Every year when October 31st creeps up I always come across articles and blog posts on the subject of Halloween and the decision to participate or not. Either you’re on the side where it’s all in good fun or the complete other side and shelter yourself until November 1st. As always, what a family decides to do (or not do) is completely their choice and I stand in support of that, even if I may disagree. But, hey…that’s what’s so great about raising your own family. I recognize this discussion is a sensitive one because it ties together two major topics: religion and family, but today I’m attempting to, at the very least, get discussion started about how families celebrate Halloween and how we can end the stigma surrounding this holiday.
First, I should mention that I am guilty of feeling, what’s the big deal? Just because my family might dress up as characters from Harry Potter one year doesn’t mean I’m shedding my faith for an evening and taking up witchcraft. Or if I watch a scary movie that all of a sudden I should be shamed by others or God about that choice. Instead, I choose to celebrate Halloween for the fun that comes with establishing those family traditions that incorporate gathering, creativity, and keeping God first through my attitude, dress, and level of participation. Here’s how I do that and questions I ask along the way:
Halloween, or really any holiday, is made up mostly of the family traditions in which you start and share with one another. Just because you decorate your home with harvest decor and scented candles or take your kids to the pumpkin patch doesn’t mean you have to go trick-or-treating, visit a haunted house, or otherwise participate in the scary side of the holiday. I agree that everyone has their own interpretation of this holiday and what is considered scary; some are lighthearted and fun whereas others can be over the top and borderline obscene. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to remember that anyone can establish what their traditions will be and the extent to which you choose to participate.
I would say to ask yourself each year: “Are my family traditions in keeping with how God wants us to live as Christians?”
Although, if we want to fully discuss Halloween one must come to understand it’s historical, and even Christian (All Saints Day), beginnings. With an understanding that like most things over time this holiday became muddled and evolved into something completely different. For example, death is a consequence of our early sins dating back to Adam and Eve and is an unfortunate circumstance in which we will all experience eventually. Historically, death played a large role in the early churches across cultures and prayers, feasts, and other acts of remembrance were ways in which family members could help the souls of those who passed prepare for heaven. Down the line, various forms of these customs were established and, again, evolved into some of the traditions we participate in today.
Did you know trick-or-treating is a variation of early begging in America? With a flood of Irish immigrants (thanks to the potato famine), children would dress up and go door-to-door asking for food or money. Women even believed they could nab themselves a husband by doing various tricks! via
So why is death something we need to shelter ourselves and our families from on this day? What is the harm in dressing up in family costumes and snacking on some candy?
Celebrating Halloween as a Christian
The Bible indeed does tell us a lot about keeping away from the darkness, the occult, devil worship and so on. The Bible is our sword and armor against such things and it is our responsibility, or any believer of Christ, to continue living out our faith – even on such holidays as Halloween. However, I believe I can still live and reflect a redeemed life for my son and family by how I/we choose to participate. Even some churches have their own Halloween-esque celebrations! I remember my old church back home on the east coast who every year hosts a Trunk-Or-Treat evening and it was always a lot of fun – especially for the little kids. Many churches around the country do the same and still manage keep God’s glory in the center of their activities.
Is there a way to glorify God even in participating in some aspects of Halloween?
Regardless of whether or not I agree or disagree with how you choose to participate in Halloween, it’s vital that all of us keep Romans 14 in our hearts about this subject and the many others that divide our opinions. As a Christian I find celebrating the fun and lighthearted side of Halloween to be an enjoyable part of the season and especially so as Greyson grows up.
What are your thoughts? Do you celebrate Halloween or ban it? How do you explain your family’s choice to others?