It’s October 31!
Halloween – this holiday right in the middle of fall – is becoming one of the most profitable, popular festive days in North America.
According to thebalance.com, Americans will spend $9 billion dollars on Halloween this year! If you divide that by the number of people who are participating in the holiday, it works out to just over $85 a person.
Cheaper than Christmas?
But still pretty popular!
A quick drive down my street yesterday was filled with Halloween displays – lights, pumpkins, inflatables, projectors on houses, and everything in between. A stroll down the seasonal section at my local Walmart is a reminder that this isn’t just a chips and candy holiday anymore. Halloween is a big deal for a lot of people.
Which makes the question I’m going to pose in this post seem perhaps a little strange.
How do Christians handle Halloween?
It may seem like a no-brainer to many people reading this post.
Why not celebrate this fun day of costumes and candy?
Are there actually people who don’t?
Yes, in fact there are.
There are people – both those who follow Jesus and those who don’t – who choose not to participate in this holiday.
For some, it may be a disdain with the commercialism of the holiday, but for most, I believe, it’s a choice to stay away from the darkness that is often associated with October 31. While for most people Halloween is a day of mere fun, there are some dark and pagan origins of the holiday that collide with many Christians’ convictions.
Full disclosure – until not all that long ago, I was one of those people.
I grew up in a home where we didn’t go trick-or-treating.
While my parents made Halloween a special day for us – it was always a fun family night with lots of junk food involved – we never went door-to-door gathering candy.
I know what some of you are thinking –
“How deprived you must have been as a child!”
(Correction: The fact that my 18 month old used the word “chubby” to describe my belly yesterday tells me I wasn’t that deprived)
“Your parents must have been mean!”
(Correction: My parents actually made Halloween the most fun, and I’m convinced I enjoyed it as much as I would have trick-or-treating, particularly considering I was a nervous and introverted child!)
While not trick-or-treating was confusing at first for me – and especially confusing for most of my friends – it provided me with an opportunity to critically engage with culture even at a young age. I may not have used those exact words at that time, but that’s what was happening in my home.
Instead of doing something just because it was popular or everyone else was doing it, my family decided to ask hard questions about the holiday and make a decision from there. That decision brought on many challenging conversations – particularly challenging for my parents I’m sure – but ultimately allowed me to see that just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it’s good.
I’m thankful for that experience growing up – because I feel it allows me a unique perspective on Halloween as a parent myself.
You see, Andrew & I have had several conversations about Halloween, and we’ve decided we’re going to participate in the holiday on a level that we’re comfortable with.
So, Levi has an adorable pineapple costume (thanks Nanny & Poppy), we carved a cute pumpkin (which Levi tried to eat), and we’ll be visiting a few houses for treats with Levi this year (who, as an extrovert will enjoy this much more than me). I’ve hosted Halloween parties and put up a few decorations and read Halloween storybooks with Levi.
I’ve celebrated Halloween, and I also haven’t celebrated Halloween.
And I actually believe that both approaches can be God-honouring.
I believe that every family needs to look at their own kids (are they terrified of everything like me? Maybe trick-or-treating or attending a haunted house isn’t a great idea!), their own convictions, and their own context and make a decision about Halloween for themselves.
Here are a few principles I think can guide us:
1. Why are you celebrating (or not) Halloween?
I believe that every holiday we choose to celebrate – even the good, Christian ones like Christmas – deserve more thought & engagement from us. Instead of mindlessly buying into what everyone else around us is doing, I think we need to ask the question – Why?
Why is our family trick-or-treating or carving pumpkins or eating turkey or spending hundreds of dollars on presents?
Why do we make such a big deal of certain days or events or traditions?
Being able to answer these questions is important. It will be especially important if you choose not to celebrate the holiday – as your kids will be looking for reasons, and you need to be able to give it to them!
PSA: There are some elements of Halloween that do make me uncomfortable. Much of the gore, talk about spirits, and other elements of “horror” don’t seem to be “kid-friendly” to me and I wrestle with understanding how they can honour God. If your family is partaking in some of these elements, be sure to ask yourselves these questions and spend time searching for answers!
2. How are you honouring God by celebrating (or not) Halloween?
The Bible is clear that when we decide to follow Christ, all of our decisions should be filtered through the lens of bringing God glory. Whatever we choose to do with our families – even something as everyday as candy and costumes – we should be asking, “How can we honour God through this?”
So, if you and your family celebrate Halloween, how can you honour God?
Is it through giving out really great treat bags & showing love to those who knock on your door?
Is it by taking a few minutes to celebrate that God made pumpkins and chocolate (well.. kind of on the chocolate)?
Is it by taking some time to pray for the kids in your neighbourhood?
If you’re not celebrating, how are you honouring God? How does the decision you and your family have made give God glory? I do believe abstaining from particular things can glorify God – just be sure to explain this and explain it well.
3. How are you shining a light on this holiday?
I believe that every day is a day that we are given to shine a light to the world around us.
Halloween – while it may seem particularly dark to some of you – is a great avenue through which our lights can shine.
While my family didn’t participate in Halloween through trick-or-treating, we always had great treats & opened the door with a smile and conversation to those coming through our door. I believe that if you follow Jesus, your house should have the biggest smiles, best treats and most love for the kids and parents who knock on your door.
I believe that as you and your kids visit other people’s homes, they should sense the gratitude, love and joy in your family that comes from God.
So, regardless of how you choose to participate in this day, I hope that you can critically engage with some of these thoughts. We need to be asking questions that make us think, having conversations with our kids about what we believe, what we do, and how we act, and ultimately shining a light to those around us.
Resources for Halloween (These are all things you can check out TODAY!):
– The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs (Along with this, do a quick Pinterest search for “Pumpkin Prayer”)
– Check out the hashtag #littlepumpkinlights on Instagram for some great ideas!
– Pumpkin Heroes from World Vision UK
– I highly recommend the book “Sacred Holidays” by Becky Kisher! She has a great chapter on this.
– Halloween and the day following also correspond with the Reformation & All-Saints Day in church history (Risen Motherhood & Tiny Theologians have some great ideas and resources on this!)