Pastoral Post 10.27.2017

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Post by Rev. Becky Brown

Halloween is just around the corner.  Parties are being thrown, costumes are purchased or created, pumpkins have been painted and carved, and candy is ready to be given to lots of eager children.  It’s a fun Fall time holiday that I have fond memories of participating in year after year growing up.  Yet, for some, it’s a time to question whether it’s safe or “Christian” to participate.  Is it dangerous for Christians to join the fun?  Is it inappropriate for the church to be involved in the festivities on Halloween night?

These questions started swimming in my head after being challenged recently in conversation with a fellow follower of Jesus.  How could our church celebrate Halloween?  Why do I let my Christian children participate in such a pagan and commercial holiday that’s only promotion is sugar bugs in tiny teeth?  I found myself wondering about the history of Halloween.

Growing up, when I was in a season of deep questioning, I asked some of these same questions.  I was told that there is no reason why Christians shouldn’t participate in Halloween.  Even if some believe it is a day for devil worshipping and pagan rituals, that shouldn’t affect our Christian faith.  For the whole reason we can confidently dress up like things that may scare us (ghosts, gouls, witches, the Scream guy, or Freddie Krueger) is because such things are not real and are not of God.  Our faith is in God who is all powerful, and definitely has more pull on our souls than anything that may cause us to fear.  We may choose to dress like these characters to show the world that we aren’t afraid – Our God is bigger than the boogie man.

In the process of my digging, I learned that All Hallow’s Eve was originally a Christian holiday.  The word “hallow” means to make or set apart as holy.  Hmm.  All Hallow’s Eve is the night before All Saint’s Day – the day in the church where we recognize all the saints that have gone before us.  All those loved ones, church family members, and friends that have walked this earth alongside us, and have gone to join the church triumphant in the communion of saints.  It’s a celebration and a time to give thanks for what their lives meant to us, and how they modeled for us the Christian faith.  Over time, a ritual began that children would put on disguises and go door to door “souling.” The children would bring soul cakes, sing, and say prayers for the dead.  Of course, the traditions have morphed over time, but the lighthearted way of honoring the dead is very close to the original holiday’s intentions.

I overheard wise people discussing Halloween being a favorite holiday because its one of the only holidays that is celebrated in community.  All others are celebrated in closed circles within homes surrounded by invited guests only.  Halloween brings people and families out of their homes with the goal of greeting their community with cheerful faces.  The goal is to enjoy seeing each other’s costumes, celebrating creativity, enjoying sweet treats, and getting to know our neighbors.

I’m proud that our church, FUMC, participates fully in the celebrations of Halloween.  It’s an opportunity for us to provide a safe place for children to trick or treat, and those who walk through our trunk or treat will receive a free gift.  They will also have an opportunity to receive information and learn about ways to connect with our church.  People also see that we are fun and lighthearted people who aren’t afraid of ghosts because we are Christ followers and worship a great God.  Join us for the fun October 31 from 5-7pm on Academy Street while we get to know our neighbors and share the love of Jesus.

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