Last night at church our pastor announced that we would be having a “Harvest Festival” on – you guessed it – Oct. 31st from 7:00 to 8:30pm. The witching hour. Also prime trick-or-treating time, if I recall. This “Harvest Festival” was presented as something for the kids and, while not being presented in so many words, it was obviously an alternative to Halloween. A safe, Christian alternative to Halloween. This is really too bad and in a way it begs a question or two: Have Christians made Halloween into something it really isn’t? And in doing so, have we lost the opportunity to show our humanity to the world?
His experience echoes my own; my church also had a Harvest Festival one year when I was in high school. It differed from a Halloween party in name only and, since my experience of Halloween was defined by costumes and lots of candy, I had to wonder why my church was concerned by only the name of the holiday and not the popular traditions associated with it.
Greg takes spiritual warfare seriously, but doesn't see it confined to the one night when kids go trick or treating. Quoting Ephesians 6:12, he continues:
So if that’s really and truly the case, then Halloween’s not any more of a spiritual battle than any other day of the year, including Christmas and Easter. Seriously, if Satan and all his evil minions come out in force on Halloween, they don’t disappear at the stroke of midnight (depending on your time zone, of course). They’re still around. Historians and theologians alike are in widespread disagreement on the origins of Halloween, but for children it has a lot more to do with make-believe and candy than it does with the Devil. As usual, it’s the adults – Christian adults – that have gotten in and screwed up the mix here. Thanks.
Anyway, it’s our withdrawal once again from our culture that has shown the world of our true feelings toward it rather than Jesus’ actual desire us to be in community. Contrary to what many Christians may say about their stance against Halloween, this isn’t really about a fight between good and evil. It’s more about not wanting to have anything to do with the world.
This year, my husband and I bought a tiny cow costume for our 6 month old daughter. She's a little young for candy and the costume's more for our sake than hers. For us, Halloween is a time for kids to dress up, ingest a lot of sugar, and have fun. It's not incompatible with raising our daughter in the Christian faith. I think it's appropriate for Christians to oppose aspects of the popular culture when it is in conflict with our faith, but I don't think Halloween is one of those occasions. Halloween is what we make of it.