This past summer as we celebrated our son’s 3rd birthday, I thought, “Crazy…if we didn’t make a big deal out of this day, he wouldn’t have known the difference and it would have passed without even being acknowledged.” Don’t we as parents have such a profound (and sometimes nerve-wracking) privilege of influencing our children?
We are CONSTANTLY being watched. (Even in places we’d rather not be, as any mom whose toddler has followed her to the washroom knows.) The decisions we make, the things we say and especially HOW we say them all contribute to our children’s understanding of the world and how to function within it. It is my responsibility, as the mother of my children, to help shape their worldview and form their faith.
Some things are black and white, and easy to teach our kids. And some issues are more complicated.
There is a “black and white” day which, unlike a birthday, won’t just pass by without being acknowledged, and if I don’t tell help my kids what to do with it someone else will.
That day is Halloween.
When it comes to reactions to Halloween, I have friends and family all over the spectrum…
- those who, every year on October 31st, carve pumpkins, dress up their kids and go door to door asking for candy
- others who dim the lights, lock their doors, and remain silent
- and still others who choose ‘alternative celebrations’
In the end, my husband and I recognize the need to be INTENTIONAL about what we choose to do as a family or allow our kids to participate in. Over the years my beliefs about Halloween have changed, and I think that is okay. But each year when it rolls around, we as parents are faced again with a CHOICE.
I hope this post will give you some things to consider as you make your decision.
Personally, I have different Halloween memories from my childhood. There are pictures of me dressed up as a nurse, preparing to go trick or treating with other neighborhood kids. Another time I remember going to a church-hosted party with costumes, candy and games. (Actually it isn’t so much the party that I remember, but the fact that on the way there, we ran out of gas and my dad had to hitch hike back to town to fill up a container while my brother and I waited in the car with my mom. Must have left more of an impression on me than the church event!)
Since living here in Germany, I haven’t paid as much attention to the whole thing since Halloween isn’t a big deal here (at least not as much as it is in North America). In our small village we don’t get trick or treaters, but I met a nice girl from the neighborhood recently, a young mom of a toddler, who was planning on going to a Halloween party dressed up as a zombie.
In recent years, what have we done? Headed out to an annual weekend get-a-way with my brother-in-law and his family, at a hotel with an awesome pool and great food!
What is Halloween all about?
Well, it depends who you ask. Trying to find out the origins of Halloween is nearly impossible. The main beliefs out there are the following:
- Halloween is a “pagan, dark celebration”
- Some sources that say in olden times it was celebrated as the transition from summer/harvest to winter
- Still others assert that the roots of Halloween are actually Christian, being the night before “All Saints Day” on November 1st (the Eve of a hallowed day – Halloween) and that people originally dressed up in costumes to “scare away” the evil spirits, not invite them.
Personally, the origins aren’t what make or break it for me, since we’ve likely wandered so far from whatever it was meant to be in the first place anyways. The same questions and debates could and do surround other days like Christmas and Easter. What matters to me isn’t how it started, but how I respond to what it has become NOW.
I read an article this morning written by a Christian Pastor entitled, “Christian, Stop Being Scared of Halloween.” He shares that he has fond memories of Halloween in his growing-up years and that he and his wife intentionally celebrate with their children now. He basically says “don’t take it too seriously. There is more evil out there the other 364 days of the year, lurking in the hallways of your children’s schools, than there is on this night. It’s just a time to have fun.” He believes Christians who think the devil will “get” their family if they participate in Halloween are belittling God and denying His power, which is greater.
To some extent, I agree with him. But I am also a Bible-believing Jesus follower and I must admit there are aspects of Halloween that are an obvious ”no-no” for me since I cannot reconcile them with what I know of Jesus and His Word. I ask myself what the point of any of the following could possibly be:
- Black and darkness – when Jesus said that He, and we as well, are the LIGHT of the world
- Death and tombstones – when Jesus once and for all defeated death by His own sacrifice and offers abundant LIFE instead
- Scariness and evil – when Jesus offers His Shalom PEACE and God is intrinsically GOOD
- Witches and ghosts – when the Bible clearly says to not have anything to do with witchcraft, and the only “Ghost” we should be filled with is the HOLY SPIRIT
- Pranks and ”trick or treat” – when the Bible teaches HONESTY and condemns foolish talk
Now, I have nothing against dressing up.
And I don’t think it’s a problem to knock on your neighbor’s door. (Maybe we should do that more often.)
Candy and chocolate taste yummy.
Pumpkins are fun and cute.
So what’s the big deal?
There’s a passage in Ephesians 5 that has helped form my perspective on Halloween. It says:
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Certain facets of Halloween are, I believe, ”fruitless” (or even destructive) and dark. I don’t think they are worth celebrating, and I want to live as a child of light.
But in this same chapter, a couple verses later, it states:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Understanding what the Lord’s will is – that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? But I have to admit that’s not so simple.
Does ”making the most of every opportunity” also mean making the most of Halloween? Of course!
But the question is – HOW?
Should I try to “redeem” this day by decorating my porch and giving out sweets wrapped in Bible verses to eager children as a way of sharing my faith?
Or should I intentionally avoid the whole thing, using the opportunity to explain to neighbors why I don’t participate in such activities?
Or maybe a few years from now I will invite my children’s friends to an alternative event – safe and clean fun.
I don’t know.
Maybe this is one issue that, as the Apostle Paul wrote, is ”possible but not beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
Maybe there is no right or wrong.
But either way, it requires a decision. If I say yes, it shouldn’t be because I simply go with the flow and do what everybody else is doing. And if I say no, I need to be prepared to explain my convictions in a loving way that doesn’t condemn those who have made a different decision.
This weekend, many people will be wishing one another a ”Happy Halloween.”
How will you respond?
Do you find Halloween a day worth celebrating? Why or why not? Share in the comments below or in the Facebook Group.