Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Reformation of Hallowe'en

It's almost that time of year again!  When our neighbourhoods celebrate fear, horror and death (albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion) and we poor Christian parents are faced with the dilemma of deciding how to handle Hallowe'en again this year.

Some parents take their children to their local church's "harvest festivals", where the kids can enjoy costumes and candy but in a more wholesome environment.  This is what we had done for the past two years.  But now, having left that church and joined with a small church that doesn't hold such an event, we are again confronted by the question of what to do with Hallowe'en.

For the first two years in our neighbourhood, when our kids were too young to trick-or-treat, we handed out candies and greeted the children, just like everyone else on the street.  However, we didn't play spooky music or have half-buried skulls in our front yard.  (Or even one of those "witch-flown-into-lamp-post" things that seem to be everywhere.)

When our kids were a few years old, we tried having an anti-Hallowe'en.  Instead of dark music, cobwebs and scary sounds, we set up halogen flood lights, table lamps, anything that would glow brightly.  Then we put out a table with a cheery collection of coffee, hot chocolate, bowls of candy, classical music playing (and not "Toccata and Fugue"!) and a VeggieTales video for the kids.  This was a neat opportunity to meet the kids, meet the neighbours and hang out, reclaiming the good parts of the evening without participating in the dark side.  The first year we met lots of people.  The second year, almost no one came by.  Maybe Christian neighbours are scarier than skulls with glowing eyes?

Tim Challies has a provocative and compelling post which argues that some form of participation is a better testimony to your neighbourhood than a dark house and absentee Christians.  He's convinced me that my family should consider doing this again.

However, we're taking a different approach this year.  We will be having a "Reformation Celebration."  After all, it was October 31, 1571 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door!  An event well worth celebrating.

We're getting together with a couple of other families.  Each group will dress in "period costume."  (Well, maybe "period bathrobes".  Trying to find a doublet, hose, and other medieval elements would require too much planning.)  We will acting out various sketches celebrating different stories of the Reformation (the kids love this stuff!), and celebrate the work of God in the recovery of the Solas.  (I want to be Tetzel selling indulgences!  "When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs!")

So, we'll see how it goes.  Maybe next year we'll combine the anti-Hallowe'en with the Reformation.  Get our neighbours to be part of the fun.

Of course, it's pretty cold in Canada by the end of October.  Does anyone have a good, winter bathrobe they can lend me?  I'll let one of your relatives out of purgatory!


kerux said...

I liked Challies post as well... although I did not read all of it.
I think this is an issue of "meat offered to idols." For some, participation is sin because a violation of conscience. For others, who cares where the steak came from, let's just eat and talk about the Lord!
The danger is when one Christian attempts to legislate his view on another Christian. Or when one Christian secretly looks down on another Christian because of their participation or lack thereof.
No Christians I know are dressing their kids up as whores and hobgoblins. If they are dressing up at all, it is in the fun way that children like to dress up and as Challies said, it provides one of the few times in the year when you can easily meet new people on your street. I love that part of it! I have met more people on Hallowe'en than any other single day... except maybe for when on the dreaded paper route! But that was killing my family so we tossed it!

Ian said...

I found the following by Jim Jordan to be a helpful read on the topic.

He gives a historical background to Halloween and it's significance in Christian history.
I have to admit, I can't verify everything that he says historically as I don't know enough about the topic, and he doesn't really source anything. It's thought provoking none-the-less.
Personally, I would let my kid go out for Halloween.

Ian said...

PS. I agree wholeheartedly with Paul.
(Did I just say that??)

TwinsK&D said...

Hey Tom...great topic and thoughts :-) I always enjoy reading your topics, thanks very much! I like your idea of celebrating reformation day, Ill have to check in with you to see how it goes. I recently listened to a sermon from on elebrating reformation day rather than hallowe'en but also heard our previous pastor state that is was a 'meat sold to idols' kinda thing...In fact I think he used that very passage. I think its important to teach our children(well, I dont have any yet, just for the record) about the past and what God has done as well...hmmm Im not sure what I would do...your making me think bro :-) keep up the great posts!


tomgee said...

Hopefully my post wasn't interpreted by anyone as being critical of a Christian taking their kids out on Hallowe'en. I certainly didn't mean it that way.

I fully agree with Paul and Ian, it's one of those "grey areas" where there will be variation in individuals' freedoms or convictions.

(By the way: there was a lot of frost this morning. Anyone willing to lend me a winter bathrobe?)

TwinsK&D said...

I thought there would be lots of people offering to lend you a bathrobe :-) I cant really tell if your joking...typing is hard for that sort of thing, but since you asked twice I will assume otherwise. I may have a bathrobe you can borrow. Im not sure how warm it will be if your wearing it outside, but its a nice navy blue colour and may do the trick :-) If I remember, I can bring it to church tomorrow if you like?


tomgee said...

Hi Twins!

I can't e-mail you directly, so hopefully you'll get this comment.

I was just kidding about the bathrobe. Sorry about the confusion. I need to work on my writing skills!

See you tomorrow!

TwinsK&D said...

Thanks Tom :-) Thats cool, I thought that may be the case but thought Id offer anyway just to be safe! God Bless and talk to ya soon :-)