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Halloween or Reformation Day? Vanier Alumni 

Halloween or Reformation Day?

For Canadians, October 31 is nothing else but Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve. Would you be stunned to hear that October 31 is remembered as Reformation Day in other parts of the world?

In Germany, where the majority of its people are Protestant Christians, we celebrate October 31 as Reformation Day.

502 years ago, a German man named Martin Luther initiated a reformation – by nailing, on the door of a church, a sheet of 95 arguments against, according to him, “misleading” Catholic Christian practices.

This caused the separation of a group of Christian believers from Catholic Christians, leading to the emergence of the Protestant branch in Christianity.

In places where Halloween is celebrated, celebrants dress in costumes – as witches from the Middle Ages, pirates from the Caribbean, or bloody doctors and nurses.

At the main door of houses, if you see a pumpkin carved with an eerie look and lit with a wax candle in its centre, this is a sign that you are welcome for trick-or-treat there.

Knock or ring at the door, the host appears and asks, “Trick or treat?”. Answer “treat” and you will be given sweets or a few cents to fill your UNICEF donation box. Answer “trick” and God knows what “trick” the host may play on you.

Where Martin Luther is commemorated, the scene takes a 180-degree turn.

Churches open in the evening; Christian hymns are sung, tales are told in large outdoor tents, artsy activities are planned for children, and church attendees can gather for warm Campbell cream soup or a slice of pizza, all donations.

Some churches organise an evening service, followed by dinner and fellowship time. This is how October 31 goes, for many Christians in Germany.

To some conservative Christians, the celebration of Halloween is wrong, especially for believers of Christ; it is deemed inappropriate to dress up as “evil spirits” and to have “fun” on a day as important as Reformation Day.

For them, we should feel and express awe in the name of Martin Luther.

In Germany, the land of Martin Luther and his reformation, one may see local people who seemingly celebrate Halloween on another day of the year, not on October 31 but on Shroud Tuesday. Again, conservative Christians view this as inappropriate according to Christian values.

If you call yourself a Christian, and now having read about Reformation Day and Martin Luther, will you choose to celebrate Halloween or Reformation Day, on the upcoming October 31?

No matter which religion you practise, you may choose to go for trick-or-treat as usual, and end that day by perhaps discovering the story of Martin Luther through watching Luther, a 2-hour-3-minute movie released in 2003.

Happy Halloween, no matter how you may celebrate it!


Written by: Yvonne Y. F. Kelle

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