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Why we “do” Halloween

October 29, 2009

happy%20halloweenA note to my atheist friends: This post will be full of an in-house debate among Christians. It will use Christian language and Christian ways of thinking. It might or might not be boring. Feel free to to play poker or something with your FSM cards until a more interesting post comes along. Or, if it interests you, read away.

I love Halloween. Always have. When I was a kid, I dressed up as Yoda, a stormtropper (I think) and any other possible Star Wars combinations. I loved going to the houses of my friends, seeing what their costumes and getting candy.

I love candy.

Then, somewhere along the line, I began to believe that Halloween was evil. It wasn’t really my parents fault. I grew up in a nondenominational charismatic culture.  To them, Halloween was the devil’s holiday, a day when babies were sacrficed (atheists, stop drooling), virgins were raped and other horrible stories. Worst of all, some demon might be putting thoughts into my head that might open up to the world of the occult.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in demons and the spirit world. I take it very seriously. But, as I have begun to mature as a Christian, I have realized with C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape that the devil does his best work at the foot of the altar. That is, when he is turning Christians into self righteous pharisees who trample on the Gospel. There is  nothing more demonic than that. 

But Halloween? I don’t think so. Much is made about it’s Celtic roots and its association with Druidism. I’m not going into the historical fallacies of this position. It would take too long. But, I do know this, Celtic Christians did celebrate Halloween long after they became Christians. The question would be, why?

To understand the answer to that, you have to know the Irish psyche. Freud once wrote that the Irish were the only people who couldn’t be helped by psychoanalysis. Being part Irish, I take pride in that. We have warped sense of humors that most people don’t understand. We tend to find humor in the things that people take very seriously.

Halloween is a great example of that.

Put quite simply, Halloween was the way the Irish mocked death, evil, and the destructive forces in the world. It was a way to laugh at their fears, exposing them for what they are, cardboard monsters. It’s a way to mock the devil and celebrate the life God has given us. This is where the fun parts of Halloween come into being. Bobbing for apples, wearing masks, getting candy and all the fun mess that comes with it.

Where does that courage come from? Is it made up? For the Irish Christians, they took seriously these words from Colossians by St. Paul, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him”. Paul is saying here that Jesus triumphed over the devil and his minions by exposing their nakedness. Yes, that is the literal translation here. He showed us their bums, their naughty bits, their complete ridiculousness, through the power of the cross. Paul’s point is that they are no longer to be feared for those who are in Christ. Christ has won the victory for us.

Death and all of his friends can suck it.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a dark side to Halloween that should be avoided. Celebretating death and horridness is not the idea. We don’t celebrate people getting ripped up with knives, or embrace darkness. We kick it.

So, my family and I are are carving pumpkins, handing out candy, and going trick or treating. We live in a fantastic neighborhood were the whole community is involved. It’s a great time to talk to our neighbors, which doesn’t happen in our culture very often. And in that love, celebration, fun, and good times, we join with Martin Luther who said, “Tell the Devil he may kiss my ass”.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    October 29, 2009 12:23 pm

    Did Martin Luther actually say that? In German, I mean? 😉

  2. thomas2026 permalink*
    October 29, 2009 1:10 pm

    Direct quote.

  3. October 29, 2009 5:35 pm

    I’m going to risk revealing my geekiness and bring up something I learned from Role Playing Games. —
    Ever now and then perfectly normal people like to step outside their normal rules of behavior and play the role of the scary-evil-bad guy. It’s fun. My players had great fun pretending they were the evil overlords and dreaming up evil schemes, but when given the opportunity they didn’t actually carry these ideas out, not even in harmless play.

    Celebrating Halloween is not much different; it is a release from our normal behavior that helps to remind us why we spend so much effort trying to be normal in the first place.

  4. Richard Eis permalink
    October 30, 2009 4:44 am

    -Feel free to to play poker or something with your FSM cards until a more interesting post comes along. Or, if it interests you, read away.-

    *Goes back to knitting*

  5. Patty Meriwether permalink
    October 30, 2009 11:57 am

    Being part Scots-Irish, I appreciate the insight into my own Halloweenish proclivities & sometimes misunderstood sense of humor. My Christian friends have often made fun of my love for Halloween. My favorite thing about moving to Ohio was that our neighborhood was a favorite Halloween haunt for trick-or-treaters, and I was uncharistically (for a pw) sad when one October our church decided to have a ‘Harvest Party’ on trick or treat night–I couldn’t stand that our house would be dark & no one would be handing out candy there–so I asked my teeenage neighbor if he would do that for me, and he gladly did. I guess I’m sort of a pirate too?
    Anyway, I’m continuing to appreciate your perspective on things–have a great time w/ the boys tomorrow night (or whenever trick or treating is…in CA it was always the 31st–the midwest is weird that way). I miss those days…but still fill a big bowl w/ candy & love that my boys don’t mind handing it out with compliments for costumes 🙂

  6. Ms. Crazy Pants permalink
    October 30, 2009 1:06 pm

    Tomato Addict: OMG!!!! I love playing chaotic evil in DnD. 🙂 🙂 One’s imagination really begins to shine at that point. >-)
    I thought that one small group I met that does that were the only weirdos like that.

    General response: I think proving to oneself that it’s not so bad standing up to the scary things in life has some merit in it. One doesn’t know their own strengths until they face something head on. Pointing and laughing at something that’s supposed to be scary helps that.

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