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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Holy Halloween

In Holidays on November 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

This past Halloween, I was getting ready to drive over to a church function designed to offset the satanic influences of the trick-or-treat season when it occurred to me that many Christians seem to be in a mode of combating national holidays instead of just celebrating them. There are those who are aggressively obvious about their agenda while others, like my church, take a more friendly and inclusive approach. Regardless of the intensity, in general, there is usually a dual mission of attack and atonement attached to the Christian holiday effort. 

Par example: 

Thanksgiving: We attack poverty by handing out free turkeys at the food bank; which atones for the indulgence of eating our own.

Christmas: We attack secularism by wearing pins declaring Jesus is the reason for the season; which atones for the maxed out credit cards used to purchase our presents.

Easter: We attack pagan influences by sharing a Passover dinner, watching Passion of the Christ or putting tracts in a basket; which atones for the chocolate covered bunnies. 

It’s not that any of these activities are wrong, per se, yet there’s a tinge of penitent artifice that doesn’t feel exactly right either. Like a spiritual splinter you don’t know how to pull, you live with the discomfort even though it threatens to fester. 

For years I struggled with donning a good attitude about Hallowthanksmas and Feaster… as if the irreverent names don’t say it all.

When I first became a Christian, I loved Christmas most, Easter second, Thanksgiving third and Halloween, never. As my theology deepened so did my desire for a more meaningful connection to the holidays yet I wasn’t sure how to have an orthodox practice that didn’t alienate friends and family; most of whom love waiting for Santa Clause, dressing like demons and coloring eggs. A few years of trial and error passed and much frustration ensued. What was once joyful became burdensome to the point that I didn’t want to celebrate anything. Wearing a Jesus pin at Christmas felt more like a political campaign than an expression of loyal love. Having a Passover dinner specifically on Easter just to counter the Ishtar Bunny felt less than authentic as well. 

I’ve had a consistent opinion that declarative statements about Jesus should be bravely made any time of the year and if we’re going to acknowledge our Jewish roots -and believe me I think we should- then why not do it in congruence with the Jewish calendar instead of solely when it’s time for rabbits, baskets and eggs? A similar suggestion with Thanksgiving: why resort to handing out free food only once a year when people are starving the other 364 days as well?

I hear you quite possibly saying, “Yes, fine Cara, but surely you can see that Halloween is a different matter. It’s a satanic day of celebration for crying out loud and it’s our duty to either disparage it or counter it or engage it with an activity that is a combination of the two!” 

Really? Exactly where does it say that in the Bible? Be salt and light, perhaps? Okay, but again, that should be done throughout the year, not just on Halloween, right? Where does it say to seek out the evil holidays and counter them with your own? Scripture doesn’t say any such thing. In fact, Paul pretty much tells us in 1 Corinthians to celebrate whatever we want to celebrate but to do it in such a way as to be mindful of others who carry a different opinion so as not to cause them inner turmoil. In short, have fun but don’t hurt anybody when you do it. 

And that’s the part of scripture that has brought me to where I am today… relaxed. I see any and every holiday as an opportunity for sharing a little bit more of who I am and what I have with those God has placed into my life. I see it as nothing more and nothing less than an excuse to accentuate the fruits of the spirit in a celebratory context. I still like to joke around about the obvious contradictions our holidays bring but no longer do I carry cynical vexation towards them. 

As for parenting, I tell my children to live each day for the glory of God. That includes Halloween. So, they are allowed to enjoy trick-or-treating but my daughter can’t dress like a little Lolita and my son can’t dress in the grotesque. This rule applies for the day after Halloween, and the day after that and the days beyond those. Consistency is what I go for. 

And authenticity? Well, yes that too is important so I’ve made it a point to teach my kids the history behind the holidays we celebrate. For instance, they know that Jesus wasn’t born anywhere near December 25th and that the resurrection has nothing to do with Easter and that Thanksgiving was proclaimed by George Washington, affirmed by Abraham Lincoln and enacted by F.D.R. They know these facts but they also know that there is a deeper spiritual truth far beyond the subcutaneous data-points of life.  That truth rests in God and when you’re anchored in Him, he’ll put the Holy in any holiday.

Honoring our Christian faith during increasingly worldly holidays 

This past weekend, like many other families around the nation, we celebrated Halloween. While personally, Halloween is not a favorite holiday of mine, I do receive joy from seeing the children dressed in costume, and call me crazy, but I am completely amused to see the sugar high (for at least the first hour or two) that kids get. I’m not particularly interested in being frightened and I personally do not enjoy dressing in costume, but I’ve never had a problem with the holiday.

Until recently. 

Like many Christians, I *know* that Halloween originally was a pagan holiday. For many, it still is. It never really bothered me. I also *know* that Christmas didn’t really take place on December 25th. That doesn’t stop me from celebrating (like the other 364 days) the birth of Jesus.  I am strong in my faith and have no concerns in the superstitious teachings that I light a jack-0-lantern to scare away the evil spirits looking for my soul. I carve and light jack-0-lanterns because they look cute. The evil spirits can find my soul any day of the year with or without a lit pumpkin. I am responsible for guarding my soul. My God tells me that I only need to rely on Him. Ghost stories and spooky tales don’t frighten me.

What frightens me more is the increasing commercialization of any holiday, Christian, government or pagan. We are inundated with the advertisements to spend, spend, and spend in order to display an appropriate level of celebration. We are encouraged to eat unhealthy foods in gluttonous amounts to join the festivities.  We are not respecting our simple and healthy gift of life. 

At His birth, the only light shining on Jesus was the Star of the East. He didn’t have moving displays of reindeer, snowmen and Santas lighting His stable. He received three gifts, not 87. He came into this world humbly, and I wonder how He feels about the pomp and circumstance that surround our celebration of His day. I wonder indeed “What Would Jesus Do?”

As a culture, we focus on material displays of celebration. We buy, spend, and consume at alarming rates in the name of whatever holiday we are marking. The wastefulness is appalling. The disrespect for our bodies, our temples created in God’s image, is frightening. Our very choices of celebration are an anathema to what we are celebrating, no matter what the origins.

As Christians, we are expected to live humbly. We are asked to live in this world and not of it. Yet, we join the chorus of the world and flash our conspicuous consumption with very little substance. How can we express joy without wasteful consumption? 

What are your plans for the next few months to celebrate and still remember your faith?