Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween - An Orthodox Approach

So today is Halloween. Ever since I became a Christian, I have been neither an enthusiastic celebrator of this "holiday" nor an opponent of it. For me, Halloween has always been irrelevant. It just doesn't exist...or at least it wouldn't if I didn't have kids. Jennifer and I have always allowed our kids to participate in Halloween alternatives, such as fall carnivals and costume contests (with very inexpensive, non-scary costumes). We also have taken them trick-or-treating, at least when we have lived in the U. S. Yes, I know that there is a lot of baggage associated with Halloween, trick-or-treating, etc. Yes, I know the origin of the "holiday." None of this has really ever mattered to me in my adult life.

Since becoming an Orthodox Christian, I have been even more apathetic about Halloween, not the least of which because it's not even an Orthodox feast day. The Eve of All Saints' Day, or "All Hallow's Eve" (from which the names Halloween comes) is a strictly Western feast.

I recently read on another blog an interesting approach to Halloween that one Orthodox Christian is taking. Here it is (thanks to David Schneider for telling me about it). The author is Steve Lammert from Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Every year, on Hallowe’en, I sit on the front porch of my house with a bowl of candy, a box of beeswax candles, and a large icon for the Feast of All Saints.

Every child who comes to the house gets a piece of candy, and may also light a candle and place it before the icon. Very few kids (even the jaded teenagers) turn down the opportunity.

For those who ask, I tell them that the meaning of the word “Hallowe’en” is “the eve of the Feast of All Saints”.

If they press me on the point, I tell them that they can think of the true meaning of Hallowe’en as being that, because of Christ, they can dress up like ghosts and goblins and whatnot, because we do not need to fear those things any longer.

I wish I had a few photos of the kids in Satan masks, lighting a candle and placing it before the icon


Steve said...

Father, bless. It's nice to know that the story of this little idea of mine is still making the rounds on the Internet.

The icon is from Holy Transfiguration Monastery (catalog A-283, size 16x20). It was mounted for me by my godfather, who is an iconographer.

The photo on your blog is from 2004, but I've been doing this for at least ten years. I'm kind of hoping it will catch on some day.

Best Regards,
Steve Lammert
Greensburg, PA

Fr. James Early said...

Thanks, Steve for letting me know where this great idea came from (YOU!). I have changed the post to give you credit.

So, how did it go this year? I'd love for you to write a report for this blog. If you would like to, send it to me by email and I'll post it.

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Anonymous said...

Ever since I was a child my church has hosted a family night on Halloween. instead of ghost etc. we dress as saints. Each person brings a clue about there saint and we guess who they are. this helps the children learn about the saint. We also bring pre-carved pumpkins with christen symbols. This also is a great way to teach the children about the symbols used in the church. We then play games and have a chili cook off. At the end of the night the children leave with a bag of candy. My children look forward to this every year.