Why we “do” Halloween
A 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”.