Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Halloween

Once a year I feel compelled to mention this topic, though it is such a controversial subject among believers. There are those who feel strongly both ways. I would ask that whatever your opinion, you at least take the time to consider the following: how do we make the decision to participate or to not participate?  I would suggest the same way we make all decisions as Orthodox Christians, by looking at what the Bible, the Church Fathers and the Canons say.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
 Phillipians 4:8

If that is what we are to hold up and think about, the lovely, the gracious, the worthy of praise, how does Halloween measure up? There is nothing lovely about glorifying death. In fact, that is the exact opposite of what the Church is about.We celebrate life. We are weeks from entering into a time of honoring the incarnation of our Savior. We begin turning our hearts and minds to the fact that God humbled himself by becoming fully man in order to destroy death. Think about that just a minute. The One True God, all powerful, all knowing, all honorable. Put on flesh. Lived on this earth. Suffered temptation from Satan. Endured mockery, pain, death. Entered Hell. CRUSHED DEATH. FOR US. Why would we want to celebrate that which He endured so much to destroy?

So, for me, no, it is not just all in good fun. It is not just a harmless night for children to dress up and get free candy. IT IS A NIGHT THAT HOLDS UP ALL WE REJECT. IT IS A NIGHT FOR SATAN. So, my question is "why?" Why would we WANT to participate? Because it is fun? Because it is uncomfortable to keep our kids home from Halloween parties? Because someone might make fun of us or our children? Because we don't want our kids to "miss out"?

Each morning as we read the lives of men and women who gave their lives rather than eat food sacrificed to idols, children who died rather than bow to anyone other than God, how can we ask those questions? I think of the mothers who encouraged their children to martyrdom.  They weren't worried their kids would be made fun of - they were worried their children might not attain eternal communion with God. They didn't try to protect their children from embarrassment, they exhorted them to stand strong against the world, a world that hated them and their God. This world still hates us, and it hates our God. So, give your children the strength to stand against evil, teach them to be martyrs!

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

If you are interested in reading what others have to say on this topic - here is a selection of links to articles that say far better than I what our duty is as Orthodox Christians in this world. If you have never given this issue thought, or if you are unsure about what is right, I challenge you to take the time to read at least one of these articles.

Finally, on the practicality of the issue. I really do encourage you to consider keeping your kids out of school Halloween celebrations if your school participates in such events. Avoid too much shopping with your children over this  time. I try to limit the places we go during this time, since even a trip to the local drugstore is full of nightmarish images that can affect a young one in ways we often don't realize until much later. My daughter had years of nightmares from a grocery trip to Sam's where she turned a corner to be faced with a life-sized plastic witch. The night of October 31 has always been stressful for me, with young kids how do you avoid the ringing bell? Our former parish used to have an Akathist to the patron saint of our church. What better place to be on this night, than in church, praying for the world?  This year, with Halloween on a Wednesday, we have the blessing of regularly scheduled Vespers.  A sister parish has a prayer service followed by a meal and skits on the lives of saints performed by the children.  If your parish does not offer a service that evening, gather with a few friends (preferably in a home that is not in a suburban neighborhood if possible :) and say the prayers yourself. 


Patricia said...

I so totally agree with this post. My church does have an "alternative" party for the children but so many think it is just harmless fun. Thank you for again reminding us that we are in a war.

Little House On The Mesa said...

I too really enjoyed this post. Besides, have you seen the Halloween costumes lately? My son doesn't like or know about superheroes since we don't have tv and I don't want my 5 yo looking like a hooker either. I've been joking that the name should be changed to Hookerween. Okay, okay, all joking aside, I'm thrilled that our parish is having an All Saints Day party Halloween night and the kids are looking forward to it.

Rachael said...

Been having this same conversation with my little one, lots of questions and wanting to know why Halloween is celebrated and why, if it means what we say it means, would someone want to participate. Thanks for more resources to answer those many questions!

Anna said...

Little House on the Mesa - so true - a friend my was just talking about how all the costumes for girls are "sexy something" , so instead of being a vampire, girls are supposed to be a "sexy vampire", etc. sad in so many ways :( btw - love your blog name!!

Margaret said...

Thank you for taking time to address this and for the links to the articles. There is way too much "living dead" zombie and vampire stuff and that totally goes against the eternal life in Christ that we try to live as Christians.

Matushka Anna said...

As Christians we are supposed to celebrate the Resurrection, Christ "trampling down death by death", not being preoccupied with what is essentially death without the resurrection. Ghosts, vampires, zombies...what place do these have in our belief in life after death? And this isn't even taking into account the costumes, etc., just the whole concept of the holiday.