Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Redeeming Halloween for a Higher Purpose

Recently, Inglewood Elementary School in Lansdale, a suburb of Philadelphia, PA decided to cancel a parade and other annual Halloween celebrations.   In a letter to parents, the school administration explained that celebrating Halloween promotes religious beliefs and therefore violates school policy. 

I am saddened at the prohibition of prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other aspects of religious expression in the public classrooms of America.   However, the recognition of Halloween activities as being “religious” in nature is at least consistent with prohibition of Christmas and Easter celebrations in schools.  

New Yorkers celebrate Halloween in Greenwich Village.  
(Photo:  Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/Getty Images)
Halloween is indeed a holiday [“holy day” or “day set aside for religious observance”] with significant religious elements.  Like any other holiday, Halloween can be celebrated in a variety of ways, and it is not the purpose of this article to condemn the holiday in all of its manifestations. However, there are thematic elements in Halloween that are troublesome.  In his article, Christianity and the Dark Side—What About Halloween? Albert Mohler cites Harold L. Myra of Christianity Today who explains the pagan religious origin of Halloween:

More than a thousand years ago Christians confronted pagan rites appeasing the lord of death and evil spirits.  Halloween’s unsavory beginnings preceded Christ’s birth when the druids, in what is now Britain and France, observed the end of summer with sacrifices to the gods. It was the beginning of the Celtic year and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.

Halloween not only focuses our attention on the “dark side” of the spirit world, but it also presents a materialistic philosophy dressed in the alluring appeal to all ages through candy, alcohol, exotic costumes, wild parties, and the like.  According to Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY October 24, 2012, Halloween is second only to Christmas in consumer spending for decorations, and the increased spending is due in large part to the take-over of the holiday by adults.  Horovitz explains:

A decade ago, fewer than three in 10 costumes purchased for Halloween at were for adults. Now [2012], it's more than six in 10. It should be no surprise that consumers will spend an average of $123 this Halloween, more than twice the average $53 that they spent on it a year ago, reports American Express Saving & Spending Tracker.

Dr. Mohler assesses how Christians respond to the excesses of Halloween as follows:

The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?

Della Rose picks out her pumpkin at Trabbic Farm
How should we then live in the October season of witches, goblins, corn mazes, and candy?  After all, many of us have good memories as kids and as parents of making our own “trick-or-treat” costumes, our own candy, our hot cider, and our own brand of fun during the chilly October nights.  I for one believe Halloween can be celebrated in ways that are wholesome (Hum! When have I last heard that word?); and, that create the blend of good fun, activities, and treats we all enjoy.  Allow me to share our story.

For several years, it has been our family tradition to take our grandchildren, Caleb, Kiara, and Della to the Trabbic Pumpkin Farm.  The experience is enjoyable, educational, and inspiring.  It is enjoyable, because there are lots of things for children (and adults) to do--petting animals, climbing on straw, corn maze, and refreshing cider and donuts, etc.  It is educational to learn fun facts about pumpkins, honeybees, chickens, and other farm topics.  And it is inspiring to hear Mr. Trabbic share how the labor of him, Mrs. Trabbic, and their sons is only part of what makes a good harvest possible.  It is God Who must provide the rain and weather conditions necessary for their crops including pumpkins.  They politely point out that God is not only Creator and Sustainer of Earth.  He is also the Author and Protector of human life including the unborn, and humans are stewards of both the land and life in all its forms. 
Creating a memory of fun at the Trabbic Farm

In spite of “comments” by readers of an excellent food blog, the Luna Pier Cook, regarding the Trabbic Farm warning of a possible “offensive religious message,” our annual visits to the Trabbic Farm are anything but offensive.  Indeed, such warnings seem much more appropriate for those who plan to attend Halloween events, which often promote a very dark and even demonic religious agenda.

Thank you, Trabbic family for inviting us to direct our thoughts toward "Whatsoever is true, honorable, right, and pure...lovely, of good repute...excellent and...worthy of praise...(Philippians 4: 8)"  Thank you for pointing our attention heavenward to our gracious Creator and Sustainer from Whose hand comes “every good and perfect gift” (James 1: 17) including the sun, rain, and weather conditions necessary for the food we eat.  Thank you, Trabbic family, for your hard work on the land God has entrusted to you, and for your positive testimony to visiting adults and children even in years when your crops do not turn out so well.  May your tribe increase.