Every year, I am presented with deeper and darker tales about how evil it is and how its celebration has Pagan roots and how some of my friends will not be participating in something Occult-ish. You may have firm convictions regarding this. For that, I envy you. (Yes, it's as okay to envy your convictions as it is to covet someone's prayers.)
Here's my problem with those arguments: what about Christmas Trees and Easter Bunnies? Every time I encounter an article or argument about the evil origins of Halloween, I'm smacked upside the face with the equally evil origins of Easter bunnies and Christmas Trees. (Seriously, start digging....)
And yet, many of the same people who are living, dead set against Halloween because of its Pagan origins, decorate cakes with bunnies at Easter, decorate and hunt eggs and bring evergreens into their homes each year at Christmas. (Yes, I said living dead in discussing Halloween)
And the argument is, of course, that those activities have been appropriated by Christians. We have our own spiritually acceptable ways of looking at Christmas decorations. Even the fertility symbol that is the egg and the Easter bunny have been adopted as representations of the empty tomb. (Actually, I can't remember why we justify the bunny.)
As far as I know, we aren't called to celebrate Christ's birth but we are called to remember His death, burial and resurrection. And we pervert the memory with a bunch of silly antics that, upon closer inspection, turn out to be not so silly and all the more disturbing.
If we must have some traditional activities to participate in on Easter, the last thing we should be doing is eating HAM! We should be eating lamb with bitter herbs and either actually spreading its blood on our door posts or at least doing it symbolically and thanking the Lord that He became our Passover Lamb. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the Person who fulfilled the Mosaic law might be offended by our flouting it on the day we celebrate His rising from dying for our inability to follow such laws?
But this same Lord spoke to Paul about all of us Gentiles and explained that circumcision was unnecessary and why it was okay to share in salvation while still being unclean in our choice of foods.
If we can choose to ignore the original meaning behind symbols for holidays we consider to be Holy, perhaps we can choose to ignore the meanings on another day. (Or again, maybe we should drop them all.) I agree, worshipping and fantasizing dark spirits or using superstitions like lit, carved pumpkins to "protect" ourselves from evil is a bad idea when we actually should be relying only on the Blood of Christ. I leave those arguments for people who have more ambiguity about those things.
On the other hand, carving up a pumpkin and putting a candle inside is an endeavor innocent enough in itself. (Though some of my friends shy even away from doing that. But Christmas trees are ok. Seriously, look into the original reason people brought the trees inside in the first place.) And let's not forget that Jesus was, by any evidence, not born on December 25th. Or even at that time of year. That date was chosen simply because it DID correspond with a dark holiday already being celebrated. How's that for situational ethics?
So, let me say, I've come to the conclusion that however I feel about Halloween, I must also feel about most of my traditional, cultural expressions at Christmas and Easter. Intellectually and spiritually, if I must give up one, I must give up the others as well. And since I've not come to the conclusion that is necessary, I choose to participate in some things that go on at Halloween.
I choose to participate in a cultural expression where we get to dress up. There is no other culturally acceptable time during the year where so many adults put on costumes and get so playful. I'd be in favor of costume parties once a month, not tied to any spiritual overtones... just a chance to pretend and be playful.
We don't dress up to confuse the spirits. We dress up because it's fun. We dress up to amuse and impress each other with our creativity. My baby will be an octopus and I will be the ocean as I carry her this year. How cool is that?!
I choose to dress up and to minimize my children's exposure to candy. In reality, the need to have gobs and gobs of candy is the scariest part of Halloween for me. I mean, my family was given a certain deliverance from obesity and gluttony by choosing to avoid processed foods and refined sugars, yet, you all say that part is harmless. Celebrating the macabre? I'll leave that to your conscience and your own blog.
I choose to forego ghosts and ghouls and the decidedly nightmarish things associated with Halloween. I choose to pray for those in a lost and dying world. I choose to do that on more than one night per year. I also choose to be in the world but not of it. I try to live according to my conscience, the conviction the Holy Spirit brings.
I thank you all who remind me to be careful in my behavior each year as this date approaches because I would hate to continue to participate thoughtlessly. But I also urge you not to fall prey to superstition yourself and allow Satan to own a day of the year because of fear. Why does he get October 31st? Why does he get costumes and candy?
For those who argue that church Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat programs are simply teaching our children that they need something just because the world is having it, you're right. I don't think we should have be having alternatives simply because the world is having something. But on the other hand, cultural appropriation seems to be something we're fairly comfortable with in most situations.