*a note from itsahappyblog* This is a guest post from my friend ‘Shannon’. Thanks so much for filling in for me today, Shannon!! My memories and thoughts on Halloween to follow later this week. I would love to hear from my readers below the post!
“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” —Martin Luther
As you may have heard, or may personally practice yourself, many Christians are not “down” with the practice of Halloween. Some steer their children from trick-or-treating to Harvest parties. Some shun the holiday altogether. This is not a manifesto against either. I am not writing to spark debate. This is simply a statement of a position I have felt called to articulate for a while now. I find that there are few Christian voices that articulate why Christians would, in good conscience, celebrate Halloween. This is my humble attempt to do just that.
For those who are confused about why some Christians step back from Halloween, I think it boils down to two main issues 1) fear of the power of the devil and his minions 2) a strong belief that celebrating the holiday means participating in occult and pagan rituals which stand in opposition to God. I can understand these issues, so I am not going to try to argue against them. Rather, I’d like to offer the reasons why I do celebrate Halloween with my children.
Halloween’s not my favorite holiday. If I had to rank holidays, I’d say it falls just after Dr. King’s birthday and Veteran’s Day on my list (which I also celebrate with my kids). As a Christian, I do have my concerns about the way it is practiced. I do have my own fears about it—fears rooted in the hate crimes my family experienced seventeen years ago this weekend. But frankly, I believe that there are more reasons to be concerned about the way that Christmas and Easter are celebrated in our country than Halloween. That is because their celebrations, which are rooted in the Christian faith, often neglect Christ almost entirely in common practice.
So instead of shunning Halloween, I choose to engage it. I help my kids dress up. I take them “trick-or-treating”, which is more about walking up to houses for free candy than ever tricking anyone. I pass out candy to the hundreds of kids who walk down my street on their way to the “better” neighborhoods. I talk to neighbors who excitedly decorate their homes with scary décor. I even make my own pitiful attempt at Halloween decorations—fake spider webs tangle among the real ones around my door, and “caution-danger” tape wraps around the 200 year-old tree which makes our house look creepy year-round.
I do all this because I honestly feel more Christ-like by engaging in this community event than shutting it out. That’s what my husband and I want to teach our kids to do. We choose not to fear our kids being corrupted by the scare and gore (which I really don’t like) but talk to them about what we see and offer them a foundation at home that we hope will set them on the right path. We seek to practice hospitality to those who might otherwise not receive it. We seek to love God fervently and our neighbors graciously (although I still struggle being nice to those punks who egged my door last year).
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis mocks the devil in his depiction of demons. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend checking it out because I like his idea. I like the idea of making fun of the devil the way gargoyles did outside ancient churches. I also appreciate the notion of poking fun at ourselves so that we do not give him a foothold. I’ve even entertained the thought of dressing like pop-culture celebrity “Snooky” this Halloween, although I fear the resemblance may be so startling, I would terrify children and adults alike.
This Halloween, my girls will be mocking witches and Greek goddesses (my son will be emulating his hero, Uncle Mitch, as a pilot). Because to them, as most kids, Halloween is about getting candy and dressing up, playfully running through crunchy leaves on neighbors lawns, and giggling with their friends. Reformation Day and All Saints Day are this weekend as well, and we will be teaching our kids about those. We do these things because we want our kids to feel the love that we, and God, have for them.
We are reading through the Heidelberg Catechism with our kids this year to hopefully instill in them the appreciation for the Reformed Confessions that we share. But more importantly, we want our kids to know the commandments Jesus gave us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” My hope and prayer is that our three kids will grow up and say, “My parents may not have always gotten it right, but they were committed and courageous followers of Jesus”.