Some Christian families celebrate Halloween, ours does not. Unlike other holidays (derived from ?holy day?), it isn?t really clear what?s being celebrated. Judging from all of the decorations, it appears that the nation celebrates evil or scaring people. If that?s true, what is the purpose of going door to door asking for candy from strangers or at best, neighbors? As a Christian family, we wrestled with this question when our children were small, and then, almost every year as they grew older. We still do not celebrate it. Let’s see if we can discover why Christians celebrate Halloween.
What is Halloween?
Halloween is a superstitious tradition leftover from the Celts and catholicized by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century. The Celts believed dead spirits roamed the earth on that night, Samhain. Later, the Romans incorporated their beliefs about the dead into the Celtic traditions. The current activities of dressing up in costumes, telling fortunes, and bobbing for apples come from the blended pagan practices of the Celts and Romans.
Pope Gregory III made November 1 All Saints Day, later to be known as All Hallows Day, in memory of the deaths of martyrs and saints. Just as with other popular holidays, the church ?Christianized? pagan practices. Over the years, this popular tradition evolved into what we have today–a mish mash of haunted houses, fortune telling, scary and benign costumes, harvest parties, trick or treating, and the like. ?Are we, in fact, honoring saints, martyrs, or even our loved ones with these activities?
Pros of Christians Celebrating Halloween
While our family does not participate in this celebration, I know some families who find unique ways to celebrate it.Here are some reasons why Christians celebrate Halloween:
- Use the day to evangelize by distributing candy or bookmarks printed with a Bible verse.
- Honor loved ones by placing flowers on their graves, telling stories about them, and enjoying some of their favorite foods. If you choose to do this, it might be a good time to assess your own spiritual journey. Check out this post.
- Reading stories about martyrs and praying for missionaries worldwide.
- Celebrate the Biblical Sukkot, or Festival of Booths, that usually falls in late September/early October. It is a celebration of God?s provision, held at the end of the harvest season.
- Host a harvest party with a focus on God?s provision.
If, in your conscience as a believer, you feel that you are not participating in superstitious secular beliefs by dressing up and asking for candy from your neighbors, then for you, the tradition might be acceptable. However, if you equate participating in Halloween with endorsing secular beliefs, then you should not participate and you should reject invitations from other Christians to do so (1 Corinth. 8).
There is not unity in the church on this, but the purpose and meaning of Halloween are not clear as in other celebrations. If you choose to participate, you need to be clear on what exactly you are celebrating. Are you allowing your children to go trick-or-treating only because you don?t want them to miss out?
Cons of Christians Celebrating Halloween
Obviously, there are negatives to participating in Halloween. Here are some practical and spiritual reasons to avoid this tradition:
- Food allergies. This is one practical reason why we don?t participate. Why ask for candy that you can?t eat?
- Safety. Where I live, teens and adults dressed in costumes go trick-or-treating. Even though incidents don?t usually happen, I don?t trust it.
- Compromises my witness. If I participate in activities only because I don?t want my family to miss out on the fun, what does that say about me?
- Causing other Christians to stumble. Even if my conscience is clear about why I feel it is okay to participate, I may unintentionally cause a weaker Christian to sin against his conscience by my choice.
Why We Don?t Celebrate Halloween
This is the only American ?holiday? that has no clear meaning or purpose. I prefer the Latino holiday, Day of the Dead, to our Halloween because their celebration is clear?honoring deceased loved ones. Our culture has not embraced All Saint?s Day the way that Latin America has. Because the American tradition doesn?t seem to celebrate anything, and most activities seem to revolve around scaring people, we choose not to participate.
On October 31, we celebrate Kids? Day. Since all of my children have food allergies, we buy them an acceptable candy of their choice and sometimes take them out to dinner. That way, we avoid answering the door to find adults standing on our porch asking for candy on behalf of their 18-month-old toddlers. A few times, we have also gone bowling, too. That is especially fun because the lanes are empty and the alley offers coupons and/or freebies.
A couple of times, I have gone to visit the grave of my deceased grandmother. I felt better after voicing my regrets over events that occurred during her life, even though I know that her spirit is somewhere else. Honoring her memory comforted me and brought meaning to an otherwise meaningless day.