Reformation Day: Celebrate a Halloween alternative Oct 31st

Luther left people of faith a celebration alternative to Halloween Photo: German Tourism

WASHINGTON, October 19, 2012 - This year, I’ve found a new way to celebrate October 31st – popularly known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. I’m heading to Germany to celebrate Reformation Day, Martin Luther, and my Christian heritage.

Martin Luther, who was a law student turned Augustinian monk, committed an act on October 31, 1517 that forever changed the church and western civilization.

Luther not only had become disillusioned with the excesses and outrages of the medieval church. He also believed Scripture had a different message about salvation from what the church was teaching in that era. So on that momentous day nearly five centuries ago, he nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door. It turned out to be the “match” that sparked the Protestant Reformation.

I will be in what is now called Lutherstadt Wittenberg for its Reformation Day Festival. And I’ll be doing a tour of towns and cities that were a part of Martin’s life. More to come in my column about that journey which I expect will be one more piece of life-changing faith travel for me.

But maybe you can’t get to Germany and you’d appreciate an alternative idea for observing something besides what has become the most celebrated holiday in public schools.

According to Brad Winsted, director of Children’s Ministry International there is an alternative to parading ghoulish symbols with roots in the occult and pagan Celtic tribes of modern day Scotlandand Ireland. The kids have fun and also learn about their heritage.

“Kids can dress up as characters from the Reformation,” he said, “like John Calvin, Martin Luther, a peasant, and even John Tetzel – the salesman of those infamous indulgences.” Transform your church fellowship hall into Wittenberg, Germany or Geneva, Switzerland. Have adults and older kids explain what Luther means by grace alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, etc. “Show a video about one of the reformers,” he continues. “And draw murals of Reformation events.”

Medieval line dancing can be part of the fest too, he said. It’s much like Scottish line dancing. And medieval relay races (put the indulgences in the bottle), bobbing for apples, German covered dish dinner, and acting out your Reformation character.

I think Winstead’s on to something, and I’ll be sure to bring some more ideas for celebrating Reformation Day back with me from Germany.

Read more of Ruth Hill’s faith travel columns in the Washington Times Communities at Contemporary Christian Travel.

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Ruth Hill

Ruth Hill writes for magazines and newspapers about the business and pleasures of travel. Read more about her views and news of Christian heritage travel around the world at

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