Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween!

I love Halloween.

There, I said it.  As a youth minister, sometimes I get the vibe that Halloween is technically not allowed to be my favorite holiday.  Many, if not most, Christians are opposed to getting involved in any festivities on this day.  They say it is wicked, that it glorifies evil.  Many go so far as to call it the devil's holiday.

Well, I disagree.  I love candy and costumes and scaring trick-or-treaters!  I carve a Jack-O-Lantern every year and leave it burning all night long!  My intake of scary movies increases dramatically all month long!  I think this day is awesome!

And here are the reasons why...


1:  We give holidays their meaning.

What I celebrate on a given day may be entirely different than what you celebrate.  There are many who celebrate Christmas without paying a bit of mind to Christ.  For them, Christmas is about family or presents.  Their celebration of Christmas is about as holy as my celebration of Halloween is evil.  The reasons I love this day are not evil at all, even if Halloween has evil origins...which, it likely doesn't.  This brings us to reason number two...


2:  The origins of Halloween are a bit fuzzy, and likely rooted just as much in Church tradition as they are in pagan custom.

Yes.  All of the virgin-sacrificing, evil-spirit-inviting stories you've heard are wrong.  Here is a recent blog post on Who Stole Halloween.  Give that a read.  The holiday doesn't seem so wicked now, does it?  Halloween is only as evil as you make it.  What I celebrate on Halloween is detailed in the last five reasons I love this day.


3:  Candy and fun!

It's no secret that I love sweets.  Candy corn may be my favorite.  This holiday makes candy very plentiful, which makes my mouth very happy.  Kids like dressing up and having fun.  I like seeing people have fun.  I like making people happy.  Pretty simple, right?


4:  Community

Sadly, in our culture, we don't put forth much effort to interact with our neighbors.  This one day of the year, the entire community shows up at your door and you have the opportunity to give them something that will make them happy.  I love how happy kids are when I toss them a big handful of candy.

I'm not a fan of how the Church typically handles this day.  Many of us leave our houses and offer an alternative if people will show up at our church building instead of walking around the neighborhood.  This reaction is primarily due to the confusion that abounds in regards to the origins of this holiday.  However, I think there are two important things we need to consider about this reaction.  First, I think we should stop calling it an "alternative to Halloween."  It's not an alternative.  You're still celebrating Halloween, you're just doing it slightly differently, and I can't overemphasize how slight the difference is.  Second, I think it's a waste of resources to band together at the church.  Yeah, hundreds of kids may show up to the Trunk or Treat, but imagine if every member of your congregation counted every kid that showed up at their door and then compared numbers.  Sure, there would be some overlap in kids, but I bet we reach a wider group when we are spread out and meeting them on familiar ground.  Also, if you want to hand out a tract, or act as a Bible character, or present the Gospel, you'll still have that opportunity, you'll simply be reaching more people who haven't already heard the message.

(Note:  I'm not opposed to Trunk or Treat events.  I just don't like having them ON Halloween night or pretending that they are not a form of celebrating Halloween.  Having them on a different night is actually an opportunity for MORE candy and MORE fun!)


5:  Memento Mori

During this time of year, images of death can be found everywhere.  Our culture doesn't really discuss death that much, so this time of year can force us to think about and confront it.  I think Christians especially should be aware of death and contemplate regularly the fact that our time in these bodies will end as we consider what we will leave behind and what we have done of eternal consequence.  The Art of Manliness had a really good post on this topic recently.


6:  Overcoming Fear

Fear is a huge part of Halloween.  I don't celebrate being afraid, I celebrate overcoming fear.  This season alone, I witnessed trick-or-treaters brave my scary dummy act for some candy, a middle schooler overcome his fear of a scary trail, and even faced down a frightening moment of my own when some VERY late trick-or-treaters creeped me out by not realizing my doorbell is broken.  I think it is important for us to learn to face and overcome our fears instead of hiding from them or letting them immobilize us.  This season is also a great opportunity to teach kids that we don't have to be afraid of spirits or death, because Christ has overcome evil and the grave.


7:  Overcoming Evil

Some people think of this as a day that glorifies evil.  For some, that may be true.  As I said, I love watching scary movies.  Some of those glorify evil, but those aren't the ones I like.  The movies I like are the ones where fears are faced and evil is defeated.  The fog covers the fishing village and people start disappearing, but the priest helps the people break an old curse and the fog blows back out to sea.  Jamie Lee Curtis gets chased for thirty years, but she finally crashes that ambulance and ends the horror.  Some college kids foolishly read a book that begins a terrifying encounter with the demonic, but a hero rises up, replaces his hand with a chainsaw, and conquers the Deadites!  Hail to the king, baby!

I love seeing evil defeated.  We deal with evil everyday in the world and even in ourselves, though it is not always as extreme as it is portrayed in the movies.  It is important that we know that evil can be overcome and how it is overcome.  It is important that we strive to eradicate evil.  During this holiday, we can be reminded of these things.


So, my celebration of Halloween is not evil.  I find Christ in every aspect I just mentioned, even if the rest of the world doesn't.  I love Halloween.