I received an email this evening warning me about the impending holiday. A concerned Christian group wanted to make sure I didn't let my family participate in evil nasty Halloween. I've always respected anyone who chose not to honor this holiday but getting this email and its poorly constructed arguments against letting my kid dress like a lumberjack and beg for candy made me laugh.
Here's a look at their 10 points why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween and my counterarguments in red.
1. October 31st has long been known as "The Festival of the Dead." The Celtic tribes and their priests the Druids celebrated this day as a marker for the change from life to death.
Oooh! Death! According to a poll I did a few weeks ago, many of you are still in denial about the fact you are going to bite it someday. But trust me, you are. The Druids were on to something.
2. Halloween today is performed usually by adherents of witchcraft who use the night for their rituals. Witches celebrate Halloween as the "Feast of Samhain," the first feast of the witchcraft year. Being a festival of the dead, Halloween is a time when witches attempt to communicate with the dead through various forms of divination.
And St. Patrick's Day today is performed usually by rump-drunk frat boys setting couches on fire and dying their armpit hair green. What does that have to do with me?
3. Christians should not be involved with occultic practice or divination. Note God's command against divination in Deuteronomy 18.
"...do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the LORD. You must be blameless before the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 18:10b-13
So isn't it a good thing that Christians aren't involved in those practices? Last I checked, the Mormon church isn't holding a seance tomorrow evening to celebrate the holiday. Are there any Christian religions that you can think of that actively engage in any of these practices? I didn't think so. We leave the witchy stuff to the witches. They have a real flair for that kind of drama.
4. Occultists believe Halloween is a time of transition between life and death. Some occult practitioners practiced divination and believed you could learn the secrets of life and wisdom by laying on a grave and listening to the messages from the long-departed.
These points are getting old. Who cares what "some occult practicioners" think or do on any given night? If Texans started eating live armadillos with honey mustard dressing on the 4th of July would I have to cancel my annual BBQ? People will always do stupid things. Especially those who listen to dirt.
5. Occultists also taught that spirits and ghosts left the grave during this night and would seek out warmth in their previous homes. Villagers, fearful of the possibility of being visited by the ghosts of past occupants, would dress up in costumes to scare the spirits on their way. They would also leave food and other treats at their door to appease the spirits so they would not destroy their homes or crops but instead move on down the road. That is the real reason why kids dress up in costumes today and go door-to-door seeking treats.
Better safe than sorry. But I have a feeling my 3 month old nephew Will's frog costume won't be able to repel any spirit truly intent on taking a nice long soak in his infant tub. Besides, aren't Christians supposed to open their homes to the poor, afflicted, dead and spooky? Wouldn't we rather these spirits were snuggled sweetly on our soft sofa than out on the streets egging houses and making mischief?
6. Occultists also would try to scare away the spirits by carving a scary face into a pumpkin. This horrible visage would hopefully move the spirit on to another home or village and spare that home from destruction. Sometimes the villagers would light a candle and place it within the pumpkin and use it as a lantern (hence the name, Jack-o-Lantern). This is the origin of carving pumpkins at Halloween.
What about gargoyles on the beautiful Christian cathedrals all over Europe? Same purpose. But this argument may be too hard to refute so don't worry about it. I'd hate to embarrass you.
7. In some witchcraft covens, the closing ritual includes eating an apple or engaging in fertility rites. In the Bible (Genesis 3), eating a piece of fruit brought sin and death into the world. In witchcraft, eating an apple is symbolic of bringing life. The practice of bobbing for apples brings together two pagan traditions: divination and the fertility ritual.
Witches also wear robes. We need to burn all bathrobes in every Christian home. And this business of them zipping around on broomsticks? Let's sweep our floors with string cheese instead rather than have anything reminiscent of these warty women in our homes.
8. Schools are removing any religious significance from Christmas (often called winter break) and Easter (spring break). Isn't it ironic that most public schools still celebrate Halloween even though it has occultic origins?
So schools haven't removed the religious significance from Halloween in schools yet? Maybe my memory is getting fuzzy, but we never learned about any of your 10 argument points in my elementary school. I fear that Halloween, like our other beloved Christian holidays, has been similarly emasculated of any real potency. Too bad. It would really be nice to hold a good baby eating ceremony each year in the cafeteria to properly honor this powerful occult holiday.
9. Participating in Halloween gives sanction to a holiday that promotes witches, divination, haunted houses, and other occultic practices.
And I think the answer is nine. Hey, wait - aren't you the kid I used to sniff glue with in the back row during 10th grade debate class?
10. Christians should avoid Halloween and develop creative alternatives. Churches can hold a Fall Fun Festival and/or celebrate Reformation Day (also October 31). They should not endorse or promote Halloween.
Reformation Day, eh? I don't think the Catholics would go for that. And not everyone gets the season of fall. Let's try and think of something universally applicable an inoffensive in any way. I know - Air Day. A nice holiday to celebrate sweet, inoffensive, non-pagan air. Do'h! I just realized that pagans used air to chant their demonic spells! I guess we should just not celebrate anything ever. It's safer that way.