What Are You Going to Be Doing on October 31?
A friend asked me to write an article on Halloween. This friend is against Halloween and everything it stands for. Another friend asked me to write an article on Halloween and how Christians need to stop being so stuffy. Another friend posted an article on Halloween to her Facebook page…and the comments became very heated.
I have always been on the fence with regard to Halloween.
What I have learned is that there appears to be 3 groups of Christians when it comes to Halloween.
1. There are those who say, “We don’t want anything to do with that evil day! Why would any Christian have anything to do with that?”
2. There are those on the other end who let their children dress up as a non-evil things like princesses and go knocking on doors and collecting candy.
3. And then in the middle are the rest of the Christians. We’re not sure what they actually think, but they do things like “Harvest Fest” and “Reformation Day” where candy still flows and kids still get dressed up.
I am firmly planted in group three…but because I am me, I asked this question, “So where did “Halloween,” as we know it, start?
Just about 3000 years ago, beginning around 2000 BC, the Celts of Ireland celebrated the eve of Samhain, or the festival of the Lord of the Dead, on the night of October 31st. This was their New Year’s Eve, the night that the Druids burned animals and prisoners to foretell the future and appease the dreadful Samhain. The Pagans believed that Samhain sent evil spirits into the world to attack humans, who could only survive if they disguised themselves as evil spirits.
That sounds like something we should be a part of doesn’t it?
In 834 AD Pope Gregory IV, appalled at the ritual, moved All Saints Day, from early May to Nov. 1, in an effort to “Christianize”the celebration of Samhain. All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day are part of the two day celebration of Hallowmas. This is where we get the current name from: All Hallow’s Eve = Hallowe’en = Halloween. This is also seems to be where “trick or treating” comes from. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling”, when poor folk would go door to door during All Saints Day, begging for food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day.
Let’s jump ahead to October 31, 1517 and the Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences better known as the 95 Theses.
Did you know that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to Wittenburg Chapel Door on Halloween day? Yes October 31 is Reformation day, and it was not a coincidence that he chose this day to take his public stand against the Roman Catholic Church. In the centuries leading up to the reformation the Roman Catholic Church had deformed to a religion of custom and superstition. Luther was appalled at the pagan-like superstition of the church and sought to bring the church to repentance and back to the true gospel. Hallowmas, with it’s focus on praying to the saints and indulgences, was the epitome of why Luther wrote his 95 Theses and is likely the reason he chose this day to go public.
Let’s jump ahead to Oct 31, 2013. Where will your kids be? Where will you be? We should think about why we do things. We are not trick or treating, and we are not decorating with creepy tombstones, spiders or skeletons. I am taking my family to harvest fest at my church this year to “celebrate reformation day.” My daughters are probably dressing up as pink kitten princess things…but not because they are afraid that pink kitten/princess goblins are going to hunt them if they don’t disguise themselves.
What are you going to be doing on October 31?