A friend emailed me yesterday asking if I had ever written a post on Halloween and how Christians should relate to it. This was my reply to him. Also, in honor of Halloween, I’m posting this picture of the best Halloween costume I ever had. Can’t figure it out? The answer is at the bottom of the post:
Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I don’t really have any strong opinions on the matter either way. I’ll probably stay home Halloween, work on school work, and hand out candy to kids.
I really think it’s up to the individual Christian’s conscience, though there are obvious things that might be “unwise”. For one, don’t get wrapped in the sexuality that seems to have pervaded Halloween. Second, if you do a costume, try not to be exploitative (grown-ups dressing like little kid-sort of things and sexualizing them, acting gay as a joke, mocking others, or I heard of one couple of white friends who went as a dead Trayvon Martin and a George Zimmermamn, with the Trayvon guy wearing black-face).
Importantly, though, I don’t encourage myself or other Christians to be “weird” about it.
Hand out “tracts” instead of candy if you really want to, but I won’t be, and I don’t think we need to make everything overtly evangelistic just to feel better about participating. Go to Halloween parties, but try not to get drunk. Maybe don’t play with Ouija boards or pray to evil spirits and such.
That’s all I’ve got, really. It’s not really much different than most other holidays, in my opinion. Similarly, should we “indulge in the worldly aspects” of Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving? I think we should just grow in Christ as best we can and then participate in these holidays without going against the Christian convictions we’d have on any other day of the year.
Still buy presents on Christmas, but don’t get caught up in the commercialism. Eat Easter candy, but don’t over-indulge. Have Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t over-romanticize its beginnings. And go to Halloween costume parties, but don’t be sexual, insulting, inconsiderate, insensitive, or even self-righteous in doing so.
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But, after sending this email, I ran across this article on Halloween that blew me away. Now I’m a staunch supporter of Christians participating in Halloween. Here are the money quotes:
“Halloween” is simply a contraction for All Hallows’ Eve. The word “hallow” means “saint,” in that “hallow” is just an alternative form of the word “holy” (“hallowed be Thy name”). All Saints’ Day is November 1. It is the celebration of the victory of the saints in union with Christ. The observance of various celebrations of All Saints arose in the late 300s, and these were united and fixed on November 1 in the late 700s. The origin of All Saints Day and of All Saints Eve in Mediterranean Christianity had nothing to do with Celtic Druidism…
The Festival of All Saints reminds us that though Jesus has finished His work, we have not finished ours. He has struck the decisive blow, but we have the privilege of working in the mopping up operation. Thus, century by century the Christian faith has rolled back the demonic realm of ignorance, fear, and superstition….
The concept, as dramatized in Christian custom, is quite simple: On October 31, the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is banished by the joy of the Kingdom.
What is the means by which the demonic realm is vanquished? In a word: mockery. Satan’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. Thus, to drive Satan from us we ridicule him. This is why the custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. Nobody thinks the devil really looks like this; the Bible teaches that he is the fallen Arch-Cherub. Rather, the idea is to ridicule him because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over us….
Thus, the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is associated with Halloween. For this reason, Martin Luther posted his 95 challenges to the wicked practices of the Church to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He picked his day with care, and ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.
Similarly, on All Hallows’ Eve (Hallow-Even – Hallow-E’en – Halloween), the custom arose of mocking the demonic realm by dressing children in costumes. Because the power of Satan has been broken once and for all, our children can mock him by dressing up like ghosts, goblins, and witches. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR!
I love this. And there’s a whole lot more history and insight in that post, so I encourage you to read it. Oh, and this is who my costume was: