Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween Ideas

This post is basically a response to a friend who asked how I feel about Halloween as a Christian.  I didn't have an easy or quick answer and so it quickly turned into an essay.  Here goes.....

I don't have a massive problem with Halloween per se, although there are many aspects of it I don't like.  For safety reasons I don't like trick or treating; it drives me mad that the shops have made it such a commercial affair; and little kids dressed as devils never makes me ooh and aah.

The things I like are those lots of people like.  I enjoy going to the pumpkin patch and choosing, then carving pumpkins; the way the light floods out fills me with joy and hope.  I love the way the kids get excited about pretending to be someone else for an hour or two, it's such great fun.

I guess I've never thought of Halloween as "worshipping the occult" or being something inherently evil.  That's never been my experience of the day.  Hence I let Rachel dress up and we go to Burley to join their festivities and parade; good harmless fun run by a community who love coming together to celebrate.

I've held this in an uncomfortable balance with my faith for the last few years; feeling that I should avoid or even boycott all things Halloween.  Whilst also feeling that helping children deal with the scary and unknown in life is doing them a service.  They have questions, they're trying to understand death and the tussle of good and bad.  Halloween allows this to be experienced safely.

At St Nics we don't deal with Halloween at all, but many of our kids go to another local church's Bright Lights party at which I helped this year.  The party was a fabulous way of celebrating together and focussing on the light of Christ in the darkness.  But let's be honest, things like this don't deal with the issue of Halloween, they avoid the issue; and as Christians we need to be engaged with the world and can only do that by joining in.

Amongst all these thoughts, and no clear conclusions, I defer to a writer and thinker greater than myself.  Simon Jenkins wrote an article in The Church Times this week which I've found on his blog here. I agree with his proposal that as Christians we open our churches to Halloween and allow the exploration of life, death, fears and unknowns to happen together.


Karen said...

A nice post Emma. As a Christian too I have no issue with Hallowe'en as I know that evil has been defeated so it's with joy I know my kids can throw off their outfits and discard them - just like Jesus threw off the devil and discarded him. My younger two do trick and treat, but I enhance the fun side, allowing them only to knock on doors with pumpkins lit, not to bother those who clearly do not participate. As a homeowner I open my door to the children and I share sweets with them because I feel that as a Christian it would be wrong of me to hide away and shun them just because it makes a few people uncomfortable. Being a Christian I want my door to be open to everybody, for people to feel welcome and wanted and if these means handing out sweets to eager young kids, no matter how they're dressed, I'll do it and do it with a glad heart.

Nancy Wallace said...

A lot of good Christian sense here. Yes I thought Simon Jenkins article was helpful too. One small point about your labels. Hallowe#en is the Eve of All Hallows i.e. eve of All Saints Day. It's not All Souls Eve as All Souls Day is today. Sorry - I'm a pedant and reader of small print!