Here's the third and final post in my little series on the similarities between Christmas and Halloween.
There are positive aspects to both holidays.
Pros for Halloween include:
1. Neighbors spend time together and get to know each other as everyone opens up their homes for one night. It's a prime time to build relationships within the community.
2. Children experience the fun of planning their costumes and dressing up. It's a delightful tradition that they look forward to all year long.
3. Parents bond with their children as they take them trick or treating.
Pros for Christmas include:
1. It encourages people to reflect on Christ's birth, which is always a good thing.
2. In our frantic individualistic society, Christmas is a holiday when people actually spend extended time with their family and friends.
3. Christmas encourages the development of family traditions, which can bond families and bring joy to children.
4. Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolates.
There are also negative aspects to both holidays.
Cons for Halloween include:
1. The trivialization of witchcraft and the devil.
2. Frightening and evil images on television, in the movies, on people's front lawns, and on first graders.
3. Some people use this day to celebrate things that are evil.
Cons for Christmas include:
1. Disrespect for the Bible including: children's stories told from the donkey's point of view, countless Christmas cards with pictures of a lily white Jesus and angels that look nothing like their description in the Bible, the emphasis on three wise men, etc.
2. Rampant materialism and greed. We spend hundreds of dollars and rack up credit card debt on things we don't need or will soon throw away, often while ignoring the basic needs of others.
3. A confusing collection of traditions and stories combined into one holiday so Santa and Jesus have equal standing.
It seems that Christians often want to abandon Halloween while embracing Christmas. Yet both holidays share roots in paganism, a fairly secular history in America, and can at times blatantly disrespect God's Word. When both holidays have so much in common, it seems inconsistent to heap praise on one and condemnation on the other. I think we may need a more balanced approach - making sure we don't throw the baby out with the bath water in the case of Halloween and making sure the baby doesn't drown in the bath water in the case of Christmas.
For example, Halloween is a prime time to build relationships with our neighbors. Christians are called to share the gospel with their community and Halloween provides a fun and natural way to connect with others, whether by trick or treating together or greeting people at the door. Maybe Christians should stay in their homes, hand out candy, and get to know their neighbors on Halloween. (Disclaimer: While people often see Halloween as simply a fun evening for children, the holiday can have demonic connotations for others. Those whose consciences are troubled by involvement in Halloween activites should absolutely not participate.)
There are some Christmas traditions that we might want to rethink, such as overspending. Instead of going into debt for presents, what if Christians donated their money to people in need? I know of a family that adopted another family that was struggling financially. When the parents bought their children Christmas presents, they made sure to buy presents for the kids in their adopted family as well. We could also be more careful of how we communicate the Christmas story, especially to children. We can make sure we focus on the facts of the Bible (not adding extra characters like the mean innkeeper or the little drummer boy) and make Jesus the main character (as opposed to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the talking cow in the barn, the littlest angel, the star who could never do anything right but on one special night got the chance to shine . . .)
Halloween and Christmas share checkered pasts and some less than admirable traditions. They also present great opportunities to further God's Kingdom. I believe that if we approach each holiday with thought, care, and biblical conviction, we can use them to show love to our communities and bring honor to God.