Thursday, November 1, 2012

Christians: Happy Halloween or Not?


Pumpkins carved by my two youngest boys




Last night I sent Hannah (my eldest daughter, age 25) this text:

Your 3 youngest siblings are trick-or-treating.  Don't faint.

Within seconds, my phone rang and I answered it.

Hannah responded, "Who has my mother's phone and where is she?"


Many Christians believe that making the day a harvest day or calling it Holyween makes it ok, but the Lord does not want imitation. So Halloween should come and go just as every other day, with no celebration of any kind. If it wasn't rooted with God, than we shouldn't try to make it that way. Evil is evil no matter how you try to dress it up.  Source


I laughed at Hannah's response.  Yes, she certainly had every right to be shocked and surprised.  This was the first time I had ever taken any of our kids trick-or-treating.  It was completely spontaneous.  My younger kids, after seeing a group of kids dressed in costume come to our door, started asking me why they couldn't go trick-or-treating.  


Then in the year 1000, the Catholic church set up November 2 to be All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated much like Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, while the people dressed up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. The three celebrations (the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls') were combined and called Hallowmas.  Source


I had to think to myself:  why is it that we have never allowed the kids go trick-or-treating?  Why is it that we rarely bought candy or answered our door to trick-or-treaters?  Hannah did remember one year I bought candy and left it in a bowl on the front porch for trick-or-treaters.  We typically turned the lights off and went into the basement and had a family movie night.  I made special treats and it was fun.  Other years our church had a Harvest party and children were encouraged to dress up as their favorite Bible character.  

Is trick-or-treating really so bad?  What is so bad about Halloween?  If our kids put costumes on and go trick-or-treating, is that promoting evil?  Playing with Satan?


Even though these traditions were taken up by the misguided church, that doesn't mean that they are any less dangerous today. The roots of Halloween are still just as corrupt and sinister as they ever have been. And "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! " (Job 14:4) The fact remains that Halloween is still considered by the occult world as a special day of darkness.  Source


When I thought about it the whole Halloween thing, I thought about our neighborhood.  I thought about the kids who had just come to the door and the kids who had come to the door last year.  They wore cute costumes, nothing evil, eerie, or Satanic.  As far as our neighborhood, the most I saw for Halloween decorations was one lit pumpkin.  Most of our neighbors are empty nesters or retirement age - they are "over" Halloween for the most part.  Our home was kind of the extravagant one with two carved pumpkins on the front porch (pictured above) - lol.  We're talking a no-Halloween-frills neighborhood here, just homes with the front porch lights on and neighbors ready to hand out candy.  I came to the conclusion that in my neighborhood, Halloween is a day where kids dressed up in basic costumes and neighbors give out candy - there really was nothing more, and nothing sinister or evil about it. 



I pray that now that you know the truth behind Halloween, you will make the decision to keep your children from something rooted in and derived from evil.  Source


We have shared with the kids about how some people celebrate the day, and that we do not celebrate that kind of evil.   But tonight, after being questioned numerous times by my children, I simply could not find a good enough reason  not to go trick-or-treating based on what I had seen in our neighborhood and the kids in our neighborhood.  And because of that, I decided they could go.  



TRICK OR TREAT
The Druids went from house to house asking for a contribution to their demonic worship celebration. If a person didn't give, their trick was to kill him. The people feared the phrase "Trick or Treat."
Therefore, it is inappropriate for Christians to celebrate Satan's high holy day or to celebrate with those who practice witchcraft and use occult symbols such as witches, black cats, ghosts, jack-o'-lanterns, etc. This time can be used to make children aware that Halloween is an alliance with the powers of darkness and that it is now our privilege to live as children of light.  Source


The stipulation was that they had to come up with a costume with what we had at home and that they had to put it together within minutes because it was already approaching 8 pm.  One child grabbed a bed sheet and made some sort of cape with it (I still don't know what he was).  Our youngest child wore a feathered headband and a cowboy shirt.  Go figure.  The middle child (aka resident artist) wore worn jeans, a t-shirt,  a bandana around his curly strawberry-blonde hair and carried a blow gun.  They were quite a sight.  I escorted them down the block and down 2 cul-de-sacs before they decided they were done - probably visiting a total of 10 homes.


Halloween emphasizes fear and terror, but God emphasizes tranquility, rest, assurance, and love (Psalm 23, 2 Timothy 1:17, 1 John 4:18). Halloween emphasizes death and destruction, but God emphasizes life and restoration (John 3:16, Ezekiel 33:11, Jeremiah 30:17). There's just no getting around the fact that Halloween is opposed to God's character and ways. Source



The conclusion:  there was no evil.  My kids had the opportunity to practice speaking politely with their neighbors.  They used their creativity in thinking up and creating the costumes, and I especially liked the positive teamwork which made it all happen.  Now maybe if my neighbors had their focus on evil,  demonic activity, blood and gore, I would have to reevaluate the situation.  But this was not our reality in our neighborhood whatsoever.  That obstacle was removed.  


Why is it that some Christians do not have a problem with Halloween and can enjoy themselves and their family by dressing up, going trick-or-treating?  Does it make them less of a Christian?  Are they celebrating evil?  Are they in sin for participating in Halloween?  


The quotes in orange are from various websites with the belief that Christians should not have anything to do with Halloween.  This is what has permeated most of the groups I have been a part of in the last 20 years - particularly in the homeschool movement and conservative Christian churches.  


At my former church, my pastor decided many things for us:  what colors of clothing we should avoid wearing, who we were allowed to swim with, the length of our shorts, how we spent our time.  In lieu of Halloween, we had a Reformation party and people brought games to play and snacks to share.  



I found it interesting that some websites went as far as saying there should not be a Halloween alternative or substitute on that day.  So, no Reformation parties or Harvest parties where children wear even Bible characters.  I wonder if a child was born on Halloween, would that child be allowed to celebrate their birthday?  hmmmm


I can't live under this kind of legalistic bondage of someone deciding for me and my family what is sin and what is evil.  When I was living in that kind of rigid environment, convincing myself that I was making the right choice by avoiding evil and some of my friends were "playing with evil", I was judging them.  I tried not to judge, but it was easy to do because I felt I was taking the higher road and thought that they were being deceived:  what kind of an example were they showing their children?, why would they chose to make light of Satan's day?  I may have even asked some of my friends if they thought they should be participating in such an evil day.  Who knows.  I'm a different person today than I was even 6 months ago.


I am realizing now that when I answered the door last night to the trick-or-treaters, I had the rare opportunity to meet the neighbor kids.  What other time would they voluntarily come to my door?  These are the same kids that I might meet in the summer at the neighborhood pool.  These might be kids my children will eventually play sports, music, or go to school with. I had fun engaging the trick-or-treaters, asking them about their costume, thanking them for stopping by.  I enjoyed taking my kids trick-or-treating, getting a chance to say hi to neighbors who are usually inside.  This is my community.  I want to get to know my neighbors.  This was a great occasion to do that - to make a connection.  


What I want to be is a genuine Christian - not one that follows rigid rules because someone dictated to me their rules, but one that looks at the full picture in light of how Jesus made an impact in the world.  How am I showing the love of Christ with my neighbors?  With my children?  I want to be an intentional Christian and a thoughtful Christian.  I want to model to my children godly discernment, not legalistic rules.  Last night, in our unique neighborhood, I really think God was okay with us trick-or-treating.  







29 comments:

  1. We bought into the hysteria over the "evils" of Halloween, so our kids (who are now late teens/early twenties) never went trick-or-treating. We would turn off all the lights and close the curtains and watch a movie on Halloween so no one would come to our house. I so regret that now because of the missed opportunities to love our neighbors and also the fun (and candy!) that our kids missed out on. Thanks for this post, Julie Anne. I can really relate to your experience and to your desire to be a genuine Christian, not a follower of men.

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  2. Halloween is short hand for "All Hallows Eve". Like New Years Eve and Christmas Eve, All Hallows Eve comes before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints Day. All Saints Day was seen as the most holy day of the year. So much good, miracles, and blessings were supposed to blanket the earth that it was thought that All Hallows Eve was Satan's last day to get in one last punch. All Hallows Day was the most holy day of the year, therefore All Hallows Eve was the most evil day of the year.

    Notice that this is all very Christian. However if you do not believe November 1 is the most holy day of the year, I see no reason to believe superstitiously that October 31 is the most evil day of the year.

    I think you left out one :)

    “It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms. The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist. I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon.”
    http://www.au.org/church-state/december-2009-church-state/people-events/pat-robertson-web-site-warns-parents-of-

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    1. Here is the full article.

      The key word in discussing Halloween is "dedicated." It is dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season. During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure.

      http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/7134-the-danger-of-celebrating-halloween

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    2. I gave up drinking blood, but I still howl at the moon occasionally.

      :-)

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    3. When I think about False Teachers and wolves, I occasionally howl.

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  3. I've never had any qualms about celebrating Halloween. We stayed home from Bible study last night because we believed it was more important to be a part of our community, our neighborhood. Much of what passes for the history of Halloween is not very accurate. In an odd way, some give it a backhanded tribute by arguing that the day is so spooky we shouldn't be a part of it. I see it as a time to explore our fears and even mock them in the light of the victory of our Lord. It's also a time to dress in costumes (which is great fun) and meet our neighbors. Last night our three next door neighbor children, all very young, showed up at our door. My wife celebrated their costumes by applauding their disguises and discussing their costume choices. We gave them some candy. All that might seem very routine, but in a small way we were a part of their lives.

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    1. Craig, I can picture Kelly with the neighbor children. She was so sweet with our little boys when we visited you last summer. I'm trying not to let the guilt set in that Hannah and my older kids never got to experience this. I do believe that last night was a small part of community building and showing a warm and open home to the neighbors.

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    2. Julie Anne, I thought about guilt after I published my comment. I was also concerned that I might be exhibiting a bit of self righteousness. I hope not, but just in case let me affirm that in Christ there are neither those who celebrate Halloween nor those who don't. As a dad I have second thoughts about some of the decisions I made with my children. I'm sure they would tell you today that there were times when Dad appeared to have a few loose screws. For example, Dad decided that 'The Lion King' had too many eastern philosophical influences so the Vicks didn't see it. Dad also decided that TV was not very important so the Vicks suffered the limitation of not having cable, which meant we were limited to three stations plus one that was always snowy and sometimes not watchable. Dad also landed against organized sports on Sundays so my son missed out on joining almost all of his friends for Sunday soccer leagues. Did I make the right calls? At times no at other times I don't know. Should I feel guilty for depriving my children of some of these experiences? Love covers a multitude of sins.

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    3. Craig: I'm thankful that Hannah has expressed an endless amount of love to me. That love has covered a lot of junk! :)

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    4. The same can be said about you, dear mother. :)

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    5. I"m so glad, Hannah. Love you, #1.

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  4. Ok! Now you have really fallen off your rocker!!
    I guess you have always been a Wicked Witch! So not surprised.

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    1. Sad to say, I don't have a rocker anymore. Got rid of it in the move. But . . . if you feel so inclined, go ahead and pray for me - even fast for me if you feel I"m wrong. God will convict me if I made the wrong choice. God communicates directly with His saints and He knows where to find me :)

      PS - - Is it so difficult to choose a name other than "Anonymous"? "Anonymous" is so boring and unoriginal. And luckily (is it okay with you if I say "luck") I'm in a good mood or else your comment might have been zapped for not following instructions.

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  5. Headless Unicorn GuyNovember 1, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Well, Julie Anne, now that The Devil's Holiday(TM) is over for another year, we can expect a frenzied week of Take Back America Culture War until Election Day, then (possibly after a post-election hangover) the Culture War Over Christmas begins.

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    1. In the meantime, I battle the urge to purchase multiple Thanksgiving Turkeys and Christmas Hams every time I go grocery shopping......and 10,000 cans of chicken broth to make stuffing with.....and butter, lots and lots of butter.....

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  6. I believe God judges the intent of our hearts. For my family we have always downplayed the "trick or treat" portion, but we do still have fun. As a seamstress I put a lot of work into my children's costumes so that rather than being just for October 31st, I have made them year round costumes for their favorite pastime of writing and performing plays. We have thoroughly discussed what Halloween means to some people and why that is not acceptable to our christian values. They know they will never be permitted to dress up as vampires, witches, ghosts, etc. But I don't see a problem with allowing them to exercise their creativity. They are also involved in handing out candy to the trick or treaters who come to our house. For the last several years we have purchased the large candy bars from costco and then they decorate them. They will write something on them like "Jesus is the Real Treat", and then add a scripture they choose to write on it. It's our way of continuing to share the message. They absolutely love being a part of this and have never complained that we only go to five or so houses and/or visit friends or relatives to show off their costumes and give out some of their special decorated candy. Again, I believe it is up to God to judge our hearts, not our pastors or other christians.

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    1. Justice: Nice to "see" you. It sounds like you've found a great way to have fun with your kids in positive way without all the legalism.

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  7. I think I can understand why some Christians would shy away from Halloween, given its roots. I hope I wouldn't judge anyone for avoiding imagery and customs that have a pagan background.

    Still, the same can be said for a lot of traditions that many Christians hold dear, in holidays like Christmas and Easter. As with All Saint's Day, Christians in centuries past saw fit to take pagan traditions, and give them a new significance based on their gratitude to God. Very likely Samhain was dedicated to pagan deities, but in All Saint's Day, it has been rededicated to the living God.

    In fact, reading the Bible, it seems that God has often done something similar when ordaining rituals and celebrations for his people. Circumcision and blood sacrifice (for example) were practiced by peoples in the Ancient Near East long before Abraham, as I understand. But God took each of these cultural practices, and imbued them with new meaning, to help make his people distinct from others around them.

    This is one of the reasons why I have no trouble taking part in Halloween.

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    1. Serving - I love your illustration of how God gave new meaning to cultural practices. It's quotes like this one that are so guilt-inducing and rigid that annoy me. They are black/white, all or nothing - if you don't do it their way, you are wrong/guilty/bad/sinful, etc. This kind of environment produces an elitism mentality and one that looks down on others if you do not do things their way:

      Many Christians believe that making the day a harvest day or calling it Holyween makes it ok, but the Lord does not want imitation. So Halloween should come and go just as every other day, with no celebration of any kind. If it wasn't rooted with God, than we shouldn't try to make it that way. Evil is evil no matter how you try to dress it up.

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    2. okay - have to weigh in - sorry, but God made the first blood sacrifice by killing a lamb to both physically and spiritually cover Adam and Eve. Cain and Able were bringing sacrifices - Able's, the blood sacrifice was accepted. So to say that sacrifices were made before Abraham is correct. To attribute their origins to middle eastern cultures and not to GOD is incorrect. God didn't take the cultural practices, He made them just a short time after creation. Sorry. Dead wrong on this one in many ways - including missing the whole scriptural principle of avoiding the very appearance of evil. But quite frankly, I see a lot of just sort of glossing over the scriptures and making them "warm and fuzzy" for your own purposes going on this whole blog.

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    3. Watcher - - I"m not sure if you are understanding the point.

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    4. Oh Julie Anne, You've said that any time I rebutt your point with scripture you can't actually refute - whether under this pseudonym or any other. Very interesting.

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    5. Dear Watcher,

      Hmmm, that's an interesting interpretation of God's provision of clothing for Adam & Eve... There might be something to it, I suppose. Still, I can't see how the same is true for circumcision (as another example). It was practiced by other cultures (such as the Egyptians) primarily as a rite of passage. When God commanded it to Abraham, it became for the Hebrews a sign of His covenant with them -- a cultural practice that God redeemed, so to speak, for his own purposes.

      And as for "avoiding the very appearance of evil", does that mean you refuse to decorate Christmas trees, or decorate eggs for Easter? These symbols (and others) have their origins in non-Christian celebrations, after all. Or do you refuse to play card games (since playing cards are based on the tarot)? More to the point, do you think yourself better or "holier" than those who do?

      P.S. to Julie Anne: Sorry if I'm stirring the pot a bit too much. I know your blog has moved on to new topics. "Watcher"-san just got me a bit curious -- I'd like to better understand where he/she is coming from. Have a good weekend.

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    6. Serving - - Oh please don't apologize - topics don't ever really "close" here. I saw Watcher's comment and wanted to stew on it before responding and so I'm glad you did. BTW, great point about Christmas and Easter symbols. They certainly have pagan origins.

      Watcher seems to be getting distracted with side issues and missing the important part. This is exactly the point of my post - some people tend to get so caught up in legalese and secondary issues that they miss people/relationships. What is the greatest commandment of Jesus? It's all about love.

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  8. We can so relate to this! And in our case, the neighborhood costume contest and parade annually lines up right in front of our house! It was a trick for the first few years we lived here to avoid it like the good homeschoolers we were. Now it is a treat to see all the neighbors, smiling kids and friendly faces getting together for a fun block party and hayride. My teens (who had never EVER been trick-or-treating) won prizes in the costume contest for their homemade costumes over the past couple of years, and now we light up our front porch with candles and hand out candy with glee. Their friends came last year (who had a similar background) and had a blast! Thanks for writing....this brought a smile to my face!

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    1. Well, you just brought a smile to my face, KayJay. I have a hunch that next year the Smith family will go all out with costumes weeks ahead of time. Your block party and hayride sounds like so much fun! Love it!

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  9. We have a lot of kids in our neighborhood and had a big turnout for halloween. My husband bought a santa suit a few weeks back to 'be Santa' for a Google Plus Video Chat in December (so bedridden kids can see Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas), and he passed out candy as Santa. I am glad you and your young ones enjoyed the holiday too.

    I've noticed on Facebook a number of 'religious' individuals complaining about what they saw at their church "Trunk or Treat" events. That kid's so tall they have to be too old for trick or treating, these kids don't even have on a costume, Look at them eating all the free hot dogs, I only got to have one! - etc etc. Seems to me if you're going to hold a community outreach event to give away candy and supposedly share the love of Christ, perhaps you aught not to be judging when folks come as they can, rather than how you think they aught to.

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  10. I'm not sure how this all started. When I was little, there was no fuss over Halloween that I can remember. I grew up in a fundamentalist church--no dancing, no drinking, no movies, etc.--yet we had trick-or-treating right in the Sunday School department for the early grades! No special "Christian" names, but regular Halloween trick-or-treating. I remember somebody dressing as a witch; maybe it was one of the teachers, maybe it was me....Anyway, I know I dressed as a witch for trick-or-treating one year--at night, out around the neighborhood, same as everybody else. My parents never had a problem with it. My church never had a problem with it.

    In the late 80s, in my teens, I started watching The 700 Club, and that's where I first heard that Halloween was "evil." For a short time, I even bought into it, didn't want to pass out treats at the door. But by college I was back to normal and enjoyed Halloween dances/parties and seeing people dress up just for the heck of it. :)

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