First of all, let me say that I'm not advocating for scary costumes.
Secondly, let me say that I'm not on a "gripe fest."
Thirdly, let me say that I know with the subject of Halloween we are not all going to agree with each other concerning this issue. The important thing is to respect one another's convictions and let them operate within those boundaries they have established. God's Word says this..“Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.” (Romans 14:4 NLT)
The purpose of this blog is to hopefully cause helpful questionings of the reasons why we do what we do. All in a non-offensive way.
With that said, here are three things that I know to be true concerning the subject of Halloween.
I. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead. Samhain signifies "summers end" or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition.
The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next year's crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.
Certainly, Christians should not participate in the "dark side" of Halloween–or in any way approve of the satanic or the focus on paganism, evil, death, etc.
II. The reality of Halloween participation for many, believers and unbelievers alike, is simply dressing up in costumes and having fun collecting candy around the neighborhood. To many, this is what Halloween is about, without any connection to occult or pagan practices. Because many parents, including myself, do not sit our children down and explain to them the origin of Halloween. That would be like sitting down a 1 year old and explaining quantum physics. People give Halloween their own meaning, regardless of its origins. Consequently, because people participate in Halloween, does not necessarily mean they are promoting or encouraging occult or pagan practices and beliefs. The same is true concerning Christmas. People give it its own meaning. We would never say that everyone who participates in Christmas is a follower of Christ or is honoring God.
III. The early church responded properly to the original origin of Halloween by creating a new day on which they focused on reaching the pagans for Christ. They called it "All Saint's Day" (Nov. 1st). I commend any church who provides a safe place for children to come and have a good time and get candy. I believe this is a proper response to a less than ideal holiday.
Some final thoughts:
The other day I had my three year old with me in store and we had to walk down the costume aisle to look for a piece of clothing. I tried to shield him from the really outrageous stuff, but didn't make a huge issue out of it. Then it happened: my three year old son (who loves spiders) saw the display of overgrown "scary spiders." He asked what those spiders were for and I told him some people like to put those out and scare people. His response was, "we don't want to scare people, that's not nice." I just became the proudest parent in the world! Why? Because through healthy boundaries set, he was able to echo our heart in the matter. I didn't spend my time covering his eyes, telling him he better not dress a certain way, or like those types of things. Simply creating a home of love caused him to respond properly.
If the current culture around Halloween is a time to dress up and get free candy, then who "celebrates" Halloween the most?
As I mentioned before, there's nothing wrong with that--in fact I'm glad they do. However, I do have one concern. I believe most church groups are making a good thing bad. I hear and see all over town the advertisement, "No Scary Costumes." Shouldn't it read, "Don't come to OUR event for OUR people." Or maybe, "You can come on one condition...." Or even, "Hey, sinners, go sin somewhere else."
Church Halloween alternatives should be an outreach to people in the community, and according to Jesus when he reached out to people, it's not all neatly packaged up. It doesn't look like you do or think like you do. Reaching out to people and children who don't know Christ takes doing things differently.
and it's even scary.