Monday, November 1, 2010

Why we celebrate Halloween

 (Please note: No dragons were slain and no loot was plundered in the making of this opinion post!)

I just wrote a quite lengthy post about why we celebrate Halloween in our family when a lot of Christian families choose not to celebrate this particular holiday.

I’m pretty sure I used way too many words to describe my reasoning behind it though, so I’m going to try again using as few words as possible to get my point across. Let’s see how this goes…

In a nutshell, I guess it boils down to the fact that I don’t see a reason not to celebrate it. It’s a rip-roarin’ fun holiday! Most of the reasons that Christians typically have for not celebrating Halloween lie in the holiday’s roots.

Which, if you put a lot of stock in the roots, I can see how you could be convicted not to celebrate it. I’m not condemning those who choose not to. I just don’t share that conviction.

I don’t really care about its roots; I care about what it means for me and my family today. And what it means for me and my family today is a chance to dress up (which we do often anyway, you ought to see our dress up closet!), to show up on the door step of some of our favorite people, and to get candy galore and eat so much we make ourselves sick.

We don’t conjure up evil spirits. We don’t try to communicate with the dead. We don’t play awful tricks on people who don’t give us candy. I don’t think that getting dressed up and trick-or-treating is somehow inadvertently worshipping evil anymore than I think someone who gives a gift to someone else on December 25th (a tradition with its roots based in the Christmas Story found in the Bible) is inadvertently worshipping Christ.

I can guarantee you that my kids are clueless as to the fact that Halloween has its roots in pagan tradition. And, even if they knew, I’d like to argue that it doesn’t matter as long as that’s not why we’re celebrating it today.

I think I could probably argue that we shouldn’t celebrate any holiday if we were focused solely on the roots of our traditions, or if we examined everything that happened during celebrations and steered clear of any that included ‘worldly happenings’. The way that we as Americans in 2010 celebrate any particular holiday is based on a complicated blend of Christian and pagan traditions that have been picked up, twisted, changed, and rearranged over the course of time.

It’s like saying that we shouldn’t celebrate the fourth of July because a lot of people blow things up on that day. Or that we’re going to avoid Valentine’s Day because it glorifies lust and has its roots in Greek mythology. Or that we shouldn’t color our mashed potatoes green on St. Patrick’s Day because a lot of people color their beer green. I could go on and on, and these aren’t even our major holidays that are steeped in tradition!

I know it's not quite this simple, but I'm trying to not dissect every aspect of Halloween in one short post.

The truth is, on Halloween I’m not celebrating anything. I’m not worshipping anything. I’m not even trying to redeem the holiday by pretending that I’m celebrating the harvest (because seriously, when did the harvest include candy--like yummy kit-kats and snickers--wrapped in shiny wrappers?). Honestly, I’m just enjoying a fun day with my children. I’m not going to pretend it’s any more complicated than that, because in my mind it isn’t!

Again, for those of you for whom it goes deeper and is more complicated, I respect your decision to refrain from celebrating Halloween. This is by no means any attempt at making anyone feel bad for the way they do, or don’t celebrate on this, or any other holiday.

I’m simply saying, though it isn’t anything profound, this is why we do what we do here in our own little corner of the world. Keepin’ it real…


beachbirdie said...

I think I could probably argue that we shouldn’t celebrate any holiday if we were focused solely on the roots of our traditions

Couldn't agree more. There is nothing better than a holiday that pulls families together to have fun and enjoy each other!

Lovely post, Robyn!

Robyn said...

Thanks Marilyn!

Alicia said...

Met a guy two days ago who doesn't buy cane sugar because it was grown on you know how much stuff was grown on plantations? with real live slaves? or that slaves harvested in other countries ages ago? It's not about the past, it's about the here and now. And I would imagine he is really hungry today after our conversation.

When we limit what we can see grace for, we begin to starve ourselves spiritually because we put God in a box and make him small and insufficient.

Jessi said...

Personally, I love Halloween, ok...not the pagan roots of it, but it has always held such great memories for me, spanning back to my childhood. We love to dress up and we love to spend time with our neighbors and friends. I am, however aganist my kids dressing up as anything evil (witches, vampires, ghosts, get the point). We have several friends who don't do anything and I feel so bad for their kids, missing out on carving pumpkins, and too much candy. So bravo Robyn...I'm glad you shared this post. And I agree too, Halloween is fun!

Langsather Letters said...

Thank you for this. I grew up in a family that didn't celebrate Halloween. We were the "weird homeschool kids that hand out tracks on Halloween ("don't go to their house, they are WEIRD" whispered behind our backs in the neighborhood)" I, personally, didn't feel left out because I knew the whys and I wasn't a very social person to begin with, but I didn't understand the BIG deal. It was just candy and looked like fun. I don't judge people for not celebrating, but I hope those of us who do will look at it as fun and a small (not overly in your face or necessarily WEIRD) way to witness by not wearing witches, vampires, ghost etc costumes.