Halloween, Christmas, Yoga & Jesus

In about one hour my neighborhood will feel more like a neighborhood – kids running around, some with parents a few steps behind to exchange friendly greetings with those they share a street or zip code with. The streets here are safe, just like I remember my streets on the north side of Chicago were some 35 years ago. Halloween was and still is one of the few times during the year it is completely acceptable to ring a stranger’s doorbell and say “hello” (of course, unless you are a Girl Scout selling cookies).

I grew up learning with my parents about these “American” traditions – begging for candy, selling cookies, baking Christmas cookies, hiding Easter eggs. It was more about being and becoming American and not so much about whether or not these were acceptable Christian practices.

But in the past few months there has been a bit of chatter around whether or not Christians should practice yoga because of its Eastern religious roots and how “those” values and beliefs are dangerous and in complete opposition to Christians and our faith.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up practicing so many things that were rooted in those scary Eastern traditions that I am trying to make sense of the fuss while I stretch out in downward dog and breathe in deeply. I bow to my parents and elders of the family every New Year’s Day. Yes, the actual practice has Eastern roots (btw, can someone help me understand why Christians should fear the East? Aren’t our religious roots deep in the East?) but through immigration, many Christian Korean Americans cling to the practice as a way of redeeming culture and our value for respecting our elders – for the cloud of witnesses who have and continue to go before us.

It seems that so much of what we Western Christians practice as “Christian” – Christmas trees in December and Easter eggs, for example – were created in response and reaction to things going on in the pagan world. Yoga isn’t in the Bible but trees and egg hunts aren’t either so how is it that we decide some rituals and practices are ok and not scary? Yes, oversimplified question to a complex situation. I know. But it’s a start, right?

Our children (even the teenager) will dress up this afternoon and run through neighbors’ yards and collect enough candy to frighten (or delight?) my dentist husband. We choose to participate in what has become a fairly benign cultural practice because it’s a great excuse to spend time with friends and neighbors with busy lives and schedules. We have decided that the darker roots of this day are a chance to bring out into the open the things that we might be afraid of but do not have to be. I read somewhere that Halloween is Satan’s favorite holiday. I beg to differ. I think the way we American Christians celebrate Christmas might make Christmas Satan’s favorite holiday, IMO.

I’m off to a friend’s Halloween potluck party, just weeks away from unpacking the Christmas tree ornaments and decorations, hoping to manage my time well to practice yoga and spend time meditating on Jesus…Do you and yours “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? What other holidays have been tweeked and adjusted to be in harmony with your family’s core beliefs?


  1. Tomi November 10, 2010

    Your take on Halloween is very interesting–quite different from my family.

    I’m Nigerian and in Nigeria, and much of West Africa, witchcraft and occult practices are very real and very practiced. Thus, the whole idea, as Christians, of ‘celebrating’ such witchcraft and wizardry seems absurd. While Americans think dressing up as witches and consulting with Ouija boards is innocent fun, Christian Nigerians (at least the ones I’ve encountered) are much more hesitant to engage in such practices. They know people ‘back home’ that actively practice juju. Nigerians are much more likely to believe that witches, demons, and evil spirits exist than the vast majority of Americans (even Christian Americans).

    As a consequence I forever associate Halloween with sitting at home, staring out the window while the other kids got to wear their princess costumes and Spiderman outfits.

    Christmas was always much more fun.

  2. howie January 12, 2011

    stumbled upon your blog via response to that amy chua article and than i read this. i also heard what it was not good for Christians to practice yoga… because of its roots to Hinduism and most of the poses were associated with worship to their gods. i was kind of skeptical until i saw this article in the NY Times:
    where or not it will imperil “the souls of Christians who engage in it” is open to debate. but i do know that throughout the bible, believers whether Jew or Christian, are commanded to dissociate and set apart themselves with the cultures around them. that is my two cents in a nutshell.


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