It makes me mad that there’s very little decor celebrating Fall since it’s all about Halloween. Any suggestions for alternatives to creepy garbage?
A: Thank you for that question since it forces me to plan my decorative strategy as well. If you’re a long-time reader, you know that my feelings toward Halloween aren’t exactly warm, so I welcome the opportunity to discuss an alternative decor.
Autumn is a favorite time for many people in the Midwest where we enjoy four seasons of weather. It is most definitely mine as well — temperatures in the 50s bring brisk, refreshing breezes; clear moonlit nights display astrological vistas; stunning swaths of deciduous trees are in glorious color, and a feeling like one has survived the sweltering heat and humidity after all, settles us down toward the end of the year. It’s the lull before the holiday onslaught where peace brings a restful, quiet time. In the rural farming areas, this is also the harvest season where we have God to thank for his provision. For many, it is a special time of contemplation.
Let us consider God’s calendar and the earth’s orbit as well: we recognize this unique season of the year is just days past the “autumnal equinox” which has unfortunately been hijacked by the witches, warlocks, Wiccans and Druids who do horrible things in recognition of it (yet it remains a fantastic astrological time in the heavens), the Jewish new year has just begun (Rosh Hashana) and God has been honored via his special Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). And yet for practicing Christians, we’re left looking a month down the road and pining for Thanksgiving since there isn’t much by way of a marked celebration honoring God. This fact may also explain why Halloween has wormed its way into church culture where it has no business being. So what do we do?
We jump on the harvest train. Decorative items like dried corn on the cob, corn-stalks, bales of hay, gourds and pumpkins, colorful leaves and shrubs, sheaves of wheat, dried bittersweet and rose-hips, bright, autumn flowers like mums; even tractors or harvest tools and equipment can be part of a beautiful backdrop — anything that acknowledges God’s provision through harvest may be used in arrangements and displays.
My rule of thumb, as I hang fall wreaths and decorate porches and walkways, is to stay away from anything with a face. This is because the origin of Halloween’s face-oriented objects stem from the belief that evil spirits walk the earth during this season and we are somehow protected from evil when we display jack-o’-lanterns, scarecrows and the assorted ghouls. The truth is that evil spirits have no power over Christ’s kids, so there is no need for Christians to display these items.
Now, I am an anti-Halloween zealot, so this is my rule and advice. But it certainly doesn’t have to be yours. I realize adorable scarecrows are available everywhere and may well have an important function in protecting thieving garden critters. Yet in my opinion, once we start down the Halloween aisle, it’s difficult to draw the line. Ghosts become “sweet,” witches become “cute,” death-like tombstones are “fun” and blood-sucking beings become “delightful.” My heart’s conviction is to focus on the Lord during this extraordinary time of year and leave the personified objects off my landscape.
Happy Harvest! And may all God’s blessings be upon you as you choose an alternative message to Halloween in your home and community.
— Adrienne Greene pastors the Rockdale United Methodist Church near Harrison, OH. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.
Ask Pastor Adrienne: Do I have to decorate for Halloween?