All Boo, but No Praise?
by Steve Hale
The holidays are here! It is a delightful time, particularly for children. Something is just special about this time of year, from Thanksgiving until the New Year.
Among us, we have certain traditional teachings about the holidays. We do not celebrate Christmas as the Lord's birthday. This certainly has some legitimate concerns: (1) we do not know the date of His birth; (2) the word "Christmas" is formed from Christ + Mass, meaning a mass of religious service in commemoration of the birth of Christ. The Catholic Mass, its transubstantiation in reference to the Lord's Supper, is completely unscriptural ( 1 Corinthians 11:23- 29).
We do not celebrate Easter as the day of the Master's resurrection. This has some legitimate concerns. The term pasc , translated Easter in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version, should be passover. The day Easter is celebrated -on our calendars was dictated at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. It was determined that itshould be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. That's why the date for it varies from March 22 all the way to April 25.
We celebrate Christ's resurrection every Lord's Day! Thus, the New Testament does not focus on the calendar date, but the day of the week ( Mark 16:9). That's why Christians met on this day ( Acts 2:1-4; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3ff.), and remembered Him through the Supper on this day ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-29).
Yet, while we raise concerns (and rightly so) about these holidays, little is ever said about Halloween! It is a religious holiday! The Random House College Dictionary defines it: "the evening of October 31; the eve of All Saints' Day; Allhallows Eve" (p. 596). The prefix, "hallow," means the setting apart of a person or a thing for sacred use or to hold sacred. if then, Halloween is a religious holiday, then why do we have "trick or treat," and the traditional costumes of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins?
"Trick or treating" began in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Poor people would go from door-to-door asking for food or money (many of the poor were older women). Also, remember that belief in witches and warlocks was prominent in this day. if one of these women was turned away, and some catastrophe happened to the refusing party later (sickness, death of a cow, etc.), they thought a bad trick was played on them because they did not bestow a treat.
The costumes for Halloween can be traced to two sources. First, people were afraid to go out after dark, and would wear masks and costumes so ghosts would not know their identities. Second, during the Middle Ages, the populace would celebrate the new holiday, "All Hallows Day." To do so, they would dress up like saints or angels.
Another possible source could be Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes was among those plotting the assassination of King James I. He was tortured and killed for his participation. People would dress up in costumes, and went begging for "a penny for the Guy."
Most of us participate in Halloween (we do too), and yet inconsistently rebuke someone for mentioning Faster or Christmas. Paul said: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" ( Romans 14:5). Let's be consistent enough to resist the errors of holidays like Christmas and Faster, but rejoice that some at least remember the Lord on such a day. So long as one does not teach error, I have no problem about them remembering Jesus on a particular day. After all, I do not want to be guilty of being "all boo, but no praise."
November 25, 1990
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