I have been thinking about why I like Halloween so much, especially since so many other Christians think it’s Satanic. But it’s probably my second-favorite holiday, after Christmas.
It’s the most neighborly holiday we have. If Christmas is when we’re nice to strangers, Easter is when we go to church, and Thanksgiving is when we’re nice to family, then Halloween is surely when we’re nice to neighbors. We feed them candy! We go to their houses and talk to them! We talk to tens or even hundreds of people in our neighborhoods, exchange names, make new friends, and have an opportunity to spend the entire evening with some neighbors by teaming up for the trick-or-treat rounds. It’s a holiday chock-full of opportunities for witnessing, even without handing out tracts.
It’s not particularly Satanic. I’ve read a lot of articles in the past month about why Halloween is “wrong” because of the importance it holds on the Wiccan calendar. But the reality is that Wiccans stole it just as much as the church did. It’s a Celtic end-of-harvest festival. There’s no historical connection back to some human-sacrificing-Wiccans, and in fact the church has been celebrating it (as All Hallows Eve) much longer than Wiccans have.
It’s the one day of the year when the world looks its fallenness full in the face. Decorating our yards with skeletons, ghosts, and tombstones? Pretending to be dead people? Thinking about dead people? Telling scary stories and creeping through graveyards? The whole event is a festival of death, in more ways than one. It’s a definite fall festival, taking place as the last leaves are falling off the trees and the summer warmth is fading for the last time until spring. And it is definitely based on human death as well, as both the decorations and the costumes (which traditionally over the centuries were people dressing up as the dead) attest. In a certain way–Halloween is the holiday when the world is honest with itself and acknowledges the reality of death and even of the afterlife, all very openly, bluntly, and gruesomely. It’s not the Gospel, but it’s one of the first steps. I hadn’t appreciated this fully until this year with a highly inquisitive two-year-old along for the ride: just try explaining Halloween decorations, even just the ones you run into in store aisles, without talking about death and dying and even Hell. Not possible.
It’s an honest holiday. This is one of the things that bugs me tremendously about Easter and Christmas: they’re so taken over by the church that people actually complain that the world is taking them over. It just isn’t so. They’re all pagan holidays. Halloween’s just the only one that we actually admit is a pagan holiday.