Why I celebrate Halloween
October 29, 2007
Inspired by my recent referencing at Chris Moncus’ blog, I thought I’d repost this from my myspace blog from this time last year…
I’ve wavered back and forth on the celebration of Halloween. In my younger years I trick-or-treated faithfully, but becoming a Christian as I went off to college, and attending college at on the spiritual center-points of witchcraft and satanism in the easter USA, the excesses of Ohio University’s Halloween party (oh, I cannot even tell you) and the knowledge of the rituals taking place directly off campus led me to choose, during that period, not to celebrate the holiday while living there. Relocating, later, to Athens, Georgia, I found a significantly less ‘creepy’ and much more celebratory holiday, and at least found myself handing out candy to passing youth. Now, as an adult with my own young’in, I not only passed out candy at my house, but took my little boy out around the neighborhood, ‘trick-or-treating’ and visiting with the locals – it was WONDERFUL! Why am I so wishy-washy?
Wikipedia lays out the foundations of this festival quite well:
“According to what can be reconstructed of the beliefs of the ancient Celts, the bright half of the year ended around November 1 or on a Moon-phase near that date, a day referred to in modern Gaelic as Samhain (meaning: End of the Summer). After the adoption of the Roman calendar with its fixed months, the date began to be celebrated independently of the Moon’s phases. As October 31st is the last day of the bright half of the year, the next day also meant the beginning of Winter, which the Celts often associated with human death, and with the slaughter of livestock to provide meat for the coming Winter. The Celts also believed that on October 31, the boundary separating the dead from the living became blurred. There is a rich and unusual myth system at work here; the spirit world, the residence of the dead, was accessible through burial mounds. These mounds opened at two times during the year, Samhain and Beltane, making the beginning and end of Summer highly spiritually resonant. The Celts’ survival during the cold harsh winters depended on the prophecies of their priests and priestesses (Druids), and the accurate prediction of how much food would be needed to sustain the people before the next harvest. They believed that the presence of spirits would aid in the ability to make predictions about the coming year.”
Later, as Christianity spread to these areas, it ‘assimilated’, as it usually does, the local holidays – and ‘Samhaim’ became ‘All-Hallows (or Saints) Evening’, later shortened to ‘Hallow E’en’ (translated, it’d be basically, the Evening before Holy Day’, and on Nov. 1st they celebrated the lives of the Saints of Christendom. Now, as I am a convinced Christian, and do not believe a lick of Celtic pre-Christian spirituality, I recognize their holiday ‘Samhain’ as a myth, and nothing more, but I can not only celebrate those ‘Saints’ who have come before me, but every day as a day that God has made – and I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT! Sure, I choose not to participate in aspects of this holiday that seem to me at odds with my faith, but community, giving and recieving, the fellowship of friends, and even sometimes dressing up and having a good laugh are not at odds with my faith. I enjoy Halloween, and being a blessings, and recieving blessings from my neighbors.
It was a joy…one I hope to participate in again in the years to come.
p.s. – and, if you are a Christian who is boycotting halloween because of it’s pagan origins, just know that Christmas is originally the Roman celebration of Winter Solctice (Jesus was, as far as any good evangelical Bible historians can tell, born in August) and Easter was a celebration of a fertility goddess name “Eostre”, hense the bunnies and eggs. It just so happened that Jesus’ resurrection occured near the same time as Easter, and Christian early on – not having known the actual date of Jesus birth, decided that December 25th would be a good time to celebrate it, and it was convenient since there was already a party going on anyway.
Next year I challenge those Christians who are convinced that halloween is an evil holiday – open your home to those who knock, be a blessing – show Christ to them. Maybe include a tract (there are a few decent ones out there – Desiring God Ministries sells a few that I don’t mind so much) with some candy, or do what what of our neighbors was doing last night: make chili and hotdogs for the parents, and invite them in for a few minutes.
Let’s be known for what we DO, as Christians, instead of what we DON’T do.
and, for MORE on Halloween, …from someone much cooler than I: the honorable Mr. Challies.