I know plenty of Christians who go to costume parties and take their kids trick-or-treating. Why would they do this since Halloween is a pagan holiday? Or is it? A little bit of digging unearthed some interesting tidbits:
- Halloween originated as a celebration of the Celtic new year, a time when the Celts believed that the spirits of the dead returned. They would try to disguise themselves a ghouls to fool spirits into thinking that they were other spirits instead of vulnerable mortals ripe for tormenting. They also left treats on their doorsteps to appease these spirits and keep them out of their homes.
- But, the Christian Church, in its grand tradition of hijacking indigenous celebrations and supplanting them with their own, replaced the new year celebration with All Saints' Day, a time to honor the deceased saints, which evolved to All Hallows' Day, with the preceding day becoming All Hallows' Eve, or Halloween.
That's the gist anyway. You can visit history.com if you want more details. My point is, Halloween--like all holidays, including Christmas--has its roots in multiple traditions.
Why do I celebrate it, or any holiday? Because it's fun and life was meant to be enjoyed. Because I loved the creativity of going to thrift shops with my son and piecing together "junk" to make a costume. Because I can't wait to see the grin on his face when he comes back with a sack full of candy. Because traditions like carving a jack-o-lantern every year are the stuff memories are made of.
Does not believing in Jesus make you unworthy to enjoy the traditions of Christmas, most of which have nothing to do with Christianity anyway? I, like plenty of non-Christians, celebrate Christmas as a time to strive toward human ideals like kindness and generosity, a time to express love and appreciation for my family. I doubt that the actual Jesus was as perfect and benevolent as his followers make him out to be, and I certainly don't think he was God, but many of his teachings--like loving your neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, the whole concept that we have an obligation to take care of our fellow human beings--have alleviated a great deal of suffering in this world.
You'd have to have a heart two sizes too small not to celebrate that.