Oct 30, 2007

Halloween: It’s the Christians who are scaring me

by Jen Slothower

    Halloween is the scapegoat of all holidays, the time for Christians to come out with pitchforks and torches and kill a night of fun as they warn about the shady origins of the devil’s day. 
    I am one sentence into my column, and I’ve already lost half of my readers who have chosen to throw the paper down in disgust over the mention of the word “Halloween.”
    Granted, Halloween’s origins are beyond sketchy – the original day was a pagan holiday set apart to sacrifice to the gods and appease spirits.  On the other hand, Halloween in the modern day has become a safe, enjoyable event.
    Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.  I am biased, however – my birthday is on Halloween, and whenever I see the pumpkin stands and costume sales, I get more excited than a kid the week before Christmas. 
    My birthday was always the ultimate day of the year for me because it’s my day to celebrate, my day to get a little miniature pumpkin pie with a candle in the middle, my day to think up the perfect costume and take cupcakes to school with orange sprinkles on them…and my day to be told by very mean people that I was from the devil.
    Yes, if you are a Christian and you want to spread the love of Christ, tell the 6-year-old dressed like a baker that she is from the devil because she was born on Halloween. Chapter and verse, please?
    In recent years, I have seen the other side of the Halloween debate and have realized that many things about the holiday are bad.  For me, however, Halloween was always a time when all the kids in my family could dress up and parade around to our friends’ homes. 
    We would show off our costumes and collect candy and good cheer, spreading hospitality along the way.  At my home, a big basket of candy was always waiting for the neighborhood kids whether they were dressed like goblins or grandmothers, pagans or preachers.
    As a child, the only bad thing about Halloween for me was that the kids in town threw eggs at the cars driving past.
    For most, the worst part of Halloween is the basic mischief.  Most people don’t jump into the holiday looking to sacrifice a goat or their firstborn child under the full moon next to the oak tree with 13 branches where the black cat used to live when their grandmother handed out poison-laced candy apples under the crooked sign on the door that ghosts used to inhabit in the time of Henry Clay, who may have been Satan himself, for all I know.
    While we obviously need to steer clear of some of the bad things associated with Halloween, I think Christians should stop yelling “sin!” and look to make the holiday into a time to reach into the world. 
    My favorite way to show people that I care about them is to give them a candy bar, so Halloween is the ultimate time for hospitality for me.  I have also heard about a lot of people who were saved on Halloween when they learned that death has been conquered by a God who wants to save them, too. 
    As a kid, Halloween was a great time to learn stewardship – as I saved my candy – and time management, as I learned to eat the candy before it was too old.
    This year, I will dress up for Halloween for the 20th consecutive time, looking to encourage my friends and have a fun evening. 
I will be careful where I go, however, because many shady things happen on Halloween – like people telling me that I am from the devil.

Contact Jen Slothower at jrslothower@liberty.edu.

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