Say you receive an invitation in the mail for a party on October 31. This party will include candy, costumes, and “illusion” (insert picture of a top hat, wand, and sparkly star). Would you assume you were just invited to a Hallelujah party? Probably not.
Yet, depending on where you live, you might see church banners with a similar invitation. Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful that churches are serving their communities by hosting these kinds of events. But the peculiar words on church signs this time of year might cause passersby to raise a curious brow—it does for this editorial eye, at least.
The traditions of the season (donning costumes, pumpkin-carving, and trick-or-treating) are, to some degree, tied to pagan beliefs. Yet Ken Samples asks “Could practices that were once associated with pagan superstition…be purely benign for people with a totally different motivation and intent?”
He argues that it’s difficult to believe the “systematic collection of candy in a given neighborhood by pint-sized Spider-mans and Tinkerbells constitutes the promotion of an occult worldview or spiritistic racketeering.”
But what of the name Halloween? It is derived from All Hallows’ Eve, the evening preceding All Saints’ Day, a Christian holiday. Why then would churches and faith communities embrace the traditions (with pagan roots) yet steer clear of the name (with Christian roots)? It seems the aversion, if even called for, is misplaced.
It stirs up a few questions, particularly as the day draws near and the church signs gain prominence.
Have we modified terminology to justify participating in a holiday we would otherwise deem depraved? If the holiday is depraved, should changing its name be enough to pacify our conscience? If, on the other hand, Halloween is harmless, then why not call it by its name?
What do you think?