“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” — Hebrews 12:1
You will know of Halloween, but maybe not of Reformation Day (both October 31). Here are some things you should know —
The word Halloween was first used in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All Hallows’ Even (‘evening’), the night before All Hallows’ Day. All Hallow’s (or All Saints) Day was for remembering with thankfulness the faith, witness and lives of past Christians, including those who have died for Christ (every Christian is a ‘saint’; the word means someone God has separated from sin to live for him). Obviously, many now celebrate Halloween very differently to how it used to kept by some Christians! (and, of course, in some bad ways)
Reformation Day celebrates Martin Luther’s nailing his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This was a catalyst for the Protestant Reformation, for which we benefit greatly.
The Puritans maintained strong opposition to Halloween and it was not until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century that it was brought to North America.
Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans in the mid-1800’s began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.
On the first “Reformation Day”, when he posted the ninety-five theses, Luther was not yet a “Protestant.” In fact, the theses were not particularly radical, and key Lutheran [Protestant] doctrines, such as justification by grace through faith alone, were not included.
So, both All Hallow’s Day (& Eve) and Reformation Sunday can be times when we rejoice that God has kept his Church throughout two Millenia, including throughout all the persecution it has suffered. So, why not today thank God for this “cloud of witnesses” and strive for godliness, like they did?