If you can’t already tell, Halloween is upon us. I’m sure your street is littered with all manner of jack-o-laterns, fake spiderwebs and probably a few obnoxious blow-up lawn decorations. I guess I should apologize to any of you reading this who have blow-up lawn ornaments. I’m sure you are a great person and have a very good reason for having them, I am just not a fan. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the Halloween holiday and it’s for a very odd reason. What I love about Halloween is the candy and the costumes and the good times. What I’ve come to hate about Halloween is the decorations. My hatred stems purely from the fact that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas come so close together along with the seeming necessity to put up unique decorations for ALL of them. Up go the Halloween decorations for a few weeks only to then be replaced with Thanksgiving decorations which then get quickly replaced by Christmas decorations (which could honestly stay up forever cause, who doesn’t love Christmas and you don’t hate baby Jesus right?). Oh…yeah…and you have to buy and store all those decorations. Call me a stickler…but I’ve enforced a “seasonal” decoration policy in our house to cut down on this madness and minimize my trips to the attic.
For those of you following along, my issues with Halloween are not divided along spiritual/religious lines. I have no issue with Halloween where others might see it as an “evil” or “pagan” day that celebrates Satan or demons and encourages bad behavior. Some people may see it that way, but that doesn’t mean Halloween has to be that. I looked up the history of Halloween on Wikipedia and found this nugget in the description.
“It initiates the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.”
Triduum is just a fancy way to say three days. You might be familiar with the more famous Triduum, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter. Anyways, what I like about this little snippet about Halloween is that the focus is on remembering Christians who have passed on. Those who have finished the race before us in that great cloud of witnesses are who we are called to remember on Halloween and the days following. It’s a time to remember the greater Christian community on whose shoulders we stand. This I think is a good foundation on which to redeem the often skewed perception of Halloween. Because of this idea, I think Halloween has a much better focus that we often miss behind the witches, candy and carnival games.
At it’s heart, Halloween is a holiday about community.
Seriously, what other day can you go around dressed in a costume, knocking on doors and generally expect to be greeted warmly and offered treats? Halloween calls us out of our homes to walk the streets and interact with our neighbors and community. We are encouraged to be hospitable, to be welcoming and offer good things to people regardless of what they look like on the outside.
And some would say that Halloween isn’t a Christian holiday?
So, instead of “bah-humbugging” Halloween because it seems dark, redeem it. Take some time to learn about a Christian who has passed, or share the story of your favorite saint with others. Embrace the community aspect of Halloween and get out of your house or invite others in. Rub shoulders and elbows with others in the community. Invite them to the event at your church (if you have one). Organize a block party, have a BBQ, pass out candy like it’s going out of style (but only the good kind, nobody likes getting raisins in their bucket). Do something communal and hospitable. Be an active part of the greater Christian community and the community you live in. Like a jack-o-latern or candle lighting the way to your door be a light of hospitality that people will flock to with open hands ready to receive our good gifts.