Friday, November 6, 2015

Being a Christian and Celebrating Halloween

Another halloween in the bag. It was fun filled with laughter and good times with friends. The holidays are upon us and with that comes many different opinions and shaming. We are a family of Christian and we love to celebrate holidays as we see fit. I for one do not feel like everyone should do holidays the same nor will I shame you for doing them how you see fit. I know in the world of Christian views this is not always the case. This post is going to focus on Halloween...

So the other day as I sat down for my coffee and catching up with my newsfeed I came across this post that had great points regarding halloween and I respect this persons stance on not participating in halloween. However it was also a post about how trick-or-treating was laced with all sorts of poisons and that it makes them sick to see Christ followers participate in this evil holiday. Ok, I took the bait and I dove in.

Lets do some history on this festive holiday...
Halloween originated about 2,000 years ago in modern day Ireland. It was called the Celtic festival of Samhain. It marked the end of summer, and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark, cold winters, a time of the year that was associated with many human deaths. Celts believed that the night before their new year (November 1st) the lines between the living and the dead became blurred. So on that night (October 31st) they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. They believed that they caused damage to crops and stirred up trouble. They also believed that their presences helped the Druids, or Celtic priests make predictions about the future; which brought comfort to those who depended on the volatile natural world during the long dark winters.

To commemorate this event they would wear costumes (typically consisting of animal heads and skins), and attempt to tell each other's fortunes all while having a sacred bonfires where people would gather and burn crops and sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. When the celebration was over they would take the fire from the sacred bonfire and re-light their hearth fires to protect them during the coming winter.

Fast-Forward to 630 A.D when Pop Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of all Martyrs Day was established in the western church on May 13th. Later Pope Gregory III expanded the festival to include all saints as well as al martyrs and moved the observance from May 13th to November 1st. By 1000 A.D the church would make November 2nd All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It is believed that that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, dressing in costumes as saints, angles and devils. All Saints Day was also called All-Hallows (November 1st) and the night before was called All-Hallows Eve which eventually became Halloween.

Halloween comes to America: during the second half of the 19th century Englanders who fled to America brought this tradition along with them. As new immigrants came to America the tradition grew; Americans began dressing up and going door to door asking for food and money which has transformed into modern day trick-or treating. The tricks part came from young women believing that on halloween they could divine the name or the appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirror; also known as witch craft.

In the late 1800's Americans made a move to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborhood gathering then about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century Halloween parties for families, children and adults became a way to celebrate the day. These celebrations were geared around games, seasonal foods, and festive, fun costumes. Community leaders urged citizens to remove the "frightening" or "grotesque" out of halloween celebrations. Do to these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religions overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

With that being said this holiday is one that has been linked to superstitions, mystery, and magic. But we tend to forget the origin of this holiday, the part were these rituals focused on the future and not the past and the living not the dead. Women looking for a husband and reassuring them they would not be alone.  The part where the would ward off death and famine but using the fire from their ritual to light their hearths and the poor would go door to door asking for seasonal foods and the families would give them "soul cakes" in return the poor would pray for their families who have passed. This evolved into children going door to door asking for food and money for their families which is now trick-or-treating.

I for one can look at the history and see the glory in this holiday. I see the true history as not holding any satanic meaning. I see the true history of it and see that people where doing what they felt, and believed was the way to stay alive. I see the true history, and see that we as Americans have it all wrong! Is there satanic links to Halloween? YES! Are their awful witch-craft rituals that have been performed? YES! However that is not the true meaning of this holiday, that is not why this holiday exists. This holiday exists so lost souls can find their way home, so the poor can get food and money, so they can celebrate life, so they can gather together and ward off evil not ask for evil to join them. The witch-craft that was preformed originally was to find a husband for young women. This had evolved into what we know of today (modernized witch-craft).

So here is the point of this post... the point is that YES my kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, yes we carve pumpkins, yes we enjoy Halloween. No we do not talk about the "made up reason" for this holiday. But as my kids get older I will share with them the true meaning of this holiday and why we celebrate it today. I for one find it to have a great historical backing and has turned into a beautiful time for our family. We gather with friends, enjoy a meal together, pray together, talk about Christ, enjoy the company we are surrounded with, get dressed up and spend an hour (or less) trick-or- treating. I respect your decision to not go trick-or-treating so please respect mine. I am pretty sure God will not close the door in my face or my children's faces for doing so. As he would not in yours for not doing so.

Our home is filled with the Lord, we read the bible, listen to Christian music, talk to and about God on a regular basis, do Bible studies and live our lives as we see fit for our Lord. How were do it may be different from how you do it. But we can all agree God is the only one we have to answer to, right?

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