Hallowe’en: An Orthodox approach

This post has been around the Internet for several years. I can’t tell who wrote it Originally posted by Steve Lammert in 2004, It’s a description of one Orthodox Christian’s approach to how to handle the evening of October 31.

Icon at Hallowe'en Every year, on Hallowe’en, I sit on the front porch of my house with a bowl of candy, a box of beeswax candles, and a large icon for the Feast of All Saints.

Every child who comes to the house gets a piece of candy, and may also light a candle and place it before the icon. Very few kids (even the jaded teenagers) turn down the opportunity.

For those who ask, I tell them that the meaning of the word “Hallowe’en” is “the eve of the Feast of All Saints”.

If they press me on the point, I tell them that they can think of the true meaning of Hallowe’en as being that, because of Christ, they can dress up like ghosts and goblins and whatnot, because we do not need to fear those things any longer.

I wish I had a few photos of the kids in Satan masks, lighting a candle and placing it before the icon…

Update, Oct 31, 2009 — Steve Lammer adds:

Nice to see that this old idea of mine is still making the rounds.

The photo above is from 2004, but I’ve been doing it for at least ten years now. Here are some details if you would like to construct your own setup (too late this year, sorry):

  • The icon is from Holy Transfiguration Monastery (http://www.thehtm.org) catalog number A-283. I used size 16×20, and had it mounted by my godfather (an iconographer).
  • I buy the beeswax tapers from our parish now. In the past I used several Orthodox sources on the Internet, but no longer can remember which ones.
  • The candles sit in about 75lb of “play sand” (50lb bag is $5.99 at Toys’R'Us) which fills a wooden planter that I bought at a garden shop some years ago.
  • I prop the whole thing up on a kitchen stool.

For myself, I think it is important to say as little as possible to the kids. If any really want to know what is going on, they will ask, and then you can decide what to say about it. My experience is that many kids will never have lit a candle before, except perhaps while singing “Silent Night” at Christmas; some will remember it from year to year, and look forward to seeing “the candle guy” again. God knows if it makes a difference, but it can’t hurt for them to have the one opportunity each year.

Steve Lammert
Greensburg, PA