Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trick or Treating?

In not too long, Americans will be celebrating the ghoouulisshhh feast of Halloween. What will you be doing?

I am well aware that most Orthodox are told not to celebrate Halloween because of its pagan roots. I know many Orthodox who don't. But I also know many that do.

In the past we have not celebrated Halloween, but this year we are. My reasoning: I see nothing counter-cultural through simply abstaining from celebrations. I think true counter-culture actions are ones that seek to transform. What better thing can we do then to do our best to transform Halloween into something holy?

I'm not sure yet what that will entail in the years to come. Western Christians have the advantage of celebrating All Saint's Eve on Halloween in anticipation of their feast day. We Orthodox do not. However, there is always a time and place to celebrate Christ's victory over death and what better time than Halloween to do just that.

For those of you looking for wholesome ways to celebrate Halloween, below are some ideas. If you are not celebrating Halloween, feel free to talk more about why in the comments.

  • An appropriate opening to any celebration of this holiday will be to sing a triumphant song. Although it is NOT pascha, I do think the paschal song is appropriate. "Christ is risen from the dead and by his death he has trampled death and unto those in the tombs, he has granted life."
  • Carve pumpkins. I have always loved this activity as a kid. We will be having a 'silly face' competition. Whoever carves the silliest pumpkin face wins a prize! For the little ones, simply let them go crazy with markers and glitter and glue.
  • Play doughnuts on a string or apples and flour for some great laughs.
  • Watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for some old fashioned American fun.
  • End the evening fun with vespers and light candles for your departed loved ones.
Do you have any ideas to contribute?


Rev. John Franklin said...

Thanks so much for your suggestion of the Paschal hymn... wunderbar!

I am a pastor, and have led my congregations toward like engagement of the day for some years now. What better opportunity to celebrate Christ's victory over death, and the resultant victory of the Saints who have gone before us, then on the night when the ancient traditions would point toward the fear of death!

Rev. John

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

We carve pumpkins, but one side always has a cross, and a candle inside to shine the light of the Cross out....

The kids dress up, and we play fun games such as apple-bobbing and the blindfolded "feely -box" (filled with all sorts of interesting shaped and textured small items to guess at) in the dining room, with the lampada lit and burning brightly in front of the Holy Icons.

The games always end with prayers at the Icon Corner, asking the intercessions of all the Saints, as is appropriate for the original purpose of All Hallows Eve, and especially of those Saints commemorated on Nov 1st.

We enjoy it, but do not go out trick or treating. If children come to the door, they get some candy.

Michelle M. said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas. We plan to dress up the kids this year and take them out, and I was very pleased with my son who wanted to dress up a his patron saint, King David. We also plan to carve our pumpkins with crosses and place them on our doorstep. My children are much too young to see anything more than fun in it. Although I do plan to avoid homes with decorations that are inappropriate. I like elizabeth's idea to end with prayers. I think it would be very appropriate for us to do that immediately.

sjm said...

Great ideas! I never was allowed to celebrate Halloween when I was growing up, but we often went to Harvest Parties. My husband pointed out that Halloween is the actual Christian holiday which was to obscure the pagan festivities that surrounded the harvest. We have chosen to celebrate it because we want our kids to know the true reason for the holiday. Also, I believe Orthodox Christians that attend Western Rite churches celebrate All Saints Day on Nov 1.

Katie Jones said...

We are having a neighborhood block party. Several families on the block are participating and many of the children are dressing as saints.

Luke is too young to understand much of anything, so we are just treating it as a neighborhood party. For next year, I am going to do a bit more research. I have heard some pretty alarming objections to celebrating at all that I will have to consider carefully.

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