Halloween makes me uneasy. Always has. Ghoulish images, horror films, ghost stories, visions of death and destruction that seem to permeate this “holiday” doesn’t intrigue me one bit. I find all that disturbing and avoid all contact with such imagery.
Scripture says it this way: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Scary images don’t contrive anything honorable, right, pure, lovely or admirable so, I don’t open myself up to those images. Why? Because I know my mind, especially my subconscious, would fixate on them and do me harm.
But what about all the fun? As Christians, do we have to become Halloween party poopers? Not at all, but we need to understand which traditions are worth celebrating and why.
Throughout history, the lines between pagan and Christian holidays blur, like Halloween. Hallowe’en in British tradition, is the marriage of the Gaelic festival of Samhain (lord of death) and All Saints Day. In an attempt to override the celebration of death, Pope Gregory IV, changed the May 1st celebration of All Saints Day (commemorating all passed saints), to November 1st, using October 31st (festival of Samhain) as a commemoration of All Saints Eve (All Hallows Eve). During the night, families would pray for their deceased loved ones and upon their return home, would feast on pancakes, curds and cider around the hearth. Later, this turned into begging for “soul cakes” door-to-door and in return, the beggars would offer prayers for the deceased loved ones of the home. Now, our modern-day trick-or-treat.*
Regardless, tradition does not make something right. But let me offer this: as Christians, we can bring Jesus’ light into the darkness. We can celebrate the hope of life after death. We can celebrate the harvest that God has blessed us with. We can celebrate our family, past and present.
So, what does that look like? It is goodness. God is good (in the midst of evil) and, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Here’s my GOOD Halloween guidelines:
- Generate boundaries. Ex. Safe, family-oriented, harvest celebrations, positive secular or Christian-based character costumes.
- Open your heart and home for alternative, positive festivities based upon the above. Reach out to your children’s friends and your neighbors.
- Operate out of love. When your child pushes back, take time to explain why you’ve decided to celebrate in a God-honoring way. Be inclusive with neighbors and friends, not preachy. Live your witness and love your neighbors (and their children).
- Discuss the reality of good and evil in this world age-appropriately. Explain that while there is a real Satan, Jesus has overcome him and all the darkness in the world. If we believe in Jesus and have an intimate relationship with him, the same Holy Spirit lives within us and empowers and protects us from all evil.
Whatever your tradition, have a safe and happy fall.
*(To learn more, go to http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween, http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/all-hallow-s-eve.html, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/halloween_1.shtml)