October 31 is not a non-holiday for Christians. In fact, this specific day probably holds more significance in the context of church history than any number of explanations for the secular “trick-or-treat” holiday geared toward children. One of the seminal events in the history of the church took place 495 years ago today, on October 31, 1517. Martin Luther, a German Monk with a hunger for God’s Word, nailed his famous 95 theses to a church door, sparking a movement that would forever change the Christian church.
One scholar described it this way:
“On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked up 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg. With this act, he hoped to provoke a discussion among the scholars about the abuses of the indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. He was not trying to create a public furor by any means, but within a fortnight, these theses had spread through the country like wildfire. The last thing Luther had in mind was to start some kind of major controversy, but nevertheless major controversy did begin.” —R.C. Sproul
Here’s a short article on the history of this great day.
In the Murch house we celebrate this wonderful day by giving candy out to funny looking people who come to our door. I told my soon to be 5-year old Olivia that today was “Reformation Day.” She asked, “Is Reformation Day Halloween?” I said, “No, Halloween is the pretend day, Reformation Day is the real day we celebrate today.” She looked puzzled, so I gave her a Tootsie Roll. Now she loves Reformation Day.
I know this is last minute, and you’ve probably already decided either 1) to not dress up, or 2) to dress up as the latest and greatest super hero. Here are a few costume ideas if you really want to celebrate Reformation Day in style:
Be Martin Luther (It’s all in the hat):
Or John Calvin (the beard is key):
Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli (remember the Bible):
Or Philipp Melanchthon
Whatever reformer you choose to go as this year, make sure you keep in mind one of the central themes of the Reformation as you celebrate this night: Soli Deo Gloria.