If you’re looking for another Halloween-hating post, you should probably stop reading.
The Origins of Halloween
Is it bad that I don’t care? I don’t know who was the first person to throw a birthday party either. They may have had ill intent. You’ll have a hard time finding any holiday or activity that hasn’t had some unsavory aspects along the way. Does that mean that you affirm mistreating Indians if you celebrate Thanksgiving, or that you worship bunnies on Easter? (For that matter, we had better not say “Easter”, because that word has a bad origin.)
“Is Halloween evil?” I think that misses the point. No day on the calendar holds any power. Doesn’t it always come down to actions and intentions? So here’s the real question: When you see the ninjas and pirates at your door, do you think they know the origins? Are they advocating evil? Didn’t think so. Now relax and give them some candy.
The Religion of Halloween
If you find a kid who is enamored with Druids and celebrates Samhain ritually, feel free to be concerned.
The thing is, I just don’t think they’re out there. I suspect that fear of Halloween is something like fear of backmasking. I think it is something only Christians are aware of. I think the only negative power that Halloween holds is imposed by fearful Christians.
When you see a kid opening presents on Christmas, do you believe they are practicing Christianity? If not, why would you believe that asking for a piece of candy makes them fully immersed in a pagan ritual?
If you want to talk about a religion surrounding Halloween, how about consumerism? How about entitlement? How about adults who see it as a free pass to dress as hookers. Feel free to be irritated with them. But don’t accuse the tots of celebrating Pomona, or the Feast of the Dead.
Ok. I get this. You know what else is inconvenient? Football games that screw up the television schedule, and parades that mess up traffic. Are we really this easily upset? I get that you might find it annoying to have people knock on your door, but this is what happens the last night of October. You can always turn off your front light. If it’s still unbearable, why not go to the cinema and make October 31 your family movie night?
The Great Commission
Jesus said to go and make disciples, and we have come up with thousands of excuses to ignore this and stay home. And then, on one night of the year, the world comes to us and many of us are still making excuses to hide from them.
I don’t get it. It’s a few hours out of your life. You don’t even have to leave home. You can avoid them, or you can spend a few hours getting a jump on the disciple-making process. It’s a whole lot easier than a mission trip!
The Christian Response
You can choose to avoid or you can engage.If you avoid, I get it. I’ve done it plenty of times myself. I’m just wondering if that’s the best response. For me, I’m not sure how “love my neighbor” includes hiding from them. And I don’t think judgment is the most welcoming first response with our neighbor’s kids. If you choose engagement, what are you going to do?
If you absolutely must hand out tracts, please give the kid a bag of candy with it. That is, unless you want them to get the message that Christianity is all about disappointment.
Kids are out for one reason only – to get candy. You can either give them candy, or not give them candy. But if you’re planning on handing out apples, pennies, or tracts, why not just lock up for the night. If your door is open, understand that you are planting seeds in those pillowcases and jack-o-lanterns. What message are you sending? Are you telling them that you are a happy neighbor that likes kids, or a mean neighbor that wants to rain on their parade? I know you may not mean it that way, but this is the message they will receive. Whatever you drop into their hands will likely determine whether they will talk to you again, and if so, whether you are seen as friend or enemy. And it’s not just the kids. Parents are watching. If I disappointed or offended your kid, how would you feel about me? What if I welcomed your kid and made them feel special at my house?
Please don’t make Halloween a hill you are going to die on. Jesus had plenty of opportunities to preach at us, yet he didn’t. Do we have a higher standard than Jesus? At the wedding feast, did he turn the water into milk? When he met prostitutes, did he explain how inappropriately they were behaving? Did he give Matthew a pamphlet about the evils of taxation?
C’mon. Give people a break. The world will act worldly. Stop acting surprised.
Regardless what we do on October 31st, I’m concerned that the world sees two options: acceptance and rejection. If we open our door (literally and metaphorically), there is a chance we can eventually have meaningful conversations with our neighbors about things that matter. If we close the door, I wonder if it doesn’t come across as judgmental, making it very clear that “I am a Christian and I don’t want to dirty myself”.
Should I celebrate Halloween?
I suppose that comes down to what you mean by celebrate, doesn’t it? And it also has something to do with what Halloween means to you.
Obviously, you can choose what you do with your own kids. Trick or treat, go to a movie, or do something different altogether. There is no reason that we must participate in a holiday after all. When it comes to your home you have a choice too. You can hand out candy or not. Neither choice makes you a bad person. However, I think the typical Christian responses on both sides are more reactionary than they are reasoned. Fear is a lousy response, but so is licentiousness. I’m suggesting that whatever you do this Halloween, be intentional about it. Don’t decide based on tradition or social pressure. Think about whether your decision honors God, your family, and your neighbors. Come to think of it, isn’t that good advice for any day?