By Katherine Burgess
As Halloween approached, my fellow Union students and I descended on thrift stores and Halloween shops, trying to piece together the perfect costumes.
For some of my friends, however, this year’s Halloween marked one of the first times they had celebrated the holiday.
Most of these people come from backgrounds where Halloween is deemed an evil day that celebrates the occult and thus should not be participated in.
While I understand and even sympathize with this belief, I also disagree with it.
Halloween is, at its core, merely an opportunity to indulge in dress-up, eating and endless amounts of creativity alongside friends and family.
I grew up in the heavily animistic country of Cambodia, so I fully believe Christians ought to be careful about trivializing anything to do with witchcraft and the souls of the dead. Many things about Halloween do make me feel uncomfortable, from skimpy costumes to décor involving skulls and spirits.
Many recoil from these things by moving to the opposite end of the spectrum, shunning the holiday entirely.
But why throw out the good with the bad?
St. Augustine said that Christians should take for their use any good and true philosophies created by non-Christians, much as the Israelites plundered the Egyptians of their gold and silver.
While philosophies and holidays may not have much in common, I like to apply – however out of context – Augustine’s words to Halloween. Why not take for our own uses a holiday like Halloween? Why not keep the many good aspects of it and celebrate them?
Early missionaries to England did this by turning the Yule and winter solstice celebrations into the Christmas holiday. Why not follow suit with Halloween?
I fondly look back on my childhood Halloweens and remember spending time with my siblings as we painted cardboard costume wings. I remember spending time with my mother as she sewed me the perfect Native American costume. And I, of course, remember sharing fun-filled moments with my friends, dressed like cats, ballerinas, fairies and more, as we played games and collected candy.
Halloween is a chance to delight in friends and family, sometimes extending that delight to an entire community by knocking on neighborhood doors to say, “Trick or treat.” For those who forego neighborhood trick-or-treating, Halloween can be a chance to enjoy sugar and friendship in alternative settings, such as church-sponsored events.
For those of us slightly past childhood, Halloween is a chance to delve into our childlike natures, going back to the days when we played princesses and superheroes.
Events such as Union’s Costume Coffee House are the perfect example of celebrating the good and wholesome aspects of Halloween. I love seeing creative costumes made of cardboard, gorgeous gowns, face paint and even the occasional Jedi. So much ingenuity is put on display for all to see. And I love laughing alongside friends as we goof off at Open Mic and cheer for those participating in the costume contest.
The ways we celebrate Halloween on Union’s campus have nothing to do with anything dark or evil. Many of the ways that Americans today celebrate the holiday also have nothing to do with darkness and much more to do with community and creativity.
Instead of shunning Halloween entirely, perhaps Christians ought to feel comfortable with claiming the good aspects of it and enjoying the holiday to its fullest as they create costumes, consume candy and spend time alongside each other.