This morning I woke troubled. Last night I fell asleep on the couch reading “Who is Israel’s Redeemer?” published by Hope for Israel. It wasn’t the book that disturbed me. In fact, the book was a light for me on what I felt was a dark night – a night I had to turn my porch light off to keep the trick-or-treaters away. And that bothered me.
I felt I couldn’t live as I always do in my home without being disturbed by children coming to my door, demanding candy. Now don’t get me wrong – I love kids. I love them so much that I gave birth to six of them (with a seventh in the arms of Yeshua.) I love my grandkids. I love the kids at temple. I even love the little ones I see in the stores crying their eyes out for one reason or another.
But I have come to despise this night of All Hallow’s Eve for two reasons. First because of what it represents. Lifting up of nature, mankind and the dead as things to be feared and worshiped rather than the Creator of these things. And second because the modern expression of this pagan holiday is directed at our kids. It is the love of our kids and our God that causes me to despise this night. And no matter how Christians try to dress it up or poo-poo the origins, it is a night that delivers mixed messages to our children.
I am just as guilty as the next person of buying into this night of trick-or-treating when my kids were young. When the light started to dawn on me about the origins of this Druid holy day, I did what many of us do – held a party to counter the day. Eventually, I realized that this was exactly what the Catholic church did with the Druids and Romans – succumbed to their pagan ways by trying to dress it up in Christian garb.
As I was looking through Facebook this morning, I was really disturbed by what I saw. Almost all of my Christian friends and relatives were celebrating this day in one form or another. I even saw that someone had a Halloween tree in their living room and took family photos in front of it!
Please hear my heart – I am not standing in judgement. In fact, I talked to the Lord about it this morning. I was reminded that God did not want his people participating in the ways of the people of Canaan – for their own good. I was also reminded of my visit to the Israel museum, and the realization how the idols of the Canaanites plagued the Israelites and led to the destruction of the first temple, to exile, and to separation from the presence of God.
I felt the Lord was telling me to investigate, so I googled the history of Halloween. The History Channel has a couple of interesting videos on the history of holiday, and how it became what it is today (or at least what it is considered – a secular holiday.) Watching these strengthened my belief that Halloween is something that the followers of Messiah should not participate in – in any form or fashion.
Then I was curious what Judaism thought about Halloween. As with Christianity, there are several differing opinions among our Jewish brethren. But Jewish Virtual Library and Chabad.org had two very clear exhortations regarding this holiday.
Jewish Virtual Library reminds us that this is “a Celtic holiday that was celebrated by Druids, the priests of a religious order in ancient Gaul and Britain.” It was then adopted by Christianity when it failed “to keep Christians from celebrating the pagan holiday.” And finally reminds us that “a holiday’s origins do not simply disappear over time, so Halloween would still be considered a religious holiday.”
I really liked what Chabad.org had to say in answer to a question, “Do Jews celebrate Halloween? I know its origins aren’t very ‘Jewish,’ but I’m worried that my kids will feel left out if they can’t go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.”
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman answered with the beauty of Purim. In March, during the holiday of Purim “our children dress up as sages, princesses, heroes and clowns. They drop by the homes of our community, visit the infirm and the aged, spreading joy and laughter. They bring gifts of food and drink and collect tzedakah (charity) for the needy.” Purim teaches children to give gifts to family and friends, and “even more gifts to those in hard times.”
He contrasts this with Halloween. “Flip it over (October instead of March, demanding instead of giving, scaring instead of rejoicing, demons instead of sages, etc.) and you have Halloween” saying this is a clear choice of one of two messages we give our children.
Writer Sara Esther Crispe in another article, points out that Purim celebrates life, while Halloween celebrates death. Purim is all about giving, while Halloween is all about taking.
This is something we Christians need to seriously consider. We are so worried about all the teachings in school on homosexuality; on all the laws that are passed that promote death – to unborn children and elderly people; on all the anti-Christian/Judaic rhetoric in our government. Yet we encourage our children, our toddlers, to dress up like ghouls and demand candy from total strangers.
All this begs the question, “What do we want to teach our children – to give or to take; to focus on life or on death?”