My birthday is November 1. This meant that when I was a little kid, I had the best birthday parties ever. My family would throw the party on Halloween night, and my friends and family would dress up in costume and come over and we’d bob for apples and play games and open presents, and then! Then we’d go get candy from our neighbors. I think I was Luke Skywalker a couple of years and the Incredible Hulk for a couple of years. It was awesome.
Then the day got stolen from us. By whom, I don’t know. Mike Warnke, I think. And a whole host of other early ’80s hand-wringers. Apparently dressing up like comic book characters and eating candy pleased the dark lord Satan or something. It was confusing. (We also couldn’t watch Smurfs or He-Man because they would make us demon-possessed. But you have to forgive us; I mean, it’s not like there was a Cold War going on or anything serious to worry about.)
Well, when I had kids, I decided we’d steal it back. If the Devil is somehow pleased by two little girls dressing up like princesses and getting candy from their neighbors, he’s a bigger idiot than I realized. I’m not even talking about “leveraging Halloween.” That’s great. Be missional. Meet your neighbors. Leave your light on. “Use” the day. Whatever. I’m not knocking that. But I’m even for having fun. For simply having fun. Playing make-believe. Eating sweets. Taunting darkness and death with the superiority of one confident they won’t have the last word. That kind of thing.
I bought some ghosts for my yard. Some goofy, cartoon-like, inflatable light-up ghosts. I’m not above a good ghost story.
I’m for Halloween in the same way I’m for giving gifts at Christmastime. I know some people get hand-wringy about that too, but come on, guys. Being Christian doesn’t mean sucking the joy out of the experience of common graces like toys and candy. It doesn’t mean hyper-spiritualizing everything. I read somewhere that nothing is to be rejected if it can be received with thanksgiving.
We all know that Christmas and Easter began as pagan festivals but were poached and baptized by Christians into what we have today. Halloween is likely the only major “holiday” that began as a Christian celebration and got poached and soiled by paganism. Then it got stolen a second time by anxious fundamentalists. Well, I say we put our ninja masks on, break into the castle, and steal it back for happy Christians.
And while we’re sorting through the plundered goods, save the Reese’s for me.
This is the day the LORD has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
— Psalm 118:24