Opportunities for Spiritual Learning at Halloween

It is the season of the year when many Americans are focusing on Halloween. Everywhere we look, it seems, from our own neighborhoods to the stores to the media, there are spider webs, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, and frightening images everywhere. As adults, we are able to see these themes and write them off (at least to some degree) as “well, it’s that time of year again!” Some of our children face this time of year with great joy because of the opportunity to dress up and get lots of candy. Others, however, find this season frightening and can’t wait for it to be over.

Regardless of how we and our children look at Halloween, it is a time of year that allows us the opportunity to teach our children in the faith. How can we do that? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Together with our children, we can investigate Church history and how it relates to Halloween. For example, John Sanidopoulos, in http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/10/halloween-orthodox-christian-perspective.html, says “…The Church established Hallowmas as original holy days, not to sanctify an old pagan celebration among the Celts as has been popularly believed, but to celebrate an already well-established feast dedicated to all the Saints.” We can visit the article to see what more he has to say on the matter, and discuss it with our children. Fr. George Morelli’s podcast on Orthodoxy and Halloween, at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/morelli/orthodoxy_and_halloween, is another helpful resource for us parents to listen to, before we help our children learn more about this subject. This time of year is an opportunity to learn more about church history.

2. If our children do dress up for Halloween, let us encourage them to dress as their patron saint, a Bible character, or another saint who has lived a godly life. We need to also help them learn a bit about that person, in case they are asked, “And who are YOU dressed as?” This time of year is an opportunity to learn more about the saints, and emulate them.

3. If our children face this time of year with fear, let us use this season to lead them to the cross of Christ. We can again teach them about the power of the cross (not as a “magic talisman;” but as a reminder of God’s protection of us from evil/of our allegiance to what is right/of our commitment to Christ) and about trusting God in the midst of our fears. We as parents can listen to Dr. Peter Bouteneff’s excellent podcast on this subject at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/sweeter/halloween_demons_and_the_cross, for more on how to embrace the cross, and why it is so important in our lives as Orthodox Christians. The cross shows us both God’s great love for us, as exemplified through Christ’s death, and the hope that is ours because He has broken the power of death, which reigned over us, by His glorious resurrection. This time of year is an opportunity to once again focus on the cross and how we no longer need to be afraid, because of our Lord’s death and resurrection.

Whether we follow any of these suggestions, or find other ways to do so, let us all use even this season of the year for good, for learning, for increased godliness, in our children’s lives.

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