By: Fr. John Vlahos
While I was studying at the Seminary, it struck me that half of my friends had participated in Halloween throughout their childhood. They looked at Halloween as the one day of the year where they dress up in their favorite costumes and embark on a candy-gathering adventure throughout their neighborhoods. The other half of my friends had never went trick or treating because their parents would not allow it. They felt that no matter how universal and supposedly harmless Halloween appeared, it has unholy and dark origins and should therefore be avoided.
Ultimately, I believe that to what extent someone participates in Halloween should be determined in consultation with one’s parents and their parish priest.
If one were to participate in Halloween, caution should be used to not trivialize and play down the serious reality of the devil, demons and evil. Throughout the bible, Jesus confronted demons and those who were workers of iniquity. In fact, whenever Jesus appeared the demons would cry out: Why are you here? Why are you ruining things for us? Why are you tormenting us before our time? As the Truth and the Light, Christ is always victorious over all evil and darkness.
Thus, costumes that lend themselves towards wickedness and darkness such as witches, demons, mummies, monsters and the like should be avoided. We are to in no way align ourselves with the powers of evil and sin.
Costumes that promote a more wholesome and joyful feel like angels, saints, princesses, superheroes and cartoon characters are much more appropriate. The challenge is to use our God-given creativity and celebrate both the light and life He brought into this world and His victory over evil!
Youth groups within our parishes can create a wide variety of wholesome parties for our children. For those parents that accompany and supervise their children as they canvass the neighborhood, they can perhaps have their children add “God bless you” to their thanks for treats. Faith-filled joy and not fear should permeate all that we do as Christians.
Fr. John is the Proistamenos of Holy Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church in Brookville, New York