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Costumes, parties, candy, trick-or-treating, decorating – it’s Halloween time again. Some love it and go all out with monster masks and fake gravestones in the front yard. Others keep it lighter, and carve pumpkins with happy faces and dress up like cats or cartoon characters. And others prefer to skip Halloween entirely and just celebrate the fall season with a cornucopia on the table and a hayride for the kids.

So which is the right thing for a Christian family to do?

Many say that Halloween is a pagan or Satanic day. Historically, Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve coincided with pagan harvest celebrations like the ancient Celtic Samhain, and adopted many of the practices.

However, All Hallows Eve (shortened in modern times to Halloween) began as a Christian liturgical holiday – the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day (November 1). All Hallows (the night before and the day of) was a time to celebrate and remember saints, martyrs, and other deceased believers.

And then others say that modern Halloween is nothing more than a commercialized excuse to sell candy and pumpkin-flavored everything.

What is your take on Halloween? Which matters more to you in this situation – the actions or the intent? The history behind it or the modern beliefs and practices surrounding this holiday?

14 Responses

  1. Keith

    As for most of the tensions that exist between the secular and sacred worlds, various holidays such as Halloween can be cause for education and conversation. The above intro was an excellent start to prime the pump, providing helpful background info that only serves to inform the conversation as it takes off.
    In my home, my oldest daughter has initiated a lock-in for her friends and classmates on Halloween, which is a wonderful community event that serves as a safe place to meet and strengthen safe relationships. My challenge & sacrifice will be to stay up all night for a good cause.

    Reply
    • Grace Robinson
      Grace Robinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Keith. We hope that articles like this one can continue to spark education, conversation, and community engagement from all sides.

      Reply
  2. Pastor Hall

    My background includes both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ teaching. I agree, that we should never approve of biblically inconsistent events. We are not to partake of things that are anti-Christ, or attribute glory to another power. However, neither are we to hide in our homes, while the ones who do think this is a high and unholy night take over. I have become impatient with christians, who cower instead of taking back the night. Aren’t wesupposed to “Fight the good fight of faith”? Why can’t we use this opportunity to minister to our communities. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Right?

    Our church, has opened up a wholesome, harvest festival themed night for our community, and thousands have attended every year. Many whom, have thanked me personally for the family, faith oriented atmosphere that families can attend without fear.

    My advice is to stop arguing about whether or not “Halloween” is right and Celebrate Jesus Christ through ministering to the people who are looking for something to do. What an opportunity is waiting for the Christians with a bold, holy desire to reach the lost and un-churched. Carpe Diem! Seize the day(or night).

    Reply
    • Grace Robinson
      Grace Robinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Pastor Hall. That is encouraging to hear that your church is actively reaching out at this time of year and receiving such an enthusiastic response from your community.

      Reply
  3. Rev. Gene McCallips

    It’s said that if you want the right answer, you must ask the right question. “So which is the right thing for a Christian family to do?” misses the point, I’m afraid. The phrasing of the question seems to assume that there is only one right response. As for any missionary in the field, we in the USA, circa 2015 must meet the culture where it is as a starting point. So, in fact, there could be more than one “right” response given the variety of local sub-cultures in which believer find themselves. Many churches do a “Trunk or Treat” that helps the community to have a reason to come on the church property. As mentioned, celebrating “All Hallows Eve” can be fun and educational for believers and non-believers alike–we’ve got that “great cloud of witnesses”, why not share them with our mission field?! Over the years our kids were everything from dinosaurs to penguins–in fact our new granddaughter will emulate her Mom tonight as a second generation penguin! Paul had a lot more than America’s Halloween to deal with and he wrote in Colossians 3:17 (NLT): “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Amen.

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  4. J Paul

    Once upon a time I would go through the neighborhood and pass out tracts on Halloween, and invite kids to church. One of my favorite tracts for the season was titled, “We Were Witches,” a testimony of salvation from two very real witches.

    After marriage and babies, I would stay home and give tricker treaters candy and Gospel tracts.

    Now, as my own kids are old enough to know what’s going on, with all the candy and costume fun, my wife (who is a devout Christian) and extended family (who are also devout Christians) have broken down my resistance and I have recently come to find myself dressing up with them, of all things! Not sure if it’s a sin against God or just a sin against my melancholy personality. :/

    When they all grow up, who knows what my position will be?

    On the serious side though, I think it is mostly a matter of Scriptural application and practical living and that’s the difficult thing.

    I understand that God is the ultimate standard, but I can’t help notice inconsistencies on the part of those who hold to the most strictest formal behavior. I’ve always highly esteemed the work of E.M. Bounds, for example, who taught that it is a sin for churches to have kitchens, banquet halls, and the like and yet he was a chaplain in the Confederate Army. Now, I’m not condemning him, but in my understanding of slavery, I consider that a serious moral failure, and one that is far more problematic than a church having a gymnasium, especially when it can be used as an evangelistic tool, as it is in my own church.

    As someone who doesn’t have the least bit interest in popular sports, such as basketball, football, baseball, the Olympics, etc., I could find it very easy to preach against the idolizing of such trivial matters.

    Furthermore, having been hopelessly lost in the world of rock and roll of the 70’s and 80’s and being set free from that, I can also easily find myself condemning the act of listening to the most innocent of music. In fact, when my favorite band from my early teenage years came to my city 10 years ago, I confounded my Christian friends by refusing to attend. It was the Beach Boys.

    As Christians we understand that there are things that seriously bother one person, and not necessarily another. Paul talks about this. I think that this is where churches should be self-conscience of avoiding being a stumbling block. When it comes to Halloween, they should look for alternatives as a corporate body, if they wish to come together as a community. They need to do a discovery as to whether they want to use it as a means of evangelism or a time of fellowship and fun. Ahem, I no longer think it is a sin to relax and enjoy your self on occasion (but maybe I’m just getting old).

    Let me just say in conclusion that I live in a city of 32,000 population and I think I know one person who celebrates Halloween in the traditional sense and she moved two thousand miles away. Actually, her x-boy friend that she left behind probably still does recognize it. For the rest of us, Halloween has become a cultural thing. Most of us don’t even have a clue about All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day or Reformation Day. It is my opinion that whatever spiritual implications that were once there, have been lost in the American culture and it is up to us to make of it what we will. Now, having said that, if I have the opportunity to share Christ with someone whom I observe to be a pagan, I will! I might even sit down and eat a treat while I do.

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  5. Scott

    Satan is real and not some fictitious character dressed in red with a forked tail and horns as the world makes him out to be. Plus Halloween is a high holy day for those who actually worship the Devil. As a result, I would rather have nothing to do with it. However, we have taken kids and parents coming to our door as an opportunity to give out a Halloween tract with candy in hopes of planting some seed for eternity.

    I believe that a much better way to celebrate October 31st is to watch the movie Luther and/or reflect upon what Martin Luther did for the world when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This is a better thing to dwell upon than celebrating evil.

    Reply
  6. Kathy Brady

    “When my children were young I let them participate in Halloween without giving it much thought but after I became saved and began to realize the implications that were involved, I was forced to take things more seriously.
    For me, as a kid, we celebrated Thanksgiving and our focus was on being Thankful as we went out on Thanksgiving morning and people gave us things for our Thanksgiving dinner table. However it was when I was about 13 that Halloween began and soon ended our Thanksgiving fun and replaced our innocent “Anything for Thanksgiving?” request with what sounded, even to us as kids, like an outright threat when people opened their doors to hear “Trick or treat?,” on Halloween.
    Now, looking back as a Christian grandmother, this many years later, I have seen, how innocence has again and again been stolen and replaced with darkness.
    At this point, we can take this subject apart and explore its many meanings, which I have, and debate on many levels about it, but a simple knowing in my spirit says that celebrating Halloween is celebrating darkness and is providing a wide open door into the most precious home of all….the innocent hearts of our children.”

    Reply

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