This time of year children are dressing up, pumpkins come out with their toothy smiles, and sugar-highs strike households like the plague. But is there something deeper and more menacing to this season than what is seen on the surface?
For Christians, Halloween is often up for debate. Should Christians celebrate this pagan holiday? Does God want us to abstain from participating? Should children trick-or-treat, or is it much worse than mere candy collecting?
Halloween is said to have originated from Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival where participants dressed up in costumes and lit bonfires to ward off spirits. Over time, this became Halloween.
In a convenience poll taken through various Facebook groups, it was found that Christians in favor of Halloween took up 70% of the votes, while those against Christians celebrating it held only 10% of the votes, the rest were uncertain in their stance on the issue.
One of the people in favor of Halloween is senior Henry Maynard.
“I don’t see any problem with it in a Christian society,” Maynard said. “I see Halloween as just a mere celebration for kids to get candy.”
This sentiment is shared by senior Taylor Martin.
“I think Halloween is great,” Martin said. “With Halloween, we are celebrating life and death, and in many ways, I think that is beautiful, even if most Christians will disagree.”
Freshman Hannah Johnson said Halloween is fine — until taken too far.
“Having your children dress up as princesses and Power Rangers is innocent,” Johnson said. “In my eyes … it’s the people who take it to be the Devil’s holiday and celebrate it as that who I am really worried about.”
Sonya Lawrence, a junior from Jamaica, holds an opposing view.
“Growing up in Jamaica, we never celebrated Halloween,” Lawrence said. “But, when I came here freshman year … I did a little bit of research.”
Upon researching, Lawrence decided Halloween isn’t for her.
“Even if it was a thing [in Jamaica], I feel like in my family, we wouldn’t have celebrated, just for the reason that we’re Christian. We would consider it to be demonic – and we shy away from things being demonic.”
Lawrence said she believes the intentions behind the season should be considered before participation.
“As Christians, I strongly think we should consider the roots behind things before we do them,” Lawrence said. “For me, it’s more about significance … the basis of Halloween is to ward spirits off – I already have Jesus for that.”
Itzel Barron, a junior, is also against Christians celebrating Halloween.
Growing up in a Christian home, Barron’s parents were strongly against the holiday, and let her skip school and stay home for that day.
“As a kid, I didn’t really understand it as much, [but now] I stick to what I was instilled [with] growing up,” Barron said. “Halloween is founded on …something that we as Christians don’t believe – it’s completely contradictory.”
Jesse Brown, the associate dean of student development, also grew up in a family that did not partake in Halloween. With his own children, Brown has taken a less exclusive approach to the holiday.
“Our kids have dressed up for Halloween, but I think they like getting candy,” Brown said. “For us, it’s another excuse to go and get together with people we enjoy for dinner. There’s no sentimentality attached to Halloween for me.”
David Alexander, the associate professor of philosophy, is in favor of integrating Christian traditions into Halloween.
“Part of what we’re called to do … in the redeeming grace of God, is to redeem all of culture, every sphere that we … connect to, we are called to redeem – so that applies to Halloween, too.”
Instead of condemning the whole holiday, Alexander suggests that Christians focus on seeing Halloween as an opportunity for cultural enrichment and redemption.
“There’s nothing wrong with … celebrating the end of harvest time [and] celebrating the cycles of creation … this reminds us of His constant care – all of that is beautiful and wonderful,” he said.
“I think we can still do [trick-or-treat] and celebrate that kind of stuff, but we can do it in a way that is more…obviously redemptive – [and make it] a celebration of the glory of God and His care for us.”