So is Halloween a Harmless Holiday, or something that we as Christians should avoid? I’ve struggled with this question quite a bit as a parent. My parents raised me in a home where Halloween was downright bad. My parents discussed the history of Samhein and the origins of the Holiday. They also explained to us exactly how that clashed with a Christian heritage, and how the Catholic Church in attempting to make Christianity more palatable to pagans, ended up marginalizing Christian principles with this particular Holiday, and what started as a compromise ended up as an adulteration. I have many precious childhood memories of fun Halloween nights where all the lights were off, and we ate supper in the dark to avoid the Trick or Treaters, in the hope they wouldn’t know we were home. We would spend the rest of the evening playing hide and seek in a dark house. One particular night that stands out is one where we tried to eat tacos hiding under the kitchen table. I don’t remember why we took it that far, but I do remember what fun it was. I never felt deprived. In fact, it all felt kind of special.
As an adult, however, once I began dating my husband, he introduced me to Halloween, the American Version, and I saw a whole other experience, one my parents had scrupulously avoided. My first trick or treating experience was with my husband, he was Superman, and I was Lois Lane. We were college students traipsing around a college town, gathering candy. How bad can it be? There were a lot of princesses, fairy tale characters, video game characters, super heros etc. Why on EARTH did my parents villify this? I embraced it wholeheartedly, and when we had our first child, we dressed her as many different things, a dog, a unicorn, etc. Our second one as well. But with a recent change of heart regarding our faith and how seriously we take God’s Word, we’ve had to rethink Halloween.
In a nutshell, there have been HUGE changes in our life and family recently. Many different factors made us take a good hard look at our life and what we were REALLY accomplishing. We were forced to conclude that without God we are nothing. We also were forced to conclude that if you are not For God, you are against him. We’ve shed a lot of American norms in our life as a result. If God’s Word is paramount, how can we live a life based on man’s expectations and cultural norms, ignoring scriptural principles and commands at our convenience? So when it comes to Halloween, how can we apply God’s Word, and make it paramount?
Historically Halloween was a Christianized version of a pagan festival. If you want information on this ancient festival and modern traditions, how they originated, what they mean etc, click here: The True Halloween
God’s Word has a lot to say about making pagan ritual a part of our lives:
Deuteronomy 18:9-13 (OT)
“When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NT and OT)
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
God is serious when he says: Don’t ally yourself with paganism. Don’t even touch it, avoid all appearances of Evil. How can we know that we are either for God or against him, and yet celebrate a Holiday that has a basis in Paganism? We, in our home, cannot. As my husband wrote on our kitchen board: “As for me and my house, We will serve the LORD.” (Joshua)
Philosophically modern Halloween is a celebration of death. Ghosts, zombies etc are all the rage these days. The paranormal is celebrated as creepy and deliciously scary, haunted houses, haunted rides are all popular ways to celebrate death. How can we celebrate eternal death and reject (even for one day) God’s gift of eternal life? In doing so, we are forgetting Christ’s sacrifice that makes eternal life for sinners possible. We are commanded to remember his sacrifice. This directly breaks that command. It is that simple.
Death is the culmination of sin, and fear a rejection of Victory in Christ, the Bible says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” to fear something else is to arrogantly assume God’s power cannot defeat it:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. Deuteronomy 13:4
Practically, how can I speak to my children of the impact of Christ’s death and resurrection when they are constantly bombarded by images and costumes of death glorified? We live a victorious life in Christ. Not a defeated fear filled life in death.
Practically we avoid Halloween as best we can. I can’t help the ghastly decorations on porches and gory displays of death. I have had a few distressing moments of my children crying over a truly terrifying porch decoration. Laugh at me if you like, but no 6 year old likes, nor should be expected to handle a lifelike zombie holding someone else’s decapitated head. Not appropriate at all.
- We don’t do Jack-O Lanterns (ok, so there is a nice way to do those, but we prefer to make our pumpkins into pies and EAT them! 🙂 the kids enjoy the taste of harvest!)
- We dress up year round. Our extensive collection of dress up princesses, pirates, maids, etc allows the children to use their imagination whenever, and believe me, they do! They do not need *one* night for permission to do this! They do it whenever!
- We enjoy harvest foods and smells and experiences. We make apple everything, pumpkin everything, and go to town! Who says candy is a great treat anyway? Pumpkin pie has just a tad more nutritional value!
- We FEAST! In a celebration of eternal life, we feast throughout this season and think about and talk about the things that we might get to do in heaven as a result of God’s generous gift of eternal life. We discuss what the Bible says about this gift, and what we may do in heaven. We talk about the marriage feast of the lamb, and about Christ being the only man to defeat death because he IS God!
- We teach. We use this as a time to discuss the vast differences between a life dependent on Christ, and a life dependent on men and man’s ideas of what life should be. We use this time to apply scripture to our daily life, and to bolster courage when it comes to making unpopular decisions because God’s Word is not always concerned with leading us to the popular cultural choice, but because God is concerned with eternity, and Godly wisdom.
- We do so with grace and poise. We try to find ways not to alienate family members and friends who do celebrate Halloween. Not everyone is at the same point in the process of sanctification, and I will end this post on the fact that we are NOT perfect on this, or any other topic, and that our family is still a work in progress! God’s Word has a lot to say on a lot of topics, and we have a lifetime to learn it! Perfection is not ours until heaven is attained. We do not believe that we are any better than anyone else. We are grateful for God’s grace and mercy in our lives, and astounded at the rich blessings he bestows on us as we learn how to apply his Word to our lives.
Lastly: For an interesting discussion on this topic, and a very enlightening opposing viewpoint (with which I do not agree, but he has some interesting points.) Feel free to check out this post:
7 Reasons Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween
My only closing question is this: How do you deal with Halloween in your home?