Tuesday, 4 November 2014

What's up with Halloween?

So after a long absence from the blogosphere, I thought I'd dip my toe back in again. I've been meaning to write something for a while, was casting around for a subject, and a friend of mine posted this question on Facebook:
Out of interest what does Halloween mean to you?
My friend is a Christian - which perhaps partly explains why she was even asking the question! Some of the answers given were from Christians and some weren't. Here are a few extracts:
Stress trying to explain to the girls why we don't celebrate it and trying to come up with fun alternatives
... stressed about how much it's growing as a festival ... I'm not happy about how evil is becoming acceptable and cute.
For me it means ghouls, ghosts and spirits ... A time when spirits can cross over.
Halloween has never been about celebrating evil for anyone I've known. For me it's a giant community fancy dress party themed around death. It was a source of endless joy as a child and was the only time I got to meet my neighbours.
Halloween is ... a satanic festival made up to look like harmless fun
Honestly, for us its just a bit of fun. My 4 year old is so excited about it this year - for him it's just about getting dressing up and going to a party.
I worry about [kids] being out in the dark asking for money, no one knows what might be put into the sweets and what strangers will give them attention. I won't be answering the door tonight. To be honest I hate Halloween!
If you're not a Christian you may well be wondering what all the fuss is about, but for many believers like myself (and also for some other people), Halloween can be a bit of an awkward time of year. It's such a popular festival - and is becoming more so all the time - and yet it's not one that we feel like we want to join in with.

As a Christian, I've never liked Halloween. Although most people do just seem to see it as harmless fun, most of the things it celebrates, even if they are somewhat caricatured, are pretty much the polar opposite of quite a lot of the most important things that I believe in.

The Christian faith is a celebration of life, not death! There is one great death at the heart of it, which was an act of incredible self sacrifice intended to make life available to everyone else. And right at the heart of that is the message that ultimately life triumphs over death, as Jesus demonstrated by rising from the grave! Halloween is about death and destruction - taking good things and corrupting them so they appear horrible and grotesque. In the words of the apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Phillipians: "fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable". Halloween is the opposite of those things.

But then of course, nobody actually takes Halloween seriously. Well, perhaps most people don't, but then there are some people who do... Halloween isn't harmless fun for everyone. Some people are fascinated by the darker, more destructive side of spirituality and genuinely believe* they can make use of this to exert power over, and to harm others. Halloween is their night. It's in the spirit of the festival anyway, they're just taking it a bit further, and a bit more literally, than most of us do...!

So why do the rest of us celebrate Halloween? Perhaps it's because we enjoy making fun of the things that scare us - the deep down buried things - and perhaps that makes us feel a bit more powerful and less afraid? Perhaps Halloween gives us a culturally acceptable way to externalise our fears and to feel like we have some level of control over them, without having to face them for what they really are, or having to do anything so painful or uncomfortable as actually talking about them with another person...?

So maybe Halloween is an escape, or maybe it's an unhealthy fascination with the macabre, or maybe it's a dangerous and unhealthy draw towards the darker side of spirituality? Or perhaps it's a heady mixture of all of those things?

None of this sounds like a great idea to me, and so this is why I don't celebrate Halloween.

But you may have a different view.

What does Halloween mean to you...?

*I happen to believe as well - although I'm not going to defend this view here - that there is genuine power to be found through these kinds of spiritual practices, but that those who practice them are messing with forces much bigger than they are, that they don't understand and cannot really control. I also believe that the power of God is a lot greater, particularly as it's been made available to us through the self-giving sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you don't have an account, and you want to leave your name, select "Name/URL" from the "Comment as" drop list below. Then just enter your name (you don't have to supply a URL) and click "Continue".