Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween?

The subject of Halloween is a tricky one. It's highly controversial among Christian circles. A friend told me the other day that the kids at her son's Christian school told him Halloween is the Devil's Birthday. She wondered to me why families would tell their kids that, and honestly I cannot say. People make things up.

Actually, Halloween was originally derived from a couple of Pagan holidays. This a brief description of my very limited knowledge:

One celebration was that of All Saints Day, a religious festival with a feast. The other was Samhain, which today's Halloween is modeled after. That particular day was a celebration of the end of the harvest season where the people would take inventory of their supplies and slaughter livestock for the winter stores. Both groups of celebrants, though, believed this one day was the day that the dead could communicate with the living or could actually come back to life to reak havok and play tricks. At Pagan harvest festivals, people would wear masks to either mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

The Jack O'Lantern is the American representation of a Irish lantern carved from a turnip. Pumpkins were more readily available in America and easier to carve, hence the change. One legend says the lanterns were originally meant to ward off those tricky spirits, but there is other folklore associated with the Jack O'Lantern having to do with Irish legend or the American Harvest. The carved pumpkin itself did not become associated with Halloween until the mid-19th century.

As for Halloween being "The Devil's Birthday," Wikipedia says "the imagery surrounding Halloween is largely an amalgamation of the Halloween season itself, nearly a century of work from American filmmakers and graphic artists, and a rather commercialized take on the dark and mysterious." Halloween is no more the Devil's Birthday than Christmas is Santa's. With regards to the dead coming back to life, only one person has ever beaten death, and as a Christian family, we celebrate that resurrection on Halloween and every day.

In our family, Halloween is a fun day where our kids get to wear dress-up clothes to school and participate in a costume parade. Later in the evening, we take a long walk together, participate in the generosity of our neighbors, and spend time enjoying one another. In the midst of that, it's an opportunity for us to discuss what other people believe, and to relate it back to The Truth. We typically finish the night with a mug of Hot Chocolate and candy sorting before bed.

For us, today is a day like any other (with the exception of all the loot) -- it's not really a "holiday." Unlike the Pagans, we don't celebrate the sun, but rather the Son. We don't worship the dead, but rather the One who conquered death. Are we wrong by participating in the dress-up and candy-gathering portion of Halloween? I don't think so. In fact, if He were here, Jesus might tag along. Gasp!

When I was in Bible School, it was a big deal for the church to have the biggest and most fun Fall Festival on Halloween. It was said that children love candy, they love dressing up, and they love going to parties and having fun, all of which is true. We were instructed that it would be completely inappropriate to penalize Christian children by not giving them something to do that was as fun or more fun than those in unbelieving families. There was nothing wrong in having a candy-laden party for them as an alternative to the world's celebration. In addition, this particular celebration was an opportunity to share the gospel with candy seekers who may not otherwise hear it. They couldn't come for candy without exposure to Jesus Christ.

When we were still in that area, we went to that festival every year. It was big, well-manned, and lot and lots of fun. Plus, there was more candy handed out than one child should ever eat. When we left that area and came to the Metroplex, we found the fall festivals to be smaller and far more crowded, and no one in our family had any kind of fun. So now, we trick-or-treat in the neighborhood and are responsible to remind our own children of the Truth of the Gospel.

Anyway, the kids were very excited to go to school today all costumed. Gracie's untimely illness didn't affect her until she realized it might disrupt going to school in fun clothes. Fortunately, she's better, is breathing well, and has been fever-free for more than 24 hours, so the doctor released her to return.

It just so happens they went to school with a common theme, which is something that we've purposefully done in the past, but didn't plan for this year. In the past, they've gone as matching pumpkins, circus creatures, and as Hershey's Candy products (he was a Hershey's Bar while she was a Kiss). The theme this year was unintentional, but Bub went as a football player, and Gracie went as a cheerleader. (His chosen costume this year was Spiderman, but he cannot go to school with a mask. He'll change after he gets home.) They looked so cute this morning. See for yourself:


Parade Pictures




Regardless of what decisions you make for your family today, I hope your day is lots of fun. I hope where you are the sun is bright, the weather is cool, and Christ is revealed in the change of the seasons. If the dressing-up and candy-gathering is for you, I hope your "harvest" is bountiful, and that you enjoy partaking without tummy aching.

Happy Halloween!

Don't be like me -- Eat your candy in moderation!

4 comments:

  • MJ

    They are adorable. I have Belle, Cher, and John Lennon. We will be participating happily, snatching all the loot we can!!

  • The Dukes Family

    A controversy for us too but we dress up and have fun ... at least so far. For me it's all about the kids in their costumes and the subsequent scrapbook pages! :) And who doesn't love raiding their kids' loot bags? We all just need to follow through on VCC's suggestion this year and be a light on a dark night.

  • Kendra

    We love to be able to actually meet the neighbors if only for a moment. For us Halloween is another tool to use in developing a relationship with those who might not meet Christ any other way. Enjoy the aging comment! I stole it from my mother. Happy blosing!

  • Emily

    The kids are adorable. It looks like they had a good time at school.

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