When I was growing up, we never went trick-or-treating. I don’t remember feeling like I missed out either. Halloween basically came and went as just another day. The only celebrating we did that time of year was doing something for my dad’s birthday the day before Halloween.
When I went to college, started living on my own and then for the first few years of married life, I continued to overlook Halloween. That all changed, though, when I became a mom. Not sure how my mom avoided this, but I suddenly felt pressure to participate in costumes and candy. Of course, it was for my son’s enjoyment, not mine.
Participating in Halloween never did and still doesn’t feel right to me. Something inside of me just feels awkward participating in Halloween festivities. My kids still want to dress up, so we’ve found seemingly innocent ways for them to do so through Fall Harvest Festival type events. We don’t allow certain Halloween activities like haunted houses, and we do our best to avoid the actual word “Halloween.”
Yet, I’m still not entirely comfortable with the Fall Harvest Approach either but acquiesce since I can’t quite come up with a solid argument either way. At least it separates us from the world’s approach to celebrating Halloween with ghosts and graveyards and glorifying evil.
And in my discomfort, I also fully realize that Halloween isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, statistics indicate that Americans will spend $7 billion on Halloween this year with $2.5 billion going to costumes, $2 billion going to candy and, get this, $310 million on costumes for pets.
Stats like that take my mind in several directions. First, I wonder if people are simply curious about evil, like to dress up, or are bored because it’s been too long since the last holiday. Second, I imagine all the good that could be done with that $7 billion, especially when I realize the needs of missionaries around the world. Third, I wonder how much Halloween contributes to our overweight society. Lastly, I wonder what all those animals think about dressing up.
I also wonder if Christians can participate in Halloween without losing their witness. Honestly, I’m still struggling with answering that question. Turns out I’m not the only one. In What does the Bible say about Halloween?, Mary Fairchild addresses this somewhat controversial issue and aptly portrays the struggle that many Christians have with Halloween.
My personal approach reflects much of what Fairchild suggests. Here’s how I explain my Halloween perspective should the subject arise.
- Don’t make a big deal. What I mean by that is don’t tell people they’re evil for hanging a sheet from a tree in their yard and don’t forbid your kids from wearing a fun costume and playing games at church. Personally, we don’t decorate short of a jack-o-lantern towel in the kitchen and maybe a couple of carved pumpkins. And I try really hard not to shake my head in judgment when I pass by a front yard made to look like a graveyard. God is working on me here.
- Allow light festivities. My oldest dresses up for a Halloween Band Concert (he has to play in it for his grade but doesn’t have to dress up), and both boys participate in some sort of Fall Harvest Festival and carving pumpkins.
- Avoid obviously evil elements. No scary costumes. No skull or ghost decorations. No movies that promote and sensationalize darkness and evil. There are some elements that clearly epitomize evil, and we simply avoid them altogether.
I want to reflect the love of Christ in all I do and hope my approach to Halloween doesn’t hurt my witness in any way. But I also realize the importance of not letting the world change me. What do you think? As a Christian, how do you approach Halloween?