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

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
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.
I'd be happy to address your points.

I don't think participating in a discerning way is necessarily endorsing the excesses of the tradition. I mentioned St. Nektarios is a previous post because I think he shows us how we can participate in these things in a holy and discerning way.

I think we can agree that smoking is sinful, or at least it can be. But St. Nektarios used to work (from what I remember) at a cigarette factory and wrote quotes from Scripture on them. Are you prepared to say he was wrong by participating in this? Of course not. How about Christmas? Is it wrong to work as a bank teller at an institution which makes money off usurious loans? or a corporation which celebrates "pride month"? How far do you take this principle?

We can both agree that there are lines to be drawn and at a certain point we shouldn't participate in institutions or traditions of the world, but it's not always clear as to when that is. Which is why we must be discerning.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
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.
You are dishonestly twisting my words. And you are not applying this principle consistently. It's easy to just write off what I'm saying as "western" and to sling mud.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
I'd be happy to address your points.

I don't think participating in a discerning way is necessarily endorsing the excesses of the tradition. I mentioned St. Nektarios is a previous post because I think he shows us how we can participate in these things in a holy and discerning way.

I think we can agree that smoking is sinful, or at least it can be. But St. Nektarios used to work (from what I remember) at a cigarette factory and wrote quotes from Scripture on them. Are you prepared to say he was wrong by participating in this? Of course not.
Handmade cigarettes in 1861 do not equal cigarettes in 2021, but I am also not a saint.
How about Christmas?
The Christmas comparison, as I've stated before, is a really disingenuous equivocation and I refuse to go any further, it should not require any explanation.
Is it wrong to work as a bank teller at an institution which makes money off usurious loans? or a corporation which celebrates "pride month"? How far do you take this principle?
Some disciplines do actually bar people from ordination, but I shouldn't as a lay Orthodox person pontificate on the validity of certain professions, this is a matter of discussion between an Orthodox Christian and their spiritual father and ordaining bishop with consideration of relevant commandments and canons.
We can both agree that there are lines to be drawn and at a certain point we shouldn't participate in institutions or traditions of the world, but it's not always clear as to when that is. Which is why we must be discerning.
If you made a chart with "Social Repercussions to not Partaking in an Act" on the X axis, and "Wrongfulness of Said Act", Halloween as everyone recognizes it today, would be at the top of the Y axis, and at the far left of the X axis. In lay terms, there is almost no pushback to simply not participating, and there are clear and extremely wrong aspects of it, from idolatry, glorification of the demonic, gluttony, and the reinforcement of coercion = reward in the minds of children.

That's the last of this I have to say to you.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Handmade cigarettes in 1861 do not equal cigarettes in 2021, but I am also not a saint.

The Christmas comparison, as I've stated before, is a really disingenuous equivocation and I refuse to go any further, it should not require any explanation.

Some disciplines do actually bar people from ordination, but I shouldn't as a lay Orthodox person pontificate on the validity of certain professions, this is a matter of discussion between an Orthodox Christian and their spiritual father and ordaining bishop with consideration of relevant commandments and canons.

If you made a chart with "Social Repercussions to not Partaking in an Act" on the X axis, and "Wrongfulness of Said Act", Halloween as everyone recognizes it today, would be at the top of the Y axis, and at the far left of the X axis. In lay terms, there is almost no pushback to simply not participating, and there are clear and extremely wrong aspects of it, from idolatry, glorification of the demonic, gluttony, and the reinforcement of coercion = reward in the minds of children.

That's the last of this I have to say to you.
Actually the point about Christmas is a perfect analogy. If you are against trick or treat then you should be against putting up a Christmas tree on the same grounds. Please explain how they are principally different. It's not disingenuous to bring this up. Are you unable to have a good faith discussion on these topics?
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
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.
I agree these traditions do hold meaning, I believe everything is deeply meaningful (even secular holidays). And as I've said before there are excesses that should be avoided, but in my mind that doesn't completely exclude the possibility that there are good aspects of these traditions that we can participate in and sanctify.
Also the comparison with the Christmas tree doesn't really hold water, because bringing a tree indoors is a relatively innocuous thing.
Brother, with all due respect, do you see how you just contradicted yourself? At first you say that traditions and rituals have meaning when it pertains to trick or treat. Then you downplay the meaning of those formerly pagan Christmas traditions, such as decorating a tree. It proves my point that even formerly pagan traditions can be "baptized" and take on a new meaning when they are practiced by Orthodox Christians. I believe both trick or treat and Christmas are deeply meaningful traditions and have good aspects to them that we can participate in.
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.
Like I said before, there are excesses that should be avoided. Now if you think these excesses prevent you from handing out candy or images of Christ to the children, then don't participate. I do not pass judgement on you if you choose to withdraw from it completely. I'm just saying that I don't see how it is intrinsically wrong to baptize the good aspects of this tradition in a principled and discerning way.
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'
Like I said previously, i don't believe these traditions are meaningless and i don't think every aspect of trick or treat is good either. I hope you take this as a good faith response because that is my intention.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I agree these traditions do hold meaning, I believe everything is deeply meaningful (even secular holidays). And as I've said before there are excesses that should be avoided, but in my mind that doesn't completely exclude the possibility that there are good aspects of these traditions that we can participate in and sanctify.

My point would be that the Church is full of feasts, traditions, and celebrations. You aren't really depriving your children of anything by not participating in worldly, secular traditions. I don't see that there are any good aspects to Halloween. What is the purpose of celebrating and dressing up as all kinds of evil, demonic looking things? What is the purpose of indulging in gluttonous consumption of unhealthy treats? What good does it do to knock on doors to threaten people into giving out treats? I don't see what is good about it at all...
Brother, with all due respect, do you see how you just contradicted yourself? At first you say that traditions and rituals have meaning when it pertains to trick or treat. Then you downplay the meaning of those formerly pagan Christmas traditions, decorating a tree. It proves my point that even pagan traditions can be "baptized" and take on a new meaning when they are practiced by Orthodox Christians. I believe both trick or treat and Christmas are deeply meaningful traditions and have good aspects to them that we can participate in.

Well it may appear to be so yes, but my point is that having a Christmas tree, is kinda innocuous. Halloween is not. I don't see what good aspects there are to it, if you care to tell me then I might reconsider my stance, but I don't see anything remotely worthy of baptizing in it. A Christmas tree is just bringing a tree indoors, its a bit weird, but it is not the same as dressing your children up to purposefully scare others, and then knock on their doors to demand unhealthy, gluttonous snacks under threat of having a nasty trick played on them. What exactly is there to be baptized in this?
Like I said before, there are excesses that should be avoided. Now if you think these excesses are too much for you to be able to hand out candy or images of Christ to the children, then don't participate. I do not pass judgement on you if you choose to withdraw from it completely. I'm just saying that I don't see how it is intrinsically wrong to baptize the good aspects of this tradition in a principled and discerning way.

I reject the notion that there is any good to Halloween, but I would be interested to hear what you think that good would be. In my opinion handing out images of Christ doesn't make it good or legitimize it.

Like I said previously, i don't believe these traditions are meaningless and i don't think every aspect of trick or treat is good either. I hope you take this as a good faith response because that is my intention

Likewise, I'm just sharing my thoughts on this subject. Ultimately what you do is your business, I just disagree, and that's what people do on the internet, no hard feelings.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I hate Halloween, and what it's become. In my youth in Scotland it was always a big deal, and was just a fun night for young kids, not adults or teenagers. There was no commercialism to it, the whole point was that kids made their own costumes, beyond that it was bobbing apples and getting sweeties from the old wifey's in the street. I remember one year going out as a rubex cube made out of a giant cardboard box that we'd coloured in. All daft fun for 5 year olds.

Nothing was ever sold for it, i guess maybe joke shops or magic shops might have done an extra trade, but certainly it was nothiing remotely like what it now is commercially.

We moved to London in the mid 80s, and Halloween was pretty much non existent. Guy Fawkes Night on 5th Nov was the big celebration in England then. We'd do Penny For The Guy, where you'd make a Guy (an effigy of Fawkes) and sit outside shops, and people would give you small change for it.

This probably sounds bad to modern ears, but it was all part of the tradition, and then come 5th November the Guy would be burnt on one of the many giant bonfires in pretty much all neighbourhoods across the country.

All that seems to have fallen away now, people call it Fireworks or Bonfire Night instead. All very anodyne and characterless compared to the cool, somewhat Dickenson celebration i remember back then.
 

OrthoCole

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
I'll address some of these points, I wont address all of them because I've already done so previously and don't want to keep repeating myself

I don't see that there are any good aspects to Halloween. What is the purpose of celebrating and dressing up as all kinds of evil, demonic looking things?
I don't think those aspects you mentioned are good, thats part of the excesses that I've referenced before. Instead of dressing them up as a demon or a witch then you can dress them up as something else. Like an astronaut, fireman, soldier, princess etc. Or the children can carry around crosses and icons and process them around the neighborhood.
What is the purpose of indulging in gluttonous consumption of unhealthy treats?
Well the point shouldn't be about indulging in gluttonous behaviour. That's easily avoided by parents not allowing the children to eat too much.
What good does it do to knock on doors to threaten people into giving out treats? I don't see what is good about it at all...
It's not a legitimate threat. Everyone is pretending, everyone is a willing participant for the sake of the tradition. Just like how parents play with their children, or actors play with each other for the sake of the story. That's completely normal with any tradition. But if that's still too much for some then parents shouldn't allow them to say "trick or treat." I think thats a very easy solution as well.
Well it may appear to be so yes, but my point is that having a Christmas tree, is kinda innocuous. Halloween is not.
But it's arbitrary to say, putting up a Christmas tree is fine because it's "kinda innocuous" but Halloween isn't, even though almost no one celebrates Halloween in the same way anymore.

I don't think many in this thread are using this principle consistently. Because if you did then you'd have to be against decorating a Christmas tree, they are principally the same.

At one point, decorating a tree in your home was a pagan ritual. But now it's not, because we took the good and left out the bad and imbued the traditions with new meaning. All things are meaningful, because all things were created by God. Therefore, there are good things to be recognized in everything - we just need to be discerning about them.
I don't see what good aspects there are to it, if you care to tell me then I might reconsider my stance, but I don't see anything remotely worthy of baptizing in it.
As I just said, everything is meaningful because it all ultimately comes from God. I think it's very dangerous to assert that some things are meaningful and other things are not. Part of the problem in our modern world is that we've destroyed all sense of meaning and good in the things that we do. So of course there is plenty of good to be recognized in the tradition of trick or treat.

One way to view the tradition, is as a kind of end of the year harvest festival. Where we thank God for the many blessings that he has given us this year. The blessings are symbolically represented in the candy. Think of it this way... God has given so much to us that we, in return, give it back to God via sharing it with our neighbors. "Trick or treat" can teach the children about the purpose of alms giving and an opportunity to build strong social bonds with our neighbors.
Likewise, I'm just sharing my thoughts on this subject. Ultimately what you do is your business, I just disagree, and that's what people do on the internet, no hard feelings.
Thank you Brother. Same here.
 
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Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
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.

Dude, if you read my post again it's obvious that I don't care about "hold(ing) on to" my "cultural traditions." I have no attachment to any of it. I think Halloween is boring. The main problem is that it's not obvious at all that trick-or-treating is "clearly demonic." Doing a bit of research, it seems like the origins of the practice are murky at best, trying to tie it to some ancient "Samhain" practice from 1500 years ago or whatever is serious grasping at straws and not even remotely convincing. This whole line of objection didn't even come about until the 70s, after kids had been trick-or-treating for 50+ years without much fuss, with Chick Tract-grade reactionary rhetoric. Rather, it seems more connected to protestant objections toward Catholicism than anything else.

On top of that, nobody has said anything to the central point of my previous post, that even if one accepts the worst-case scenario for the origin of Halloween practices, it's still an example cultural dilution of the original "meaning" of the holiday beyond all recognition, to an even greater extent than Easter, Christmas, and other holidays, to the point where virtually all Americans associate nothing with Halloween beyond a civic communal activity. The actual sins potentially involved - vanity ("Look at my sexy cat costume for the party!"), pride ("I must have the most outrageous lawn display in the neighborhood!"), gluttony, etc. are quite a bit more mundane than devil-worship and definitely not exclusive to Halloween.

Furthermore, considering that Satan's most destructive and effective campaign in the contemporary world has been to convince the average person he doesn't exist, a holiday where people have some thought, however mild, about death and the presence of evil forces would seem to be extremely counterintuitive. Whatever demon acts, Screwtape-style, as Director Of Halloween Operations is undoubtedly subjected to endless hectoring at the hands of his peers for not managing much in the way of results beyond edgy teenagers and college students deliberately trying to upset their fundy parents with their seances and ouija boards.

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?

Considering that there's no shortage of actual, obvious evil to protect our kids from, like homosexual propaganda, race-shame indoctrination, and other marxist nonsense discussed here om a daily basis, Halloween is sitting on the bench in low-A ball in Satan's League Of Evil. "Don't dress up like demons/ghosts/ghouls/etc because we shouldn't act like our spiritual enemies are to be taken lightly" seems like a pretty straightforward qualification to kids who want to go trick-or-treating. This strategy worked pretty well for my even-keeled Christian parents too, and not only did my brothers and I not grow up to worship Satan, I lost all interest in trick-or-treating by about age 12. (As an aside, I rarely saw, or see today, kids dressed up as anything obviously evil or demonic.)

At this point I'm pretty sure one could make a better argument for avoiding trick-or-treating on the basis of nutrition and dental hygiene. Again, I respect anybody who declines to have any participation in it, but this seems like more of a 1 Corinthians 8 moment than just about any other contemporary scenario I can think of.

As it stands, I tend to think that handing out some candy to neighborhood kids might be an actual, real-life opportunity to meet and connect with those around me, maybe even show some Christian love and hospitality, instead of just glowering in my room judging kids dressed up as pirates and princesses as they walk by my house.
 
Halloween is Satanic, it's a holiday which celebrates evil spirits and the occult, such as witches, zombies, grim reaper, etc. In fact it isn't unusual to see someone have a Halloween costume where they literally dress like the devil.

In kids, it feeds the deadly sin known as gluttony, which is of the flesh. In adults, it feeds the deadly sin of lust, also of the flesh.

A video from about 7 years ago giving further details:

I think Christians would be better off opting out of celebrating such a holiday.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
 

Dijkstra

Pigeon
While I will admit it is difficult to perceive harm in having the little tykes going around in daylight with their folks costumed as their favorite cartoon/movie characters or what they dream of as their adult career, I also ultimately don't grasp how it can be decoupled from the pagan practices which were part of the historical holiday.

The more I try applying thought to the matter, the more odd and impossible the idea of rehabilitating or "Christianizing" an originally pagan holiday sounds. Scripture does seem to state in no uncertain terms that, regardless of the context, we should have absolutely nothing to do with any of it (I think of passages such as Numbers 16:26, Ephesians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14, and I'm certain there are other examples and warnings about dealing with pagan and idolatrous passages too).
 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Inquirer
Perhaps some helpful commentary:

Bishop Irenei of London's thoughts on the Satanic "holiday" of Halloween:

"You must put out of your mind these thoughts about “going with the culture” and permitting your children to take part in such customs “so that they won’t feel out of place with their friends.” Where secular people may feel they have the option to divorce the spiritual realm from the physical and do one thing with their bodies while believing another in their minds, we Christian people do not. We know that the actions of our bodies, and the things we do with our lives, affect our hearts and are directly connected to spiritual realms of which we are, on account of our weakness, not always immediately aware. Can you honestly think—you who gaze at and touch the holy icons in your home and in our temples, and know that the saints are present with you, and that you are drawn into their holy lives—that to be willingly surrounded by images of the demons (however childish and infantile their representation) will not also affect your heart, and your children’s hearts, and draw them closer to powers that none would call holy? And not just to gaze upon such images, but to fashion them into clothes and costumes and wear them on one’s body?

Some will say, “Ah, but it is only a bit of fun, these days. It’s just fancy dress. No one believes in these things!” But tell me, do you think the devil is so foolish that he does not see the opportunity that comes from something being perceived as “just fun and games”? Do you believe he does not understand that such circumstances cause us to let down our guard, to tease and toy with the very ideas of demons and spiritual darkness? That he does not rejoice precisely because such images become things of play, and therefore things that we do not guard against when the play is done?

Yet others will say, “But it is not all macabre: children trick-or-treat in costumes of angels, of cartoon characters, of animals.” But this is to fail to see the point that it is the very admixture of these two things — the playful and the demonic — that does such damage to the soul. The Scriptures say, What concord hath Christ with Belial? (2 Cor. 6.15), and yet modern man feels perfectly comfortable to join the demons to teddy-bears and unicorns; to mix the sinister with the trivial. This is because he has lost the sense of how powerfully our idle “play” affects the inner disposition of the heart. We think that if we don’t take something “seriously”, it cannot seriously affect us—but look how much woe and despair there is in the world, as the result of this delusion! No, it is time to stand fast against this ridiculous trend."


 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Inquirer
And another:

Metropolitan Savvaty of Cheboksary and Chuvash's thoughts on the Satanic "holiday" of Halloween:

— "Halloween appeared among the Celtic tribes of England, Ireland and northern France (Gaul) in the pre-Christian era. Being pagans, the Celts believed in the birth of life from death. The beginning of the "new" year, new life in general, they celebrated in late autumn, on the night of October 31st to November 1st, when the time of cold, darkness and death began. On this night they glorified the pagan god Samhain, whom they revered as the Lord of Death. On the eve of the "New Year's celebration", druids (Celtic priests) extinguished hearths, fires, bonfires, lamps. On the evening of the next day, they lit a huge bonfire, on which sacrifices were made to the prince of darkness and death. The Druids believed that if Samhain remained satisfied with the sacrificial rewards of his faithful, he would allow the souls of the dead to visit their homes on that day.

An important part of the pagan cult is also the "fun" Trick-or-Treat, which is a ritualized act of offering to the dark forces in the service of Samhain. It was believed that the souls of the dead, who reigned in the world of darkness, cold and death, on the day of their visit to the world of the living, experience an insatiable hunger. Therefore, the Kelian pagans prepared treats for the spirits wandering in the darkness of the night, for they believed that if they were not propitiated by offerings, then the anger and curses of Samhain would fall on people.

Thus, we can draw immediate conclusions: This holiday is actually part of the service to the dark forces, headed by Satan. It becomes absolutely clear that it is in no way possible for an Orthodox Christian to take part in this holiday."


 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Inquirer
Finally…

Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo's thoughts on the Satanic "holiday" of Halloween:

— "Defenders of this celebration spoke of its secular and humorous nature. But, probably, you will agree that this is a countercultural holiday and this is precisely why its popularity among young people is connected. You are attracted by the opportunity that night to “have fun in full”, to behave cheekily, justifying your behavior by participating in a “holiday” that legalizes what is usually considered indecent and unacceptable.

I am afraid that you are thus giving power over yourself to the evil that wants to take root in our sin-tainted human nature. It is easy to dissolve, it will be difficult to gather later. Evil is clingy and contagious. It wants to take over your whole soul. Concession to him for one day or night will strengthen his position in your soul.

It seems to me that many of you are attracted by the infernal mysticism of this holiday. You are tired of the routine, you want to touch the mystery of evil and death. Of course, a person should not think about it. How to defeat evil? What will happen after death? You can and should find out. But accepting the conditions of the game of this "celebration", you enter the mystical realm from the side of evil, not good. You think, my dears, that by celebrating this day (or night), you are not participating in a pagan cult or satanic rites. But the actions that you perform, celebrating this "holiday", have a symbolic meaning and attach you, whether you like it or not, to evil."


 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
Met. Jonah says not to celebrate Halloween. Instead, do a Christian activity on October 31st:


My priest, on Sunday, told us that even handing out candy to trick or treaters on Halloween is a sacrifice to demons, and that we should put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on our doors. Never open your door to trick or treaters.
 

thetruewhitenorth

Robin
Orthodox
I am choosing to not celebrate that with my children. Generally speaking, it allows dark thoughts to enter the child's mind. Just look at some of the macabre decorations that people put on their lawns and houses: i.e. bloody hands, cementary plots, etc.

And while one cannot ignore it entirely in the United States, that does not mean you have to indulge in it. There are thousands of Walmart stores, but that does not obligate you to shop there.

I have also noticed that a lot of decorations are satanic. It clearly shows the sickness of the person's mind who puts stuff like that in front of their house.

I dont want my child to be traumatized by some of the Halloween decorations put up by deranged, secular normies.

Most people are desensitized to violence. Lots of them been watching horror movies since small age. But once you start seeing the world through Christian lenses. A lot of that starts appearing like pure evil.

Im not against mild, childish version of Halloween, but then its almost impossible to see even 3-4 houses in a row with children appropriate displays.
 
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