A hard holiday headache

Kevin Niederman


Halloween is a divisive time for Adventists. There are those who partake, dressing up and eating candy, the full gamut. Then there are those who abstain. Those who, at the most, leave a bowl of candy on their doorstep, dependant on the honor system, to avoid a house egging from sugar-withdrawal afflicted tweens.

I fall into the former group. However, in recent years I’ve realized a trip to Walmart with five bucks yields an easier corn syrup banquet. Still, try as I might, I don’t fully understand the mentality of the latter group.

Unbeknownst to many, Halloween began as a Christian holiday, called All Hallows Eve, and took place the night before All Hallows Day. The night consisted of prayers for the recently deceased and, later, the consumption of “soul cakes” gathered by children and the less fortunate by going door to door in return for their prayers.

At some point, however, the dates were switched from mid May to the end of October for both practical and cultural reasons, and those cultures brought their own spiritual luggage, and now we have Halloween. The Scottish played pranks and carved turnips with scary faces to ward off evil. The Irish des guided themselves as they went around asking for good. We still get sweets and focus on the dead, but the meaning behind the actions has been altered a smidge.

Now, I can understand why an Adventist might not want to partake in such a holiday. The modern traditional imagery tends to lean towards the Satanic, so I get it if one would want to stay away from the holiday.

Of course, they would also steer clear of Christmas, right?

Christmas also began as a Christian holiday, celebrated in early January as the anniversary of Christ’s birth. It too had a change of dates in order to more clearly line up with several different winter festivals during a time when Rome was trying to spread Christianity. It seemed more likely for pagans to convert if their holidays only had a change in name and not time.

What was once simply a celebration of a savior's birth was now heavily influenced by the gift-giving, tree-cutting, house-lighting, feast-having traditions brought in by an assortment of Germanic tribes.

Fast forward to our day. Christian parents the world over lie to their children and have them pray to an old, fat, white-bearded, omnipresent deity who will grant wishes and bequeath gifts to children willing to be nice, really reinforcing that “not by works, but grace,” mentality.

What was the first commandment again? Oh, right. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

If telling your kids Santa is real, he knows all, and that he’ll reward you if you’re nice to others and offer a small sacrifice of milk and cookies is okay, then what is wrong with Halloween? Don’t like the monsters and demons? Dress your kid up like Mark Twain and go to one of the many “Trunk and Treat” events set up in church parking lots.

Go from car trunk to car trunk, getting candy and having fun, meeting tiny Elvises and ladybugs. It’s also a great way to guarantee child safety.

But if Halloween is still out of the question, and believe me, I get it if it is, then consider changing up your Christmas traditions as well. And Easter. Throw in Valentine’s Day and Columbus Day for good measure. They’re all just terrible.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me what you think at kevin.niederman@ucollege.edu.

Kevin Niederman is a junior nursing major hailing from Santa Rosa CA, about an hour north of San Francisco. He enjoys cartoons, hats, and driving ridiculous distances for food that has the potential of being amazing.