And in honor of Halloween, I’m re-posting what I wrote last year, “Why I believe in Halloween.”
Though I was raised evangelical and can speak Christianese with the best of them, I doubt I’m anyone’s Evangelical Mother of the Year, especially when it comes to all the big things on the Christian no-no list. That said, I will now post about why I have celebrated Halloween my entire life, and why I think it’s Christian to do so.
- First of all, I love the fall. Halloween encompasses all of the cozy chilliness of a lovely fall night: The sun goes down early, the leaves crunch under your feet, the childhood giddiness of dressing up combined with the shiver of being outside at night doubles the excitement. Plus, jack-o-lanterns are (mostly) warm and welcoming.
- What other holiday invites neighbors (who are, let’s be honest, essentially strangers) to your home, and yours to theirs? When Christians boycott this holiday based on the notion that it is evil (or, as many churches do, have their own festival on the day of in which church children only receive candy from church adults), we miss out on the chance to meet and interact with and care for our neighbors. Whether or not our culture thinks this is important, being a neighbor was incredibly important to Jesus.
- Children are allowed to celebrate their own creativity and I believe that God the Creator is honored when we copy him in the act of creation. Therefore, Halloween—especially when children are allowed to use their imaginations and play—is beautifully honoring to God. This is where I will now stand on my soapbox and say that 12-year-old girls in slutty nurse costumes is not “celebrating” creativity. Neither is the helicopter moms’ unspoken competition to see whose child can dress the cutest. Halloween should be about kids getting to experience an opportunity to play a part, to pretend in the fullest sense. (Can I just say here that my 10-year-old niece is a perfect example of using her creativity for costumes? A couple of years ago she was a “Halloween Tree,” her idea. What, you say, is a Halloween Tree? I have no idea but she got it and that’s what mattered. This year she’s one of those mushroom people from Mario Brothers. She comes up the idea and her family helps her carry it out. It’s a beautiful thing.)
- CANDY!!! Free candy, placed in your bag. How is that not good and honoring to God?
- It’s an opportunity not only to be a neighbor, but to show kindness, hospitality, to practice the art of preparing in advance for a stranger to arrive at your door. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but as we buy our candy and make preparations for the little (and sometimes grown up…two years ago I had college student trick or treaters) creatures who arrive on our step, it’s a reminder to be prepared to welcome and make space for everyone who enters our lives. I like that.
And what do I think about the ghosts, the witches, the monsters of the holiday? Honestly, I don’t know. August has two cute Halloween books that we’ve been reading. The ghost is a friendly one with rosy cheeks. The witch flies on a broom with a sparkly pink hat. We’ve never talked about what they are or what they represent and I don’t think we need to.
I’m not afraid of allowing August to see or experience things in our culture that I don’t agree with or want to glorify. So, I’ve decided not to be afraid of his being exposed to these things. (He’s been making cute ghostly art projects at his school, as well, by the way). He will spend his childhood and young adulthood exposed to values and ideas we don’t agree with: a sexually perverted culture, greed, and inequality, to name a few. My job is to point out what we believe and why…and to steer him to a life that knows and follows Christ.
Teaching him to say hello to the neighbors is a beautiful first step…