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Reformation Sunday or American Halloween?

Holidays are introduced to commemorate something that happened in the past, and people want to remember the reason and origin of the holiday. Reformation Sunday on October 30 has been an official public holiday in Lower Saxony since 2018. This reminds us that Martin Luther stood up to stop powerful forces in the church, and they then twisted God’s Word and took advantage of people’s ignorance for financial gain. Luther provided the first translation of the Bible into a common vernacular (German) and thus created the opportunity for everyone to form their picture of God’s word. The Reformation Sunday also stands for this.

Now in America, we are experiencing October 30 in the media and on the streets under a different heading – Halloween. Of course, children enjoy dressing up and eating sweets. But what was the original purpose of this festival? Is the meaning behind Halloween worth celebrating? What’s best to celebrate: Reformation Sunday or American Halloween? We went in search of clues.

The origin of Reformation Sunday Day

All over the world, on October 30, initiatives and cults are held to celebrate Reformation Sunday. Reformed churches, also in the United States of America, organize a cult, the “Reformation Sunday,” for the occasion. According to the needs of the individual communities, this falls on the Sunday before or after October 30. The offerings collected during the “Reformation Sunday” cults of the Waldensian, Methodist, and Baptist churches will be donated to the Biblical Society in the US.

The origins of Reformation Sunday can be traced back to October 28, 2019 – On October 31, 1517m when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the portal of the church of Wittenberg Castle. This event is conventionally considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

For its part, the Lutheran World Federation (FLM) has called for the use of the ecumenical liturgy used in Geneva for the 20th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) for the Sunday of Reformation. The invitation is open to all churches that have signed the JDDJ: Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, and Reformed. The liturgy includes prayers, hymns, biblical readings, extracts from the JDDJ, and other documents.

Reformation Sunday is a Protestant Christian religious holiday celebrated on the last Sunday of October, along with All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) during the Allhallowtide triduum, in remembrance of the start of the Reformation.

Reformation Sunday is celebrated in the Reformed churches in the US on the last Sunday in October, which is near, but not at the same time as, the commemoration of Martin Luther’s posting of theses in the German Protestant churches on October 30 (Reformation Day).

Biography of Martin Luther

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Representation of Martin Luther and the Reformation movement

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The meaning of Reformation Sunday is not to be understood as a celebration of separation or even the founding of a new church in contrast to other denominations but as a grateful and critical reflection on the central insights and events of the Reformation.

The commemoration is always linked to the question of how the legacy of the reformers (such as Wibrandis Rosenblatt and Marie de France …) can be transferred to the present – in the sense of “ecclesia Semper reformanda.” “One cannot adequately remember the Reformation without at the same time asking about the need for reform in the church today,” writes Christiane Tietz.

Do you wear red on Reformation Sunday?

The main sign of Pentecost in the West is red, which symbolizes joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Priests, ministers, and choirs wear red vestments, and in modern times, the custom has spread to lay people in the congregation to wear festive red vestments as well.

Because red is the Holy Spirit’s official color, you should wear red on Reformation Sunday. 

Most Lutheran churches transfer the festival so that it falls on Sunday (called Reformation Sunday ) no later than October 31 and move from All Saints’ Day to Sunday on or after November 1. The liturgical color of the day is red, representing the Holy Spirit and the martyrs of the Christian Church.

Why is Reformation Day on Halloween?

Halloween is nothing more than a “secular” All Saints’ Day: in fact, the Protestants do not have the cult of the saints and the dead, but after Luther’s Reformation, they wanted to keep an occasion for celebration.

Reformation Day is on Halloween because Martin Luther wanted to eliminate Halloween, a pagan festival. The ghosts and ghouls are a reminder of the days of dark origins in ancient Celtic history when October 31 was supposed to be the night the spirits of the dead returned to earth. Despite its decidedly pagan beginnings, or perhaps because of it, Halloween has also played a central role in religious history as Reformation Day.

In Europe, the saints and the dead are celebrated in the first two days of November from 800 AD, when a councilor of Charlemagne, Alcuin, instituted the celebrations to replace the pagan one of the Celtic New Year. The Catholic Church followed a few years later, but the Lutheran Reform of 1517 created an actual tear in the Protestant churches, which believed neither in the cult of the saints nor that of the dead.

Differences between Reformation Sunday and Halloween Day

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Primary Takeaways

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  1. The Reformation Sunday of the Protestant churches is the only public holiday in the church year that does not refer directly to an event in Christian salvation history.
  2. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg Church, says Luca Baschera (researcher at the Institute for the History of the Reformation at the University of Zurich).
  3. In 1617, the first centenary of the posting of Luther’s theses was celebrated on October 31 in certain German regions. It is this day that will eventually become the anniversary of the Reformation. This was the case in Lutheran Europe and then, during the 19th century, in the churches of the reformed tradition.

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Reformed Protestantism has had a significant impact on the political mentality and culture of America. The justification experienced in faith gives people the freedom to make decisions based on their conscience. This evangelical freedom calls citizens to take responsibility for shaping the church, society, and state. God’s Spirit works in people. And while it works in people, it also works indirectly in institutions. The Reformed Church is the “Church from the last days.”

After the grand Reformation celebration of 1819, calls for an annual Reformation Sunday in America became louder. In addition to the occasional return to central dates in the history of one’s church. An annually recurring Reformation memorial should be brought into being.

Therefore, the desire to cultivate a common evangelical identity. Even more strongly in the Reformation commemoration may well have been why people chose the last Sunday of October. The date for the Reformation commemoration is Reformation Sunday. On this day, the Reformation is commemorated year after year in America.

Reformation Sunday Quizlet

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