken, those who are unable to connect. Jesus touches lepers and heals them. He heals people by including them.

So as Christians can we go to Halloween parties or not? Will it be an opportunity to minister to people who are lost?  Or will we “catch” their sickness?

The apostle Paul says that there is no harm to us in eating food sacrificed to idols.  But he does point out that it might cause harm to new believers.  They might get the wrong impression from our actions.

The party this year was called “Doc Satan’s Halloween Hoedown”.  That alone made me think twice.  Is that something I should associate myself with? Jesus can return at any time.  I like to think of this as a very serious version of “Musical Chairs”.  When the music stops – what are you doing?

I have gone to their Halloween parties in the past, and I thought of that group as my friends, but then I realized that they don’t invite me to their dinner parties on their trips.  They never comment or even “like” my Facebook posts.

I kind of feel like I’m getting sober, and seeing who my friends really are. I’m also feeling like it is time to stand up for what I believe in.

I thought about the bare minimum idea of how to celebrate Halloween – that giving candy out is symbolic of appeasing the evil spirits. And yet, to even do that is to say they have power, when the only Power that exists is God.

I appreciate Dia de los Muertos and All Saint’s day. I like what they stand for – of remembering loved ones who have died.  These celebrations are about remembering a life, rather than celebrating death.  They are more like a family reunion.

I decided not to go to the party, and when I saw the pictures of the male host dressed as Baphomet, I knew I had made the right decision.  It isn’t a fun little costume party when you dress up as a demon.

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This decoration was at the party.  Is this healthy to associate with?

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This Scripture is important – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When you know better, do better.

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Kid only

Many children want to grow up fast. They don’t like being told that they can’t do some activity because they aren’t old enough. Yet there are things that adults are discouraged from doing –

Going trick-or-treating. This stops when you are about in your teens. The only way to keep going trick-or-treating is to have children and go with them. Some adults have parties, but it isn’t the same. Dressing up in costume is half the fun – getting a huge assortment of candy from all your neighbors is the other part.

Having a big birthday party. After about 10, you are expected to have a more sedate gathering. Presents are discouraged. Only when you get to be 50 can you have a big celebration. What if you don’t live that long?

Fingerpainting. (Actually, creating art in general.) It is seen as “play” – and not something that adults do.

Reading picture books. They are still good, even if you are an adult.

Having stuffed animals. I’m of the opinion that a bear is better than a beer.

Taking naps. Mid-day, we all need a little down time to recharge.

This is all unfair. Adults should continue doing these things. Perhaps then we will have healthier and happier people.

Trunk or Treat

Why do some Christian churches celebrate “Trunk or Treat” rather than Halloween? It is because some denominations are strongly opposed to the idea of Halloween because they think it is honoring the devil. They also are concerned about the safety of their children knocking on strange neighbor’s doors asking for candy. So they want to find a safe alternative.

Instead of having “Trunk or Treat”, perhaps would be better not to have anything at all. “Trunk or Treat” still gives reference to Halloween. Perhaps have a harvest festival if you have to have something. To observe even part of a holiday that you are opposed to is still acknowledging it. Referring to it gives it credence. If they are truly opposed to it, then don’t have any festival of any kind on Halloween or in the week before.

But there are other things to consider. As to worrying about the neighbors, remember that part of being a follower of Jesus means that you should treat your neighbors as you would like to be treated. So you want people to be afraid of you and to never talk to you? If not, then why would you treat the neighbors like that? Why is it that Halloween is the one time of year where we are encouraged to talk to our neighbors? Halloween is a great time to be a Christian. You can meet your neighbors and make new friends.

Another problem is that there is no “trick” in “Trunk or Treat”. It is all “treat”. There is no risk of anything unusual happening. The risk is part of Halloween. Halloween is about things being different, where the unexpected can happen. It is about acknowledging that we aren’t in control of our lives. This too is in line with the words of Jesus, who reminds us constantly that God is in charge, and we aren’t.

Halloween and Christianity

I’ve met a lot of people in the small community I work in who say that they don’t celebrate Halloween because “It’s the Devil’s holiday”.

There are a couple of points to be made. Halloween is, fully spelled out, “All Hallow’s Eve” – the name refers to the day before All Saints Day, which is observed on November 1st. The word “hallows” refers to “hallowed”, meaning “sacred”. All Saints Day is a holiday that is primarily observed by Catholics and Episcopalians. All other Christian denominations generally have no idea of its existence, thus they don’t know what the word “Halloween” refers to. All Saints Day is the day to remember and honor all the famous people who have died who were strong in their faith and lead the way for us. This includes people such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick, and Mother Theresa. They are our role models in faith. Lesser known is that November 2nd is “All Soul’s Day” – where we remember all the people we know and love who have passed on. This includes any relatives or friends we might have who have inspired us to be better people.

Another point is that we believe that there is just one God. To give any power to another force is in violation of the commandment saying “You shall have no other gods before me.” Everything is from God. To personify the idea of evil and to ascribe power to it is to say that there is another god, which is not possible. To say that it has power over you verges on idolatry. So remember that God is in charge, first and foremost.

When I was at Cursillo, I received a bookmark that really helped re-frame Halloween for me. I’ve reworded it a little to polish it up. Here you go –

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God chooses you, raises you up, takes you in and washes the dirt off of you. He opens you up, reaches deep inside, and scoops out all the yucky stuff – including seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and the like. Then God carves a new smiling face for you and puts His light inside of you to shine for all of the world to see.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Halloween lights

I was at a Halloween party for adults last week. You know how much you enjoyed Halloween as a child? The costumes, the candy, the staying up late? All the usual rules seemed to be violated. You went up to strangers’ houses, by yourself or with friends, begging for candy. These are the same strangers you weren’t supposed to talk to during the rest of the year.

There was something magical in the air – it was crisp and clean, if a little damp in spots. The leaves were beautiful on the trees and crunched underfoot. Halloween is a treat for the senses.

That joy doesn’t leave us as adults. We aren’t allowed to participate in the same way though. So we have our own parties where we get to revisit a little of that magic.

I sat on the back porch at this party and started taking pictures of the Halloween lights that were strung up. Rotating and shaking my camera, I got these pictures. Some turned out almost as magical as Halloweens long passed.
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