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October 25, 2014

Comments

Here in Chile, Halloween is a national holiday. I won't have to go to work on Oct. 31. Officially, it's National Evangelical and Protestant Churches Day, so I guess the holiday is actually in honor of the Reformation instead of Halloween, but still, it's cool to get the day off....

>> From the early days of the church, saints (more specifically martyrs – the only persons initially recognized as saints) were honored and celebrated.

Perhaps this objection is misguided, but I had been taught that All Saints' Day was a commemoration of all the faithful departed in Christ, whether the individual died quietly in sleep or viciously under torment. That this day honored those who were devoted martyrs or repentant lapsi.

Nothing makes me happier than knowing that Halloween is a Christian holiday. I almost want to move to Chile.

What a silly argument this is! Imagine if Halloween were a pagan festival - would that be so terrible? Does absolutely everything have to be Christian?

John Moore,

What does that have to do with the argument? The argument isn't "It's pagan, that's bad" the argument is "Historically evidence points to it being of Christian origin." Pursuing the argument might be silly, but the argument itself can be invalid or contain false information. Other than using blatantly poor logic, or blatantly inaccurate data (neither of which you address), how would an argument achieve "silliness"?

>> Imagine if Halloween were a pagan festival - would that be so terrible? Does absolutely everything have to be Christian?

Robert is correct in his point that John Moore misses the idea of the origins of All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween). But John does open up a fine line of thought. What validates a holiday/festival, and what would the perception of a secularized holiday need on the origins of a holiday/festival?

Or better, why should there be this friction over the religious overtones of a celebration?

Granted, what has Halloween become, other than a reason to hold a party for which there should be no other reason than some attachment to a previously held celebration? What I mean is that the social importance of Halloween is rather recent. The concept of "trick or treats" for children has extended to a costumed celebration for adults, and this connected with All Saints Day by accident. Luther, incidentally posted his Ninety-Five Theses on Oct. 31, 1517 with the idea that masses of people would be in his city for the celebration, and that not anything approaching what is noted today.

This friction seems to be based on perceptions of the importance and purpose of a holiday by the secular minded and religiously oriented. Why Thanksgiving? Christmas? Easter? The craziness of Mardi Gras and Carnival contrasts with the austerity of Ash Wednesday. The links are there, while purely secular celebrations seem to lack depth. Groundhog Day? Or is that based on pagan ideas? Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Noble ideas, but it lacks the pizazz of a Halloween and the thrill of a Forth of July. Labor Day? More a day off, a farewell to summer than a salute to the working man it was intended to be.

That's why I enjoy John Moore's ideas and posts. I seldom agree with him, but appreciate the added elements he gives to a discussion. But as to his question: Does absolutely everything have to be Christian? No, but if there is a Christian element, does it have to be minimized? Sometimes you'll lose the whole zest of the day by doing so.

The reason the secularists and athiests constantly push for pagan roots to every celebration is they want to use the argument to prove Christianiy is just a copycat religion with no historical reality...

Jehovah's Witnesses push the pagan roots thing, too, but for them its to elevate themselves above everything else that calls itself Christian.

I think the most useful way to think about Halloween as a Christian is to consider the three basic perspectives that Christians tend to take. Some will emphasize Halloween's pagan origins, some will stress the evangelistic opportunity in the neighborhood, and others will insist they have Christian freedom to celebrate in a non-sinful way. Just last week my 10 year old son was accused of "worshiping evil" when he answers, "Yes, I do trick or treat." We can't seem to get past this rhetoric in the current stalemate. I put my thoughts on how to move the conversation forward at my blog Dangitbill.

> Some will emphasize Halloween's pagan origins,

But that would be a mistake, since Halloween doesn't have pagan origins, according to the blog post here.

If there is anything pagan about Halloween, it's a more recent development, a subversion, not an origin.

Mike,

I concede your point. But I think it is true to say that pagan festivities occurred on October 31 (or thereabout) from ancient times. Some Christians focus on this and argue Halloween (All Hallows' Eve) is pagan. I don't happen to be one of them. It is my experience that arguing about the history of something doesn't usually persuade naysayers, especially since things change over time. Halloween has certainly transformed in our culture from a church holiday. So how do we as Christians deal with Halloween as it is today?

Let's not forget fact that present day pagans do in fact consider Halloween to be a pagan festival. A friend of mine had an aunt and uncle that practice witchcraft, and they would ritually sexually abuse their daughter on Halloween. For this reason I will skip celebrating this date when disgusting things like this will almost certainly occur. It does not have pagan origins, but it has come to mean something else. Maybe if some of us would begin to celebrate it with its original intent, then it might be more interesting. For now, my wife and I and our children will refrain from celebrating death, demons, devils, and mischief. I'm not saying anyone who celebrates Halloween is necessarily evil, but I would rather not.

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