BOO! The Halloween Dilemma
For many Christian families, Halloween can be a real dilemma. Some embrace it. Some avoid it. Some choose an alternative. Halloween is one of those “gray areas” in which families need to pray and make a decision as to what is best for their family in good conscience before God.
Many of our Halloween rituals are rooted in pagan rites and superstitions. According to www.history.com, “The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead.” On this New Year’s Day, people would light bonfires and wear costumes and masks to scare off roaming ghosts. Wiccans today celebrate October 31 is the highest day in Wiccan witchcraft. But for many, Halloween has transitioned over the years to a day of costumes and candy.
Personally, Halloween is my least favorite “holiday”. Unfortunately, it’s not going away. The National Retail Federation is predicting Halloween spending to reach a whopping $7.4 billion this year. This year promises big business due to the fact that Halloween is on a Friday night.
Going back many years ago when our children were young, my family chose not to participate in Halloween. The pagan roots of the holiday, along with the satanic practices of the day, bothered us, and we could not be part of it in good conscience. After several years of frustration on the part of our kids, our oldest daughter asked if she and her brother could go trick or treating if they handed out a gospel tract to every home they visited. My husband agreed. Since then we have changed our stance. We’ve chosen to take advantage of the evangelistic opportunities the day brings.
Perhaps you can make it a teachable time as well. Here are some suggestions for Christian families:
* Dress children in Bible or God-honoring costumes that will cause others to ask questions and start conversations. Teach children about who their characters represent.
* Purchase kid-friendly trick-or-treat gospel tracts and give them out with good candy, not the cheap stuff.
* Attach a homemade Scripture or message to the candy.
* Order candy from companies that have a Scripture printed on the inside of the wrapper.
* Most importantly, gather with your children and pray for the salvation of the families in your neighborhood.
I’ve come to realize that Halloween may be the best night of the year to gather with neighbors. In our neighborhood, Halloween is one of the few, if not the only night of the year when neighbors actually get out of their homes and mingle. Think about it. Your neighbors are actually coming to your door. For those with young children, you have the opportunity to go to their door and introduce yourself without awkwardness. You may interact with more neighbors on Halloween night than you do all year long. Perhaps churches should consider having their Fall Festivals and Halloween alternatives on a night other than Halloween so we can be in our neighborhoods on Halloween night?
Regardless of what we decide is best for our family, we do need to respect our Christian brothers and sisters who choose to celebrate the holiday differently than we do. This is one of those gray areas that should not divide us.
This Halloween, let’s invest spiritually in our neighborhoods. Let’s unlock those doors, tastefully decorate the porch, turn on the lights, buy some decent candy and get out on that porch. Let’s demonstrate Christian love and hospitality. Welcome the children, meet the neighbors, build relationships and be a light in a very dark world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matt. 5:14-15).
Thanks for your thoughtful blog post. First, I would like to point out that other holidays, like Christmas, were also started based on pagan rituals. As followers of Jesus who are on mission, I don’t think that our place is to abandon the “secular” for the “sacred.” Rather, I believe that we have been sent into the world by a good God who is working to restore all things (people included!) and make them new. Therefore, let us engage in Halloween, rather than retreat into inactivity or a “Christian” alternative, in hopes of seeing the lost be found in Jesus. Here are some ideas of how to do so:
Also, I’ve personally never seen a Christian tract be handed out and been effective in the United States. In my experience, when people submit their hearts to Jesus, it is usually the result of being in some sort of relationship with a believer, who God uses to point the nonbeliever to Himself. Instead of using a tract, I would rather see the Christian be intentional about inviting people into his/her life. On Halloween, having s’mores available to roast in a front-yard fire pit could be very useful, seeing that creating s’mores takes a bit of time and will lead to conversation between the neighbors and you. Being available one night per year won’t result in missional relationships, but it can launch you into intentional actions that further those friendships. And when those friendships continue, opportunities will arise by which you tell stories of a good God who is worthy of praise. And the Holy Spirit will be faithful to finish the work He has started.