I have never really understood the attraction or meaning of the celebration known as Halloween. It has always puzzled me why an activity directed towards children is filled with such scary images like ghosts, skeletons, ghouls, demons, witches and the like.
What is it that Halloween is celebrating? I have read about the fact that it is the night before a traditional Church celebration, All Saints’ Day, a time when all the saints of the Church are honoured and prayed for. People from the Church used to go door to door asking for little cakes in exchange for promising to pray for the dead members of the household.
While I see how the practice of ‘trick or treat-ing’ could stem from this historical event, I can’t comprehend the correlation between that and children being sent out into the neighbourhood to collect treats (from strangers), using the threat of pranking people as the enticement to surrender lollies.
For many years, it wasn’t such a big deal here. It was just something that Americans did, and we observed from afar through the medium of television shows. Over the past 15 years I would say that the momentum has slowly been gathering to the point where now the retailers have been promoting decorations for the home, costumes for all ages and special Halloween bags of bulk confectionery amid cobwebs, skulls and pitchforks. The imagery we are being bombarded with is being driven by the desire to ‘cash in’ without much discernment about a potential negative impact on the young minds in our communities.
While I am more than happy to promote and participate in a fun, fancy dress event, what Halloween boils down to is a celebration of death and the dead. Usually death is something that brings heartbreak and sorrow, yet we set out to trivialise it with costumes and sugary treats. It is a dubious holiday with sinister undertones and I have never been comfortable with giving it any recognition in my home and family.
The Bible refers to us needing to be ‘children of light’ (John chapter 12, verse 36) and the celebration on 31 October revolves almost solely around darkness.
You may have noticed I feel quite passionate about this subject, based on my concern that we can tend to participate in events because everyone else is doing it, or because it’s a bit of harmless fun. On this occasion, I do encourage you to think a little deeper and broader about what Halloween is, and what it glorifies. I choose light. I hope you will too.