This article was first published 2 years ago. Seeing as it is Halloween tomorrow, I thought it might be time to bring it up again!
– Thom Dick
As kids we were always allowed to participate in Halloween activities both at school and at home. In fact, Halloween in the country was extremely lucrative in terms of return of candy for time spent collecting. With so few kids in the area if we spent two hours collecting candy with the neighbour kids we could easily expect to have 3 or 4 shopping bags full to feast upon. Our neighbours were famous for giving, not just individual candies, but entire candy BAGS, often with full-size chocolate bars, and the occasional orange or handful of peanuts thrown in for my dad (I guess?) It was actually a shock to my system when I went trick or treating in town and had to walk forever just to collect enough to fill a bag. Of course, the downside to living in the country was that one of the neighbourhood parents would need to drive us around and Mr and Mrs Hehn would make us sing before they would give us candy. (Worth it.)
That isn’t to say that Halloween wasn’t without it conflicting ideals though. I distinctly remember my mom sewing all four of us kids Smurf costumes, but we were never allowed to watch Smurfs because of Gargamel and his magic. But I have the [blurry] pictures to prove it, Sam was Papa Smurf, Nathan was a pirate Smurf, Mary was Smurfette (good thing I only had one sister) and I was Baby Smurf or something like that. The long and short of it is we looked forward to Halloween each year and I have warm memories of friends and family having fun together.
But I’ve been a pastor for 14 years now and I know that not all families feel the same way about Halloween. There are no shortage of “Halloween Alternative” parties in ministries and churches. So what should the approach of a Christian be towards this day of the year?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that our approach to Halloween should be very similar to every other day of the year. What do I mean? I mean Christian angst does seem to swell and subside throughout the year. We can always expect that there will be some pointed posts about keeping Christ in Christmas in December and someone who will point out that Christmas was originally on the day of a pagan holiday (as was Easter according to some.) But our relationship with Christ should not be defined by any day whether good or bad. We all know people who are Christmas and Easter Christians, meaning those are the only days of the year they darken the doorstep of their church; they are defined by a day of the year. Then there are Christians who lock their doors, close their blinds and dim the lights on Halloween, they are also defined by a day of the year.
I don’t advocate for Halloween or against it, but I do advocate for prayerful, intentional parenting and that means deciding what is right for your family all the time! I can completely understand why some families decide not to participate in Halloween. In f, ct I remember visiting a church when I was a kid where the pastor shared about a time he and his wife didn’t pay attention to the clear leading of the Holy Spirit to keep their young daughter from trick or treating and they dealt with significant spiritual warfare in their home because of it. Clea, ly God speaks and warns His children as a loving Father! But He does that every day not just on one day of the year.
And I would remiss if I didn’t point out the tremendous opportunity that Halloween affords us as parents and families. First of all you have the golden opportunity to educate your kids about everything from taking care of one another, respecting other people, being safe on the streets to spiritual warfare and dealing with fear. In addition to that you have kids coming to your door asking for handouts! My Aunt Edith used to capitalize on this by saving the Pix Bible Stories that her kids brought home from Sunday School (remember those?), sticking one into each of the open candy bags. This really is a good time to naturally build relationships with your neighbours.
I hope that this Halloween – just a few short weeks away (Update… it’s tomorrow) – you will find ways to bring light into what could otherwise be a dark day; however, that looks for your family!