Friday, October 8, 2010

Waxing Philosophical About Halloween

I've been trying to think of something thought provoking to discuss for Philosophical Phriday.  (Yes, i just made that up; what do you think?)  I often wax philosophical in my head about lots of things, but i don't always remember what they were ten minutes later.

Here's a subject that has had a lot of time in my head lately, so i'll share it with you, and you can tell me what you think.  If you wish.

I was raised in a household where we didn't celebrate anything just because everyone else did.  And if we happened to celebrate something everyone else did, we very likely didn't celebrate it the same way everyone else did.  I learned about the origin of every holiday - and about its modern day changes, etc.

For example, we celebrated Easter, but at my house it was called Resurrection Day.  We also didn't hunt easter eggs or believe in easter bunnies or any of that.  We did have a nice dinner and spend the day more in an atmosphere of thankfulness to God for His love and His salvation.  And occasionally i received a candy-filled easter basket from some church member who was sure i was missing out by not celebrating in the easter egg festivities.  I wasn't, but i'm sure i enjoyed the candy.

At Christmas, we definitely celebrated; however stories about fat bearded men bringing me presents through our non-existent chimney were never involved.  Neither was a Christmas tree.  Decorations and presents and cookies and Advent candles and all sorts of of other revelry were very much involved.

I am very thankful for the way i was brought up, by the way.  It taught me to think about my actions and my celebrations and my thankfulness to God.  It also taught me to value the right things about celebrations, not just how much candy or presents or money i might receive.

As a matter of fact, it taught me a little bit about how to be level-headed while doing the opposite of what a lot of other people were doing - and how not to feel bad about it.

When i grew up, i had to start making some decisions about what i believe and how i will choose to celebrate.  Not because of what my parents think, but because of what i believe.  I immediately rejected the banishment of Christmas trees, which represent life and beauty to me.  But i held on to the rejection of easter bunnies and fat men in the chimney.  Thankfully, my GSSH (that stands for gun slingin' super hero, for you new comers) and i are in perfect agreement on pretty much every holiday issue.

Now, to Halloween.

Of all the "holidays," this one is, to me, the absolutely least redeemable day on the calendar.  When i was a child, my family, thankfully, simply ignored the day altogether - and shut off our porch light when it got dark.  Now, in the present, i recognize that Christians should perhaps consider ways to reach out to the public on the darkest of all celebration days, but i recoil.

In my mind, my participation in halloween celebrations feels like betrayal of my Father God.  The only thing i can think of that i would feel entirely comfortable doing in recognition of this day, honestly, is to participate in a prayer vigil.  I'm sure to some of you i'm making myself sound like a weirdo at this point, but i'm just being honest.

This brings me to my current dilemma.

My church, which i love, whose pastor i love, whose members i love, whose ideas i usually love, is planning a halloween extravaganza for October 31 this year.  The idea behind it, as i understand it, is to share the love of Christ with people in the neighborhood.  And i get that.  And i understand in my head that that seems like the right and Christian thing to do, on a level.  But i can't bring myself to be in any way involved in it.

I guess i'm just very heavily conscience driven, and i can't do it just because my wonderful pastors tell me it's o.k.  I need to have some understanding of how God sees it, and i just don't have that right now.

I shared.  Now, i'd love it if you would share.

What do you think about halloween and how Christians should respond to it?  Or if you're not a Christian, what do you think about how Christians respond to halloween?


  1. Philosophical Phriday - I like! As far as answering your question, I believe I just my next blog idea, and I'm gonna post a link to this post (although I'm sure you get lots more traffic than I do ;-), and then proceed to answering! It'd take up too much comment space, I do believe :D

  2. I celebrate Halloween, as do my grandchildren and my nieces and nephews. I do not consider it a stumbling block to Christianity, irrespective of its origins, as I believe it is the intent of the heart and not the traditions of men that the Lord sees. That applies in every conceivable way. I am, at heart, a rebel in many ways. If others are fazed by the holiday, it is their obligation to avoid it.

    That said, I generally celebrate Halloween by buying "good" candy and "marginal" candy. When the latter is gone, I shut off the lights and eat the good stuff myself. I call this "saving the children from the ravages of sugar". I am being totally selfless. No, really.

  3. Kris, that totally cracked me up!

  4. I am a Christian and have small children who want to take part in Halloween the way every kid wants to. Well, at least one of them does. And I hadn't really thought about the implications of being a Christian and celebrating Halloween, because to me it's just about dressing up in a fun costume and gallavanting around the neighborhood with all the kids and their moms and dads. It's social, it's nostalgic. I don't think about it as being satanic or evil or anything. I will think about it now, though I don't know how I'd tell my daughter she can't dress up like a cheerleader and go trick or treating with all the other little ones on our street.

    gee this turned out so long I probably should have put it on my own blog! Sorry!

  5. Hi Bonnie, no need to apologize for long comments. It's a thought-provoking question. Feel free to answer thoroughly. =)

  6. Kris, I have a non-Christian friend with views similar to yours, especially when you consider all the pagan traditions we incorporate (thank you, Great and Mighty Catholic Church from centuries ago....) into Easter and Christmas. One of the reasons I enjoy her is because she and I can have totally opposite view-points on something, and carry on the discussion as if we're having a casual conversation - it doesn't turn into an argument, and it's never damaged our relationship. Very cool! Anyway, I've sent her a FB message asking her to weigh in on my blog with her point of view :-)

  7. Hi Beth, I appreciate your post. I am a Christian and I love Halloween, not because of how it began but how it is today...for me, it's a time for kids of all ages to dress up, spend some time in their community (which so many don't get to do any more) and have fun parties and games. I love the decorations and think it is a just a fun event to spook, scare and laugh all in good nature.

    I respect your views and if you feel that way, you have to do what is right for you and others have to do what is right for them :)

  8. I'm a Christian and did do Halloween stuff when my kids were little. I don't see it as a Satanic thing, or in any way contradicting my Christian beliefs. But that being said, I think people have the right to their own beliefs and if the whole Halloween thing doesn't sit well with you, then don't do it. But be tolerant and non-judgmental of those that want to participate. And I absolutely love Kris' idea of the "good candy"! LOL

  9. We're Christians, and we told our kid this was a fun day to dress up and for nice people to give them candy.

    When she was two, we put her daddy's polo shirt and beret on her and toke her out as Martin Luther. LOL

  10. Toke... I spel gud... we TOOK her out as Martin Luther. I wish I could find the picture.

  11. Thanks, Sandy. I am very careful to not be ever condemning toward anyone. It simply isn't productive, and that's why God doesn't do it.

    I am also a very strong believer in the idea that God decides which rocks he wants to get out of each of our gardens - and in what order. So even if i feel strongly about something, it is up to God to work on the hearts of His children, and i will attempt to be available to open my mouth when He wants me to. I will also try to be sensitive to which rocks He's trying to get out of my garden and in which order.

  12. Beth, my Mom uses a similar analogy - God lets us know which board(s) on the fence needs painting.

  13. I was reared and still am a Christian but until the past 10 years or so always lived in a community with the same Christian background/beliefs (conservative Anabaptist). In the past few years so many of the folks in the church that was here when I came have died that the remainder of the church decided to join forces with another church, which unfortunately for me, is far too far (2 hours one way) from here. It made sense for most because 'way more people were coming from that westerly direction, I am. In searching around for a new church home, I was amazed at the different varieties, disciplines, tolerance/intolerance levels, etc in groups of folks under the Christian 'label'.

    Anabaptists tend to be very Bible oriented and believing as they do that the New Covenant represents the path to follow, basically consider the Old Testament to be history and background to edify that which is found in the New Testament, with beliefs and daily-life practices as outlined in the New Testament. They/I constitute a fairly literal groups of believers.

    So we, and I still, really didn't celebrate many of the holidays these local folks/churches do. There's an astounding range of acceptable practices, apparently. But I still don't really celebrate much beside the old line Christian holidays: Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, and Christmas. In an Anabaptist community those are celebrated by church services and group meals (but then we eat together on Sundays anyway) and visiting around to folks unable to get out and about. A lot of other holidays are observed by folks here and friends here often invite me to spend time at their houses on their holidays, but most of the time I'm truly happy here. Thanksgiving I sometimes spend with friends (very good cook over there :) ) I found myself uncomfortable enough with the local churches that I 'attend' church by Skype these days and that took some getting used to. I've been lined up to move twice in the past few years and both times fell through, so guess I still have work to do here :) .

    So I guess folks go whatever way they see fit; there's no real way to pin it down anymore than there is to pin down who is or isn't Christian just on their say-so or variety of church attended.


  14. We don't do Halloween, and I typically don't even like the TV programming during the entire month of October .. ugh!

    My kids just always said/say "We don't celebrate Halloween." .. much like "We don't celebrate Hanukkah" or any other holiday that falls out of our faith.

  15. Hi Beth, FYI (for your information) it's my understanding that our main Pastors changed the named from Hallelujah Festival to Halloween Festival in order to attract unsaved folks and their children, so that we might have a positive influence in their life leading them to be saved. That is the only reason we are having this event - to reach the unsaved. Thought it would make you feel better to know this and I'm sure they would be terribly upset if they realized the misunderstanding, You're probably not the only one because they've never announced this. Bless You!

  16. Oh, I reread your blog & see that you do know this, just still have difficulty with it, so, never mind my comment (:

  17. Thanks for your comment, Sandra. I really appreciate it. :)

    I'm certainly not here to criticize them, and i do know that their intentions are entirely 100% pure. I don't question that at all.

    Thanks for your understanding. :)

  18. My friend finally left a comment sharing her views on my blog - post title Philosophical Phriday

  19. Thanks, Beth.

    I was just reading it. It's interesting to read the different view-points...and conclusions based on the same information.


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