Why Christians Need to Celebrate Halloween

First, I suppose we have to move through the negative before we get to the positive.

I have yet to find any good arguments for not celebrating Halloween. They might seem like good arguments until you try to be consistent. For instance, many from my past argued that it “comes out of paganism.” But if you are consistent in the belief that “we should never celebrate something that had its origins in paganism” then we must do away with Christmas and Easter as well, something these same folks are not willing to do. There are others who would argue that we should not celebrate Halloween because “it celebrates evil.” The problem with this is that Halloween is not a person. “It” doesn’t celebrate anything. We have learned from Christmas, that holidays have different meanings for different people. If you are a Christian, Christmas means something to your Christianity. But if you are not a Christian, Christmas means something completely different. I do not own the calendar. If people want to celebrate family on the day that I celebrate the birth of Jesus (both in history and in my own heart) they are allowed. There is no “objective” meaning to Christmas (as evidenced by the fact that December 25 was not chosen because it was the date that Jesus was actually born as well as the fact that it wasn’t celebrated for the first several centuries of the Church), it is a cultural phenomenon. I celebrate it because it means something to me. This also means, on the “opposite” end, as holidays go, there is no “objective” meaning to Halloween. I am free to celebrate it however I wish. If I am a Christian, I will celebrate it Christianly. If I am a pagan, I will celebrate it paganly.

But this is not enough. We should not just “tolerate” Halloween, giving our kids the uneasy “okay” as long as they dress up like Bible characters. No, we should be one of its biggest supporters. Halloween is a friend and ally to Christianity. Why do I say this?

I only say this because I assume one thing: the primary enemy of Christianity in our culture is no longer other religions but a lack of imagination (which ironically, many Christians also suffer from in our culture). It is the inability to see “the possibility of another world.” Along with the beauty of science often comes a mindset of cold determinism, that “what you see is all there is.” A worldview where there is nothing more to love than firing neurons and chemical imbalances. That all there is to poetry is the evolution of language. That if we cannot see the afterlife it cannot possibly exist. It is not paganism that will topple Christianity but a lack of imagination, a depreciation of art, an inability to think of mystery as a positive rather than something to be attacked and eradicated.

And if this is true, then Halloween is on our side. As Christians, we meet weekly to remind ourselves that the world of “what we see” is not the world “of all there is.” But Halloween is a tradition that the entire world celebrates to excite the imagination, an affirmation that what we see is perhaps not all there is. It is the celebration of the possible. The entire world gets to, for just one day, live in a world where orcs and hobbits exist, where The Force is real and evil will one day be vanquished. The entire world gets reminded that maybe not everything can be explained away. We get to affirm what a growing number of us only reluctantly admit from time to time: that maybe, just maybe, our story really is bigger and better than meets the eye.

If you want a more traditional “refutation” of Halloween, see this great article from Christianity Today 2000: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/october2/29.79.html

6 responses to “Why Christians Need to Celebrate Halloween

  1. interesting take, Jared. in the 6 Halloweens i’ve celebrated as a youth and/or children’s pastor, i’ve wrestled through this issue. usually, i end up concluding, much like you did, that MOST holidays have lost their “original” meaning (if there is such a thing) and that few if any children are actually worshiping Satan on Oct. 31st. i try to flip the themes of Halloween on their heads – emphasizing life, light, and courage instead of death, darkness, and fear. while i’ve always enjoyed the creativity aspect to Halloween, i never viewed it quite like this – as a MUST for Christians.

    it’s a good point. that is, that we as Christians need to practice imagining and looking beyond what we can see to what could be. Mercy Me said in their song “One Trick Pony” that it’s more open minded to believe that there’s more than just this world, though they said much more poetically than that (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8HDYAMjjXM).

    i’ll certainly mull this over a bit…

  2. After reading only half of the first of many wonderful paragraphs in this beautifully written collection of pure insight, I figured I should write a comment expressing my excitement and agreement before I read much further and ran out of expressible words to type. So far, it’s like the excitement of watching someone suddenly break out into a talented beatboxing session who you previously had no idea was so good at doing so.

  3. I’m in total agreement with you on this. For several years, I’ve gone to a friend’s house on Halloween. We make their driveway as bright and inviting as possible – garage open and lit, candles up the driveway, firepit aflame…we give out candy and hot beverages, invite people to hang out by the fire and make s’mores and try to engage them in conversation. They have a few little booklets (not necessarily tracts) for the taking on various issues – which some take and some don’t. But people remember this house, these people, these small kindnesses in a dark, cold night. This evening, toward the end of the night, we had a bunch of teenage boys show up. They got their candy, had some hot chocolate and made s’mores. Two asked if they could hang out by the fire until one of their dads came for them. So we hung out, talking about school and eventually about church and our church’s youth group (you know I had to get that in there). Neither one is really connected to a church and we talked about what our youth group was like, what we do there, etc. Never would have happened if I had hid in my place in the dark tonight! And I’m not sure I’ll ever see these guys again but a seed was planted or maybe watered…

  4. Pingback: Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween* | Jared Byas

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