If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. James 1:5
Halloween was once the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, which marked the beginning of winter and end of harvest. The change in the seasons was believed to be a time the dead could cross over. All Hallows’ Eve (also called Halloween) or All Saints’ Eve is celebrated on October 31st. It’s the eve before November 1st, which begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, a Christian observance in many western countries. Allhallowtide is a time set aside in the liturgical year to celebrate and remember those who have died before us, including saints and martyrs. Over the centuries, Halloween has become a time of parties, cookouts, treats, hayrides, jack-o-lanterns, spooky movies, and fun for kids and adults. Is this holiday bad? I think it depends on what you are celebrating and what’s in your heart. As Saint Frances once said, “[w]here there is hatred, let me sow love.”
When I was a child, Halloween was a great time to carve pumpkins, dress up and get candy. We walked around the neighborhood where our family knew all the neighbors. It was great fun!
When I was about 13, my role changed to the one who gave out the candy. As a teenager we had special teen events at church, where we went on hayrides, bobbed for apples, and watched black and white Frankenstein movies.
One year Halloween fell on a Friday night that coincided with a football game. I was in the high school band, and that year we dressed up and had a stage show. I clearly remember playing the “Purple People Eater” song on my saxophone, while a classmate dressed as the Purple People Eater danced around. Fun times were had by all.
When my children were growing up, the world was a bit more scary and uncertain, but we live in a suburban neighborhood where the neighbors made it fun. We carved pumpkins, decorated, threw parties and cookouts for the kids, and let them ride down the neighborhood streets on a trailer full of hay to get some candy. Most costumes weren’t scary. Still, I was careful to only let my children go where I knew the neighbors. Still fun! When they were older, they gave out candy and we watched spooky movies together.
In our town we have four churches and a City Hall each a block apart on one street. Our minister has come to refer to the collective group of ministers as the Clinton Street Clergy. Most of the churches in our town have some sort of fall festival for the children. Over the last few years the Clinton Street Clergy and our City have provided a trunk or treat event on Halloween. It is a safe alternative for area children and adults to have a good time. It is more like a fall festival and over time the official name has changed to the Clinton Street Fall Festival. We usually donate candy, but this year my family is going to decorate our car and hand out candy. I look forward to seeing the children dressed up, especially my little grandson who will be dressed as a baby dragon this year.
For my family and friends, Halloween is an annual fall tradition where families spend time together at home and church. In our world where people can’t hold a conversation without a smart device, that’s not so bad.
This Halloween I encourage you to be safe and have fun. God bless you!