Why is Halloween so much fun? (and can a church really celebrate it?)

I think we’ve all heard people argue that Halloween has pagan roots. Actually, that is highly debatable, in fact some atheists even state that pagans responded to what the Christians were already doing at the end of October in their remembrance of the saints. You can find out more in significant detail here if you are interested.

Regardless of its origins, Halloween is a unique celebration that is different from the other cultural festivals celebrated in Australia in that it actively prompts people to engage with their neighbours in a distinctive way. Generally, Christmas is reserved to be spent with close relatives, Easter is often spent camping (especially if you’re not the church-going type) and New Years Eve is often spent with close friends, but Halloween is something out of the box different again. The gist of Halloween is that you get to have fun dressing up and then being to walk around your neighbourhood and talk with the people who you may walk straight past every other day of the year.

My attempt at Saruman the White Wizard from Lord of the Rings

So here are three key reasons why I give thanks to God for Halloween;

1)      Sweets – is the most obvious reason that every kid loves Halloween. Isn’t it such a delicious time of enjoying chocolates and lollies (or candy as Americans call it). I know this is one of the biggest motivating factors for my kids to get out early and see how many sweet treats they can collect. It reminds me, isn’t it wonderful that God created us with such pleasure producing taste-buds. This hints at the goodness of God and the way he delights in his children enjoying his creation.

2)      Community – like I said earlier, Halloween is a genuinely special community time that helps foster relationships between neighbours. What a joy that Australian society has decided to embrace this community-based celebration that the young and young-at-heart can all enjoy together. I believe that our creator has put within each of us a desire “to know” and “be known”. As we walk around and greet people we have the opportunity to slow down and step out of the norm so that we can know those who live nearby us a little more. Knowing your neighbours is one way to decrease loneliness and social isolation. When we realise that there are people who care this builds morale for our neighbourhoods and reminds us that God made us to be relational beings. We need a relationship with him but he has also made us so that we need relationships with others too. 

3)      The joy of dressing up – personally I love it and take great delight in seeking to find a new outfit for each year. I’ve been a pirate, an Egyptian mummy, Martin Luther (recognised mostly as Friar Tuck), a wizard (Saruman) and this year I’m excited to be dressed as Monty Burns from The Simpsons. There is something interesting about dressing up and pretending to be someone else for the night. Most of us can’t remember the first time we dressed up as a super-hero or some character to play act and ‘be an other’. It hints at our questions about our identity. We know we can’t save the world but sometimes we wonder where our significance is in the midst of 7 billion others. In reality, we don’t need to construct a larger-than-life identity to capture the attention of God. He invites us to live in the security of being loved unconditionally knowing that we can be children of God (John 1:12).

Have a happy Halloween. Enjoy the celebratory community feel of the festivities and creativity of the outfits, delight in the delicious sweets and know that Jesus loves to see us out having fun too.