Halloween is a controversial holiday among the Christian community. I remember 2 short years when I went trick or treating. The last year I went, I was dressed up as big bird and only my mother and I went because my sister was too afraid to knock on strangers' doors for candy. Having a polar opposite personality, I did not have that take at all. I was eager to go around the neighborhood collecting all the candy my plastic pumpkin bucket could carry. I read a story to my students every year called Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld, and it usually leaves my students erupting in laughter. In one part of the story he says, "What? Everyone that we know is just giving out candy? Take me with you! I can wear that! I'll say anything I have to say. I'll do anything I have to do to get the candy from those fools who are so stupidly giving it away." As a child, that was exactly my perspective! :)
Shortly after that, I was told I was not allowed to go out trick or treating any longer. I'm not sure the reason for it--it could have been that since Megan didn't want to go, it was easier to keep us both home; it could have been that my parents didn't want us having all that much candy; it also could have been that Halloween was purely a secular holiday.
No matter what the reason, that was the beginning of the time that I pretty much stopped celebrating it for an extended period of time. We did give out candy, but I never wore a costume or did anything else. I actually started becoming afraid to sleep on Halloween because I was afraid some witch somewhere was up to no good (laugh all you want; it's okay).
Once I got to be a teenager, I started going to more organized events where I would dress up in a costume again. I love dressing up in costumes--always have. So, I felt happy to go to a church party in my costume. I still wasn't big into celebrating Halloween due to influences from several different directions that taught me that Halloween was a bad thing. Trick or treating was bad, carving a pumpkin was bad, using the word Halloween was rooted in evil as well. I wasn't sure why they were bad, but I was told that they were so I just went along with it. I was told that carving a jack-o-lantern went back to people putting human heads on their porch. So, don't carve one because it is linked to something wrong. After years of not carving pumpkins, I desperately wanted to one year, so I did and I didn't feel the least bit evil in doing it.
But this year, for the very FIRST time, my entire perspective on Halloween changed drastically. First, I became educated on the origins of Halloween finding out that carved pumpkins have nothing to do with heads. In fact, the custom is from the Celtic New Year when they carved out turnips, which became pumpkins when they came to America and pumpkins were more plentiful and easier to carve.
Actually, most customs from Halloween are a random combination of various celebrations that kind of morphed into what the holiday is today. However, one thing that remained true throughout history is that Halloween is a holiday that the church was continuously trying to reform. It started as a pagan holiday turned into "All Saints Day" due to the church wanting to shift the focus from celebrating death to honoring saints. Then that made the day before it "All Hallows Eve" which just turned into the word Halloween--merely semantics. Trick or treating was originated by the church in an attempt to keep children from going out into the streets at night and getting into trouble.
And no matter what holiday you have, whether it is blatantly seeming wrong or not, people will do wrong with it. Are there people doing wrong on Halloween? Yes. Is Halloween associated with bad things? Yes. BUT I think the church was pretty successful in their reformation. No matter how hard you try, you can't change the world. People will do what they do.
But this year I saw things in a completely new light. Regardless of associations with death, ghosts, graves, bats, vampires, etc., there are wonderful things going on during Halloween that scarcely go on at any other time during the year. And here is my new perspective--agree or disagree, take it or leave it--this is how I am going to view it from here on out.
1.) When do you see people being so generous? Going out and buying things to give to complete strangers without a second thought? Hmmm...generosity is a Christian practice, is it not?
2.) When do you see parents spending so much time with their children..walking up and down the streets with them, smiling, teaching them to say "please" and "thank you" at each house?
3.) Children are happily and gleefully walking up to houses being polite and respectful. Yes, they are after candy. But even with the hoards of children who came to our house, not one of them was greedy. Each one said "thank you." I said "Happy Halloween" and they said "you too." It was a night full of saying "thank you" "have a great night." People were being kind to each other, respectful, pleasant! That, to me, is a wonderful thing. Too often, we see the opposite even at Christmas (a holiday rooted in Christianity) when people fight over toys for their children and other such nonsense.
4.) We turn on a porch light, or also carve a pumpkin and put a candle in it to let people know "You are welcome to this house." We are letting our light shine in a display of generosity and friendliness.
So, I now believe that Halloween is in fact just as much Christian in many ways as other holidays. No matter what the origin. Why don't we look at the way things are now? Is the act of carving a pumpkin evil? I say no. It's fun and can be viewed as shining a light of care to others. Is giving out candy or other treats wrong? Is it wrong for kids to dress up in fun costumes and say please and thank you? Who cares if at one time they were in costumes to pull pranks. By and large, they aren't doing it anymore...so I say that's something to be celebrated.
Plus, I enjoyed interacting with trick or treaters as my own little "baseball player" helped me pass out candy.