I don’t celebrate Halloween, out of obedience to my bishop and because my conscience does not permit me to engage in anything that makes light of the dark powers (which, when I was involved with occultic things as a teenager, I witnessed with my own eyes).
That being said, a few points:
1) A lot of the anti-Halloween stuff is derived from Protestant Fundamentalist nonsense, and should not be taken seriously or used in Orthodox arguments against Halloween. We really don’t know what Druids did, what their religion was like, or what the pagans of the British Isles really did on Samhein, apart from a few unreliable testimonies of the Romans, who deliberately fabricated and hyped them up to justify their annexation of Britain and destruction of the British people’s traditional social structure. Recall that the Romans were just as pagan as the British were, but had an “enlightened” form of paganism, so the more inchoate and natural paganism of the Druids and Celts was seen as backward and uncivilized. But the real fact is that the Druids were powerful in that society, and their power needed to be broken.
2) Things like trick-or-treat have their antecedents in Christian people going door to door and getting soul cakes and praying for the dead members of the household. To Protestant Fundamentalists, this is paganism (because they are unable to nuance spiritual and religious practices they disagree with, instead oversimplifying and lumping things together). What I am saying is that even if you are a Protestant who does not believe in praying for the dead, you can state your objections based on the Christian sources, and respond to the Christian and Jewish sources we use to defend the practice, without saying incorrectly that we are engaging in paganism. So by adopting the line that trick or treat is some kind of pagan demonic thing whereby if you didn’t get what you wanted, you would engage in mischief, is to perpetuate a Fundamental error which in its essence is anti-Orthodox (and anti-Catholic).
So I still don’t think we should be celebrating Halloween, but let’s refrain from celebrating it for mature spiritual reasons, and not nonsensical fantasy reasons which, once our kids realize are untrue, could cause them to question other foundational tenets of our faith.
3) If you are Orthodox and are going to do it anyway, which I know some of you will based on seeing your Facebook pictures, then at least have the decency to:
a) Not dress your kids up like demons, witches, devils, ghosts, skeletons, vampires, or zombies.
b) Not post your pictures with public settings or for all friends–use the “custom” privacy setting Facebook provides to hide it from your fellow Orthodox Christians who might be scandalized or bothered.
I’m not judging anyone and I have my own sins which perhaps I have been too open with online in the past; we all are on a journey and trying to grow in Christ. I just want people to be careful. I don’t want people to believe in hyped up Fundamentalist distortions, nor do I want people to give in to a temptation to view the dark powers as fun–because from personal experience, I can say they are scary as &*$%.
Anastasios Hudson is an Orthodox Christian author, speaker, and web developer living in Reston, Virginia. He is the author of Metropolitan Petros of Astoria: A Microcosm of the Old Calendar Movement in America (2014). Your purchase of this book, which is available at the low price of 7.99 (print) and 4.99 (eBook) will help him support his family! His personal website is AnastasiosHudson.com and his Facebook page is located here.