Every year in October we begin seeing the Halloween controversy and I admit to being party to the drama in prior years. In my naivety and arrogance, I followed legalism into a dirty trap of self righteousness. In the following days I will share the myths and truth of the three holidays of Samhain, All Saints Day, and Halloween. Many Christians will google and find many websites written by anti-holiday activists, but after years of research and down to earth talks with people who actually celebrate these days, I have come to discover many of those sites are misguided. Below is the beginning of our story.
I grew up enjoying Halloween and always tried to be creative with my costumes. My whole family celebrated the festivities, even my mom and grandmother dressed up some of those years. Halloween was always just a cultural holiday and it never meant anything more to me than a day to dress up with friends and go door to door to get treats from the neighbors. It was a great way to build hospitality with our community.
Then we got caught up in legalism and we began adjusting our celebrations and within a few years we no longer celebrated it at all. We were led to believe in some really horrible ‘origins’, all told with a ‘Christian’ perspective. Then we came to understand what grace really looked like in our modern world and culture. Not only that, but we got to meet and become friends with people who still followed many of their old world customs and spiritual practices. The stories we were originally told about the origins of Halloween weren’t accurate and the people who we have come to love are being misrepresented in today’s Christian culture.
The Halloween we see in America today is a hodgepodge of assorted traditions all mixed up and Hollywood-ized to an extreme. Add to that the marketing schemes of the candy communities and we’ve got a real mess. They’ll use anything to get us to buy that much candy. Halloween is the one holiday a year that sells more candy than any other.
My husband and I stopped in to the 99 Cent store last night to pick up some decorative Autumn dish cloths and I took a few minutes to walk through their Halloween section. Do people really stop to think about why skulls are popular for Halloween? Do they think it’s to promote death? I’m willing to bet that’s what most people think, but the skulls are actually a representation of honoring your loved ones who have departed, as in the traditional Mexican holiday: ‘Día de los Muertos’. I would personally prefer to honor them by putting up a special picture of them, than to use a skull. However, I understand where the skull tradition comes from.
Then there were these witch door hangings that make it look like a witch flew into your door and splatted into a permanent fix on your doorway. She has long scraggly black knotted hair and a green nose smashed to the side. Most people have accepted this image of a witch for many years, but have no idea where that imagery comes from or if it’s even accurate. I would venture to say there are a lot of Christians who are not aware of the fact that the witch trials never burned any real witches. They were Protestant women who were burned by their own pastors and deacons. A lot of Christians are generally afraid of witches..not the fairy tale witches..the real witches. They can see clearly that real modern day witches look just like them. They have real houses (not candy shacks in the woods), their kids go to the same schools (not Hogwarts), and they honor and appreciate the earth (Though, Christians should care for the earth too. After all, Adam was charged with caring for the earth). Witches don’t have green skin and they’re not out to curse the ground you walk on and sentence you to an eternity in hell.
Christians may not agree with the spirituality of witches, Druids, or even Muslims, but they are called to love them and be kind to them. This is what Christ does. He loves the Samaritans and the Jews. We also know the call goes even further when we are taught that there are no longer Jews and Gentiles (pagans), male nor female, bond nor free, we are all one in him. The point is: There are no more labels to divide us. Christ came to love us before we loved him. Even if someone hasn’t loved him in return, it doesn’t change the fact that he loves them first and continues to pursue their hearts with devotion.
My next point in this article is to point out how we, as Christians, don’t like to be misrepresented. I am willing to bet that most Christians don’t want Westboro Baptist Church to represent them. On this same note, Pagans don’t want misinformed Christians to attempt to represent their beliefs with the cultural Hollywood-ized versions that are depicted during this Halloween month.
In the Spirit of grace, I will be exploring some of these myths in upcoming articles and show you how to extend grace to those who celebrate their cultural holidays differently. I’ll begin tomorrow and share with you what the real origins of these holidays are and how it’s nothing to be afraid of or discriminated against. We don’t have to agree with these holidays, but we are called to interact with our society as representatives of the grace-filled Spirit of Christ.
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