“Don’t dabble in the occult or turn to mediums or to wizards – do not seek them out. Do not look for advice from people who get messages from those who have died. Do not go to people who talk to the spirits of the dead; you’ll pollute your souls and be defiled by them.” (Leviticus 19:31)
Knock, knock, knock. Three young girls, aged around six or seven years old, knocked on my door last night. They were dressed as witches. When I opened the door, they all sang out in unison “trick or treat?” And I was like “Nooooooo, not here. Not at my house. Not in Australia!!!!”
Is it just me, or has Halloween arrived here bigger than ever this year?
In the recent years that Halloween seems to have gained popularity in Australia, I haven’t been tempted to buy costumes for our kids, or make sure the lolly (candy) bowl is filled with treats for when the kids come knocking. Somehow, for me, it just doesn’t feel “Australian” to celebrate Halloween. And I don’t like the way Halloween seems to be invading our country and our culture. Just walk into Westfield (our local mall) and all you see are $2 shops selling incredibly tacky decorations and costumes which are probably the leftover stock that the Americans don’t want! And, in my opinion, importing large orange pumpkins from America and hanging fake cobwebs in the confectionery aisle in the supermarket is nothing more than another excuse for more commercialism.
As a writer in a Melbourne newspaper wrote this week: “It’s the end of Australia as we know it! We’re becoming slaves to Americanisation!” Whilst I’m not sure that’s even a real word, it’s true that many Australians complain loudly that we are being taken over by American culture. However, it’s worth knowing that the tradition actually has its origins in Celtic Irish culture, and is not just the domain of the sugar-laden citizens of US suburbia, so let’s not just blame the Americans
again this time!
I grew up in Australia in the 1970’s and 1980’s without ever hearing about Halloween. No-one I knew celebrated it and there were certainly no dress ups or trick-and-treating or jack-o-lanterns. And then when I was sixteen I went to Canada for twelve months as an exchange student and I experienced Halloween first-hand. At school I dressed up as a pumpkin in orange leggings, and an orange garbage bag stuffed with newspapers around my body. (I looked hideous and no, I will not post a photo!) After dark my friends and I walked around the neighbourhood (looking and acting like the overgrown kids we were) collecting candy so that I could experience first-hand this North American cultural tradition. Honestly, it was quite a let-down apart from scoring lots of chocolate! Perhaps it might have been different if I’d been six, instead of sixteen!
The thing about Halloween for me is this: as a Christian, I can’t see how and why I should celebrate and support something that is, at it’s very core, about death, witchcraft, satan and the spirit world.
Wikipedia (the source of all information!) states that Halloween (or Hallows’ Evening/All Hallow’s Eve) is a yearly celebration originally influenced by Celtic harvest festivals and “Festivals of the Dead”. These festivals ushered in the New Year which began on the evening of October 31 with the lighting of bonfires and the offering of human and animal sacrifices. As the Celtic Druids danced around the fires, they celebrated the ending of the summer season and the beginning of the season of darkness. It was also believed that at this time of year the invisible “gates” between the natural world and the spirit world would open, allowing free movement between the two worlds.
Some Christians simply view Halloween as a fun event for children and even participate and join in getting dressed up alongside their children to go trick-or-treating. They ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a fun event devoted to “imaginary spooks” and the handing out of lollies (candy). Halloween holds no threat to their spiritual lives of to the lives of their children.
As the newspaper writer asked: “what’s to fear about festivities that involve nothing more sinister than children donning costumes and spreading a little cheer around the neighbourhood?”
What’s to fear indeed.
Maybe I should just calm down and view Halloween as nothing more than an excuse for my children and I to play dress-ups, eat chocolate and lollies and have a little fun.
I searched deeper than Wikipedia and didn’t like what I found.
Halloween was held to honor the Samhain who was also called the “lord of death”. On the eve of this festival, the lord of death called all the souls of the dead to return to their original homes to be entertained with food. It was believed that if food and shelter were not provided, these evils spirits would cast spells and cause havoc on those failing to meet their requests.
What’s to fear indeed? Just a little bit of fun for the kids? I’m not so sure about that.
Other Christians, (and I’m in this camp), don’t want anything to do with Halloween. The Bible speaks negatively about occultic practices, spirits, and witches and condemns not only the practice but also the people who are involved in it. As a Christian, I am to have nothing to do with the occult. Tarot Cards, contacting the dead, séances, lucky charms, etc. – these are all unbiblical and can open me up to demonic oppression.
You might think I’m over-reacting. That’s ok. You’re welcome to your opinion and I’m welcome to mine!
So trick-or-treaters, when you come around to my house next year, I suggest you follow and uphold the ‘spirit’ of Halloween (as it is in North America) and only knock on the doors with the lights on because that’s the rules! And you’ll notice that my light won’t be turned on!