October 27, 2011

What To Do About Halloween?


Halloween is right around the corner.  My students have been sharing stories of spook houses and costumes for a month now!  Today was "costume day" for Red Ribbon Week activities.  Next Monday the elementary students will parade around school to show off their costumes.  Monday evening our Church is hosting their annual "Harvest Party" with games, inflatables, and candy to last each family a year!  So all this has got me thinking about Halloween, and if/how our family should celebrate this creepy holiday (which by the way is not an official federal holiday).  Here are some of my thoughts:

As a child, I celebrated Halloween with no regard whatsoever as to what I was celebrating.    My parents had decided it was harmless fun, and although they never allowed us to dress up in terrifying costumes we always had fun coming up with creative costumes.  I don't remember thinking much about the scariness of the celebration despite the haunted houses and hayrides.  I guess I always felt safe with my parents there beside me.

As an adult Halloween has become much more disturbing to me.  First of all, the Bible says "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." - Philippians 4:8.  Last year I saw a fourth grade student wearing a mask with a hidden pump system so that blood appeared to gush over his face! Disgusting!  Also, many girls (including Christian friends in college, and high school girls at school) see Halloween as an opportunity to dress a little more sexy because "it's just a costume".  Spook houses, haunted hayrides, and scary movies usually accompany Halloween celebrations.  I'm not sure that these things are edifying, nor do they qualify as "excellent" or "praiseworthy".  In fact, it seems much of what is Halloween is celebrated would be considered evil (of Satan).

The history of Halloween certainly points to such evilness.  Although it's roots probably go back much farther, many researchers attribute Halloween to a Celtic celebration called Samhain ("sow-in").  The celebration more or less was one to honor the dead, and the coming winter.   They also believed spirits were allowed to come out on this day to destroy crops and cause mischief.  Thus, sacrifices were  made in order to appeal to the evil spirits.  Costumes were worn and fires were burned to prevent the evil spirits from possessing them.  Over time this day of celebrating the dead has morphed. Like other pagan holidays, Christians eventually tried to redeem this one by celebrating "All Saints Day" on November 1st to honor the saints and martyrs in Christian History.  Of course the day of the dead was still celebrated on October 31st, and many pagan traditions were mixed with the Christian ones.  In the late 1800's to early 1900's the Irish and Scots brought Halloween traditions with them to the United States.  Eventually, this celebration became a part of our mainstream culture.

Today, Halloween is celebrated by many for a variety of reasons.  Although many cultures around the world celebrate a day for the dead at the end of October, not every country glorifies Halloween as we Americans do.  Obviously since the Irish and Scots brought many of their traditions with them to the U.S., Halloween is celebrated in their country.  However, much of the world sees Americans as the ones who celebrate Halloween.  I'm sure we can thank are humongous (wow I am pretty sure I have never written that word before!) commercial elements for that!  Oh yea, there is another group that celebrates Halloween . . . practicing wiccans, satanists, and occult members celebrate Halloween as the start of a new year.  This day is an important day of celebration for them.  Yikes!  Who celebrates Halloween? . .. Americans, and Pagans!?  Does anyone find THIS disturbing?

So it seems Satan would like to claim this day as his own, but . . .

" The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
   the world, and all who live in it;" ~ Psalm 24:1

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." ~ Psalm 118:24

So even though Satan would like to have us believe that Halloween is a day for celebrating him.  He is incredibly mistaken!  Halloween, just like any day, is a day to glorify the Lord!  Although others around us may glorify evil on this day .  . . "as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord" ~ Joshua 24:15!

So what does that look like?  What does it mean to glorify the Lord on Halloween?  For some it may mean abandoning the celebrations all together.  For others it may mean attending a church event, such as a Harvest Party, in order to enjoy a night of fun and fellowship without all the wickedness.  Here are a few ideas I have for our family.

* I think honoring the saints and martyrs who have died for the cause of Christ is a great way to celebrate this time of year! I can picture reading through Foxes Book of Martyrs or Jesus Freaks together as a family.  This is a much better idea than telling silly ghost stories.

*  As we sit around bon fires during this Halloween season it would be a great time to talk about the reality of Hell.  Of course this should lead to a discussion of God's grace, His Son's sacrifice for our sin's, and the importance of sharing our faith with others.

*While so many celebrate this as a time of death . . . I say let's celebrate the life and abundance God has given us!  Celebrate the Harvest, celebrate the blessings we have given, and make this into a time of thanksgiving!

*Historically, sacrifices were often made during this time of year.  So let's talk about sacrifice, and what that meant to the Jewish people, as well as people around the world since Adam and Eve first sinned.  Then let's talk about Jesus and his willingness to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  Perhaps a special communion service could take place within the Church Body or even within individual families. 

*Once the mood is set and our family realizes what it is we are celebrating, I see nothing wrong with dressing up in fun costumes and going to a Harvest Party hosted by the Church.  I even think candy (in moderation), fun games, and inflatables is a great way to reach out to the community of unbelievers.  Our church does this each year, and it is amazing to see the people who will come to our church.  Many of whom may have never stepped foot in a church before, or heard the good news of Jesus Christ.  Yet they come because we are hosting an event that is free, and fun for their kids (often times they have fun too!).  Seeds get planted all over the place, and that's what really matters!  We pray for these people, love on them, and hopefully they see the Light in us that makes them want to come back for more!   Not only that, but we are offering people an alternative to the scary, evil, and demonic realities of Satan's scheme.  On Halloween we are proclaiming to Satan that THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE!  Some may disagree with me, and that's fine.  I believe the Holy Spirit can lead each family to a different conclusion.  What might be sin for one family based on the conscious, could be an exercise of Christ-given freedom for another.  Remember that this is an issue of conviction, and should not be a dividing issue within the Body of Christ.  Also, I believe every Christian family should prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit's guidance, and discuss the issues of Halloween together as a family.

*My husband and I live in the country, but if we lived in town I think it would be neat to hand out something to trick-or-treaters.  Maybe not candy, but perhaps a small toy.  The item would have a sheet of paper attached with ribbon that would tell the Gospel of Jesus in a unique and fun way as to grab the child's attention!  What a great way to spread the Good News to those who need it most! :)

Does your family do anything special to reach out to the lost during this time?  Have you discussed the issues of Halloween together as a family?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Also, I am linking with Casey Leigh over at her blog!  If you haven't checked out her blog, you should!  She is incredibly creative, and artistic!  Also, be sure to link up with their Follower Fest!  Meet new friends, and find some inspirational blogs! :) Peace ~ 2 Thes. 3:16

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9 comments:

  1. One of the families at our church hosts a Reformation Day celebration to honor the protestant reformation. It is said that Martin Luther wrote one of his letters to the Catholic church on Oct.31, 1517. In addition to fun things, games and such, they discuss how the reformation transformed religion. They encourage everyone to dress in period styled outfits, but it isn't required.

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  2. I absolutely agree with all that you have written here and feel the very same way myself. Thank you for sharing ideas of further things to do at a Harvest Party (so our church calls them.) I also agree that there is nothing with a friendly dress up party... and keeping Jesus/God the main theme? Priceless!

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts! Thanks for the history lesson, too. I grew up just like you- celebrating in a fun way, not even realizing there was an evil history behind the holiday. Now that I'm a parent my husband and I have had to think about what we'll do as a family. We have two little girls who love dressing up and we live in the country so we drive around to relatives and "trick or treat"... it's an all afternoon/evening event. A great chance to see and get caught up with the great aunts/uncles, great grandparents, etc. who love seeing the girls. This year we'll have a ladybug and a bumblebee. It will get harder as they get older, but for now it's just fun. I also wanted to tell you that I used your facebook link to get here tonight and on your info page you have .org at the end of your blog address and it doesn't work, I realized it should be .com and easily found my way, but you might want to change it ;-)

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  4. Thanks so much for your comments ladies!
    Becky I had heard of Martin Luther writing his letter on October 31, and how some Christians celebrate that instead! I forgot to include that in my post, though! Thanks for leaving the comment!
    Thank you Chelsea for giving me the heads up! I have had it like that for almost a year! Anyway, I am glad you let me know!:)
    AFG
    Megan

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  5. My Catholic friends and I try to celebrate Halloween as part of a three day series of "Hallowed Days" - All Hallows (Halloween), All Saints and All Souls. All Hallows is a day to prove, like you say, that Evil has no place in our lives and that we celebrate Jesus's triumph over death, All Saints is to revere those exemplary models of Christian living and All Souls is a day to remember our friends and families who have passed on. Many of us Catholics try and get "Two-fer" Costumes since in our schools All Saints is a often a day for children to dress and learn about their favorite Saints (there are a lot of saints who were princesses, mummies can be Lazarus, etc. it's all a little tongue in cheek but it's fun) so we get them to pick a All Hallows costume that is or is easily changed into their All Saints costumes.

    Though I draw the line at overly gorey, sexy or insulting costumes, I do like the idea of using it as a day to look the things we're afraid if in the face and say "Because I trust in God I do not fear you", but since we don't choose scary costumes for us it's a chance to celebrate the end of the season and show that we have faith that God will bring us through the winter by a little celebration and what better way to do that than with a goofy costume and some fun!

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  6. Um, yup, stopped by from Follower's Fest and I LOVE THIS POST! You have a new follower. Thank you for describing how my husband and I feel nearly perfectly. I LOVE IT!

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  7. When I was young, I can remember dressing up with my cousins and going to town and trick or treating, starting with our grandparents house, and then their entire block. When I was in high school, and started going to church I remember reading a pamphlet about the evil background of halloween and rethinking my values and beliefs in that regard. Nonetheless, after I was married and had kids of my own, I wanted them to enjoy the same tradition I did as a child and so my husband and I decided we would have costumes and candy and keep it fun for them while staying away from anything evil or gory. Now that my kids are grown, there is nothing I could be more proud of than to see that they are discerning in this area, that they have researched, that they have prayed and are led by God in what traditions to have in their own family, that they seek to Glorify God in all they do......so I must say Megan and Skyler, I am so proud of you both. Love, Mom

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  8. We don't celebrate Holloween but we do have a Reformation Party...we nail the 95 Thesis to the door and as the tricker treaters come we say "Happy Reformation Day" and give them cellophane bag treats--and these are good treat bags..we don't want to be the Christians handing out junk--full of stickers, good chocolate and small trinkets but the most important thing we do is attach a cute card our graphic designer made for us that states the history of the protestant reformation geared for children. So it is age appropriate, cute and whimsical! We have been doing this for 10 years and our kids love it. At the end of the night we watch Luther with the older kids and good time is had by all! Great post! xo Caroline

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  9. I like this post. Good thoughts. I'm hopping over from Casey's blog, new follower~ Hope you have a great weekend!

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Thanks so much for your comments!

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~ Col. 4:6 :)