Its that time of year again. Nights are getting cooler. A few leaves are changing color. Pumpkin this and that are appearing on menus everywhere. And Christians everywhere are starting to post their “I hate Halloween” rants all over social media.
In a lot of ways, I get that. Many people who aren’t Christians also hate a lot of the dark and scary imagery of Halloween. Personally, I have never been a fan of “horror” films in general – and I’m not going to really get into the aspects of any holiday that resembles an entire genre of entertainment that I’m not a huge fan of.
But I still don’t think that we should go around writing off the entire holiday as an evil orgy that we should avoid like the plague. And here are a few reasons why:
1) We give “the darkness” (however you label that – Devil, Satan, Demons, Dark Forces etc) too much power if we freak out too much. The way some Christians react to Halloween you would think that Yahweh and Satan are two equal forces locked in an eternal yin/yang struggle. That’s not the picture that the Bible paints: God is all-powerful and love overcomes all.
2) God is everywhere, even in the darkness. He is more powerful than the darkness. See Psalm 139:7-8 (“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are.”) and Psalm 139:2 (“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”)
3) Yes, there are many grotesque things celebrated at Halloween. But the Bible does not hide from these realities. Have you ever thought about what the Valley of Dry Bones vision looked like to Ezekiel? Not exactly good clean family fun. Now, this is different from celebrating the grotesque, but it is also not running and hiding from it and pretending it doesn’t exist.
4) If we are to avoid holidays because some people take it too far and commit “sin”, then there are no holidays that we can celebrate. You do realize that unmarried people have sex on Valentine’s Day? And that people get greedy on Christmas and buy more than they need instead of giving to the poor? Or that people commit gluttony on holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, you name it? And what about the drunkenness and who-knows-what that happens on New Years Eve? “But there are Satanic rituals on Halloween!” you say. Yep. And anything that is sin is just as “Satanic.” Do you really think that performing a specific ritual makes it more powerful? See point #1 then.
5) But then of course, you point out the “pagan” roots of the holiday. Which would also be true for Christmas, but let’s say you exclude that and just focus on the “pagan” aspect of the origin of Halloween. Does that still mean we are stuck celebrating a holiday based solely on the reason it was first created? Do we still go around martyring people on St. Valentines Day? No? Do we go fight in a war on Veterans Day? No? Okay then – maybe we can look at holidays as a way to celebrate something without actually having to do what the people that we are celebrating did back when it started.
This last point brings me to what I think we should focus on as Christians when celebrating Halloween. First of all, we need to realize that the word “Halloween” itself is a Christian term: “Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) and the day initiating the triduum of Hallowmas.” “Hallowmas, also known as the Triduum of All Hallows (Triduum of All Saints), is the triduum encompassing the Western Christian observances of All Hallows’ Eve (Hallowe’en), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’) and All Soul’s Day, which last from October 31 to November 2 annually.” If you celebrate Christmas despite all of it’s Pagan roots and modern secular influence, then you have the same reason to celebrate Halloween.
Also, if the rampant materialism of Christmas doesn’t offend you as much as the grotesque imagery of Halloween, you might be getting something wrong.
Halloween is a great time to go and enjoy festivals, community night out events, and friendly celebrations. If someone invites you to a Satanic sacrifice, you might want to politely turn them down. But otherwise, be a part of your community for Christ’s sake! Be creative and dress up in a costume that you find appropriate. If not, then at least don’t go watching Star Wars or the Avengers or any one of a million movies where performers are dressed up in costumes.
Halloween is also a great time to teach kids about how some people are fascinated by darkness and death and how that can be an unhealthy thing if taken to an extreme. Kind of the same way we teach our kids to be thankful at Christmas while not getting sucked into materialism.
So, in other words, just like any other day of the year and any other holiday out there, let’s learn to focus on the positive, avoid extremes, and not let fear rule our lives. Because to be honest, too many Christians make arguments against Halloween based completely on fear – which leads back to point #1 above. Its a tired cliche now, I know – but still true: Love wins, even on Halloween.