Halloween: why the Church should celebrate it.

Halloween is upon us. Tomorrow, thousands upon thousands will be dressing up, going out, trick or treating, or partying the night away in fancy dress.

In the Church, however, Halloween is quite a dirty word. Over the last week or so, I’ve seen many shared articles on Halloween and why it’s so bad. Similarly, I’ve seen other stories promoting Halloween.

The most shared article I’ve seen is J.John’s article, “Six reasons why I believe Halloween is far from harmless” and also a response from Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe, “Six reasons why we should celebrate Halloween” (though really, he only gives 5 meaningful reasons).

The problem with both of these articles is that they only focus on one half of the story.

But on the other side of the coin, both views highlight some important issues for us to think about.

On the anti-Halloween side:

  • Halloween can be too gruesome, and it can glorify evil. This isn’t done through the act of trick or treating with a sheet over your head, but more with the psycho chain saw killing type of person that you may see going round.
  • Halloween does have a significance to those who are satanists and part of the occult.
  • Halloween can sometimes be unsafe (picking up on J.John’s idea of mixed messages that we are communicating to our children)

On the pro-Halloween side:

  • It can be a great community activity
  • It is fun to dress up and have a party.
  • It does highlight an interest in the spiritual realm

Personally, I’ve not liked Halloween for a long time (I just find it annoying) and I don’t think my faith has had any bearing on my feelings on it, but I’m starting to think that the Church needs to reclaim Halloween to serve both these groups. On the anti-Halloween side, people have forgotten that Churches used to encourage people to dress up as ghosts (et al) in a service and then remember together that God overcomes all evil, no matter how spooky or scary that evil may be.  We need to be light bearers at this time and show people the other half of the story.

On the pro-Halloween side, I think it’s been cheapened of some of it’s spiritual significance through materialism and consumerism. Yet at the same time, people are interested in the spiritual realm and have, in the process, damaged the Church tradition of Halloween. This interest is a massive opportunity for the Church, but we’re seen as party poopers and so people are more willing to go and get their palm read or take advice from Mystic Meg in a run down market stall… and dress up and party at the same time.

The Church needs to reclaim Halloween as a mission opportunity to tell people that whilst darkness is real, and whilst we need to be aware of it, Light has come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ – the name that darkness trembles before. The Church needs to get partying again.

I’ve quite enjoyed this video which, I think, sums up my feelings exactly.

Some may argue that the Church has had bad Halloween traditions in the past (praying for the dead etc), but hey – we took over the pagan versions of Christmas and Easter and put a Jesus spin on them, so why not Halloween too? The opportunity for the redemption of Halloween is there, but we need to take ownership of it for that redemptive process to begin.

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about