By Jennifer E. Jones
In one of my favorite episodes of the NBC show, Scrubs, the crabby chief of medicine called Halloween “the mother of all non-holidays.” I tend to agree with him.
I stopped celebrating Halloween when I realized that I could buy candy at the store. As an adult with no children and whose friends have lost their enthusiasm for dressing up, I don’t see October as anything more than the month to start thinking about Christmas shopping.
In spite of my apathy, I’m mildly amused at the stir it causes every year amongst those both in and out of church circles.
Recently, I was walking my dog and caught up with another dog walker with whom I frequently chat. As we passed houses with jack-o-lanterns on every other porch, I asked him if he and his wife were doing anything for Halloween. He replied, “Nope, we’re not allowed to.”
I was puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“They’ve banned it in our neighborhood,” he said.
I started laughing, but he was serious. The condominium association a block away from my own had indeed declared that trick-or-treating was considered soliciting and therefore not permitted on the premises… not even if you’re five and dressed up like a bunny.
Now, depending on which side of the fence you reside concerning the annual issue of Halloween, this either sounds like a fantastic idea or absolutely preposterous. As you can tell from my response, I thought it was rather silly.
As a church-goer all my life, I’ve seen varied solutions to the question: “What are we as Christians to do with Halloween?” Some people see it as the devil’s night and board up their homes. Others freely invite trick-or-treaters and even indulge a few horror movies. There are days when I wonder if a happy medium isn’t the only thing in disguise.
Many churches find solace in “alternatives to Halloween”. Kids still dress up, go out to a place where they can play games and get candy. It’s exactly like what the other kids are doing. It’s just that the party moved from the neighbor’s house to the local assembly, and the word “Halloween” is replaced with “harvest”. The difference is negligible.
What some Christians are trying to avoid on Halloween is the “scare factor”, and I can understand that. Haunted houses, witches, ghosts and goblins are designed to frighten people. I’m not a fan of fear in any form and don’t quite see how scaring myself half to death is considered entertainment.
So, the question remains: What do we do? I agree with other writers on this site that Halloween has its benefits and banning the holiday – whether mentally or literally – is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
As suggested, it is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors. What other season brings total strangers to your doorstep? You can use this “non-holiday” as a way to meet new faces in your neighborhood. You may plant seeds or form a friendship that leads to more in the future. They certainly won’t get to know you from behind closed doors.
I think Halloween is as harmful as you make it. There are those who use this night as a reason to do séances and commit random acts of mischief. However, the idea that the devil is running amok through the streets of your town especially on Halloween night is rooted in fear. And we as Christians don’t operate in that. If we’re victorious in Christ, surely that grace extends through the month of October.
With the ipods, palm pilots, and hand-held video gaming systems, we don’t need another reason to disengage from the world. So if you’re scared that passing out candy is inviting Satan into your home, I’ve got news for you. Jesus reigns! He’s alive and well 365 days of the year and has made us more than conquerors. So let’s show our neighbors the fearless side of faith. After all, how can we be a light if we refuse to go into the darkness?
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