Every year someone asks me whether it is appropriate for Christians to participate in what appears to be a satanic celebration of evil, Halloween. And my response when hearing this concern is the same each time: “You know, the origin of Halloween somehow involves the participation of the Christian church…I just can’t remember the details.”
Well, I researched the subject and now I can remember the details. I want to share with you what I have relearned because it is critical to rehearse again and again the reasons why it is mightily important for all who are Christian to participate in Halloween.
The word “hallow” means “holy” and of course the word “een” means “eve” or “evening.” “Halloween” or “All Hallow’s Eve” or “Holy Evening” signifies the evening before All Saint’s Day when we who are Christians remember the faithful who lived bold and righteous lives, no matter how difficult it was to do so.
Rev. Mary Nelson Keithahn, a pastor in the United Church of Christ, has written an article in which she explains the origins of the controversial holiday.
She states that “in the Middle Ages people were keenly aware of their vulnerability in the vast universe and were terrified of demons, especially on October 31st the last day of the year on the pagan calendar. In order to protect themselves and scare off the demons, they lit huge bonfires around the villages and fields, and carried candles in hallowed out turnips, squash or rutabagas. The Celts believing that the dead came back to be with the living on All Hallow’s Eve, offered prayers for them and donned masks and costumes to lead the ghosts in a parade out of town.”
“Christians of that time believed in the resurrection and no longer feared death or any kind of evil. They would don costumes on All Hallow’s Eve, making fun of death and the things that personified it, because they knew God was with them, giving them the power to overcome all evil. Christian children went door to door unafraid, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for “Soul Cakes” (flat oval shortbread cookies). The next day they would all go to Church to celebrate All Saints Day.”
She concludes by stating that, “forbidding Christians to celebrate Halloween denies us a chance to practice our faith that the goodness and power of God’s love will always triumph over evil in the end.”
I tend to agree with Rev. Keithahn and I am painfully aware of the uncomfortable reality that the occasion of Halloween causes us to come face to face with the evil that surrounds us.
It is good news to hear that God’s love will triumph over evil in the end. It is good news to be reminded in Holy Scriptures that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus that nothing can keep God from loving us and taking care of us.
Halloween indeed provides us the opportunity to mock evil and death and to celebrate our confidence in God whose power is greater than any other!