Views about Halloween... Can you be a Christian and still celebrate it?

MichaelWitcoff

Hummingbird
Orthodox
I clicked on the video thinking it would be Protestant cringe, but his exegesis is surprisingly orthodox. Thanks for sharing.
Don’t be fooled by the IFB crew, they are ravenous wolves. Try speaking to them about Orthodoxy, sacraments, the priesthood, etc and they will instantly reveal what they are to you. Lots of young men are drawn to them due to their traditional take on certain cultural issues, and thank God some of them eventually figure it out and leave that cult for the Church instead.
 

Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
I gave a short post a year ago, but now, some further thoughts:

I admit, I gave little thought to this subject before I became Orthodox. I was pretty much completely indifferent toward Halloween. I mean, the obviously "provocative" elements like witches and ghosts and demons were a no-go, but none of that seems intrinsic to trick-or-treating. While I appreciate the desire to avoid worldly corruption, is letting kids ring your doorbell and giving them candy the worst thing in the world? How exactly does turning off all the lights and acting like you're not at home draw anybody to Christ or the Church?

We can talk all day about the supposed demonic origins of it all, but at the end of the day it's largely irrelevant because 99% of people don't know or don't care about where it came from and it's totally detached from trick-or-treating. It's sort of like reading Fr. Seraphim Rose criticizing rock music: I can completely agree with his criticisms of the degenerate sex-and-drugs music of the 60s and 70s while pointing out that what I listen to, while technically still something resembling "rock", is so many degrees removed from its theoretical origin that it bears virtually no resemblance either in sound or ideology to what he criticized.

I'm sure everybody here would decry how Easter is mostly associated with colorful bunnies, chocolate, and egg hunts that have nothing to do with celebrating Christ's resurrection, but it's the exact same thing here, flipped the other way around. Trick-or-treating is every bit the secularized public ritual that Christmas (excuse to buy stuff!) and The Fourth Of July (excuse to grill meat and drink beer!) are, amongst other examples. Maybe that's not exactly good, but it's also not devil worship, and seems at least possible to "participate" in some sort of way that's not condoning evil.

At the very least, there's a lot more ambiguity surrounding this question than gets popularly presented. My priest seems to dislike Halloween and sets up alternate stuff for kids to do at Church on the 31st. Maybe that's the way to go, I don't know. I haven't gotten a chance to ask them about their rationale behind this stuff yet.

Personally I have no interest in anything related to Halloween so I don't mind one way or the other, but now that I live in an actual house in a neighborhood and have a wife who enjoys decorating for every occasion imaginable, and a kid of my own, I can't exactly just ignore it anymore. I wouldn't put inflatable screaming demons in my yard or let my kid go trick-or-treating as a vampire witch or watch obscene horror movies, but avoiding that sort of participation seems pretty easy. At the end of the day, I understand and respect the position of Christians who choose not to participate but I'm not convinced letting your kids go trick-or-treating is intrinsically wrong.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Trick or treat could be a good chance to spread the Gospel. Along with the piece of candy we could place a small card with an image of Christ & the Theotokos or quotes from Scripture or the Saints. You never know how those small seeds may sprout for the little ones in their life, or the lives of their parents.
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
Trick or treat could be a good chance to spread the Gospel. Along with the piece of candy we could place a small card with an image of Christ & the Theotokos or quotes from Scripture or the Saints. You never know how those small seeds may sprout for the little ones in their life, or the lives of their parents.

Aside from the fact that Halloween is demonic, this doesn't strike me as a particularly Orthodox understanding of evangelism. Some of us are called to be evangelists and missionaries -- good! The rest of us should live as examples for non-Orthodox, instead of shoving our faith in people's faces.

As for your comments, and those of @Hermetic Seal, they reveal the mental gymnastics that people go through to hold onto their cultural traditions, even when those traditions (Halloween) are clearly demonic. Halloween is intrinsically evil and we should purge it from our homes, and protect our children from it. It's not even a particularly important celebration in the West; why do you feel the need to defend it?

There is no 'ambiguity' when it comes to evil. Evil is evil.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
I think it's interesting that people who come from a Christian, non-American background, such as @Eusebius Erasmus, my parish priest, and others, are so quick to point out that Halloween is evil. People from without can see more clearly what is going on inside our culture than those within.

If I walk around my neighborhood right now there's ghosts, witches, and undead decorations. That's not right. If I were to participate in Halloween in any way I would contribute to that. If I were to give candy to kids dressed demonically, that reinforces that that is alright to them, and I don't think anyone here is actually going to discriminate from kid to kid and say "you're dressed as a firefighter, you get a treat. Your sister is a witch though, and witches don't get treats."
 

JustinHS

Sparrow
Orthodox
Lately, I take the Jonathan Pageau view of Halloween. It’s just another inversion festival before responding with prayer and fasting (Nativity fast & Lent). I used to be dead-set against it, but I’ve become more chilled. Maybe, it’s growth. Maybe, it’s not. God knows.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Trick or treat could be a good chance to spread the Gospel. Along with the piece of candy we could place a small card with an image of Christ & the Theotokos or quotes from Scripture or the Saints. You never know how those small seeds may sprout for the little ones in their life, or the lives of their parents.

I respectfully disagree with this.

Whilst you could say that having strangers arriving at your door is a good opportunity for evangelizing, I don't think it is the right context. I think it is more important to not participate in it to any degree. By even opening your door to trick or treaters you are giving an endorsement to the celebration. There are countless other ways to evangelize to kids/parents that don't require participating in something anti-Christian to get the message across.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Aside from the fact that Halloween is demonic, this doesn't strike me as a particularly Orthodox understanding of evangelism. Some of us are called to be evangelists and missionaries -- good! The rest of us should live as examples for non-Orthodox, instead of shoving our faith in people's faces.

As for your comments, and those of @Hermetic Seal, they reveal the mental gymnastics that people go through to hold onto their cultural traditions, even when those traditions (Halloween) are clearly demonic. Halloween is intrinsically evil and we should purge it from our homes, and protect our children from it. It's not even a particularly important celebration in the West; why do you feel the need to defend it?

There is no 'ambiguity' when it comes to evil. Evil is evil.
There is no mental gymnastics lol, that's an incredibly uncharitable way to view it. And as far as "shoving our faith in people's faces" is concerned I don't think that is what I suggested. St. Nektarios used to write quotes from Scripture on cigarette boxes when he was a young man, even though smoking cigarettes can be wrong. Are you prepared to say that St. Nektarios was wrong for doing so?

I agree with @Hermetic Seal , trick or treating is a thoroughly secular activity so participating in a principled and discerning way is fine. This kind of attitude reminds me of Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist groups who say decorating a Christmas tree has pagan roots therefore its demonic to participate in Christmas that way.

Of course I'm also not going to tell people they absolutely have to let their children participate in trick or treating either. But I don't see how its inherently wrong either.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
There is no mental gymnastics lol, that's an incredibly uncharitable way to view it. And as far as "shoving our faith in people's faces" is concerned I don't think that is what I suggested. St. Nektarios used to write quotes from Scripture on cigarette boxes when he was a young man, even though smoking cigarettes can be wrong. Are you prepared to say that St. Nektarios was wrong for doing so?

I agree with @Hermetic Seal , trick or treating is a thoroughly secular activity so participating in a principled and discerning way is fine. This kind of attitude reminds me of Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist groups who say decorating a Christmas tree has pagan roots therefore its demonic to participate in Christmas that way.

Of course I'm also not going to tell people they absolutely have to let their children participate in trick or treating either. But I don't see how its inherently wrong either.
Trick or treating is not a "thoroughly secular activity" when many (most?) of the kids are going to be dressed as ghosts, witches, undead, vampires, skeletons, literal demons, etc.

The logic train for myself is "Am I going to reward kids for dressing as evil things? No. Am I going to discriminate between children and only give candy to the kids not dressed as evil things? Almost certainly not. Therefore it is best for me not to participate." I would like to see that logic addressed.
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
There is no mental gymnastics lol, that's an incredibly uncharitable way to view it. And as far as "shoving our faith in people's faces" is concerned I don't think that is what I suggested. St. Nektarios used to write quotes from Scripture on cigarette boxes when he was a young man, even though smoking cigarettes can be wrong. Are you prepared to say that St. Nektarios was wrong for doing so?

Are you as developed in your faith as St. Nektarios? Are you a saint? If so, then do as God tells you in individual circumstances.

Until then, do not participate in evil. Keep your hands and your heart clean. Monastics and priests from the old Orthodox countries generally counsel us not to celebrate Halloween -- if you feel your noetic vision is better developed than them, then that might be a problem.

And anyway, why do you defend a festival that is demonic, and ultimately of little consequence? You say that "trick or treating" is a purely secular activity, which is incorrect, but even if that were true, do you really believe our secular Western society is not demonic?
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
I respectfully disagree with this.

Whilst you could say that having strangers arriving at your door is a good opportunity for evangelizing, I don't think it is the right context. I think it is more important to not participate in it to any degree. By even opening your door to trick or treaters you are giving an endorsement to the celebration. There are countless other ways to evangelize to kids/parents that don't require participating in something anti-Christian to get the message across.
Ok, we can agree to disagree. I have no problem with people who choose not to participate at all... But would you say the same thing about Christmas traditions? Some Christmas traditions were once pagan but overtime have been adopted and in some sense "sanctified" to where they no longer hold that kind of meaning.

Look at what St. Innocent of Alaska did when he converted the Native tribes. He attempted to preserve as much of the good things in their culture as possible and discarded the parts which aren't compatible with the Orthodox Faith. It's the same for trick or treating, it is a secular activity which can be sanctified for the glory of God. And as Orthodox Christians we can do so through a careful and discerning participation.
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
Ok, we can agree to disagree. I have no problem with people who choose not to participate at all... But would you say the same thing about Christmas traditions? Some Christmas traditions were once pagan but overtime have been adopted and in some sense "sanctified" to where they no longer hold that kind of meaning.

Look at what St. Innocent of Alaska did when he converted the Native tribes. He attempted to preserve as much of the good things in their culture as possible and discarded the parts which aren't compatible with the Orthodox Faith. It's the same for trick or treating, it is a secular activity which can be sanctified for the glory of God. And as Orthodox Christians we can do so through a careful and discerning participation.

This is a complete Red Herring that has already been addressed within this thread. See my prior comments about how to the ancients and medievals properly 'baptized' pagan traditions into Christianity.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Are you as developed in your faith as St. Nektarios? Are you a saint? If so, then do as God tells you in individual circumstances.

Until then, do not participate in evil. Keep your hands and your heart clean. Monastics and priests from the old Orthodox countries generally counsel us not to celebrate Halloween -- if you feel your noetic vision is better developed than them, then that might be a problem.

And anyway, why do you defend a festival that is demonic, and ultimately of little consequence? You say that "trick or treating" is a purely secular activity, which is incorrect, but even if that were true, do you really believe our secular Western society is not demonic?
Your logic is backwards. The fact that St. Nektarios did such a thing shows us it's correct for us to do as well. We can model our lives on our contemporary Saints because they modeled their lives on Christ. I'm not sure what Halloween is like outside of the U.S. but where I live it is a secular activity with certain excesses that should be avoided.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
This is a complete Red Herring that has already been addressed within this thread. See my prior comments about how to the ancients and medievals properly 'baptized' pagan traditions into Christianity.
I'm not going to read this entire thread but if you would like to link to one of your previous posts, or repost it, then feel free and I'll give you the courtesy of reading it.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
Ok, we can agree to disagree. I have no problem with people who choose not to participate at all... But would you say the same thing about Christmas traditions? Some Christmas traditions were once pagan but overtime have been adopted and in some sense "sanctified" to where they no longer hold that kind of meaning.

Look at what St. Innocent of Alaska did when he converted the Native tribes. He attempted to preserve as much of the good things in their culture as possible and discarded the parts which aren't compatible with the Orthodox Faith. It's the same for trick or treating, it is a secular activity which can be sanctified for the glory of God. And as Orthodox Christians we can do so through a careful and discerning participation.
I made literally the same exact argument against @Eusebius Erasmus months ago on this very thread and now I'm agreeing with him. Again, I would ask you to comment on the logic of my last two points.

Since I made this argument, and especially since you're a catechumen, please forgive me if it really was me that gave you these ideas.

Putting pinecones and ornaments on a tree, especially Christian ornaments, during a holiday universally recognized as celebrating the birth of Christ is incomparable to a holiday where kids dress as demons for candy that will give them diabetes and a sugar addiction.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
There is no mental gymnastics lol, that's an incredibly uncharitable way to view it. And as far as "shoving our faith in people's faces" is concerned I don't think that is what I suggested. St. Nektarios used to write quotes from Scripture on cigarette boxes when he was a young man, even though smoking cigarettes can be wrong. Are you prepared to say that St. Nektarios was wrong for doing so?

I agree with @Hermetic Seal , trick or treating is a thoroughly secular activity so participating in a principled and discerning way is fine. This kind of attitude reminds me of Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist groups who say decorating a Christmas tree has pagan roots therefore its demonic to participate in Christmas that way.

Of course I'm also not going to tell people they absolutely have to let their children participate in trick or treating either. But I don't see how its inherently wrong either.

Again I respectfully disagree. As per my first post in this topic, I would argue that participating in a secularized Halloween as being 'just a bit of fun' is essentially sending the message that traditions and rituals are just an empty, harmless bit of fun. I don't think it is spiritually wise to send this message to children. It's also not true, these traditions do hold meaning and it means something to participate in it.

Also the comparison with the Christmas tree doesn't really hold water, because bringing a tree indoors is a relatively innocuous thing. However trick or treat, is all about dressing up in demonic costumes and threatening people that if they don't give you something as a treat you will play a nasty trick on them. Even if the 'trick' part of the deal is downplayed to the point of just being a word in the title thesedays, it's still not a wholesome thing to participate in, even when completely secularized.

So even completely secularized, by participating in Halloween you are teaching children that; a) traditions are just a meaningless, harmless bit of fun, and b) that its okay to threaten people in order to get 'treats'
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
Your logic is backwards. The fact that St. Nektarios did such a thing shows us it's correct for us to do as well. We can model our lives on our contemporary Saints because they modeled their lives on Christ. I'm not sure what Halloween is like outside of the U.S. but where I live it is a secular activity with certain excesses that should be avoided.
Your ‘logic’ is Western, and needs to be baptized into Eastern Orthodoxy so that it can be properly applied. We Orthodox don’t say, “oh because a saint did X, this means X is permissible for all of us who aren’t saints.” That’s wrong.

When you have clear noetic vision, then feel free to use it, but those of us who don’t, like myself, generally don’t make ‘logical’ arguments to win arguments like ((Ben Shapiro)). Our faith rests on Christ.

That’s all I’ll say about this to you, since this conversation is running in circles at this point.
 
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