Halloween: The darkness will not overcome
Trick or treat? Or hunker down in the lounge ignoring any knocks on the front door? Elaborate pumpkins, scary decorations, and an excuse for fancy-dress? Or rolling your eyes as you see yet another shop decked out in black and orange?
Apparently Halloween is the UK's second favourite family celebration (after Christmas), on which we collectively spend £300 million a year. On face-value, Christmas and Halloween look like a kind of ying and yang, Batman and the Joker, sitting at opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. After all Halloween revels in darkness; Christmas declares that in Jesus ‘Light has come into the world, and the darkness will not overcome it.’
So you may be surprised to hear that Halloween is every bit as Christian as Christmas. It originates in ‘All Hallows Eve’, the night before the Christian festival, All Saints Day (‘Hallows’ is another word for ‘Saints’). All Saints Day heralded the triumph of God’s love and light over darkness for all who trust in Christ. The night before (Halloween) it became traditional to poke fun, and mock the powers of darkness, which had been thoroughly overcome by Jesus. And so people dressed up in silly costumes, and had a good old laugh at the devil. They could do this because although darkness has always stalked the streets of our human existence, and true darkness is no laughing matter, in Jesus light has come into the world, and the darkness cannot overcome Him.
In our secular age, we don’t take the spiritual claims of either Christmas or Halloween very seriously. We’re happy for our kids to dress up as a zombie on 31st October, and as a Shepherd or Wiseman later in December. They both provide different opportunities for families to do something together and for children to have some fun.
Be that as it may it's hard to ignore the darkness: a cost of living crisis; a war in Europe; the scars of a pandemic, and any number of other personal difficulties and tragedies. In that context, both Halloween and Christmas proclaim the same wonderful truth: Darkness and evil will not have the final word. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus shines an irrepressible light. So certain is his victory for all who trust him, that we can have a good old laugh at the darkness he has overcome.