It's that time of year again. That's right, it's Boo time. Around this time every year some parents begin to struggle with what to do about Halloween. To boo or not to boo is the question. I think the real dilemma for parents is how to foster fun and still protect our children from the cultural norm of celebrating All Hallows Eve, otherwise known as Halloween, without the influence of the occult? If you are into Halloween and this doesn't seem an issue for you and your family, I hope you'll read the remainder of the blog. Even if your mind is unchanged, you might find a nugget or two for your safe keeping as a parent regarding the history and origins of the holiday itself that will help you make your decision.
Where did Halloween originate?
This holiday originated as an ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half when the last crops were gathered for winter and livestock killed and stored. The Pagan Celts believed it was a time when the walls between our world and the spirit realm became passable allowing evil spirits to cross over. Modern-day Samhain is actually the day when many Wiccans believe their God dies, later to be reborn. It is now a yearly observance of the death of a God. Wicca is the largest Neopagan religion in the United States and other Western countries. They have great reverence for the Earth and they worship her Goddess and her consort, a horned God.
Where did the name "Halloween" come from?
The name Hallowe’en is a shortening of All Hallows’ Even, or All Hallows’ Evening. All Hallows is an old term for All Saints’ Day (Hallow, from the Old English “halig”, or holy, compared with Saint, from the Latin “sanctus”, also meaning holy, or consecrated). The shift from Samhain celebrations came as a result of the Catholic church trying to end the pagan celebration by moving All Saints Day to the day after Hallow's Eve. All Saints Day was a celebration of the Catholic Church to celebrate all the saints who've made it to Heaven. If you're not Catholic the holiday the morning after Halloween probably means nothing to you as a Christian.
Where did carving Jack O Lanterns originate?
This idea is thought to have developed from an old legend about a man named Stingy Jack, who played a trick on the devil whose punishment was a curse to wander the earth lighting the way with a candle inside a hollowed out turnip. Americans changed the idea from a turnip to a pumpkin.
Why do we Trick or Treat?
It's not for certain but it appears to have come from an old tradition of beggars saying prayers for the dead in exchange for food on the evening before All Saints Day. The beggars would often dress as scary ghouls in order to fool evil spirits from approaching as they prayed for the dead. Interestingly enough this year the Vatican has proclaimed it as a celebration of terror, fear, and death saying that it is wrapped in occultism.
What should parents do?
As a Christ follower the decision to participate is between you and your Father and his desire for your family. Whether you adhere to the idea that it's just for fun and candy or you consider the holiday to be evil in nature, you do have a decision to make as a parent. To Boo or Not to Boo? As with anything we participate in with our children, our responsibility as a parent is to always bathe our decisions in prayer. Why would we treat this activity differently than any other? Don't we pray about activities that involve lots of people whom we know or don't know where our children are involved based on where they will go and what they will see?
What we have done?
Dan and I determined twenty-three years ago with our first born we would not participate in the holiday. Not because we don't like fun or laughter but because we felt led to step away from it as a family after praying it through. Instead, we created a new tradition. As interesting as this might sound, we've gone Christmas shopping for many years on Halloween. Why? Because Jesus birth is important to us as a family and Jesus seems like a more favorable candidate for our attention that ghosts and goblins. Not to mention the stores are definitely not crowded and gifts aren't picked over yet! Other benefits include the parking spaces, which are plentiful, there're no lines at checkout, and we never have a hard time finding gifts for that hard to buy person. We don't have anything against dressing up, community, laughter, or candy. We've just chosen to do those things more often throughout the year instead of on this one evening. We have two tubs full of disguises with wigs, hats, costumes, and props and we play dress up with friends all the time.
Whether you choose to go "booing" or not, as stated below in the scripture I John 4:1-3, we should test every thing that comes our way. Why? Because we have been given the stewardship of our children's hearts as the guardians of their young souls. As the Bible clearly states, in the days when the return of Christ get's closer, it will become more difficult to determine the difference between darkness and light because darkness will be well disguised.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus has come in the flesh from God. Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God but is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." I John 4:1-3 (NIV)