Christian Convictions on Halloween: Trick or Treat?
If you’re a Christian parent you know that Halloween can be tricky. You’ve got friends who abstain from the holiday in every way and you’ve got friends who dress up and jump out of the bushes to scare the neighborhood kids as they trick-or-treat. You’ve got loved ones who say it’s a dark and demonic holiday and others who say it’s a harmless chance to have some fun and to be salt and light on their street. Perhaps you’re a young mom and you’re weighing your options. Below I offer you a few things to think about.
Above all, I say this is a debatable issue. It’s possible for us as brothers and sisters to feel differently convicted and called with this holiday. May it not become a litmus test in the family of Christ as to who’s a real believer and who’s not—who’s truly pure or who’s actually missional. Let’s give one another space and genuine love in spite of our different opinions.
There’s Two Sides to Halloween’s History
Halloween does indeed have pagan roots. The ancient Celtic Druids believed that on the eve of their feast known as Samhain, the spiritual world entered the physical world. They believed that evil spirits would attack them unless they dressed up as witches and demons and ghosts to scare them away. Additionally, they carved scary faces on gourds and lit them with candles in order to scare away the forces of evil.
The early Christians attempted to redeem the holiday (as is the case with Easter and Christmas) by using it as an opportunity to proclaim the supremacy of Christ over the dark powers of the world. On All Hallows Eve, the eve of All Saints Day, the early Christians celebrated the gospel and rejoiced in Jesus “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
Based on history alone, we can view Halloween as either a an observation of dark and demonic realities or a chance to remind ourselves of Jesus’ victory. Citing Halloween’s roots, one can be convicted to abstain from all activities, or citing the redemptive potential of the holiday one can participate as salt and light (Matthew 5:13) as the early church attempted to.
Where We Land
For us, Halloween in the United States is an excellent opportunity to roll up our missional sleeves and have fun with our neighbors. In our suburban community Halloween is a unique treat—a night when everyone comes out of their homes and meets with one another up and down the street. In a community where many are very busy and consumed with activities, it’s one night when everyone expects to be out together. To remain behind closed doors with the lights out would be to miss an important chance to have fun with neighbors.
We really enjoy the friends that God has given us in our neighbors. We love the chance to be with them, whenever their schedules allow. So this year we invited them all to have a chili dinner and a bonfire on our driveway. We’ll send the kids door to door with some adults while the rest of us stay behind and pass out the best chocolate candy. We convened at another neighbor’s house last year and made some fantastic memories. Our older girls so enjoy taking the hands of little ones and showing them how to trick-or-treat. We forged friendships last year that are only stronger this year.
A final word
We do indeed steer clear of the dark elements of the holiday: we avoid costumes and decor that celebrate evil and death and darkness. That’s true for us year-round, actually. Witches and demons are real and we want our kids to know the truth about them, not make light of them. But on Halloween, we keep it light. We keep it fun. We see it as a chance to build community.