My friend Janelle Glick is back, after having spent significant time this week researching and pondering. Here are her concluding thoughts and questions. Plug in!
Confession: Sometimes my statements of practice are built on comfortable ignorance.
So I spent some hours this week reading about the origins of Halloween. I read articles depicting the gore and perversity of occult practice at Halloween, and I wonder “Is it just coincidence that Halloween is the second major holiday among Satan worshippers?” (Christmas is also close to the top of their lists, apparently.)
I also read many articles connecting Halloween to past holidays of the Catholic church – the main characteristic being peasants saying prayers for the dead in return for a few morsels of food.
And then there are the writers who actually think North America made up their own healthy form of the bad Irish holiday.
I’ve also read eight e-mails from my neighborhood moms group explaining why they love Halloween. For each of them, it is because they have a warm connection to their childhood experiences. Halloween is a chance to be creative with their costumes, and meet new neighbors. I responded graciously, of course, but acknowledged too that I have no emotional/familial ties to the holiday. It holds no pull from the past for me. One thing I know – these eight moms who celebrate it with their children on October 31 will be doing so out of a love for tradition and culture – not a wish to glorify darkness or delve into hidden curiosities of occult practices.
Now I wonder, is it enough for me to stand at a distance this Halloween, continuing my mantra of “We do not celebrate Halloween,” if I do not have Scripture verses or quotes from my research at the ready to recite for those who challenge me? What is this paranoia I feel when I realize I could not win a debate on an issue for which I have already chosen my line?
For several years now I have felt a strong respect for the Old Order Mennonite people in our community. They have a better understanding and acceptance of the stands they take for sake of culture. They do not try to defend their lifestyle with Scripture. They love others who do not share their lifestyle convictions. They are certain of their choices, but slow to push them on others. And in conversation with them, I have realized that I am guilty of thinking I need to ascribe Scriptural defense to everything I do.
I do not like how it feels to realize that I don’t celebrate Halloween this year simply because I don’t want to. I wish I had a verse, even a random one from Deuteronomy. 🙂
I still don’t think Jesus would trick or treat or wear a skeleton costume. But I don’t think He’d condemn all those who do to fiery damnation. I think He would love trick-or-treaters on Halloween night just as much as He does on the Sabbath day. I think He would continue to live and love without changing His own desire for light and truth.
I’m invited to a neighborhood moms-and-kids Halloween dress up party next Wednesday morning. Jesus invited Himself to a tax collector’s house and ate with Zaccheus. What do you all think? Should I dress up my kids and go?
-Janelle Glick of Waterloo, Ontario
Yes, Jesus would love the child with a skeleton outfit, and his mother too. I think He would go to their house, but dressed in normal clothes, with maybe a Bible story behind your ear. ???? Jesus changes darkness to light, who knows the changing impact you can have on these 8 families and their celebrations in the long run!
Thanks for the encouragement to go. Everytime I meet one of my neighbor moms, they want to know if I’ve decided to come. 😉 They are gracious, loving, and understanding. So far, I’ve been amazed at the opportunities to chat about Jesus light in these pre-Halloween party conversations. Amazing isn’t it? Maybe sharing Jesus has just as much to do with asking questions of others as it does with having the answers for them?
Sometimes our spirits are aware of what our reason is not, no? I’m okay to decline participation w/o explicit Scriptural backing. We do it all the time, in other ways… I liked your picture of the Old Order Mennonites, comfortable in their choices.
Should you go? Hmm–a question worth asking. If this were your prime opening with the women, that would swing the decision… but it’s an optional activity with no hard feelings following nonparticipation, right?
My biggest objection is that in participating, you’d be creating that warm link for your own children, providing their future “emotional/familial tie to the holiday.” Seems like a link I’m happy not to have…
This is an interesting subject…I’m really torn with what I would do if invited to my local “moms group” Halloween party. (And by the way, I have no time for the mentality that Halloween is just an innocent fun holiday. I believe it’s a time where spirits of darkness, fear and gore are glorified.) I think I would have to opt out. I agree with the concept of Jesus dining in the presence of sinners & prostitutes, but isn’t that different than going to a party where the entire purpose is participation in THE celebratory event? So in Jesus’ case, could it be said he’d have gone to a strip club and participated?
I’m suggesting there my be a difference in attending an event where sin is present, than attending an event where sin is the FOCUS.
So then…if you attend the party but don’t participate…it sort of defeats the purpose and probably makes the other partiers uncomfortable. Not to mention, your kids will feel left-out. I think its almost worse for your kids to go and not be allowed to participate. My parents did that at Christmas due to the reason that my dad viewed the celebration of Christmas as a pagan holiday. We went to the family dinner but had to leave before the cousins exchanged gifts. Since then, things have leveled out and my family enjoys Christmas together, but those memories are still unpleasant for me today.
These are my thoughts… hoping to hear others opinions!
I was struck by your certainty that Halloween is a time to celebrate darkness and gore. Do you think that all those who celebrate the holiday are celebrating the same thing? I just wanted to be sure I’m understanding you correctly.
Be guided by the Spirit of Christ. If you can participate in the spirit of Jesus and to His glory, do so.
I love your answer, Shari.
That’s a thing you need to really pray about . . . I had limited participation as a child prior to my parents becoming Menno. They were always concerned that we not be involved in gore, evil, or meanness, so we weren’t even allowed to say “Trick or treat!” So for me it was fine to leave it behind when that time came. Christmas? that was an altogether different beast . . . I have made peace with my two cultures now as an adult by embracing our adopted daughter’s countries customs when it comes to Christmas. We split the religious observation away from the tree etc. and then AFTER the season of religious observance of Christ’s birth is done, we whole-heartedly plunge with joy into a festive observance of the New Year, complete with setting up a tree with lights and ornaments, and we tend to leave it up the entire month of January. It feel like I have “come home” to some important child hood traditions, and am making great memories with my children. In all honesty, it felt like when my parents tried to become Mennonite we were forced to give up basically every tradition in our family that was good and wholesome, and some how they were never replaced with any thing much of meaning. I saw that happening entirely too much in my own children’s lives, and was thrilled when I figured out the answer to my ponderings and struggles.
Yes, the Conservative Mennonite phobia of empty symbols and traditions has left more of us wishing for visual expression of the beauty we experience. Thanks for the post and extending discussion to Christmas, and the Christmas tree – after all, only two more months til Dec 25. 🙂
Hi! I have a link I would like to send you concerning this subject. Is there an e-mail address you don’t mind giving out? Actually–you can send an e-mail to my address–if that is better.
I got your article, Dorcas. Thanks for sending it my way (through Shari:)
My feeling when reading the article following other research I’ve done, is that the author was quite biased in choice of “roots” for Halloween. But that is just an initial response, and I will read the article again in the next few days, when I have time to cross reference some statements. I’m curious how your children’s discussion at school went.