By: Richelle Wenham
As I stood, dressed like a vampire bride surrounded by church mates all celebrating this dark and eerie now commercial event – which, let’s face it, esteems things that go ‘bump’ in the night – I realised Halloween was just not for me.
As a Christian, living with the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death just didn’t fit. In Jesus there is no darkness, He has overcome it and a celebration even amongst good friends that celebrates that darkness, just didn’t feel right. The night for me represented a celebration of scary mythical creatures, of demonic forces and things designed to instil fear. But for those of us that follow Jesus, we have not been given a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7) For me, I simply couldn’t reconcile this event with the unconditional love and forgiveness of God. And so, I had to tell my friends that this would be my one and only Halloween event.
Now, more than a decade later with a six year old son and a four year old daughter, the question of ‘Celebrating Halloween’ arises annually.” So far, we’ve made sure to do something else on this day, out of the house, that’s just as fun, so my kids don’t ever feel like they are missing out. I try to remember the Christians who have gone before us on this day and say a prayer thanking God for their example. But when all my 6 year old hears at school is ‘what are you dressing up as?’ and ‘what lollies did you get?’, the challenge still lingers.
So What do we Do as Christian Families at Halloween?
Let’s pause first to reflect on what Halloween actually is. The practice mostly comes from Celtic paganism in the British Isles, and their feast of Samhain, the new year. The pagans believed it was the one night of the year when ghosts and spirits came out to haunt, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats. They’d dress up in costumes made of skin and fur so that bad spirits would not recognise and therefore possess their bodies. They would sacrifice animals, share prophecies or predictions and hope that the friendly spirits of family members would return home to join them for the night.
When Christianity finally came to Britain, it just so happened that November 1st was the Christian Feast of All Saints and the next day was All Souls’ Day. October 31st became the Eve of All Saints, or All Hallows’ Eve. These events all revolve around giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of His martyrs, whether those people be well known disciples like the Apostle Paul or simply the grandmother who led you to Jesus. For this reason many Christian’s celebrate All Hallow’s Eve to toast those who have gone before us and paved the way for our faith.
So, where does that leave us in regards to spooky parties and trick-or-treating? Is Jesus going to love you less if you let your child dress up as a princess or a villain and attend a Halloween party?
Absolutely not. For our family the answer “to Halloween or not to Halloween”, lied in one very simple Bible verse. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor 10:23).
This Bible verse is a strong reminder that while we can do anything, not everything is going to be helpful. What we do with our time either glorifies God or it doesn’t. As children of the light with the Holy Spirit living within us, we are reminded that Jesus not only defeated death on a cross but he promises eternal life with him in a place where there will be no more pain, suffering or death.
Halloween cannot offer anything of benefit to our children, so we’ve decided not to part-take in it; however we don’t want our kids to feel like they are missing out on parties and lollies while their peers have all the fun. Here are a few healthy alternatives to celebrating Halloween:
1 – Attend or Hold a ‘Light Party’
What I’d truly love to see in the Hunter is more and more Churches using this day as an opportunity to put on a Light Party. Where kids can instead have a positive alternative where they can get together, dress up as a super hero, a princess or their favourite Bible character and play together, yes have a few lollies and enjoy the Light that only comes from Jesus. Maybe it’s an opportunity to invite a few people over to do so this year.
Want to host a light party? Get your free light party pack from Scripture Union Australia here!
2 – Have a Night Out
It can be tricky especially for younger kids to understand why they aren’t running around with the neighbours kids dressed up and eating lollies too. Planning to go out for the evening can be just as fun! Do you have a favourite place you like to get dinner together, or an activity you enjoy doing together? Your kids will never feel like they’ve missed out.
3 – Remember the Heroes of Faith
Have a bunch of friends over for a BBQ get together and celebrate the Christian’s who have gone before us and suffered for the religious freedoms we now possess today. It’s an alternative that is sure to switch the focus to being thankful and celebrating freedom.
Think About Your Values
One thing is certain, the question as to whether Christians should celebrate Halloween will never go away. Participation in this event is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever you decide to do this October 31st, if you have mixed feelings about celebrating Halloween, may I encourage you to seek the root of our hope that we have in Jesus. Seek guidance from the Bible, church leaders and trusted fellow believers and remember that it’s you the adult who makes these cautionary decisions, not your children. Children will never be objective where lollies and parties are concerned but they will grow up to remember what their parents valued, how you protected them and how you responded to Halloween with a Gospel focused heart. Halloween will not be celebrated in our household. But it will be discussed, prayed about and given over to the most high.