don’t get any presents.”
Thirty years later, I understand the plight of these Jehovah’s Witness kids because I understand what they believe. The kids I grew up with who were excluded from holidays, were part of a faith that rejects secular culture and embraces a separateness from society that allows them to remain faithful to the tenants of their beliefs. Namely, they see holidays like birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween as rooted in Pagan beliefs.
There are a growing number of Christians who, though they may celebrate Christmas, Easter, and birthdays, also greatly object to Halloween. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they see Halloween as an explicitly Pagan holiday where evil is celebrated. And, since we are to be “in the world but not of the world,” many of these folks have been known to turn off their lights on Halloween and retreat to the basement until the night has gone.
On the other hand, as I look back over the past 30 years, I can recall plenty of Christian kids with vibrant faiths who celebrated all the popular holidays, including Halloween. These kids are now grown up themselves and are among the many Christians who see no problem with Halloween. They dress up and trick or treat. Sure, they realize that a lot of vandalism and a certain amount of pagan ritual occurs on this day, but overall, they do not see Halloween as a big deal. It’s just a fun day for them and their families.
So, which is it? Should we embrace Halloween, ignoring its Pagan roots and emphasis on evil and focus only on the treats and the costumes? Or, should we, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and those involved in other-worldy faiths, reject it despite its growing popularity.
I would suggest that there is a third option. I believe that though Christmas, Easter, and Halloween have, in fact, many pagan roots, these holidays have been transformed throughout the ages by Christians as a way of sharing the love of God with the people with whom they have shared life.
On Friday October 31st, Jonah’s Call and Church of the Ascension will host an All Saints Festival as a way of sharing the love of God with the City of Pittsburgh. The All Saints Festival will neither fully reject nor fully embrace the present Halloween culture. Instead, we will seek to transform it by offering an amazing life-giving alternative that both we and our neighbors can take part in.
The event will attract children, teens, university students, singles, and families, and will tap into the Church’s century old tradition of celebrating the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 11) that have gone before us. Some will choose to attend the All Saints Festival as a Halloween alternative while others will attend the festival as a stop off on their rounds of gathering treats or attending Halloween parties.
You do not have to be under the age of 16
to get candy! There will be something for everybody. The All Saints Festival will
come complete with cotton candy and “tons” of treats, a costume parade– we are encouraging folks to wear costumes that celebrate life, games, a “bouncy gym,” and great live music.
Mark Your Calendars:
2008 All Saints Festival
Friday, October 31st
5 to 8 p.m.
Come join the fun:
· an abundance of candy for everyone
· multi-colored balloons
representing the saints that have
gone before us
· games for young and old
· a cake walk
· a bouncy gym
· live music
· a costume parade
with best costume prizes
As a way to contribute to this great event, we will be accepting donations of candy throughout October. Please purchase a large bag of candy and drop it off on Sunday when you come to worship. Baskets will be available and will be marked “All Saints Candy Donations.” We are also looking for volunteers, both young and old to help us with this event. If you would like to sign up to volunteer, please contact Dolores Oliver at email@example.com