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Women Living Well Blog: A Christian View On Halloween

Women Living Well Blog

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Christian View On Halloween

Should I hand out candy to the little princesses and knights who come to my door or leave my light out? Should I consider the evil history of Halloween and not participate or should I allow my child to dress up as Minnie Mouse believing it's "innocent" fun? These questions my husband and I debated once we became parents.

I grew up in a home where we trick-or-treated and passed out candy every year. Then my oldest sister had children and they chose to not participate in Halloween because of the evil history and I fully respected that. Then my middle sister had children and they chose to allow their kids to wear costumes to a fall festival at their church rather than participate in the neighborhood hand out. And I respected that. And then along came my children - there were three choices - the 2 my sister's chose or the option of fully participating in the neighborhood trick-or-treat. What should we do?

Since the Bible does not give a clear mandate "thou shalt not participate in passing out candy or dressing up as minie mouse on October 31st" - this is an area of Romans 14 - called liberty, conscience or a grey area.

Now I know that someone who believes this is black and white will pounce on me and say it is wrong and will even have some verses to support their choices. That is because your conscience does not allow you to participate due to past history with the occult, research you have done on halloween, scriptures you believe apply to October 31st or because you are submitting to your husband in this matter. I sincerely respect your decisions and just want to share my convictions as one of 3 options. I am not trying to persuade anyone to change their opinion - but rather just answer the question:

Dear Courtney - "Do your children dress up for halloween and how do you handle the issues that people have with Christians participating in these activities?"

Yes, my children dress up for halloween and we participate in the neighborhood trick-or-treating. Let me say up front - I despise the skeletons, witches, ghosts and other vile things that go with Halloween. My neighbor has these displayed in their front yard right now - and I do not enjoy it - at no other time of the year would these things be socially acceptable.

That being said - if my children dress up in harmless innocent costumes we believe it is acceptable. One reason is because we live in a neighborhood where the neighbors drive straight up their driveways and into their garages. We have little contact with them and never has a neighbor knocked on my door and asked for anything except on this night, once a year.

Another reason is because I love having my lights lit to the hilt on Halloween displaying hospitality to the sweet neighborhood children that again - we rarely see...

And finally it has been a great training ground for our children - for example - the vice of greed - warning them to not be greedy when they take the candy, reminding them to say thank you, to be patient while they wait in line at the doors for candy, to compliment others on their interesting costumes and to simply be friendly, approachable and loving to others. Oh yes, and to explain in simple terms the dark side of halloween - it reminds them that there is an enemy that is real - he does exist.

Our neighborhood has a pizza party after the trick-or-treating and we have attended in the past and really connected with people. One of my pastors has had BBQ's at his house on this night - again using this opportunity to connect with those in his neighborhood. I do not see this as a night where the gospel will go forth - but I do see it as one small step towards a better connection.

So that's what we do - but like I said - I believe this is a matter of conscience so do not follow my lead here - follow your husband and the Holy Spirit. Pray and do what God lays on your heart this Halloween.

(By the way, the most hateful comment I've ever received came on a post from last October titled - "Witches, Wizards and Ghosts" -click here to learn more about what God's word says about these things.)

Walk with the King!



Blogger Jen said...

I really appreciate this post. I agree with you and that's what we do for halloween. I think it's important, for my family, to use this as a teachable moment for our children. Thanks for sharing this.

October 12, 2009 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Kristi_runwatch said...

Thanks for being willing to stir the pot! :) I totally agree that it's a gray area (except for the vileness, as you pointed out).

My family never did Halloween and I personally hate it. My husband grew up loving trick or treating and it was a fun event in their family. Every year we talk and figure out how to come to agreement on what we should do.

My family never carved pumpkins, but I found a great kids book this year from Zondervan called My Happy Pumpkin - it turns the idea of carving pumpkins into a sweet illustration of salvation (Jesus cleaned out our sin and threw it away, and His light shines through our happy faces). I'm excited to start a different kind of pumpkin carving tradition with our kids. :)

October 12, 2009 at 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Kelly L said...

Courtney-thank you for sharing! I appreciate this post too. I totally understand and respect those who do not participate in Halloween. I cannot stand to see the scary, gory decorations that are up this time of year. Halloween has almost become as popular as Christmas as a favorite holiday and I'm not very keen on that! We do dress up and go trick or treating, but, like you, we make sure our costumes are cute (not scary). The kids enjoy the tradition of trick or treating, but it's not a big holiday in our home. We don't go crazy with it. You are so right in saying that it's a great way to meet neighbors. How often do you get that face to face with the people in your neighborhood in such a friendly manner? Anyway, I definitely see both sides of the argument!

October 12, 2009 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Kristen and Dave said...

thanks for your perspective, Courtney! some Christians forget (or don't know) that All Hallow's Eve was a Church holiday, timed to counteract the pagan festival of Samhein. but the Church was celebrating the martyrs of the faith, as Halloween was the day before All Saint's Day. the Church did the same w/ Christmas choosing 25 Dec and having it coincide w/ the pagan winter solstice, to hopefully overshadow the evil w/ truth!

October 12, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Trudy said...

I really appreciate this post Courtney! This is something that has been on my mind lately as I am expecting my first child and have always questioned whether or not we would celebrate Halloween in this way. I think you've got a very nice compromise going here and after reading this and your post from last year, it seems your children have a great understanding of it too.

I am off to do my own Halloween post now!

October 12, 2009 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

Great post! Like you, we celebrate the 'happy' part of Halloween and steer clear of the scary part. And I heartily agree with your words about using Halloween as a way to REACH OUT and BUILD relationships with neighbors. It's the only day of the year when it's culturally acceptable to knock on a neighbor's door, so it's a great opportunity to say hello and introduce yourself.

October 12, 2009 at 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Julie@comehaveapeace said...

I'm glad you brought up this issue. I find that most believers really want to do what they are convinced God would have them do, and our convictions sometimes come out looking differently. I've really struggled with this whole issue, and I've found the "culture" of where I live at the time (even in the US) makes a big difference in how the people around me see my response. I just studied what it means to be "salt" this morning, so this is a great time apply the truths.

October 12, 2009 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger I'm Anitra! said...

Very well-expressed. We let our kids dress up for our church festival. Last year was the first year we passed out candy and I agree it was a great way to connect with neighbors. Our kids are getting older and asking more questions about trick or treating. They understand the problems we have with halloween but can't figure out why we have a problem with the candy part! I'm actually leaning toward a more lenient stance but haven't come to a conclusion. Thanks for the post.

October 12, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Great post. I have wrestled with the same questions for 24 years and am still not convinced any one position is correct. God doesn't give us a complete set of rules. He wants us to rely on our relationship with Him to understand what He wants. It can sometimes be hard to do.

October 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Joshlin said...

Thank you for posting this. I have strugled with this when I had my son and we do let him dress up and go to a few houses we know, but it is mostly a church trunk or treat for us. We don't decorate for this. I decorate for Fall. We carve and paint pumpkins as a fall activity.

Again thank you for sharing! I feel better that I am not the only one thinking on this subject.

October 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

Thanks Courtney!

We do not do trick or treat and have fallen more under your middle sister's choice. Our kids have always gone to at least two big fall parties one of which they've always dressed up and got to have a blast in that creative way. For our family this has been something we are careful to have a "united front" on :-). I have very fond memories of dressing up with my cousins and having our parents take us door to door. My husband feels strongly that we will not participate with our children. I support him in this even though I know we'd enjoy it in our small town. We are careful not to push this on anyone and are honest about all the "sides" with our kids. When they're little they don't even know it's going on, then when they are older we explain it. THEN, last year Luke was in public school (5th) for the first time. It's been a HUGE tradition for years here that all the kids dress up for the 2nd half of the day. They even get to go home at lunch to get ready!!! It really seems like the entire town then comes to the school to watch the parade. We did choose to let him participate and we were pleased that a note came home reminding parents to keep the costumes fun and cute! Luke went as Appollo Creed (boxer's robe, afro, make-up and all) and his friend was Rocky! I applaud you Coutney for giving a nice reminder that as Christians we are to be different but we need to be careful as to what stands out as different about us! If we harp on these type of things it will do no good to help soften hearts for the Gospel!

October 12, 2009 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Interesting post. A bit surprising to me but that's maybe because here in Britain most people dress up as witches and monsters/ghouls rather than a variety of "cute" costumes. So far I've left my light on till my children go to bed and hand out sweets but I don't think I'll be taking my children (age 2 and 4) guising when they're old enough.

October 12, 2009 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Very thought provoking. This is something I wrestle with. My husband doesn't seem to have a strong opinion either way. He was allowed to ToT growing up. I was not. On one hand, I love dressing my girls up and am looking forward to taking them ToTing for the first time (couldn't last year due to a family event) and to a Fall Festival at our mall that is sponsored by our church.

The other side of me thinks about the darker origins of the day, and even though we can ignore all the scary costumes and icky stuff, there really isn't much for Christians to celebrate other than having fun/dressing up, etc. I guess it's different with Christmas, b/c even though it also has some "pagan" origins, Christians have (or should) turn it around and recognize Jesus and celebrate His birth.

So...I think I'll probably go ahead and let my girls dress up, participate in the church's festival at the mall, maybe ToT on our street, and look for opportunities to teach them. :)

October 12, 2009 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Hey Courtney, good post. We do not celebrate halloween in our home, but get pumpkins and focus on fall.

On Oct 31st we have our own family party. We get pizza, have snacks, pop, little candy, and have movies. It is our own little fall festival at home. We have had others over in the past to celebrate with us or gone to their homes.

Our oldest daughter is deathly allergic to peanuts/peanut butter so that is one of the main reasons we do NOT accept candy from other people. She can't even eat a candybar that was in the bag with one with a peanut.

Our neighbors seem to dress up SCARY too, and both of my girls do not like it one bit! We have older kids in our area.

They get to dress up, but then with girls it seems we dress up around here every week!! hee, hee.

October 15, 2009 at 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this was a past blog post, but I had to share something interesting...

Years ago, before we had kids, my husband and I were talking to the head of the Wiccan movement at Purdue University in Indiana. We were telling him all about the love of Jesus and what we believe and what the Bible has to say about hope, salvation, etc...
Well, he smiled and asked us something out of the blue. He said, "When you have kids, are you going to let them celebrate Halloween?" Interesting question. We told him that that was something we would have to prayerfully decide if we were blessed with children. He shook his head and laughed, saying how it amazed him that Christians let their kids celebrate his "high holy day". He said he would never, under any circumstances, allow his kids to celebrate Easter because it had nothing to do with his beliefs and to do so would only "mislead and confuse" his kids. He said his kids could go without celebrating one holiday in a host of others they could celebrate. "Big deal", he said. "My kids are going to have to make choices based on their beliefs their entire lives. Why not start now?"

Wow. How much will our kids "suffer" if they don't celebrate Halloween? How about the Jehovah's Witness kids who don't celebrate anything at all for a false god ~ and we worry so much about if our kids will be okay if they skip just one. Hey, me included here! I worry about it much too much. But, that Wiccan's words have hung with us ever since.
We have since moved to a place that has no "church alternative", so this year is flooded with yet another set of questions. Yes, no, if so, how far, how much, if no, what and where should we go?

Just had to share.

October 15, 2009 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Wow! Thank you so much everyone for the feedback! I know this can be a touchy subject but you all were very gracious in your comments - thank you!

I respect each and every one of your views and my only prayer is that as you walk with the King you keep in step with the Holy Spirit and do what you feel God would have you do!

God Bless!

October 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Amber @ Classic Housewife said...

Hi! Thanks so much for sharing - I so completely agree that this is something to be arrived between you and your spouse. I also read your other post about the coloring books...I'd have done the same thing! (Except instead of bribing with the stickers, I'd have bribed with the promise to buy a new, more acceptable coloring book - not proud of that, just saying I know that's what I'd do!)

October 19, 2009 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger bringing up boys said...

I haven't been up on blog reading this week, so I don't know if you will see this. I have 3 teenaged sons, and we have tried every alternative. When they were tiny, we just left the lights off. No mention of the day at all. As they made thier own friends, we did a trick or treat in our little culdesac, with our own neighbors. When they became aware of the differences, we sought out church festivals. After several years of that, they begged to trick or treat again. One or two years, and I felt very convinced that it was not our best option, so I allowed the boys to invite thier friends over. Only once did we have a successful party because those who came in costume were either dressed too scantily or too evil. I am not one to hold my tongue, because I told my sons the rules before hand. Last year the boys all went to their friends homes, and some trick or treated here in the neighborhood, and some had parties. My eldest called for a ride home because they were showing horror movies. He did not want to be a part of it. This year, I am just going to relax in the back yard (weather permitting) with a roaring fire in my brand new eldest child built fire pit and post a sign on the front porch that they are welcome to come back for a warm up and smores if they would like.

October 21, 2009 at 2:58 AM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Bringing up boys! Thank you for commenting! I always see every comment because I receive an email notification whenever I receive one! Thank you so much for sharing in this conversation!! I have really enjoyed hearing everyone's stories and getting a feel for where other mom's are at on this controversial issue!!

October 22, 2009 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Mitsy said...

I enjoy hearing other Christians talk about this grey area. As a child my family never celebrated Halloween. When I married my husband he always celebrated it and wanted to carry the tradition on to his children. It was a hard thing to grasp at first but now I say it is what you make of it. It is actually a great time of teaching a great lesson to our kids. I am new t you blog and have really enjoyed all of it! I love all the videos. Keep posting:)

October 28, 2010 at 12:15 AM  

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