***Note: There are photos below that are not appropriate for children. So, go hide in a closet and read this or make sure your kids are out of the room!
Each year I say I’m not going to post on this subject again but then I change my mind for one reason or another. People are constantly landing on my blog this month by searching things like ‘Orthodoxy Halloween’ or ‘Do Orthodox Christians Celebrate Halloween’. There are even the occasional folks just in search of a ‘pumpkin recipe’ and good ‘ole google sends them my way. For those of you who did land here by mistake and not in search of a religious discussion on Halloween, here is my favorite pumpkin recipe. You might want to click that link now.
I think people search these sort of things mostly because they are confused (with the exception of the pumpkin recipe folks) about what to do and there’s plenty of people out there expressing their opinions on why they think we should celebrate. So, I’d like to express the beliefs of at least one family standing on the other side of the fence.
This post is not to meant to engage differing opinions or spark the same debate we’ve had already over the past six years but simply to put the word out that there are Orthodox people who do not participate and their children do not consider themselves deprived or left out. Quite the opposite, really. Ace said just yesterday how he can’t wait until it’s over and all this demonic stuff is out of his face everywhere he goes. He and Lucky have always turned their faces from it all, many times I’ve caught their lips moving silently with the words of the Jesus prayer or seen their little prayer ropes moving between their fingers. And I thank God they are aware of the spiritual battle that wages against them every single day, but even more so during the month of October.
In this year’s post, I am not even going to touch on the origins of Halloween or the amount of people who come out publicly and admit that for them it is a Satanic celebration and even go on to describe the ways they worship that night, and trust me there is p l e n t y. All spiritual aspects aside, I still do not understand what the big deal is. Sure, dressing up is fun and candy is always good, though not necessarily good for us, I get that part. I really do.
If you’ve read my past posts on this subject, you know that my family celebrated Halloween until I was 18 so I do know what it’s all about, I’m not just someone on the inside looking out (get it?) . I’ve had my share of haunted hayrides, houses and witch walks throughout those years (even though I hated those things even then). I also took part in my fair share of mischief too, but we were as clueless as the next family as to how spiritually dangerous this celebration was. Our church even had Halloween dances and parties, thus making us feel like the Church had no objections to our participation. My mom and grandmother went all when making our costumes. I masqueraded around town as Rainbow Brite, a nerd, a hobo, a giant pumpkin, tootsie roll and even did my time as a Spice Girl (thank God there aren’t any photos of THAT, that I’m aware of anyway, lol). We carved our share of jack-o-lanterns, too. But then we learned more what we were really celebrating and decided that it was not appropriate for an Orthodox Christian family. So we stopped dressing up, stopped passing out candy (because that is still participating even though it is a big step in the right direction), and it all ended there.
But what else? What exactly makes parading around neighborhoods disguised as graveyards, filled with creepy sounds, cobwebs and with the majority of people painted with bloodied faces, heads, etc., fun? I understand there are a few “cute” witches or superheroes but does that even matter? They are by far not the majority and your children are exposed to that violence and evil no matter what they are dressed up as. And do you think when they grow into older children and teenagers they are going to continue wearing those cute costumes? Where does it stop?
I’ve heard all the arguments including how some children are dressed as saints or bible characters and so that makes it okay. Personally, I think that’s a band-aid for a guilty conscience. It allows people to do what they want, even though they partially disagree, and dressing in supposedly religious costumes makes them feel like they haven’t completely crossed the line. But please forgive me, I think that’s like telling our children it’s okay for them to go to a strip club as long as they keep their own clothes on and wear a cross. It’s ridiculous and quite honestly, blasphemous. I don’t think any saint would have ever given permission to participate in such a demonic holiday. People will argue that not everything you see is scary or demonic and I agree with that thought in the same way I agree that not every scene in a horror movie is scary. But my question is, where do you see God in Halloween? What role does Christ play in the whole celebration? The little girl dressed up as an angel, perhaps? I don’t see God ANYWHERE in Halloween. I had one person tell me it is the spirit of giving. Everyone gives candy and is happy. Seriously? More like the spirit of gluttony and excess. And regardless of if you don’t dress up and just pass candy out at home, you are still participating, on a lesser level perhaps, but it’s participation nonetheless.
In my opinion, you’re either in or out. There is no in between. Society has done too good a job convincing us that we can remain neutral without betraying our beliefs and that simply isn’t true. Christ warns us in Revelations 3: 15-16 what will happen to those of us who are lukewarm. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
I did a few google searches to see what the current costume trends were in recent years and because I wanted a neutral view of the holiday. Not from anyone against, not for anyone in favor, just fair and neutral perspective to present in this post. Who better to ask than Google? This is what I found.
When searching just the word ‘halloween’ this is what pulled up. Nothing terribly ugly, just dark. Dark and scary but nothing that would give you nightmares. For many people, this is all they allow themselves to see happening on Halloween even though there is so much more.
Then, I searched ‘children’s costumes’. Other than the little girl with the hatchet in her head, the majority of them were not gross. I think for the most part these are the innocent little costumes, along with some clever homemade ones I’ve seen floating around the internet, that most parents prefer to dress their little ones in. And note that I said most, I’m seeing more and more little ones dressed with stitches on their faces and makeup to resemble skeletons and the dead.
Next I searched ‘halloween costumes’. I think it’s safe to say this is how most kids teenaged and up want to dress. Girls want to be sexy and scary at the same time (third photo in first row is perfect example). This is the stage that I think many parents who are unsure how they feel about Halloween are going to see the bigger picture–when their teenagers grow out of their pumpkin costumes and into ones similar to these. Then what do you do? Tell them Halloween is no longer so innocent? Or continue allowing them to participate? The girl with the can coming out of her head is exceptional.
My last search was for ‘scary halloween costumes’ because let’s face it, that is the point of Halloween. To be scared. Hence, all the Halloween Horror Nights and other similar activities. Notice that several of these photos include children. How on earth can anyone say that Halloween is NOT demonic?? Are we serious people?
And again, I understand that your level of participation may not be anything like this. But you need to understand that this is still what you are participating in. How can you control what your children see? So many of our saints warn us to guard the doorway to our heart, our eyes, against evil. What if your child sees something like this, and I think the chances that they will are quite good. Those images will never be erased from their memory. Is that worth some free candy?
And just in case you couldn’t see the fourth picture in the third row, here it is. Panagia mou. I can’t even imagine how much the demons rejoiced when this costume was created. Lord. Have. Mercy.
While that costume is totally off the wall, my point is that this is still what’s out there. This is what more and more people are dressing like every year. The evil does exist.
The main reason our family chooses not to celebrate Halloween is because we believe it goes against everything we believe as Orthodox Christians. This is not a matter of debate, it is a personal decision we have made for our family. I don’t judge or look down on people who do celebrate it, that’s their choice. And this is ours.
All year long, we teach our children to fight against the powers of darkness and evil, yet once a year we make an exception. How does THAT work? I get emails from parents asking if I know of any prayers for a child experiencing nightmares or if I have any book or movie recommendations that will get their child to lay off the horror or other inappropriate movies but then they’re taking them out trick-or-treating. Forgive me, but I just do not get it. It makes my heart so so heavy. And the fact that are Orthodox clergy who give permission to their spiritual children to participate totally breaks my heart. I’ve tried so hard to understand this but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the Scriptures or writings of the saints that would indicate such permission. Again, it’s quite the opposite.
Christ teaches us to be a light in darkness! And that does not mean wear a cute costume during Halloween!! It means the darker the world becomes the harder we must fight to let Christ’s light shine through us! The more we wallow and justify our sins the less reflective we become of that light.
I have heard of some people leaving a basket with pamphlets explaining why they don’t celebrate and I think that is a great idea. Most of the pamphlets might get tossed on the side of the road with hundreds of candy wrappers but if even just one person reads it, a seed will be planted. It only takes one person to make it worth it. I was actually hoping to create one for you to download and print out but didn’t have the time. I’m still going to do it and I will add it to this post for whoever may want it for next year.
It says in the holy scriptures,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
and again in (2 Corinthians 6: 11-18)
11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
We are so very much like the Corinthians St. Paul wrote to– totally restricted by our own affections. Why is it so difficult for us to stop doing something we like and enjoy, even if we know deep down it is wrong? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?
That’s not to say that I think everyone who celebrates Halloween knows it is wrong. In fact, I know that is not the case at all. Most people do not believe it’s wrong, hence the debate and struggle by so many each year. However, I also know that many hearts are in doubt and if that is the case for you, I encourage you to read through some of my past posts on Halloween, including the links included in this post which were written by various priests, etc.
Today is just another typical day for us. We will not go anywhere special or do something out of the ordinary to make our kids feel like we’re making up for something they’re missing out on because we know they’re not. We will finish our day as normal, with the addition of the reading of the lives of some of the saints we celebrate tomorrow or the life and miracles of Sts. Justina and Kyprianos (patron saints against witchcraft and sorcery) after Small Compline.
Either way, however you choose to spend this evening, I pray you have a safe and blessed night.