"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Corinthians 2:11)
Today is Halloween. Halloween means many things to many people. For our church's volunteer Secretary, Claire, it's her birthday! I won't tell you how old she is, but she's old enough to be my mother, and if I'm half as healthy and active when I'm her age, I'll be most grateful!
My very first memory of Halloween is of being a very small child (maybe 4) at our home on Alpine Street, Roxbury. The house was a two-family. Our family lived downstairs, and my grandparents lived upstairs. I remember dressing up for Halloween, walking upstairs to my grandparents' and being given candy corn and other treats. My parents did not let me go trick or treating in that neighborhood. Even in 1958 it was a very dangerous neighborhood where you certainly didn't want to be walking around at night!
When I was just a little older, growing up in Canton, I remember going around the neighborhood and coming home with a bag filled with candy every October 31. It was a holiday I really loved.
As a "born-again Christian" young adult in the late 1970s, I began to get a very different message about Halloween. Ironically, until that time, evangelical Protestant churches had been some of the biggest promoters of Halloween, often hosting Halloween parties and even "haunted houses" for the teenagers. In the late 1970s, the message began to get out in the evangelical Christian community from charismatic speaker Mike Warnke and German Christian scholar Dr. Kurt Koch that celebrating Halloween was a pagan and very bad practice which very much displeased the Lord.
In his book "Satan's Devices" (the English translation of the German "Okkultes ABC") Koch writes, "All Saints' Day and Hallowe'en originated in a pagan festival. Before the days of Christianity, the Druids in England (priests of a Celtic race) had the idea that people needed to be cleansed after they had died. The soul of the departed was transferred by magic to the body of an animal. During the night of October 31, the enchanted souls were freed by the Druid god, Samhain, and taken together into the Druid heaven. This Druid festival was always accompanied by animal and sometimes human sacrifices and linked with all kinds of magic."
By 1980, Halloween was considered taboo for almost all evangelical Christians. Often churches WOULD host "Harvest Parties" where kids could dress up as Bible characters, play games, and get candy, without the pagan trappings of Halloween. I don't think these Harvest Parties are quite as popular as they were ten or more years ago, but I'm sure some churches still have them. When our kids were little, we always took them to Harvest Parties on Halloween night. They had a great time, got lots of candy, and from what they've told me, they never felt deprived for not going "trick or treating". Now that they're grown, we DO turn on our lights and pass out candy bars to trick or treaters who stop by our home on Halloween night. Most years, I've also given the kids childrens tracts that talk about Jesus and the Bible. I know that MAY seem pushy and inappropriate, but the way I look at it, they're coming to my door so I have a right to hand out tracts with the candy. I'm sure many parents throw out the tracts, and that's their right, also. One year, we had a very attractive little piece of literature with a "Finding Nemo" theme. Kids were actually clamoring to get those!
By now, I've usually stopped by a Christian bookstore to pick up childrens' tracts, and I just haven't gotten to it this year, so tonight it may be just candy bars at the Barils' after all.
I will admit, I like seeking the neighborhood kids dressing up and having fun. I also LOVE the Fall. It's probably my favorite season. I just wish Halloween didn't have that pagan/occultic connection!
What do YOU think of Halloween?
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