Saturday, October 30, 2010

should Christians celebrate halloween?

this question has been plaguing me for many years, namely since i've had children. as a Christian, i always want to walk in the ways established by God, doing as He requires Christians to do, and not as i want...or doing as i want, so long as it's according to His will.

but i have to admit, i have never reached a conclusive, decisive or even satisfactory answer, even though i've researched the question and potential answers many times. so it's left me sort of scrambling last minute to decide what to do concerning the celebration of holidays, namely halloween.

why am i confused only about the celebration of halloween?

well for me, i can't even fully answer that question without confusing, or even contradicting, myself. the only thing about the holiday that i can really put my finger on that would keep the question alive of whether or not Christians (and moreso--my family and i) should celebrate halloween is that fact that i always feel something eerily sinister about the holiday when it comes around.

but that's all that i get. this odd feeling that there's something about halloween that i shouldn't be celebrating. i've had this feeling since i was young (about 7) or so, i think it stemmed from the fact that halloween always frightened me in one way or another as a child (i remember being the mad hatter from alice in wonderland--a scary childhood story in and of itself but more on that another day--and i was terrified of the costume. and then my mom dressed me up as a cinderella one year and when i looked at the eye holes in the mask i freaked out because it was so scary looking). but regardless of why or how the feeling came to be an innate part of me is irrelevant, the point is, it's there and it's never left. but even still, i can't figure out why as an adult i am still so murky on the answer to this question.

add this (the fact that i really don't know why i should or shouldn't be celebrating halloween) to the fact that the girls' school always celebrates it in a harmless and even fun way, and i'm stuck every year begrudgingly celebrating halloween with my children...even if just by giving out candy to the neighborhood children.

so i decided to end the confusion once and for all this year (after i've already determined that my children will not celebrate halloween--but not for reasons one might think--they're actually on punishment, so i was able to use that as the "excuse", but i'm even questioning the correctness of my motive and actions in this case too) by researching and finding answers to the question from different sources.

one of my favorite sites answers the question this way, and explains the origins of halloween here, and good old fashioned wiki says this about the origins of halloween.

now while according to everything i've read, the ultimate decision of whether or not to celebrate halloween is left up to the individual, there were some key points that stood out to me that made my thoughts concerning the question a bit easier:

"The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks."

"Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[6] Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual."

*i have to take note here...the whole bonfire ritual sounds like a mimicing of the animal sacrifices done in the Old Testament*

"Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink."

"Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain,[19] although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy."

with that being said, and the fact that the Bible is specifically against divination, inviting spirits (demons) within one's environment, and casting/psychics/witchcraft/sorcery/etc., and all of these things are in some way, shape or form associated with halloween, i believe that i am correct in the belief that i should NOT be celebrating halloween.

and i don't believe that i need to "replace" halloween with a celebration of another type. for me, i'd rather my family just avoid the whole scenario altogether.

now this is just my belief, i say that every Christian should come to the conclusion of whether or not to celebrate halloween by reading the information available on the topic and then consulting with God on the final matter.

gee, that was easier than it's ever been in the past.

now that i've answered this question which has been hounding me for quite some time, the best action to take with my children is just explain to them why we don't celebrate it anymore, and then simply not celebrate it. for the last few years, i haven't allowed my children to go to school for the halloween celebration, but i think it's time to get a tad bit stricter on the reasons why.

i suppose it won't be that easy, but that's my final answer and i'm sticking to it.

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