Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Is is possible to observe both Halloween and All Saints?

by Eric

I can't count the number of news articles I've read and conversations I've had with people in which Halloween is condemned. Quite often, All Saints' Day is lifted up in its place. Me? I like 'em both.

For me, Halloween brings about community and creativity in a unique way. Costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, and good natured scares are fantastic--and, I think, good for us (especially those of us who tend to become so serious or lethargic as it gets darker and colder). Halloween was over a week ago, now, but I remember it vividly. The Saturday before Halloween, my wife and I drove up to Portland to spend time with her cousins. We went to an Ingrid Michaelson concert (which rocked, btw!), dressed as...zombies.

As you can maybe see from the picture to the left, we went all out. The highlight of the weekend was the time spent getting all "zombified." We shared many laughs, tried crazy new things, helped each other a lot, and grew as a family. Such a good time.
As for All Saints' Day, well, that's one of my favorite church festivals. At Holy Cross, we didn't go all out for All Saints' Sunday--we lit some candles, read aloud the names of those who have recently gone into the care of our Lord, and held those people (along with other saints lifted up by the congregation) in prayer. It was simple. It was beautiful. It was such a powerful experience for our congregation of sinner/saints to commemorate the saints that have gone before us.
Obviously, I think it's perfectly fine to not just observe both Halloween and All Saints' Day, but to celebrate them both. Both of these occasions remind us of death, but in very particular (and good) ways. In Halloween, we recognize death--but make a joke of it. After all, ultimately, death is a joke. Christ has conquered death, and it no longer has power over us. We are free to come together and celebrate life (and eat candy). All Saints' Day doesn't make a joke of death, but confronts it. We mourn those whom we have lost, but celebrate their eternal and full communion with God--and are reminded that we, too, are destined for similar glory. Both are occasions to celebrate!


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