This post is Part 3 of 3 in my Halloween series.
- Christians and Halloween: A Taxonomy of Perspectives
- Is Halloween the Evil Holiday?
- My Top Ten Benefits of Halloween
In the spirit of David Letterman’s “Top Ten” I humbly offer my top ten benefits of Halloween (in no particular order). This is of course my perspective as a Christian.
Halloween is beneficial because…
10. It is a check on the commercialization of Christmas. Thanksgiving is not doing the job. If not for Halloween, we’d have Christmas shopping season beginning after July 4! If you don’t believe me, head to a seasonal store first thing in the morning on November 1. The staff will likely be taking down the Halloween décor and immediately replacing it with Santa stuff. Ugh! Why do they spurn Thanksgiving? Because, except for the grocery and travel industries, businesses don’t profit from it. Christmas can make or break the financial year, so businesses pressure each other to begin the winter “holiday” shopping season ASAP.
9. It is a way to meet and greet our neighbors in our nearest circle of community. With a little effort, it can be the beginning of real relationships. Hopefully deep, redemptive relationships. God created your neighbors in his image. They will all be restless until they find their rest in him. Christians, you know what I mean. Jesus wasn’t afraid of being stained by engaging his neighbors and participating in life with them.
8. It can be a sober reminder of the fallen nature of this world. The world can be a scary place. Death, suffering, disease, and spiritual evil are real and nearer than we’d like to imagine. The playfulness of Halloween can be a reminder that evil does not have the last word. The last word is God’s incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who decisively defeated the evil powers of this world in his death and resurrection. Therefore a playful and faithful celebration of Halloween can recognize evil but demonstrate its subordination to God’s power. There is a boy in my church who dresses up in pink every year to bring awareness to breast cancer. Why? Because it’s the scariest thing in the world he can think of, and he’s redeeming Halloween by reminding people of one of the evil effects of the Fall that Christ has conquered (and on the Last Day will completely conquer) in healing the world of sin.
7. In a culture that idolizes health and body image, a little candy reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. God created our bodies to enjoy sweets! If not, then why do they taste so yummy? Except for candy corn. And tootsie rolls. And smarties. While I’m thinking about it, let’s just cut out the junk and hand out chocolate bars. :-)
6. The practices of pretending and exercising the imagination are neglected virtues in a world of cubicles, cookie-cutter houses, and conformist fashions. Celebrating Halloween can be an expression of our God-given creativity and imagination. So go ahead and make your own costume. Do something that will draw people’s attention away from the same-old “blood, guts, and gore,” and instead toward something truly creative. Give glory to God as the Great Creator.
5. The autumn is a beautiful time of year. In my home state of Virginia, October is perhaps the most glorious month. Comfortable weather, radiant colors. Not to mention postseason baseball! But by Halloween much of these are in the past. How to prepare for the coming of a long and cold winter with concluding festivities? Thanksgiving nor Christmas fit the bill. Halloween can be just right.
4. If you don’t celebrate evil, you can have a lot of guiltless fun. Most people have stories of hilarious costumes and silly happenings from Halloweens of yore. Memories can just happen, but Halloween is an opportunity to make them. Carpe diem.
3. If celebrated in an innocent way it can foster spiritual discernment. No one disagrees that Halloween can be observed in evil ways. Some people do (for that matter, what holiday hasn’t been corrupted by evil?). But it doesn’t have to be about the occult, paganism, or even mischief-making. Halloween can be celebrated without dancing with the devil. As a Christian kid, I never felt bad about anything my family did on Halloween. Occasionally we’d even dress up as the bad guys, pretending to be Dracula or Darth Vader. It was good fun, not bad fun, because I knew I didn’t actually want to become what I pretended to be. Neither did any of my brothers, sister, or friends as far as I could tell. I remember one Halloween when I was separating my candy on the floor in front of the TV. My family was watching the local news, and for some reason they decided to broadcast a live séance meant to channel Elvis Presley. Super weird, but hey, it was the 1980s! Even so, as a kid I knew that was crossing the line into the realm of spiritual evil. We changed the channel and went back to trading Snickers for Butterfingers. Good times.
2. It can guard you and your children from becoming spiritually weird or self-righteous. Think of all the energy you’ll expend explaining to your kids over and over, year after year, why you don’t celebrate Halloween. You could be setting them up for spiritual pride (“We’re more holy than those worldly kids”) or for adult therapy (“Doc, why can’t I enjoy doing things that are not explicitly about God?”). These are arguably far more dangerous and energy-draining than coming to grips with an innocent celebration of Halloween.
1. It can help you see other Christians from multiple perspectives. Some choose to abstain for conscience sake, others seize the day for its missional opportunity, and still others celebrate by exercising their freedom to love God and do as they please. All stand or fall before God alone. Christians would do well to occasionally see God’s world through another brother’s eyes.
Please leave a comment if you can think of more benefits. Happy Halloween!