Why Halloween is the Worst Holiday1
Simply Ask Yourself, "What's Worth Celebrating?"
Yes, guilty as charged. The title of this post was designed to get your attention. But to be fair, I really do think Halloween is the worst holiday.
No, this is not a tirade. No, I will not be pointing a finger of condemnation at those who celebrate Halloween in one way or another. I simply want to offer some thoughts for you to chew on. Almost every year I talk with my children (one in particular) about why we don't celebrate Halloween (no, I don't think it's the 'devil's birthday'). Our most recent conversation on this subject led me to write some of these thoughts down. Maybe they're helpful to you. Maybe they're not. I'll let you decide.
Now before anyone burns me in effigy as a Halloween version of the Grinch, let me be clear: I am not saying trick-or-treating is the worst practice ever or that a five-year old in a fairy princess costume is the worst idea ever. In fact, I still have fond memories of my homemade Luke Skywalker costume from October 1980 (or was it '81?). In the same way, this post will not be a Bible-thumping rant about Samhain (Google it) or participating in pagan practices on Halloween.
So what am I saying? Let me give you three reasons why I believe what I believe about Halloween:
1. Halloween is the worst holiday because there is nothing worth celebrating. The point of some holidays comes through loud and clear. For example, Thanksgiving is all about...yep, giving thanks. Counting our blessings and being thankful are practices worth observing, especially as a nation. The sacrifices of courageous American soldiers are worth celebrating on Memorial Day. Heck, even trees are worth celebrating on Arbor Day. With every other holiday there is something clearly worth celebrating, or at least, some redeemable idea. But not so with Halloween. No, we don't celebrate candy on Halloween, or wearing costumes. Those are just ways people observe the holiday. If those things are worth celebrating, then let's have a “National Candy Day” (or maybe it should be “National Cavity Day”), or maybe a holiday called “Masquerade”. Okay, so if it's not about costumes and candy, what is it about?
2. Halloween is the worst holiday because it trivializes genuine spiritual realities. As a follower of Jesus, the way I look at the world is shaped by truths our Creator has revealed to human beings over thousands of years (collected and contained in the Bible). When I look through that lens, I am able to make the best sense of this thing we call life. In those Scriptures, we learn about the sobering reality of evil spirits, the dangers of witchcraft (and similarly-motivated practices), and the truth about a very real 'afterlife'. But all of those things are either twisted or trivialized by Halloween. Spirits become cartoonish and cuddly, while death is caricatured by a Grim Reaper or a haunted graveyard. Now at this point some of you are saying, “Geez, lighten up!” And I get it. But if these are the symbols with which we 'celebrate' Halloween, we need to think carefully about what message they send. What do we really believe about these spiritual realities? What do we want our children to understand?
3. Halloween is the worst holiday because it trivializes genuine earthly horrors. I get that you may look at the world differently. Maybe for you there are no genuine spiritual realities. Maybe it's all religious 'mumbo-jumbo'. If so, then yep, there is nothing to trivialize when it comes to spirits, witches, and an afterlife. But what about earthly realities; specifically, the horrors of this earthly reality? Most adults can tell you that over the pasts fifty years, Halloween has taken on an even gorier bent. Serial killers, chainsaw-wielding maniacs, severed heads, blood-oozing orifices, and every other demented depiction of death and dismemberment have become favored expressions of today's Halloween. But do we really believe these are things we should trivialize at a haunted house or as lawn ornaments? Is this what we're celebrating, gruesome depictions of suffering that would leave deep emotional scars if they really happened to us or a loved one? Or maybe this is how we deal with the undeniable horrors of existence and human depravity. Maybe this is how we deal with our real fears, hoping to gain some sense of control (interestingly, a motive we can trace back to the origins of many Halloween practices). If it is, we must rethink that strategy, for ourselves and for our children's sake.
So there you have it. Some substantive ideas to mull over. And of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
In the end, maybe we can all agree there are things worth celebrating in this life, and there are things not worth celebrating. If so, then the question becomes, “How can we know which is which?” I would encourage you to consider 'the light' of the Christian Scriptures in answering that question. For there we find a similar encouragement (and the criteria to be discerning):
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)