Monday, October 31, 2016
HAPPY HALLOWEEN (AND I MEAN THAT!)
Posted by Tim (and pardon the diversion from the normal news)
A few decades ago, a movement sprang up bashing Halloween as the "Devil's Holiday." It appears to have had its roots among evangelical groups and gained momentum with a tract by Jack Chick. Chick was a notorious Catholic-hater whose mini cartoon-book tracts proved particularly effective.
Chick recently died. But his success in demonizing Halloween has retained its traction, not so much among evangelical groups, but, ironically, amongst Catholics.
The recent practice of dressing up our little boys and girls as saints and angels rather than ghosts and goblins appears to have grown out of a response to the evangelical criticism of Halloween. (Seriously, think about it. If you are 50 year old or older, do you remember dressing up as saints and angels?)
Halloween is unique among "holidays" because it does not appear to have any one origin (unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas). It appears to have organically sprung from a variety of fall traditions and it also appears to be uniquely American.
(A few years ago I did some extensive research on Halloween which can be found here. It remains my most viewed post on this blog.)
Many Halloween-haters have tried to trace Halloween's roots to ancient pagan festivals but most of that is unsubstantiated speculation and appears to be contrived to fit the anti-Halloween agenda. Part of this speculation is the story made up by Catholics that Catholics were harassed by the equivalent of medieval trick-or-treaters on their way to Church to celebrate All Hallows (All Saints), which of course is the next day, and where the word Halloween (All Hallows Eve) comes from. But there is little evidence of that.
So since no one appears to have any real explanation for Halloween, I'd like to offer mine.
There is one thing for certain about Halloween, it's FUNNY. No one is actually "scared" by the macabre nature of Halloween. In fact, we laugh and make light of it. And in that I think Christians can find real meaning.
In Christ, we have victory over death and fear it no more. Halloween is a celebration of victory over death because on this day death and the devil are mocked, laughed at, made fun of, ridiculed, and exposed for the fake terror that they really are - at least to those who live in Christ.
And all of this makes sense in light of the timing, for on the next day we celebrate those who have achieved the final victory over death, who laughed in the face of the devil while (as were the martyrs) being tortured beyond human description, and now live with Christ in eternity.
Ironically, if there is "anybody" opposed to Halloween, it must be the devil himself, since the devil hates to be mocked, ridiculed, and laughed at. And on Halloween, we devote a whole day to it.
So go ahead, dress up those little ones as goblins, ghosts, and demons, and teach them that in Christ we have not only nothing to fear, but every reason to laugh and celebrate and collect as much candy as we can.
Lastly, if nothing else, what other night do we come out of our air-conditioned cloisters and do nice things for strangers?