Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! October is finally here, and it is one of my favorite times of year. I love the cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, and that special taste in the air that only comes this time of year.
The child in me also loves Halloween! Trick-0r-Treating is a great American tradition. It became widespread in the 1950s and is still going strong today. I know there are some churches that consider the observance of Halloween to be a pagan practice, but that is due to a mistaken or incomplete understanding of what Halloween is.
It is true that the ancient Druids held a harvest festival on October 31 called Samhain. However, the only tradition from that festival that has survived into modern times is the bonfire. We actually know very little about pre-Christian paganism in Europe.
Our Halloween traditions actually come from Celtic Christian traditions. Here are some interesting things you should know about Christianity and Halloween:
· Halloween is short for All Hallows’ Eve: The night before All Saints Day. Traditionally, it is a time to reflect on one’s own mortality and need for salvation.
· Jack-o-Lanterns were originally used by churches and farms as gargoyles. When the pagans held their fall festivals, the Christians posted Jack-o-Lanterns to ward off evil.
· Celtic Christians believed, as we still do today, that evil is real. They also believed that demons were just as real a threat as any other forest predator, especially around pagan holidays like Samhain. Wearing scary masks on Halloween was a primitive version of camouflage.
· Churches traditionally held worship services on Halloween. Martin Luther inadvertently started the Protestant movement at a Halloween service.
I always encourage my children to celebrate and enjoy Halloween for the following reasons:
· It encourages them to take the supernatural in general, and evil in particular, seriously.
· I believe that ritual play focusing on the struggle between good and evil is not only healthy but important.
· Traditional “scary stories” almost always teach good moral lessons.
· It’s just good fun!
My wife, Becky, was not raised in the church. She became a Christian in High School, largely because she was invited to help out in a haunted house attraction at a Methodist church Halloween party. If not for that Methodist Church (St. John’s of Hamilton) my family would not exist as it is today. (I met Becky at a Methodist church two years later.) God can work through events like Halloween, but only if the church participates. So…