I enjoy Halloween. It’s a night that can be a lot of fun, if handled properly. The focus on death (which consumes one extreme) and the focus on dressing “trashy” (which consumes another extreme) tend to be the most concentrated on elements. Churches, through elaborate “fall festivals,” try to balance it all out by providing a place where people don’t look like a zombie or they aren’t dressed like a hooker. What Churches often don’t understand is that this behavior is simply another extreme.
There is this very interesting book that details the history of Halloween in America, and the findings are worth examining. What will probably strike most people is that this tradition has its roots in the Church.
And not just in the Church, but in direct connection to one of the most widely celebrated Christian Holy Days: All Saints’ Day. Basically, the poor would go from house to house asking for prayers for the Saints, as well as any offerings of charity for themselves.
I could vent for a minute about Christians who bemoan Halloween because of “witchcraft,” but I won’t. I will point out that those same Christians probably ignore the correlations between Christmas and various pagan holidays, but I will stop there. I could also lament how far we’ve come from a tradition that began with generosity towards the poor, and how’ our culture has reduced this grand idea into something trivial and “sugary.” But I won’t.
Instead, I’d like to briefly mention a couple of reasons why I enjoy Halloween:
1) It’s a family affair. My wife and I dress up. Now that our son is old enough, he dresses up too. We spend time with friends and one another. It’s a genuine time of fellowship for us. We relax; share stories; laugh. We do it all.
2) It’s fun. We went as Waldo & Friends this year. Two years ago, we went as tourists (we were in the Dominican Republic which made it funnier). Before that, we went as Batman & Catwoman. We make the most of this event.
3) It’s a reminder. Days like this cause me to look back at history, particularly Church traditions, and remind myself that the Body of Christ has a rich past. Yes, it’s full of mistakes, just like the stories of the heroes of faith. But it is a story that continually points towards God’s redemptive plans for this world.
As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, I will celebrate those who have walked before me in our common faith, and do so with my family. Whether you do or don’t observe the day, just remember not to be too harsh on any Halloween goers this year.
After all, God has a way of bring people back to their roots.