This is my fourth October on Word Press, and in each of the past three years I have posted something about Halloween. I’ve noticed that there aren’t as many this year on the subject… but there’s still time, and I’m sure there will be more in the days to come.
Back in October of 1985 or ’86, I spent a Saturday afternoon with Mr. Edgar Dale, who gave me a guided tour of Virginia City, Nevada and of the historic part of Carson City, Nevada where I was living back in those days; it was one of the most amazing afternoons of my life. Mr. Dale was a spry 98-year-old who had been born and raised in Virginia City, and who had then moved to Carson City where he attended high school and graduated from Carson High School, Class of 1906. He took me all over Virginia City telling me about the people who lived in this house and that house, about the gunfight in this or that block, and the movement of the old trains that were still carrying silver ore from the mines of the Comstock in the 1890’s.
In Carson City, he pointed out the house on Minnesota Street where his best friend from high school lived. It seems that this friend was the preacher’s son, and that he had a younger sister. One fine summer evening, the sister’s birthday, Mr. Dale was invited to spend the night. He and his buddy waited until everyone was asleep, and then crept downstairs to get the rest of her birthday cake, and then snuck back upstairs, climbed out of the window and gorged themselves on the cake while sitting out on the roof. Apparently the boys thought they could talk and laugh out there without waking anybody up, but when the preacher came out the front door to see what was up, they discovered that their brilliant plan hadn’t worked out so well.
Later that year, the boys again snuck out late at night. They met up and proceeded to acquire a goat that they placed on the roof of the preacher’s house, and then crept back to their respective homes. Oh, did I fail to mention that this was their Halloween prank for the year 1904?
The next day when the preacher came out to get the morning paper and noticed there was a goat on the roof, he knew right away that his son was involved, and that if his son were involved his partner in crime must be Edgar. Needless to say, the boys had to figure out how to get that goat off the roof, return it, and then be given not only numerous chores to do, but to be singled out in Sunday School for the next several months for all of the hard questions.
When I was that age, a prank like that would have landed me in jail!
That brings us to the question of Halloween and the Christian; should a Christian participate in Halloween?
Halloween has origins that are entirely pagan; nobody argues that point. Since it originated, a certain aspect of the occult has been added to it, and at least in some countries, there is a cultural aspect as well that has no particular occult connection, like Mr. Dale’s recollections of 1904. I must point out that Halloween is not the only holiday with pagan origins that most of us observe, but we’ll talk more about that in December.
Should a Christian participate in Halloween? Well, I don’t participate in Halloween, but that is mostly because my children have grown up. When they were little, I allowed them to participate under my supervision. My reasoning was that Halloween as a festival for children and fun was neither pagan nor occultic; it was fun. I educated my kids on the difference and taught them the reasons and the dangers of messing around with the occult, and there were no untoward incidents of any kind.
I know that many will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine, I respect your views and understand why you have them. Yet it seems to me that parents can take the effort to supervise and direct their children in their activities and ensure a safe and non-oocult Halloween, and if they’re really sharp, they can turn the occasion into one in which the gospel is shared, rather than into a pseudo-pagan indulgence.