This coming Sunday is October 31st, a date of historical significance on several levels, depending upon your faith tradition and cultural upbringing.
To many Christians, October 31st is remembered and revered as “Reformation Day”, a key date in Church history. It was on the last day of October in 1517 when Martin Luther wrote a letter to the Catholic Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting, among other things, the sale of indulgences. He had other complaints, too, and what would become known as the “95 Theses” were nailed to the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenburg, Germany.
The Protestant Reformation was officially underway, forever transforming Christianity.
Sunday is also Halloween, an occasion with admittedly pagan and creepy origins, involving druids, ghosts and goblins, among other things. Many Christians have strong feelings about the day and choose to either ignore it altogether or amend it in order to have it better complement their convictions.
Last year, I asked if you allowed your kids to trick-or-treat, and wow, did we hear from you! Jean and I have always allowed our boys to dress-up and knock on doors of friends, although we understand and respect those who do not participate. In allowing Trent and Troy to trick-or-treat, we have certain ground rules: The costumes can’t be ghoulish, and, in fact, we encourage them to dress up as superheroes or pretend to be someone of admirable reputation. We carve pumpkins, too, but the same spirit of the law applies: happy and smiling faces, thank you, nothing scary or wicked.
Do you think Halloween has changed a lot since you were a kid?
I have to admit, the explosion of Halloween “decorations” in the neighborhoods of Colorado Springs has sort of taken me by surprise. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending will rise 22% this year to a total of $5.8 billion! It’s beginning to rival spending on traditional holiday decorations. In fact, many retailers have come to nickname it “the second Christmas.”
Writing in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, columnist Sue Shellenbarger shared some interesting background on the evolving nature of Halloween:
Trick-or-treating had its heyday in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s, when kids donned homemade costumes and roamed their neighborhoods. But amid mounting fears in the 1970s of poisoned candy and other hazards, parents began to take charge. Commercial costumes often replaced homemade ones. Adults began donning costumes too, inspired by a boom in horror movies and a blitz from marketers and bars. Like all kids’ activities and sports in recent years, Halloween has become progressively more structured, as protective parents replace trick-or-treating with painstakingly organized school parties and parades and in-home celebrations.
I’m interested in your opinion.
Is this a good or bad trend — or don’t you care at all?
Churches have attempted to counter the negative aspects of Halloween with “Fall” or “Harvest” festivals, which are a great alternative for kids, too.
Philosophical and theological considerations aside, one thing is certain: there’s going to be a LOT of candy bought and consumed between today and next week.
So, let’s get down to business: what’s your favorite treat?
My vote: Kit Kats.
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