Witches, Ghosts, and ... Martin Luther?
October 31st is nearly upon us. As I drive out from our property into town, constant visual reminders of America's fastest growing holiday invade my view. Skeletons dance on a neighbor's garage door, a giant, dripping ghost leers at me from beside a mailbox, bloody handprints adorn living room windows, representatives of innocence - babies, children, brides - are attacked by all sorts of fanged, venomous and evil creatures and giant spiders seem to have invaded the area, leaving their ginormous webs as evidence of their existence. Cheerful picture, ain't it?
As disgusting and revolting as these decorations are to me, 90% of America revels in the gore with delight. Why?
Let's stop and think about holidays for a minute. First of all, 'holiday' literally means 'holy day'. I'm not sure Halloween fits into that category... Holidays have a meaning behind them, a reason they were created and established. Thanksgiving is a reminder of the Pilgrims and their trials and endurance in establishing the first successful colony in the wilderness of America. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Christmas is the day traditionally accepted as the day of Jesus Christ's birth. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day are both in honor of Christian missionaries (named Valentinus and Patrick :) ). Good Friday remembers the sacrifice of Jesus's death, and Easter Sunday celebrates His Resurrection. Even if most people do not celebrate the reason behind these holidays, it doesn't change the fact that there is a reason behind these holidays - in fact, behind every holiday. So what is Halloween really celebrating?
If you look it up, you'll find that Halloween dates back to the times of the Celts. It was believed that on a certain day, the spirits of the dead returned to the homes of their day. The Celts would light bonfires and dress in costumes in order to keep the spirits away. To appease the deities and the ghosts of the past, they would sacrifice crops and animals on the bonfires.
Over time, it seems to me that the purpose of Halloween has changed from a day of honoring, fearing and appeasing the dead to a day of celebrating death. Don't agree? Just keep your eyes open as you drive around town. What are nearly all of the decorations themed upon? What are the masks and costume prosthetics you see in Walmart? Most modern Americans don't "believe" in ghosts - those decorations aren't there to "appease" anyone or anything. They are there because they bring a sort of pleasure. And yet, when do any of those people take pleasure in death on any other day of the year?
Many Christians view Halloween as a harmless, fun holiday. (I've recently been through a hard experience concerning the death of a loved one. Believe me, it is NOT fun!!) But is it harmless for children to grow up celebrating death? As a Christian, I do not fear death, but people who are not saved absolutely should!! Death is when the Christless are forever locked out of God's presence, and their souls are claimed by Satan (God's archenemy) and cast into hell. For the unbeliever, death is an extremely scary and sobering event.
Being a follower of Christ is about life. New life in Christ on earth, and eternal life in the presence of our Creator in Heaven. For us, momentary death is the door to reach life everlasting. But just like a door is not exciting compared to what may be beyond the door, neither is death anything more than a frame through which we must step.
Instead of celebrating death on October 31st, why not celebrate a period of time that brought abundant life to millions of people around the world? Why not celebrate the Reformation? You might associate Martin Luther with the Reformation, but what else about it is worth knowing?
Last year, my siblings and I put together a video on what the Reformation is about. It's the story of the Reformation and how it affected the world, both then and today! If you'd like to check it out, here is the link to it: https://youtu.be/SsWVPN9qHFE
The Reformation was the time when the church was reformed and the true Gospel spread like wildfire around Europe. Because of this, the first missionaries were sent out to Africa, Asia and South America. The Bible began to be printed in languages common people could read. This was a very exciting, and very dangerous time for Christians.
We celebrate the Reformation on October 31st because it was on this day that a very famous man did a very famous thing. And don't think that the Reformation can't be fun to celebrate!
We like to eat a German meal on Reformation day, since many great Reformers came from Germany. One year, we covered all the windows and ate by candlelight to remember how the Christians had to hide from the government and the church! Another year, our cousins and friends and us dressed up as Reformers and performed skits and served the grownups in our families a fancy meal from that era. Using a bit of imagination, there are myriads of ways to have fun on Reformation Day!