I like Halloween
I grew up “celebrating” Halloween. We planned our costumes, looked forward to the night of trick-or-treating, and enjoyed the hoarde of candy for a couple of weeks afterwards. I never felt a need to delve into witchcraft, read tarot cards, etc. It was just another holiday that involved costumes and candy.
A little history
I just want to acknowledge at the outset that I understand the origins of a lot of our modern holidays. Many are just “Christianized” pagan holidays. The timing of Christmas is due to the Christianizing of a pagan solstice festival, for example (I don’t believe Christ was born in December). There are lots of Christmas traditions that have their roots in old pagan celebrations. The whole Easter egg thing is pagan symbolism. But both of these holidays can be celebrated whole-heartedly without letting the paganism shine through.
And it is obvious that Halloween hasn’t shed its pagan roots.
“Celebrating” a pagan holiday
So why would I celebrate a holiday with such pagan roots still showing through? My thinking on this is that I’m not really “celebrating” the holiday in the sense that I’m putting my support behind what it stands for. Or maybe I should say that I’m only celebrating the holiday, not evangelizing others with a “Halloween philosophy.”
What exactly am I doing on Halloween? Well, I’ll usually do one or more of the following:
- Dress up in a costume
- Walk around the neighborhood with my neice and nephew collecting candy
- Hand candy out to kids
- Eat too much candy
Which of those activities is sinful, really? (aside from the obvious potential for gluttony by eating too much). Which of these activities would be a problem any other time of the year?
Ok, I know it isn’t the actual activities that cause the problem for most people. It’s the symbolism. It’s the celebrating and essentially condoning the holiday.
What’s the significance of Halloween today?
I think most people in our culture don’t see anything in halloween beyond a big dress-up-and-eat-candy party for kids. I have never seen my non-Christian neighbors doing anything remotely “pagan” (in the devil-worshipping, Satanic, gothic sense of the word) on any Halloween.
And if I may make a relatively weak argument, this is one of the holidays that tends to bring people together in neighborhoods. I certainly don’t spend any significant amount of time with my neighbors on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Those holidays are decidedly family-centric for me.
I’ll argue that the imagery of death, witches, zombies, etc., that surrounds Halloween can be as easily dealt with in a talk with children as can Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny — two relatively innocent icons that are actually pulling focus away from the Christian themes of their respective holidays. As a kid, I knew that real witch craft was wrong. And I didn’t mess with it. But I still liked to get candy.
To “celebrate” or not
But I really have no problems with people who want to boycott the holiday. It’s a free country. And if you can do so with a good explanation that points to Christ and brings glory to God, even better.
On another point, though, I wonder why we as Christians don’t put more emphasis on celebrating All Saints Day (November 1st). That is really where the term Halloween came from, of course. It was the “Hallowed Evening” before All Saints Day. Or what about Reformation Day (October 31st)? I think I just have a bit of a problem with Christians who are much more anti-Halloween than they are pro-Christian holiday.
Do we as Christians have as big a problem with Easter-egg hunts? That’s a tradition full of pagan ideas.
I still like it
I used to go out trick-or-treating every year as a kid. And now that I’m taking out my nephew and niece with my brother, I’m finding that I still enjoy it. It’s fun seeing all the kids in their costumes; it’s fun raiding their candy bags for that one or two pieces of candy that are just better than the others; it’s fun making memories with family.
I’ll make more significant memories on other more blatantly Christian holidays as well, of course.