My Halloween Story

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 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 sons’ enjoyment, not mine.

Participating in Halloween

Participating in Halloween never did and still doesn’t feel right to me. Something inside of me just feels awkward with it. My kids still wanted to dress up, so we found seemingly innocent ways for them to do so through “fall harvest” festival type events. We didn’t allow certain Halloween activities like haunted houses, though, and we did our best to avoid the actual word “Halloween.”

I was still never entirely comfortable with the fall harvest approach, either but acquiesced since I couldn’t quite come up with a solid argument either way. At least it separated us from the world’s approach to celebrating Halloween with ghosts and graveyards and glorifying evil.

Halloween is Here to Stay

Halloween isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, Americans spend $7 billion on Halloween each year with $2.5 billion going to costumes, $2 billion going to candy, and $310 million being spent 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 answering that question. My personal approach is as follows:

  1. 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. Personally, our only decoration is a jack-o-lantern towel in the kitchen and maybe a couple of pumpkins. I also try 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.
  2. Allow light festivities. My oldest dressed up for a Halloween band concert he had to play in it for a grade but didn’t have to dress up for, and both my boys participated in fall harvest festivals and carving pumpkins.
  3. 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. It’s easier now as an empty nester but still challenging as a grandparent. I also realize the importance of not letting the world change me. I pray for wisdom in these and other potentially divisive issues.