Looking Ahead to the Scary Days to Come
It’s now only 10 days until the election (and that’s scary enough), but more importantly its only three days until Halloween. For many Christians this is a day filled with confusion — should we or shouldn’t we? I suppose there are well-intentioned folks on both sides of the “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” question. Truth be told most of us have never taken much time to really research where Halloween comes from. Take the Jack-O-Lantern for example. Why in the world did someone decide to start carving up pumpkins with creepy faces in the first place? According to the folks at History – they didn’t. The practice of decorating fruits and vegetables in this way comes to us from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack – where large turnips and potatoes served as the early canvas. The Irish immigrants brought the tradition to American where it eventually merged with the American pumpkin – and thus in our day we carve pumpkins rather than potatoes.
“According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.
Personally, I think that Jared Wilson has expressed pretty well my thoughts on the attitude that Christians should have towards Halloween – it’s time to “Steal It Back” – and to enjoy it for what it is – or as he puts it: If the Devil is somehow pleased by two little girls dressing up like princesses and getting candy from their neighbors, he’s a bigger idiot than I realized. (Take the time to read what he wrote – it’s really quite good!)
When my kids were growing up it was not uncommon for us to have between 100 and 200 visitors on Halloween from our neighborhood and adjacent plans. Our current home is along a street with mostly retired folks – and if we see a couple of dozen kids it is a busy night. To be honest, I miss the chaos.
What about all those other creepy, crawly things that are inevitably connected to Halloween. Here’s some links that make you realize that maybe they’re not so creepy and crawly after all – they are simply representatives of the amazing and wonderful world that our God has created. In fact, when you read more about them, it’s enough to make you be thankful for bats and spiders after all.
Then there’s this video about the deadliest garden in the world
How about bats – read this and you may want to invite more of them to live in your neighborhood — especially if you’re tired of mosquitoes and other flying insects.
People like to decorate their yards with headstones and the like to make it look like a graveyard. Here’s a link that is even weirder when it comes to the what some people are doing these days when a relative dies.
Have you ever read a story about things that go bump in the night? I can identify with this one that made even the police laugh.
Finally, I know that are you wondering what the teal colored pumpkin picture is all about at the top of this posting? There’s a reason for it.
Save me some Snickers bars please!!