JOY for Today - Halloween 2022

What about Halloween brings you JOY? Is it costumes? Candy? Spending time with family and friends? Challenging your fears? This year, I find myself distanced from Halloween and, surprisingly, am learning to embrace the JOY in that.

Fallen autumn leaves on green grass. Text overlay quotes Isaiah 8:19 and reminds that Halloween is October 31st annually.

JOY for Today Offerings:


Did You Know:

  1. Halloween began as the Celtic festival Samhain? October 31st was the last day of their year and represented the transition from harvest to winter. Moreover, this time of year was often associated with death. The Celtic belief was that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the living and dead was weakened which permitted ghosts entry to earth. To ward off ghosts and help predict the future, Samhain (pronounced sow-in) participants wore costumes and lit bonfires. (History.com)
  2. Bobbing for apples is likely a nod to the Romans? In 43 A.D., the Romans conquered most Celtic land. The Roman holidays of Feralia (which honored those who have died) and Pomona (honoring the Roman goddess of fruit and trees) intermixed with Celtic Samhain. Pomona's symbol, the apple, continues to bob its way into many modern-day Halloween celebrations. (History.com)
  3. The term Halloween rose from a Christian spin on the holiday? In 1000 A.D., Christianity began intermingling and often supplanting Celtic rites. November 2, was named All Souls' Day (to honor the dead), likely to override Samhain with a church approved observance. The celebrations were even similar - although the costumes consisted mostly of saints, angels, and devils. Other names for the holiday included All-hallows or All-Hallowmas. The night before All-Hallowmas became All-Hallows Eve and, in time, Halloween. (History.com)
  4. America was slow to embrace Halloween? The Northern Protestant colonies held strict religious beliefs and often did not observe Halloween, but the southern colonies did. Bonfires, fortune-telling, mischief-making, and ghost storytelling frequented these "harvest celebrations." As Irish immigration grew, so did the general acceptance of Halloween celebrations. (History.com)
  5. Trick-or-treating was a solution to vandalism prevention? In the 1920's and 1930's, Halloween was celebrated communitywide with parades, parties, and eventually vandalism. To curb vandalism, we turned Halloween into a kid-focused holiday and found that offering treats (borrowed from European tradition) in neighborhoods often stopped the tricks. (History.com)

We'd Love to Know:

Which fact you already knew.


Wolfe Stew Connects

It's hard, this growing older business. As I child, I celebrated Halloween the way most American youth do - with costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, and scary stories. As an adult, I'd squabble with the Mr. over his grumblings regarding the holiday. "Embrace it. Just enjoy it! The kids love it, so you should too." 

And what's not fun about it? You get to dress up and pretend to be someone you are not but perhaps would like to be. Then, you get to spend the night with your friends, playing fun games, going house to house asking for candy, and watching spooky movies (or telling scary stories) so you can't sleep and get to stay up most of the night. On Halloween, we get to break all the rules. 

But now, I wonder if an occasion to break all the rules is really cause for celebration. I find myself not so excited about Halloween and even reluctant to celebrate it. I know I'm not the only one. There are many who frown on the holiday. Admittedly, I've tried reframing the holiday for these dissenters. As I age, I find it harder and harder to "Embrace it. Just enjoy it! Everyone else loves it so you should too."

For what is Halloween really celebrating? I asked my nephew this (who loves Halloween) and after a few moments of consideration, he responded with a barely voiced, "Yeah...". He gets my point, but still loves the holiday. And I understand why he does: it's a holiday all wrapped up in slightly mischievous, carefree fun and we're to unquestioningly follow along with it. But I don't know if I can anymore, and I think that's okay.

Will I still participate in Halloween festivities? Highly likely. It's become a tradition, a part of our culture. But I now participate skeptically asking myself: What is the motivation behind this activity? Is it worthy of my attention? Are my actions God honoring? Am I pointing others to Jesus?

But I hope I don't start justifying ungodly actions. Might it be better to remove myself completely than to keep a toe in the Halloween cauldron?

I don't mean to be a stick-in-the-mud. Part of me is saddened by this realization: I don't want to let go of the fun associated with this holiday. But another part of me is cheerful because I want to focus my attention, actions, and words on Jesus and choosing to question a holiday that contradicts Biblical teaching feels like growth to me. I'm letting go of childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). And while I could see that loss as losing a piece of joy in life, I know my true JOY is found in Jesus - the ultimate conqueror of all fear.

If you struggle with fear and doubt you can conquer it, join us for our GROWTH focus next week (October and November). Each day we will undergo short, but impactful, Bible based exercises to train us in identifying ourselves as conquerors. Let's learn together to accept our conqueror identities, Warrior!

We'd Love to Know:

Where are you on the Halloween celebration continuum from all in to all out? 


Bible Verses and Quotes 

Bible Verses

  • "The dust returns to the earth where it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7 MEV
  • "Someone may say to you, 'Let's ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.' But shouldn't people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?" Isaiah 8:19 NLT
  • "False liberators and false prophets will appear, and they will know a few tricks - they will perform great miracles, and they will make great promises. If it were possible, they would even deceive God's elect." Matthew 24:24 VOICE
  • "Take note, there are six things the Eternal hates; no, make it seven He abhors: Eyes that look down on others, a tongue that can't be trusted, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that conceives evil plans, feet that sprint toward evil, A false witness who breathes out lies, and anyone who stirs up trouble among the faithful." Proverbs 6:16-19 VOICE
  • "Do you think I came to give peace to the world? No, I came to divide the world! From now on, a family of five will be divided, three against two, and two against three." Luke 12:51-52 ERV

Quotes

  • "Sticky fingers, tired feet; one last house, trick or treat!" - Rusty Fischer
  • "Just because I cannot see it, doesn't mean I can't believe it." - Jack Skellington
  • "Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?" Shirley Jackson
  • "There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand." - Mary Shelley
  • "I must go in. The fog is rising." - Emily Dickinson

We'd Love to Know:

Which verse or quote goes hand-in-hand with Halloween for you?

 

Activity Suggestions

Find here a few of our favorite Halloween activities. We'd love it if you'd share a few of your own, too.

Our Nephew's Suggestion:

Dress up and go trick-or-treating!

A few costume ideas and trick-or-treating tips.

Our Suggestions: 

Academic Activities

Crafts to Make or Hand Out

Halloween Games

  • Walk on the Witch (from Teacher Vision) - a Halloween version of musical chairs. Pair it with Monster Musical Chairs for a well-rounded educational experience.
  • Halloween Conversations (from Teacher Vision) - a Halloween version of Taboo. You lead a discussion with a list of Halloween words posted that learners are not allowed to say. If they say the word, they give up a piece of their candy.
Discuss "Would You Rather...?" Questions. Daily, holiday themed Would You Rather questions that includes three questions for each September, October, and November day. Would you rather...
  • Go trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating?
  • Dress up as a favorite character or animal?
  • Get an apple or a toothbrush while trick-or-treating?

Family Challenge 

Discuss what celebrating Halloween means to you. What rules can you agree on as a family for observing Halloween?

We'd Love to Know:

A favorite Halloween memory of yours.




We’re excited to share one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and HOPE for Tomorrow. Come back next week for...Veterans Day!


Fighting the Good Fight with You,

Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.




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