I’ve seen several discussions online recently regarding whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween. Both sides of the debate have valid points. Many Christian moms, including myself, remember Halloween fondly, as a time when we had fun dressing up, enjoyed fall activities like hay rides and pumpkin carving, and ate candy till we could eat no more. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, right? Just an innocent good time that we had and would love to see our kids having… Or is it?
In comes the opposite, and equally valid argument: Halloween, as currently celebrated, focuses on the themes of an ancient pagan holiday. Maybe the portrayal of witches and skulls and scariness have been secularized and no longer accurately reflect the pagan holiday, but the idea still has its roots in non-Christian practices and beliefs. Is this something we really want to cultivate and celebrate with our children?
There is no perfect answer, largely because Halloween is an awkward cross between two very different Christian and pagan holidays. The very name, Halloween, is taken from the Christian feast of All Saints Day, the eve of which is “All Hallows Eve” or “Halloween”. But all the ghosts and ghouls and other typical Halloween symbols are more related to the pagan holiday of Samhain. It’s a strange partnership, but one that seems like it’s here to stay.
In the end, each family needs to make a judgment call about what’s best for their family and what experiences they want their children to remember in the future.
What’s most important is to know WHY you choose to celebrate Halloween the way you do, because one day, you’re kids are going to ask why, and they deserve a good explanation. Be prepared to explain to them either why they aren’t allowed to do some “cool” and “fun” things their friends do, or to explain to them the history of Halloween and what beliefs or themes you, as a Christian, reject, even if you allow them to participate in friendly, neighborhood Halloween activities.
Whichever way you go, make Halloween a learning experience that ultimately gives your child the opportunity to delve deeper into what they believe and why. Celebrate All Saints Day and teach your kids what that’s all about… Have an All Saints Day party, whether or not your kids also go trick-or-treating (be forewarned: if you do both, you might end up with far too much candy in the house!). Ask yourself what you want your kids to remember 20 years from now – having some fall fun on Halloween, celebrating All Saints Day, or both. I’m sure you’ll be thankful down the line for giving your kids fun memories about their faith.
If you haven’t yet seen the Saints Activity book for kids that I posted a few days ago, take a look at it here. It gives ideas and activities that can help your kids learn about the saints during this month, leading up to November 1… If you don’t have kids, but know someone that does, feel free to pass it on!