It grieves my spirit to see what the "world" has done to Hallowe'en. It has become so secularized and demonized that many "church people" want to have nothing to do with it at all.
In fact, it seems churches often try to find alternative ways to celebrate this day, even going so far as to change the name of the date or the party in an attempt to re-create the meaning of Hallowe'en. It's really a crying shame that we feel compelled to do this.
You see, Hallowe'en isn't such a bad name. In fact, it's really quite a good name. The name itself comes from the combination and contraction of two words. The first word, "hallow," means "to make holy or set apart for holy use" or "to respect greatly." The second word, "e'en," is a contraction of the word "even," which is a short form of "evening."
Simply put then, 'Hallowe'en" is "a Holy evening." Its name comes from the fact that it was historically the holy eve before "All Saints' Day," in much the same way that Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas, and New Year's Eve is the night before the New Year. "All Hallow's Eve" was the night before "the Holy Day" that the Church had set aside to remember all the saints and martyrs who had gone before us, laying a foundation for our faith by their very lives.
For our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, "All Saints' Day" is still an important festival day, a "Holy-day," in their church year. And Hallowe'en is still the Holy-Eve before that Holy-Day. However, it is not just Roman Catholic Christians who mark this day as holy or special. It is also a significant day in the history of Protestant Christianity.
For, you see, Hallowe'en is the birthday of the Protestant Reformation. It was on Hallowe'en that Martin Luther hosted his "95 Theses" for public debate. And it was that simple act, by a man who was humbly serving as the pastor of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, that sparked the "revolution" that ultimately gave rise to the expression of the Christian Faith that is embraced by virtually all Protestant denominations.
Why is it that the "world" seems to always make holidays out of our holy-days? And why do we let the world re-define our holy-days in ways that secularize them, demonize them and denigrate them to the point that we often no longer want to even celebrate them?
Christmas isn't really about Santa Claus. And Easter isn't about the Easter Bunny. And Hallowe'en isn't really about ghosts and goblins, and spooks and demons, witches and warlocks, and every other wicked and evil thing.
I think it's time for the Church to take back Hallowe'en. It's time for us to restore the integrity, the dignity and, yes, even the sanctity of Hallowe'en. It's time for us to celebrate "holiness" and "faithfulness." We need to be reminded once again of the truth that was penned by Frederick Faber; that the "faith of our fathers and our mothers is living still ... even in spite of dungeon, fire and sword."
This is not a time for us to shrink back from our claim to this "holy-day," surrendering the day to our adversaries. Rather let us rise up and celebrate all that is Holy, and, as people of faith, let us restore the "Holy-ness" to Hallowe'en!
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