Third most popular holiday in the U.S. gets a closer look
Last night, on the local news, one of the TV reporters was broadcasting a segment from a haunted house amusement park…it may have been Knott’s “Scarry” Farm, an annual park transformation, but I did not confirm that. The costumes and Hollywood style makeup of the participants hanging out by the reporter were pretty gross looking…as in creepy.
After the initial “ooooooh, yuck” it gets kinda old for me. I mean call me old fashioned, but an occasional “boo” is about as frightful as I want to receive or give these days. Beyond that, the whole concept of playing around with terror seems pointless. Year after year, as the ghoulish out gore each other, taking blood and disfiguration to the next level, I begin to wonder if some people aren’t placing too much importance on this sort of thing…some even worshipping the whole experience…some even taking it to more than just one day a year.
So, of course, I’m not going to “preach” against Halloween, just maybe flesh it out a bit. Many Christians struggle with Halloween, some taking part in some sort of alternative. Others ignoring the whole enchilada.
Here’s the best thing I’ve seen written so far about the subject. Although the writer downplays the fear factor…I still hold to the fact that some can get swept up into the insanity part of it. Especially, if as a Christian you are playing on both sides of the fence.
This from Glen D. Williams’ blog:
Halloween History and Christian Life
Halloween, we hear, is now the third most popular “holiday” in the USA. Many Christians are very concerned about the meanings of Halloween customs, the seeming glorification and celebration of witches, ghosts and other spiritual beings, and the whole idea of having a holiday related to the dead.
We’re going to take a look at Halloween history, customs, the dead and the question of Christian involvement in the celebration. Be ready to be startled by some of the surprising things we’ve learned.
What Is Halloween? The word comes from an abbreviation of “All Hallows Eve.” This is the night before All Hallows (All Saints) Day, when the Church honors the past (dead) Christians. All Saints Day is also known as the day Martin Luther nailed his protest of the Catholic Church and began the Protestant movement.
There have been different dates for All Saints Day. It’s commonly believed that November 1st was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations and festivals in order to more easily assimilate these cultures into the Church, just like the dates for Easter and Christmas celebrations.
It’s this assimilation of festivals that makes Halloween a confusing holiday. Where Did Halloween Customs Come From? When All Saints Day and the pagan festivals were combined, the rituals and customs were also combined. Wearing costumes, ghosts, witches, carrying lighted ornaments to represent spirits, the whole trick-or-treat thing, harvest parties, etc. got combined over the centuries with what had been a somber event in the Christian calendar.
Some of these rituals had been sacrifices to pagan gods before the pagans were Christianized. And there’s the rub! Christians, who have no problem with the Christmas Tree or Easter Egg (pagan rituals), seem to draw the line when it comes to the Halloween pagan rituals and customs…particularly those involving the dead. What Does It Have To Do With The Dead?
Actually, All Saints Day and Halloween share the idea of honoring the dead…they just differ on the methods. Many of the pagan rituals include tributes to the dead. That’s probably why ghost costumes and tombstones have become Halloween classics.
I don’t understand the discomfort many Christians have with the idea of spirits being everywhere, or of spiritual life beyond physical death…it’s the cornerstone of Christianity as taught in the Bible. Why would we be so frightened of what’s on the other side of death? Many are so afraid, they keep their children from participating in the fun of Halloween. Should A Christian Refrain From Halloween Celebration?
Once, early in my Christian walk, I believed it was a sin to have anything that had represented a belief in any power but God. I got rid of 4 leaf clovers, horseshoes, totem poles…symbols of pagan gods…so these things would have no power over me. After I grew a little in Christ and read the Bible a little more, It hit me…nothing has power over me because Christ is in me. In fact, by thinking these things had power, I was giving them the very power I opposed.
It’s the same with Christians and Halloween. Carving pumpkins, setting up witch statues, wearing ghost costumes, going to people’s doors to collect treats…all of these rituals are mere games as long as we don’t make anything more out of them.
As a Christian, the most powerful being in all eternity lives within you. There is no power that can harm you. I’m not denying that evil spirits exist but when we Christians live in fear of them, we’re giving them power they don’t have.
So, should Christians take part in Halloween? Yes…and no! If you believe it’s a sin, pagan worship or anti-Christian in any way, you should refrain. Spend some time in Bible study and prayer to grow your faith until you have confidence that He who is in you is greater than all. If you’ve already reached that point in your spiritual growth, go have fun! Let your kids have fun, too!
While you’re at it, don’t forget to teach your kids about All Saints Day and about the power of Jesus in them, protecting them from all harm…even from goblins.
Glen Williams is an Ordained Minister, Founder and CEO of E-Home Fellowship (EHF), Inc. and Webmaster for http://www.web-church.com He has been active in ministry since 1989. Click here for original post.
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