I LOVE Halloween. I live in a small, somewhat upscale subdivision. We have one black family, one Hispanic and two Asian families living here, but every year we’re inundated with van-loads of little black and Hispanic kids, dressed in some very cute costumes. It’s MY job to hand out the candy and I love doing it. We buy lots of good candies–Mounds bars, Snickers, Milky Ways, Reese’s Peanut butter Cups, Paydays, Butterfingers, packets of Skittles, Tootsie Pops, M&M’s and the like. My neighborhood is VERY popular because of that and we give out virtually everything in the house that’s sweet before the night’s over. Tomorrow promises to be pretty good–if a bit chilly. I started the furnace this evening for the first time this year.
We haven’t had trick or treaters since we left Illinois, and the last place there was because (I think, it was a long time ago) one of the neighbor’s brought her niece and nephew to our door. Where we lived then, and all the places we’ve lived since, were so isolated that, if there were any kids around, they were probably taken to town to do their trick-or-treating. Our church does a “Harvest festival” every year, where they have what they call “trunk or treat” - people hand out treats from the trunks of their cars in the church parking lot. I have never been to it, it’s twenty miles away. They usually have a hayride, and I think they culminate with a wiener roast.
As a Christian, I have to ask: Why do Christians believe that celebrating a known pagan holy-day is a great idea?
A scripture that I think of when folks tell me that it all depends on how we look at things like this … holidays .
Almost all of the Christian holidays originated in paganism.
For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.
"For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.…
Yes, this is talking about trees and fruit but I think it has a deeper meaning.
Actually, John Stonestreet was disputing this yesterday on the Breakpoint commentary:
“Halloween is a satanic holiday,” say some. “It’s a celebration of death,” insist others. Back when I was a kid, a series of comic-book style tracts went around claiming that Halloween was really a pagan holiday when medieval Druids used to carry out human sacrifice under a full moon.
I was surprised to learn that even modern pagans who love Halloween admit that this story is mostly made-up. As one self-professed pagan blogger at Patheos writes, “Halloween…feels like a pagan holiday, and it’s been categorized as one for several decades now…I sympathize,” he says, “but claiming that Halloween is ‘100% pagan’ is not a tenable argument.”
The very name “Halloween” means “holy evening”—a throwback to when Catholic Christians prepared for the Feast of All Saints on November 1st.
The whole article is an interesting read: To Boo or Not to Boo
For myself, I think there’s an opportunity for Christian ministry with costume parties (no undead, witches, provacative dress, blood and gore, etc.) and even trick-or-treating (taking treats to the homes one visits comes to mind).
The WORD “Halloween” is an archaic form of “All Hallows Evening”–the evening prior to All Saints Day on the Christian calendar. It’s only fairly recently that it has come to mean a day of witches, demons, zombies, vampires and werewolves…a day when all the damned souls come out to roam the Earth. Our church used to “celebrate” with costume parties, games for the kids with prizes of candy and sweets, cake walks, etc. It is not now, nor ever been, an UNchristian holiday.
I think it’s a conglomerate of ancient festivals and Christianity combined. Centuries ago there were pagan festivals. A lot of pagans became believers and brought some of their old traditions with them, and the church adopted some of them around religious holidays in order to attract more believers and turn them away from paganism.
Over time, the blending of our different cultures also got mixed into the holiday themes.