Today is the 496th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg; thus sparking not only the Protestant Reformation but the Catholic Counter-Reformation as well.
It also happens to be Halloween; which is apparently a source of consternation with a number of Christians. Halloween, as most people know, is a word that comes from the phrase All Hollow’s Eve. Hallow being an old world for Holy (Hallowed be Thy name), it was the Eve of All Saints Day (which precedes All Souls Day) a day commemorating the all saints, martyrs and confessors. It has been celebrated since 609, but was originally celebrated in May (in the Eastern Church, All Saints day is the Sunday after Pentecost) but was moved in 835 by Pope Gregory IV to its current day of November 1. Depending on who you ask, this move was to co-op an existing pagan holiday (either Celtic or German, it’s a little unclear) or to move it away from an existing pagan feast day on May 13. Feast Day Celebrations started on the previous evening (why Christmas Eve is so big) leading to All Hollows Eve, the phrase which became bastardized over time to Halloween.
It is because of the supposed pagan roots that some American Christians are trying to move away from the practice of Trick or Treat. One is the focus on Luther and an attempt to rename the day Reformation Day (which is actually a holiday for German Lutherans and some German provinces, though others do acknowledge a Reformation Sunday). Here are two thought on Reformation Day: what it is and why it may be dumb.
Another is the local church ‘fall festival’ that keep your kids separate and safe. My church growing up never had these until I was in high school. I lived in a ruralish area and not in a neighborhood, so as a kid dressing up and going to what was basically a carnival would have been a lot more fun anyway.
So, I am not really sure where I stand on the fall festival. I leave in a mass, nice, friendly subdivision now and when I have kids I highly doubt I’ll go to any ‘fall festival.’ If parents like to go because it is easier, or they can hang out with their own friends, I think that is great. If you participate out of fear or separatist mentality, I can’t really get behind that. In the last 50 years, only two children were ever poisoned on Halloween, in both cases on of the parents was involved. Stop being so scared. The separatist mindset, I’m quit opposed to, but that is another post entirely.
The Wife and I actually had a bit of a disagreement on this. She is, of course, not anti-separatist, but wonders why we should participate in this day at all. Not because it could have pagan roots, but because it celebrates evil or gore or things of that nature. My answer is simple. It’s fun. I’m 29 years old and grew my hair out a bit and planned on not shaving so that I could go as Wolverine to the party we are going to tonight. Then people were opposed to costumes, so I shaved and got a haircut, then Sunday, I heard costumes were back on, so I was ready to be a pirate, but that turned out to be a joke. All that said, it really is just another American holiday (yes, I know it is celebrated in Europe and other parts of the world). The community comes out all dressed up going from door to door asking for candy. Plain and simple, whatever pagan or even overtly Christian (we dress as demons and Satan to mock Christ conquest of death, skulls in remembrance of Golgotha, etc.), it just doesn’t mean those things anymore.
As a Christian if your complaint is waste (over a billion dollars spent on candy) or that we get our kids sick from too much candy while children around the world don’t have clean drinking water, I can get behind that. If you don’t like gore, have your kids be the Avengers. Last year was our first Halloween in our house and I was legitimately jealous of the costumes these kids have.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on what turned out to be a surprisingly long write-up for what is basically my first post.