Friday 23 October 2015

5 Reasons We Do Not Celebrate Halloween

Image used with permission
I’m not a big fan of Halloween, I never have been. However as a child I was desperate to dress up and go out trick or treating with the hope of a night of fun with friends and a bag of booty at the end of it but as for the scary and ghoulish stuff no thank youI never did get to trick or treat as my Dad was adamant that no child of his would go begging door-to-door and I didn’t understand what his issue was when I was a child, I just thought he was a meanie. I get it now though.

I wrote a post about Halloween back in 2011 which was a bit controversial as I said if you celebrate Halloween you were worshipping all things evil including the devil himself. It was purposefully provocative to get people to think about Halloween and what they were doing. I wasnt actually saying that I believed many of my readers were devil worshippers, because who am I to make that judgement? Ive always been a live and let live kind of woman so I do feel it is your choice as to whether you and your children celebrate Halloween or not. We are all answerable for our own decisions and as long as we make them rationally and with all the information available to us then it is no-one elses business.

I do worry however, that many people just go along with Halloween as they have never really thought about what it is or what it teaches our children. This is when it becomes problematic. I have heard Halloween referred to as harmless funon so many occasions, just look at the 59 comments on my earlier mentioned post. Yes there were a few people that agreed with me that it was dark, best stayed away from, over-commercialised and teaching our kids the wrong things but most people thought I was a party-pooper. That's right, I'm the up-tight Christian woman who doesn't know how to have fun!

It doesn't at all bother me what others think of me as Im really comfortable with my decision (with my husbands full support) that our family do not celebrate Halloween. Im not closed off to conversation though, I have done loads of reading this year on the subject of Halloween, its origins and why Christians might join in with it and I can see some of the logic of why other Christians might be joining in with parts of the traditional celebrations for Halloween.

But for me it all comes back to the fact that the roots of Halloween are entrenched in darkness. The bible teaches us that we should not be scared of the dark side as Jesus always wins but it does invite us to be cautious and to use discernment about how we spend our time and the things we fill our heads with. There has been so much written about the roots and origins of Halloween and it is very hard to pin down exactly where the modern day Halloween came from. 

It seems to be most widely accepted that the first celebration on that date was Samhain, the Pagan festival that celebrates the end of the summer and where it is believed that the division between life and death was thinnest and pagans or those involved in the occult would contact the spirits of the dead. It was also believed that those spirits came back to earth and played havoc with the harvest and as such people dressed in ghostly costumes so they would be mistaken for those coming back from the dead and would be left alone or they would offer them sweets to appease them. 

Historical texts then show that the church tried to claim the celebration to take the emphasis away from evil spirits visiting the earth and the Christian celebration of All Hallows' Day (or All Saints' Day followed by All Souls' Day) was born in about 998 AD. This is celebrated on 1st November and of course the preceding day is All Hallows' Eve and this is where the term Halloween originated from. I was really interested to learn that back in medieval times children dressed up in spooky costumes and danced at the 'A Danse Macabre' to celebrate Jesus' victory on the cross. I don't think that many people dressing up as mass murderers or witches nowadays are doing so to now celebrate Jesus' victory over darkness sadly.

Many Christians ask me or others who do not agree with Halloween what we are afraid of when Halloween supposedly originated from a Christian festival but I'm not sure that is the right question. I am not scared of Halloween, I just refuse to get involved with something that has me dressing up as something despicable or carrying out practises that scare many people.

Here are 5 reasons why my family do not celebrate Halloween -

1.  It sends very mixed messages. By allowing my children to trick or treat I tell them that one night of the year they may knock on strangers doors and demands goodies or otherwise they can be naughty and do a trick. I never condone my kids demanding treats from me to behave well so I certainly won't allow them to do it to others.

Also at any other time of the year would I tell them to speak to strangers, approach the door of houses they do not know or allow them to take treats from strangers? No, so why would all my common sense go out the window on 31st October?

2.  There is evil out there. We cannot pretend that the devil is not at work in our world. We only have to look at much of the devastation in our world - hunger, poverty, greed, addiction, mass murder, war and obsession with self.

3.  I hate over-commercialisation. The developed world has gone crazy for things. Everyone wants to buy, buy, buy, even when they do not have the money and this desire for things, to keep up with the neighbours and to spend when they cannot afford to is griding our society down. We are left with a nation of disgruntled and unhappy people who have lost any sense of community and sharing. 

Yes Christmas has gone the same way I'll grant you that but I choose to stand back from most of the commercialisation and to keep celebrating Christmas for what it really is, a celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ (not His actual birthday, I know but a representative date). So as for the thought of spending £80 or even £20 on costumes or props that are all about darkness and evil for Halloween truly does fill me with horror. Then what happens to them afterwards? They get cast aside as that is another of the problems with our society today, everything is disposable and short-lived.

4.  I encourage my children to be loving, kind and to be the light in a dark world. One of my greatest desires for my children (after having a loving, intimate relationship with Jesus) is that they will grow up to be kind and giving people. I don't care if they never become a brain surgeon and they choose to stack shelves or work in a factory, they are not defined by what they do as a job, they are defined by who they are in Christ and that for me is about love shining through their character. About being the light in a dark world. Each time they offer to pray for a friend, each time they play with the left-out child, each time they show kindness then they are being Jesus' shining light.

How can I therefore once a year say it is OK to throw that off and to dress as darkness, to act in a way that only glorifies evil and to demand treats by menace?

5.  Children see the world as black and white. I mentioned that I've been reading quite a lot this year and much of it is by other Christians, for there is a full range of opinion by those who call themselves a Christian. It appears that where you live has a bearing as Halloween is much more accepted in the states and also on what you grew up with being the norm.

I was interested to read many stories of Halloween being a great day for evangelism, of children being dressed in white as an angel at a party and thus truly being the light in the dark crowd. Or families taking their children out and door knocking but instead of trick or treating they were giving out an encouraging verse and a treat to demonstrate that Jesus only gives good gifts. Apparently pumpkin carving events can be great conversation starters too as you can carve Christian symbolism and then leave them outside the house on Halloween and as the children knock you are able to give them a treat and a tell them of God's love too.

On the one hand I love all these ideas of what people are doing and ultimately we all have to do what sits right with us but as I wrote in my post in 2011 I realise now that in doing things for a good reason I've got it wrong in the past. It took my 8 year old JJ to point to me how hypocritical I was being giving sweets to trick or treaters who knocked at our door, when I would not allow my kids to go out and do it.

Where that level of insight came from at age 8 I'll never know (God inspired I suspect) but he was so right to point it out to me. Generally children think in black and white, there are no shades of grey in between. So for me, I might think it is OK for one of my children to go to a Halloween party if they are dressed in a nice costume as adverse to a scary one but all they know if that Mummy let them celebrate Halloween and therefore it must be OK.

I read an interesting article from Ben Durbin the other day on this very subject, you can check out part s one and part two if you fancy.

Additional reading on Halloween that you might want to check out -

Talking with your children about Halloween from Scripture Union (includes historical context)

Krish Kandiah on Christian Today on why he's changed his mind about Halloween

J John in the Mirror giving 6 reasons why he believes Halloween is not harmless fun

I'll leave you with this interesting video about Halloween -

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