Reflections on Halloween

I suck at this “consistent blogging” thing.  But, at the moment, I have a stack of work to do and a Halloween party to look forward to tonight so naturally, doing anything to that stack of work is increasingly difficult.  So here are some thoughts.

When I was a kid, my dad took me trick-or-treating.  This was always a big deal for our family.  We would dress up (some costumes I remember – a ninja turtle, a referee, and a pirate), get together with some of our friends, and walk our neighborhood, stuffing our bags with candy and then later eating said candy and passing out in a sugar rush.  We never went as all out as some of our neighbors did (and still do), but we enjoyed the time spent with friends and family, and they are some memories that I look back on fondly.  But one year in particular stands out in my mind.  I don’t remember exactly when it happened – my dad says it was the first time he ever took me trick-or-treating, so I’ll go with that – but one year, we were walking down a street near my house when we passed a house that no Halloween decorations, nobody home, and no lights on, except for 2 floodlights and a huge sign out front that said something along the lines of “WE ARE CHRISTIANS.  WE DO NOT CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN BECAUSE IT IS THE DEVIL’S HOLIDAY.”  I looked at my dad and said “Dad, are we going to Hell?”  He rolled his eyes, told me we’d talk about it later, and went on our merry way.  My parents would later explain Halloween to me, and that was that.  We still went trick-or-treating, still dressed up, and still enjoyed the evening as a family.  Later on, our church started doing a Fall Festival kind of deal, which we went to maybe once, and then went back to trick-or-treating.

Today, October 31, 2012, I have read a bunch of stuff from a bunch of different people.  Reasons we shouldn’t celebrate Halloween, reasons we should, or reasons we should celebrate it as Reformation Day.  And I honestly understand the conviction of not celebrating Halloween.  But as I sit here, thinking about the holiday and looking forward to the events of this evening, I have a couple of things I’m thinking over today.

1. There’s a right way and a wrong way to express your convictions about Halloween.  If you choose not to celebrate Halloween, don’t.  It’s your prerogative to do it or not do it.  But my guess would be that putting up a sign like the one I saw as a kid won’t do anybody a lot of good.  Maybe somebody out there read it and thought “wow, I see the error of my ways, God must love me, I’ll go be a Christian now,” but probably not.

On the other hand, if your conviction is that it’s OK for Christians to celebrate Halloween (and by celebrate I mean go to a party, take your kids trick-or-treating, or something harmless like that) then do it, but remember not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.  Be gracious about it.  Don’t try to show up people who think it’s not a good idea.

2. Halloween is unique, because it’s the only day of the year when you can walk up to a complete stranger’s door and strike up a conversation.  If you are out trick-or-treating, remember what a unique opportunity you have.  It doesn’t happen every day.

3. Another friend pointed out that Halloween actually, though unintentionally, depicts the Gospel in a way that no other holiday does.  Think about it – the commercialized version of Christmas says “be good and earn awesome gifts.”  It’s definitely a works based idea (note:  obviously the true meaning of Christmas is not a works based idea.  I’m talking about the mainstreamed version of it).  Halloween, on the other hand, entails getting good things for no real reason.

4. This kind of plays into #2, but I was trying to come up with 5 reasons and not 4 and I needed something to put here, but remember what a community oriented event Halloween is.  If you go trick-or-treating, do it with your neighbors.  If you go to a fall festival at church or something, invite some people who aren’t in your church to come along.  Days like this are not days to withdraw and separate from the people around us, but to bring them with us.

5. Finally, “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers is one of my favorite holiday songs, period.  I only listen to it one day a year, but I have had it on repeat this afternoon.

Enjoy.

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