While I would argue that Halloween has always been a dubious and anti-Christian festival, carefully observant parents have noticed that in recent years the godless nature of the event has increased and realize that even more caution is warranted. This problem has occurred hand-in-hand with the slide into godlessness generally associated with an evolutionary worldview, in which God is not central to our lives, and death and the occult are glorified, rather than abhorred.
Halloween is not a religious holiday. Oh sure, it originally had religious implications, and it still does to some, but for the vast vast majority of American children, I suppose the holiday is indeed “godless”—in that it has nothing to do with God and everything to do with costumes and candy. But you know what? I’m thinking this is not a “recent” thing.
This leads us to the important issue of how Christians should respond to the festival. I would suggest the following:
Yes, this perennial issue again. How is a Christian to approach Halloween? It’s a pressing question!
1. I, personally, urge Christians not to take part in the festival. The world of evil is very real, and we should not carelessly expose our children to it.
And this, readers, is why I never went trick-or-treating as a child. The first time I ever went trick-or-treating was when Sally was a baby. A friend and I dressed up and dressed her up and we went door to door, enjoying the Halloween decorations more than anything else. As a child, I always felt like I was missing out on something—but I was never quite sure what.
2. If your children are being encouraged to take part in Halloween-related activities at their schools against your wishes, then contact the schools and voice your concerns.
Aww, poor kids. It can’t be fun to have your parents raise a stink about a teacher encouraging her class of second-graders to bring their costumes to school on Halloween. :/
3. Consider giving tracts (U.S. | UK/Europe) instead of (or in addition to) giving them sweets or money. The ReachOut Trust (www.reachouttrust.org) also has many good tracts written for even very young children and include a gospel presentation for their parents.
4. Consider an alternative. Many churches today are organizing “Light” parties or “Hallelujah” parties or other similar events that focus the children’s attention on the Bible and on Jesus. Another positive alternative would be to have a “Reformation Party” to mark the fact that October 31 is the anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg.
I’m seriously surprised that this item does not mention church harvest festivals or “Christian Alternative to Celebrating Halloween” (CATCH). Taylor acts as though he’s come up with a new idea, but in fact this idea has been around for ages. While I did feel like I was missing out not being allowed to trick-or-treat as a child, it was our church’s harvest festival/CATCH event that kept me on the whole fairly content.
Each October 31st, our church’s gymnasium and nursery areas were transformed. There were simple games to play, set up in stations all around, with candy (of course!) as prizes for completion. There were cardboard box mazes and hot dogs being sold out of the church kitchen. And of course, there were costumes, costumes, costumes, though no witches or ghosts or ghoulish ones—those were barred at the door. The adults all got into the spirit of things, and every year it was an event I looked forward to all fall. And so I suppose it was a success—it gave us something to look forward to and kept as many kids as would fill the gym from traveling their neighborhoods trick-or-treating.
Of course, my experience trick-or-treating with my children—now five and two—has left me confused as to what all the fuss was about. The kids dress up, and we go door to door and get candy. The people handing out the candy compliment the children’s costumes, and sometimes set up their own displays or traps—a man in a bear costume jumps out from behind the bushes, bowl of candy in hand, or spooky light and fake mist greets us to create a deliciously frightening atmosphere. It’s not about anything evil or Satanic, it’s about having fun handing out candy and trying to kids jump—or simply welcoming them onto the porch for a moment. It’s friendly, it’s community, it’s neighborhood in an old fashioned way.
I mean, it’s not that I don’t know what the issue was. Growing up in an evangelical home, Satan and his demons were very real. We believed that they were at their height on Halloween, in a way, prowling around and wreaking devastation—spiritual warfare at its worst. In other words, the forces that led my parents to hold us back from trick-or-treating year after year were not tangible but rather invisible. I no longer believe in those invisible forces, and having seen the holiday for myself, it seems incredibly harmless.
It’s sad, in a way, how easy it is to create boogeymen out of nothing.