Some people grow up with moms who make their homes into Christmas villages. Back in the day, when I was a kid, Christmas sweaters were something the super Christmas moms actually wore and not as a joke. My mom wasn’t exactly like that. My mom’s jam was Halloween.
Beginning October 1, she would begin only talking in her witch voice, complete with a believable cackle. We would string cobwebs in the windows and wait for the day with as much anticipation as kids at Christmas. There was nothing pagan or anything like that rooted in our obsession with the day. Like most people who get into this day, it was just a day about make-believe and lots of candy. For those reasons, it was one of my most favorite days of the year. This particular Halloween I was eight and I only wanted to be one thing that year—the lead character from my very favorite movie that had released that year. Many good movies released in 1990 like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Home Alone, Kindergarten Cop, 3 Men and a Little Lady, Problem Child, and Captain America. Like any good ’90s child, I could’ve dressed as my favorite turtle that year, but no, that wasn’t my favorite movie. Neither were any of those others.
My favorite movie was Pretty Woman. Yes, for some reason I was allowed to watch that movie and that year all I wanted to be was Vivian. But not Vivian post-Rodeo Drive, but Vivian at the beginning of the movie. And somehow, that same mom who began cackling on October 1 also thought it was okay for me to be Vivian for Halloween. So I borrowed her knee-high boots, that came up to my thighs and rolled up my shortest skirt, flipped my shirt into that loopy thing we used to do back in those days to make our shirts crop tops, crimped my hair because it was the ’90s, and put on my mom’s brightest lipstick. I looked every bit of the eight-year-old version of Vivian. Please, dear friend, tell me you are laughing at this scene.
This night was the night I still remember; and now that I’m a believer, I’ll never forget the love I experienced. That year we weren’t able to go trick-or-treating because it was storming so bad. So my mom took us to the mall because the stores used to hand out candy.
But it was pretty boring. So we piled back into our little Plymouth Horizon in search of some kid-friendly Halloween fun. Driving around our neighborhood, we saw in bright lights: “Rain or Shine! Fall Festival. Lots of Candy!” We screeched into the parking lot and ran into that church’s gym ready to redeem this dreary day. And it was wonderful—games everywhere and tons of candy. But the best part of all was at every single booth those sweet Baptist volunteers would lean down and ask me, “And who are you, sweetie?” I would straighten up proudly and say with the confidence of Vivian herself, “I am Pretty Woman!” The look—a mix of shock and sweetness. I can see it now and it just makes me laugh so very hard. They loved me well. A girl, her brother, and a single mom who didn’t go to church were loved that day, dressed as a hooker and all!
This is why I love Halloween and love for Christians to open their doors on this day: it is the one day of the year your neighbors knock on your door! Let’s be there to open it! One of our greatest commandments is to love our neighbors (Mark 12:30–31). Obviously, you can still love your neighbors and not participate in Halloween. But on what other days of the year do your neighbors knock on your door and walk around your street in groups? Let’s be there to greet them. Let’s love them right where they are, even if they have costumes we aren’t comfortable with. This holiday is whatever you choose to make it. The day is already set aside; it’s up to us to make it sacred—holy and set apart.
Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?
If you look into the history of Halloween, its origin has actually been disputed for quite some time. Believe it or not, Halloween has been historically celebrated on various liturgical calendars over the course of Christian history as a day to either remember the dead or, in the Catholic tradition, to pray for souls thought to be in purgatory. I know, still morbid. The belief that this holiday is a satanic one comes from the widely held belief that Halloween came out of the Celtic harvest festivals, and those festivals may, or may not, have some pagan roots. Did you know that the word Halloween actually means “holy evening” and is of Christian origin? I’m not trying to baptize this day into becoming an overtly Christian holiday. I’m just trying to help break a stereotype that was created and has kept many, out of fear of being supporters of anything related to Satan, from being a part of Halloween.
Today, the reason people celebrate Halloween has very little to do with its Christian or Celtic origins. Now it is simply a day of dressing up and eating a ridiculous amount of candy. Yes, some still like to get into the scary and spooky of the day, but it is very rarely done in a demonic way.
For Christians, I think it’s an important time for us to love others well. As I’ve already shared, it’s the one day of the year that our neighbors knock on our doors. On top of that, the Christian community has, unintentionally, done a lot of damage making unbelievers feel judged during this time of year with their “shame for celebrating a demonic holiday” comments and attitudes. Let’s redeem some of the fear and hate that has been wrongly spread. This holiday, like so many others, is simply whatever you choose to make it.
I hear people say often that we are called to be “in the world but not of the world” and this phrase confuses me so much. It’s not a verse in the Bible; did you know that? We quote it so much in the church that many of us believe it must be somewhere. It originates from Jesus’ prayer in John 17. In this prayer, Jesus proclaims that He came to them (the disciples) and that He was not of the world, and that His disciples weren’t of the world either (vv. 14 and 16). Then verse 18 says, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Hence the saying: in the world, not of the world. However, we’ve somehow interpreted this to mean that we are in this world, but we aren’t to have anything to do with it. If we draw this conclusion, then we’ve missed verse 15, which states, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Jesus’ desire wasn’t our removal from the world or those in it. He didn’t commission us to be isolated in our safe Christian bubbles. He sent us into the world, and He prayed for our protection from the evil one. We wouldn’t need a prayer of protection if we weren’t stepping into places where evil was. Let’s not step out of this world; it wasn’t Jesus’ heart.
Do you enter every holiday wanting it to be meaningful for your family, only to find that it feels chaotic with no direction? Holidays are meant to be more than chaos with glimpses of grace; they are meant to draw us closer to God and one another.
We want all the whimsy and joy the holidays held when we were children before life crowded it out. We want the holidays to reflect our love for Jesus and reveal the grace that has been lavished on us, but life is so busy that setting a game plan just doesn’t happen No more. It’s time to stopping trying to survive the holidays or overindulge the whimsy, and instead live in the abundant life He called us to live.
Sacred Holidays is