Let the kids have Halloween
I’ve said this before. I’ve written it before. But it bears repeating. Please listen again and give this consideration in your life.
I love Jesus. I hate the devil. I am guided by the Bible. I want to stay away from evil. I want what’s best for our children. I will protect them whenever, wherever, and however possible and necessary.
Can I get an Amen to that? (See? You good Baptists are rubbing off on me in lots of appropriate ways.)
With all that said, I need to tell you what I think about Halloween. As the title above says, let your kids have Halloween. With a few qualifications. Let me explain.
Do you know the history of Halloween? Here’s the way I understand it in very simplified and broad terms. The ancient church developed a calendar with special feast and holy days. Many of those are still observed in our time by what we call liturgical churches: Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and others.
One of these holy days, by human designation, is All Saints’ Day, also called All Hallows (holy) Day celebrated every Nov. 1. The purpose of this celebration is to remember the faithful departed, all the saints in heaven redeemed and given eternal life through Jesus Christ.
In ancient times, it was believed that on this day the souls of these sainted ones actually returned to be closer to their loved ones who remained on earth. This is not a biblical reality, but it was a nice thought nonetheless.
In response to this day when the good spirits rule, there was an ancient misbelief that on the night (evening) before All Saints’ Day, Oct. 31, the evil spirits would come out and show themselves — definitely not a biblical reality. In ancient terminology this was called All Hallows Eve (just like Christmas Eve means the night before). Then All Hallows Eve became shortened to Halloween. Unfortunately, there were wayward people who celebrated the supposed presence of bad spirits on this night.
Again, in accentuated broad strokes, when these days and their interpretation and accompanying customs came to America, Halloween evolved into a two-fold understanding: one was a continuation of the ancient misguided superstitions of the dark-side; but the second understanding shifted the emphasis to merely a children-dressed-up-in-fun-costumes-and-eating-candy-holiday.
So, I say, let the kids have Halloween with this strong qualification: Teach it, celebrate it, control it, and have fun with it only with the emphasis of costumes and candy and fun. I have found it not at all difficult to do it this way. I have found it easy to explain it to my children in such a way that they have no misunderstanding of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I have found it a time for family fun and closeness, and have never been worried that my children would slip over to the dark side in any way or fashion whatsoever.
Does it take some intentionality? Yes. Does it take strong parental control? Yes. But can it be a fun family festival in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and even in our churches? Sure. I actually find celebrating Halloween in this way a microcosm of the whole of life here in this world — living life with joy and thanksgiving to our Creator and interpreting it as a life of faith lived in a fallen world. Is that a great teaching moment, or what?
So I say, make a simple rule against witches costumes and grotesquely scary masks. Then make it fun to find or figure out a good costume, grab a large bag or plastic pumpkin, play some games, gather some candy, knock yourself out. But maybe most importantly, stick together as a family and talk about what this holiday actually means to you and your family. Then it will be a great day for years to come.
And then, on Nov. 1, “All Saints’ Day,” take the opportunity to talk in your family about the “saints”who have “gone before us into heaven.” Talk with your children about their departed grandparents or your departed grandparents, who lived and loved and showed faith in this world which set them on a course that we are confident has ended in the joys of heaven, where they now reside.
Oh, by the way, at Prince of Peace we are “celebrating Halloween” by having a “Pumpkin Patch” right here at the church from now until the end of the month. It”s a win-win. You and your family can come by and purchase your Halloween pumpkins, and all proceeds go to missions, some as far away as New Mexico, others closer to home, that our church youth will undertake. I hope you’ll come.
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. He invites anyone without a church right now to come to Sunday worship at 9:15 (Contemporary), or 11:15 (Pipe Organ). “Classes” for all are at 10:20. For more information log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com or call 770-461-3403.