This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it’s “Halloween or no Halloween?” which sometimes becomes “Halloween vs. Reformation Day,” the latter being the celebration of the Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31. Even some Catholics have become concerned with how Hallowe’en has become “so evil.” No doubt, the devils have tried to highjack the hallowed day and its eve.
I don’t think that we Christians should retreat. Let’s take it back!
Well, here are ten ways to keep good ol’ Hallowe’en fun and sacred.
10. Don’t call it “Satan’s Holiday”!
There are many Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass. It’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!
9. Don’t feel that you have to opt for an “Halloween alternative”.
Many churches (particularly Protestant ones) are now how hosting “Fall Festivals” (or worse, “Reformation Day”). I’ve been to several and they are particularly good if you have toddlers who otherwise wouldn’t enjoying walking around the neighborhood “trick or treating”. Unless you have seriously hesitations about your neighbourhood, why not join your neighbours? It could be a great opportunity to get to know them and spark up some relationships. I’ve gotten to know some neighbourhood dads as we stand out on the curb and watch our kids go up and the ring the door bells of every house on the street.
8. Be safe.
Check all the sweets. Have the kids wear glow sticks. Dress warm. Stick together.
7. Be hospitable – Why not host the neighborhood party?
Christians are supposed to be hospitable, right? Why not host an after party at your house with hot chocolate and coffee for the adults. Open up your house or garden for games. Remember bobbing for apples?
6. Don’t be turned off by the ghoulish-ness of Halloween.
Every great Catholic cathedral has gargoyles carved into its stone work. Illuminated manuscripts are also full of ghouls in the margins. Catholics are into this kind of stuff. Why? Because Christ has conquered death and the devil. After Christ, death has lost its sting. Also, All Saints day is followed by All Souls day so it’s okay to be a little macabre. (By the way the word “macabre” comes from Maccabees – those two books in the Catholic Bible that Protestants threw out.) And if you live in an Hispanic area like I do, you’ve got the whole Dia de Muertos to play up.
5. Have fun, don’t force converts.
Look, nobody likes to get a religious tract in their sweetie bag. Don’t pass out religious literature. Give out big handfuls of sweets and the extra large chocolate bars, if you can. In the long run, you will make more converts with your charity. After all, you’ll be known as “the house that always gives out good sweets”.
4. Have a bonfire!
We Catholics, once upon a time, used to specialize in bonfires. If you have the land and it’s legal, stoke up a blaze. If you’re kids are older why not set out a bunch of glowing jack-o-lanterns and roast marshmallows over a blazing-hot fire? If someone can play the fiddle, all the better.
3. Carve some fine looking Pumpkins.
This is a no-brainer. Download some fancy cutting patterns from the web. Spend time as a family carving out some pumpkins. Put some candles in them and let them burn outside your house for a week or so before Halloween. My kids always like to see who has jack-o-lanterns in front of their houses. Do you want to make friends in the neighbourhood? Have a carving party and give a prize to the best jack-o-lantern.
2. Visit the graves of your loved ones
This applies more to All Souls Day (Nov 2) than it does to All Saints Day (Nov 1). Still the point is to remember our loved ones and to pray for those who have died marked with the sign of faith. Death is not the last word. Christ has overcome death by His own sorrowful passion and death through the resurrection. That is is the source of our hope and strength of all the saints.
1. Be “hallowed.”
If you persevere in the love and grace of God, you too shall be a saint. The whole point of “All Hallows” is to remind us to be “hallowed” or “sanctified”. Most of us won’t have our own particular feast day and so All Saints Day will be our feast day (if God willing, we go to Heaven). It is the feast day for most of the Church’s saints, those who lived peaceably, followed Christ, loved their families, accomplished their duties in life and passed on to the next life. May their prayers be with us.