It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins and scarecrows are being placed on doorsteps, grocery stores are filled with candy and Halloween decorations of black cats, ghosts, witches and tombstones.
As Christians we find ourselves in the same debate every year, should we participate in Halloween activities, or are we as Christians called to be set apart and therefore not participate in this holiday?
Growing up in a rural northern California town and being raised by Christian parents, I was not able to participate in Halloween. We did not have many neighbors and my parents were afraid of the so called “demonic holiday”. I remember hearing all of the stories my friends would tell at school about their Halloween adventures and think to myself, what’s wrong with Halloween?
Halloween, in its origin, was a Celtic holiday celebrating with pagan gods, the end of the harvest in preparation for winter. The Celtics believed that the 31st was a time where the living world and the dead world overlapped. The festivities that took place on Halloween usually involved a bonfire and the Celtics would wear masks and dance around the fire. These masks were to appease the spirits.
This holiday may have begun with pagan roots, but over time, the American culture adopted it and changed its meaning.
Here in the United States, Halloween is typically celebrated by children dressing up in costume and going door-to-door asking for candy. Halloween is just a fun event that allows kids to dress up as super heroes, what they want to be when they grow up, fun monsters, or anything else that their heart desires. Little kids love candy, and what better way is there to get candy than going door-to-door with friends and family?
Halloween is an event that brings communities and streets together for one night of fun for the kids. Block parties, parades and parts of streets are closed off to enjoy the festivities. Majority of people celebrate Halloween as just that activity. Why shouldn’t Christians be allowed to participate? As long as Christian are not caught up in devil worship or thinking they can bring back past relatives, there is nothing wrong in participating in this cultural holiday.
Christians should be able to celebrate Halloween because it does not hold the same pagan value as it once did. Most churches fear the term “Halloween”: they instead offer a “Harvest” party. Kids still dress up in costume, but get to play different games and eat candy. Isn’t this the same thing as trick-or-treating but in a supervised environment?
The Church created a harvest party so that its members could still have fun but not celebrate under the name “Halloween.” Parents in the Church tend to like harvest parties because the costumes are controlled and safe. Witches and ghosts tend not to be accepted at these harvest events because of the fear they strike in Christians.
Many Christians who combat Halloween argue that we should be lights of the world (Matthew 5:14-16), therefore not participating in an event that pays tribute to pagan gods. But, some Christians think that burying their heads in the sand is the better way to handle the issue. Instead, Christians should participate in trick-or-treating in order to be a light to the ones who may see Halloween as evil. They can do this by dressing up, going trick-or-treating, and not being afraid of any demonic spirits.
Take Christmas for example, for Christians this is a religious holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus. For nonbelievers, it’s a time to get together with family and open gifts. People can participate in certain events without believing in them. Christians can do this with Halloween.
In America, Halloween is a cultural event that is fun for the kids. It does not hold the same pagan god ideology that it did when it first originated.
Christians can bare a strong witness. They can and should walk around on Halloween night with Joshua 1:9 as their theme verse, “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” Christ has given Christians power over the enemy and nothing will harm us. Christians have nothing to fear, so they too can participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween night.