“…darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12
Ever wonder why we celebrate Halloween? Why we dress up in costume, and kids go door-to-door taking candy from strangers? Many of the traditions we associate with Halloween originated through a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced SOW-in), over 2000 years ago. The Celts celebrated Samhain on the night of October 31, during the transition from light-filled days of summer and autumn harvest to the dark winter, the season associated with death. Directed by the seasons and nature, they believed that the boundaries between our world and the world of the dead blurred at this time of year, a circumstance especially precarious for the living. To ward off ghostly trouble, the Celts would have bonfires to light and warm the dark, and dress in costume to potentially deceive the traversing spectrums. The supernaturally charged atmosphere was also thought to be helpful for the Druids, Celtic priests, to make prophecies for the future, giving the people guidance during the hard winter days.
It is now viewed as a very communal time in the United States, and for most people, removed from its pagan, spiritual origins, although more often associated with its later transformations to Catholic holidays- the day before All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Eve.
Despite attempts to sterilize Halloween as simply a communal holiday, celebrated with innocuous costumes and candy, it is still very much a spiritual time, and I believe a time when people in general are particularly sensitive to the fact that we are more than just material flesh and bone.
In my own life at present, this time feels particularly transitory and sensitive. The days are in fact colder and darker, yet filled with activity. Many people are in the thick of school and work. The word I hear most often when asking how people are doing is “tired.”
Where and how do we rest? Where is our strength? What has changed within and around us? As Christ followers, how do we manage all that is on our plates, and still be a reflection of Christ in a dark world?
I have felt weak and vulnerable, and particularly attune to the darkness in the world, much like the ancient Celts. More than in the previous few months, I have had to choose to receive truth, that I walk in the identity that I am salt and light on the earth, and that keeping a heavenly perspective matters in my spheres of influence. And, to have courage, because I can trust God’s judgment.
Continual prayer has also greatly marked this time, confessing my struggles to the Lord and turning to him, submitting my workplaces to God, and interceding for the people and circumstances I see trapped in darkness.
Despite the dampening effect transition times can have, we can be thankful for the change in seasons, especially as a reminder that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Thus, as Christians, Halloween is not a time to be passive or to completely remove ourselves from society in frustration. Rather, Halloween, charged with awareness of life and death, and the spiritual realms, is a great opportunity to get creative, and be bold- “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.” 2 Tim. 1:7.
Without simply tolerating blatant delight in evil, we can choose to take what the world desires for evil and see God create something good.
It’s beautiful to see people in our church community like the Thebaults lead out on a Holy Ghost Party in their neighborhood in Detroit. While still celebrating with their community, they share a message of light and love.
As we go forth prayerfully, I hope that we will be bold in how we share the good news, speaking prophetically during this time of transition as we follow God’s guidance through this holiday season.
Gabby hails from Waco, Tx where she received her undergraduate degree in social work. She calls herself a Michigander now, and is excited for the next adventure with God in Ann Arbor and Detroit! Geography is her favorite subject, and as the American daughter of Filipino immigrants, she is no stranger to a diversity of food, culture and travel. You can often find her at the local rock wall, hitting the pavement around Ypsi/A2 or, her favorite, getting quality time with good friends.