Halloween Questions

My very inquisitive 6 year old asked me why people dress up on Halloween. I was stumped. I am usually a reasonably informed mom with a quick story about all the cool things in history that have formed our current day celebrations. But not this time. So in my true seeker spirit, I went in search of some answers. I was intrigued to read the “Origins of Halloween” article and get a full picture of the many influences that created our current tradition.

His question got me thinking about the recent trend of schools and faith groups who stopped celebrating the holiday in favor of fall festivals and other seemingly meaningless observances. Recently at my church, they decided that they would host a Fall Festival for the kids to dissuade them from going out to celebrate traditional Halloween with trick-or-treating.

I LOVED Halloween as a child. It was one of the most anticipated days of the year…the opportunity to get dressed up as anything I wanted — to be something else for a day or night and then to go out and have people give you candy all night long. I mean seriously: Does it get any better than that? I never questioned as a child or a teen the meaning of the holiday — or even how it came about. It was simply a wonderful time to be transformed and to pretend…one of the true glories of being a child.

I worry that as parents, we take everything more seriously today, that we focus on all the negative influences in the hopes to control our child’s experience in the world. Can you introduce a holiday — like Halloween — to your children, have them understand the many influences, and enjoy it within the context of what you do believe? I know I am certainly going to try. I want my children to enjoy the fun part, the creative part, the exciting part all while understanding that our beliefs and the beliefs of others co-exist in our very complicated world.

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  • Crystal Justice

    When my mom and dad decided that we weren’t going to celebrate Halloween it was difficult for us as kids to understand because we don’t see the reason for Halloween. You are right all we see the day as being is a day to dress up and yes have candy we don’t know why we do this. The day has been completely transformed to pander to the most appealing part of childhood. As children we see Halloween at a base level. When we get older we discover the real reasons behind the scenes as it were. Scott and I struggled with whether we were going to celebrate Halloween. I know the reasons behind the jack 0 lantern and dressing up to fool the demons, however….my daughter looks so stinking cute in her costumes, and she loves dressing up. The fall harvest festival for us has been a great answer. We dress her up as a Biblical character (this year she is a ladybug, that goes under the all creeping things lol from Genesis) and the festival provides games and awards candy. Is this too similar? Are we still celebrating? I’m not sure. Have we redeemed the day? I don’t think that we take things more seriously as an adult, it is just that a vale is lifted and understanding shines through. As I grew up fast food was common in our home, now-a-days we are finding out more things about fast food and the problems that is creating with obesity. Am I going to deprived my daughter of the experience I had just because I don’t want her to miss out? A very shallow example I know, but it conveys my point to an extent. I didn’t know as a child fast food is bad for my health, it tastes yummy, as an adult I have a different perspective and I govern my choices and my daughters based on that. Do I “condemn” others for it, no. But it is somethings that we have chosen not to take part of.

  • Cathie

    Thank you so much for your comment — I do believe your response very clearly articulates the view of most evangelical Christians when it comes to this topic. Check out the Halloween article on the front page. I think it provides some really good background on the Halloween holiday and the many traditions that have made their way into the current day event.