Each year many get excited about a celebration that involves creativity, carving, candy, contests and costumes. Yes, you are correct, it’s Halloween. I do wonder how many know the roots of this holiday we celebrate so profusely in the Western Culture? As I was doing some prep work for teaching this week with the middle school confirmation students at Hope, I decided to venture out and research a few things. I soon was reminded that Halloween is derived from All Hallows Eve, which I then learned was a part of Hallowmas which is a time of year set aside to remember the dead including saints, martyrs and the faithful departed(via wikipedia). There is much more to the history of Halloween and even Hallowmas, but I am one to always ask the question, why do we do what we do?
I wonder if you have pondered this question yourself over the past couple of days? Because so many of us spend time and energy preparing to celebrate Halloween, yet as I have done for years, I don’t even celebrate what it was intended to celebrate. I primarily celebrate the opportunity to be goofy and enjoy time with friends in a unique way, all dressed up! I wonder if we looked at Halloween a bit differently, if it would be less about the traditions with roots to the 16th Century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales which has evolved to costume parties, trick or treating and good ole pumpkin carving and more about it’s true origins of celebrating those who have passed. But let’s be honest, in many cases there isn’t a lot that is fun about that and in all reality if we celebrated per Halloween’s original roots it sure wouldn’t look the same. So what are we to do?
Maybe we take some time each year remembering those who have passed on Halloween and create our own unique celebration for this, and then just for fun do all the other stuff, which is less about the commemoration and more about the gathering of friends and neighborhoods! How will your perspective change this day forth? Because today is known as All Saints Day, a celebration of God believers who have departed this earth. Today can take on a new focus for all of us, who do we know that have passed before us that we can be reminded of and celebrate? Who are the saints, or Christian believers, we know? Let’s be reminded of their lives and the examples they set for us and praise God for the eternal life they have been gifted with! A gift that is available to all of us!
Oh and how about a curve ball? October 31, 1517 marks an important moment in Christian history. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were delivered as his first move in the Reformation. October 31 is a different day in multiple ways. It is a day that we too celebrate the day in which Martin Luther stood up against the malpractices of the church leadership in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time, Pope Leo X granted indulgences for those who donated to the renovation of St. Peters Basilica in Rome. He was the leader of the church and the people were coming to him asking forgiveness of sin and it was granted through a donation. Martin Luther took a stand for a different reality and that reality was rooted in God’s Holy Word, which at the time wasn’t available to many because it had yet to be translated into a language they could read. For many reasons this is why the people entrusted the Pope and priests to be their interpreters and followed their lead. For those Christians today who read this and understand that forgiveness doesn’t cost us a thing, we can see how out of line Pope Leo X may have been.
Why don’t we celebrate Reformation Day more profoundly than Halloween? Especially when Halloween is rarely a time of commemoration as it was originally intended? Now I know many churches today celebrate Reformation Sunday which falls the Sunday after October 31, however the day that the 95 Theses were posted is a major historical event that transformed the church in many ways. Now this is what I was sharing with the students about on Wednesday night, the roots of the Lutheran Faith. I am so thankful for Martin Luther who obeyed God and His Word in a way that has changed the trajectory of Christianity for many centuries! Praise God for Martin Luther, whom stood firm in his Faith which led to a new day and a new way!
Maybe today you will forever be reminded of a different day and a different way to celebrate on October 31! Perhaps amidst all the fanfare of candy and costumes, we will take a moment of time to celebrate a man who chose to stand firm and post the 95 Theses that led to a breakthrough. Maybe he can be an example for us today in learning how to stand firm! October 31, maybe you and I will look at it to be “A Different Day!”