Halloween: What’s a Christian to do?
Halloween. A holiday rooted in ancient pagan (meaning non-Christian) traditions, transformed by modern society into a garish and brightly colored parade of children in search of a good take. Every major tradition and symbol (the jack-o-lantern, the phrase “trick-or-treat”) represents the holiday’s origins. Commercialism has taken that and run with it, of course. By late September, consumers can find Halloween costumes, treat bags, decorations and other paraphernalia lining the store shelves, serving as a constant reminder that Halloween is coming and we need to be ready for it. While many Christians know exactly where they stand (either on one side, avoiding and boycotting the holiday completely, or on the other side, participating in safe alternatives at churches and around the community) many others steel feel confused and pulled between the two options.
No judging here.
I want to make it clear that Christians will find no judgement here from me, regardless of what decisions you make with your family. I believe that God leads us and convicts us each on our own paths in His own timing. While He may have convicted you of something you now feel strongly about, I may not feel convicted about it at all yet, and vice versa. I also believe that as Christians we should encourage and uplift each other and not tear each other down. I encourage each of you to stand strong in your convictions for or against, and to YES go ahead and share them, because it is often through personal testimonies that the holy spirit can begin to work on someone else’s heart. I also encourage you to avoid judging others who don’t share your convictions or even outright argue them. Instead, let’s love each other just as Christ has loved us, in spite of our imperfections and sins.
More on Halloween in the Oliver household:
I already shared what Halloween looks like in our household, about how I began participating in Halloween alternatives, but a few years ago God began pulling me away from that. For the last few years we’ve been slowly building our own “Halloween” (but mostly FALL) traditions. I have found several good ideas online and in books and thought of and prayed through many of my own. I didn’t really go into a lot of detail about specific activities and traditions, because we’re going to get into that in just a minute. First, some questions and answers:
- What do you do about trick-or-treaters? We live in the country and we always have, so we have never had to deal with trick or treaters. However, there are a few different ways I can see to go on this one. You could go out on a family date to avoid the masses. Dinner and a movie should be long enough to get you through it. You could participate and use the opportunity to reach out to the kids in your neighborhood – along with a piece of candy, you could give them an invite to your church’s next Sunday School or youth event, or something small such as a pencil or bookmark with a bible verse on it. (That option will probably get you “labeled” as the holy-roller on the corner, but it’s definitely an option.) On the other hand, you may not want to pass out candy so you don’t appear to condone the holiday–in which case you could leave a sign on your door politely saying that you don’t participate in Halloween. What would YOU do in this situation, are there any other suggestions?
- How do your kids handle not Trick-Or-Treating with their friends and neighbors? Honestly – they handle it really well. They’ve never really cared much about traditional trick-or-treating, but they did want to go to the festival to get their share of candy. Last year we started a new tradition that we’ll probably continue until the kids get older. Since the real goal was the candy, I bought four or five different kinds of candy and put them in a tub on the top of the refrigerator. The kids got to have 2 pieces a day until they were all gone. They got to get their candy, I got to pick the candy – everybody is happy.
- What do you do when confronted with all the Halloween costumes, decorations and other paraphernalia at the store? I take advantage of it! We may not do Halloween, but all three of my kids like to dress up and pretend. There is not better costume selection than at Halloween. Go ahead, shop those clearance aisles after Halloween is over and see what kinds of costume pieces you can find to add to the dress-up box. I also like to browse the home décor looking for items that represent fall/autumn and just skip right over the Halloween stuff.
- What do you do when family or friends invite you to something or give your kids something Halloween related? It depends. Most likely we will turn down invitations to parties, politely explaining that we don’t participate in Halloween events. Depending on the thing my kids are given and who it is from, I may let them keep it. If it’s candy, I’ll moderate it. But if it’s something that I wouldn’t approve of, (and I’m not able to intervene before they get their hands on it) I will most likely end up getting rid of the item and apologizing to the kids while explaining my position. If someone gave my son a devil costume, we would not be keeping it. Parenting: it’s hard. But it’s what I do.
Ideas for Activities & Crafts for Fall/Halloween:
- Many Christians choose to celebrate Reformation Day or All Saints Day in addition to or instead of Halloween. Both of these being separate holidays, I’ll being going into these in separate posts for each of them. However, you can find information about them right now, on my Holiday Celebrations page (just scroll down to their section.)
- Holiday baking - BAKING IS ALWAYS GOOD. =D The thing about fall is there are bountiful harvests everywhere! If you don’t grow your own (I don’t) take your family out to a local farmers market or you-pick-type farm. Turn zucchini into yummy zucchini bread. Convert those pumpkins into pies, breads and chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. Be adventurous and try a new squash or fruit that you’ve never tried before. Teach your children to appreciate all that God has blessed us with.
- Take a trip to a pumpkin farm. We have a pumpkin farm within driving distance that has mazes, playgrounds, hay rides and a huge selection of pumpkins to pick from. What a simple way to have fun together with your family! Pick out a handful of pumpkins to bake with. Go ahead, pick out some carving pumpkins too. I have so much to say about pumpkins and pumpkin carving that written a completely separate article for it – read it here!
- Decorate for fall. As early as the 1st of October, I begin decorating for fall. I don’t go over the top with it, we don’t have much in the way of fall decorations yet. Not only am I trying to frugally add a little each year, but I’m also extremely picky about the decorations I like. I don’t want something that looks Halloweenish, but I also don’t want something that looks cottage-crafty-country-whatever. Take your time and be discerning as you shop through the store aisles. Be wise with your money. Choose pieces that you feel reflect your style and represent the changes in the seasons, giving honor and glory to God who is sovereign over them. If you’re crafty, make your own. Most importantly, just take time to enjoy God’s creation and thank Him for it.
- Make fall crafts with your kids. Fall is abundant with craft supplies. Pinecones, fall leaves, evergreen sprigs… take your pick. From simple leaf rubbings to natural centerpieces – the options are numerous! Check out the links at the bottom of the post for specific craft ideas.
- Take the opportunity to share a family devotional. Whether you choose to have a specific Halloween-related devotional, or seize many teachable moments to share devotionals with your children while you are out and about in God’s creation or cooking up the fruits of your labors in the kitchen – keep your eyes open for moments when you can glorify God and give Him thanks for all that He has provided. Even when you’re explaining the science behind a white and tufty dandelion head or sharp and pointy pinecone, you can give glory to God in all his wisdom for creating a world that functions so rhythmically and beautifully.
- Read with your children. There are many wonderful stories to read with your children this time of year. Children love to be read to and it’s a great way to strengthen your bond with your children and build memories that will last forever. (Not to mention that “they” always say that children who are read to more frequently are smarter and happier!) A list of good books to read is included at the bottom of this post.
- The Pumpkin Patch Parable
- Mommy, Why Don’t We Celebrate Halloween?
- My Happy Pumpkin: God’s Love Shining through Me
- Halloween Ministry Resources – a great list of books, lessons and articles to read.
- Halloween Alternative Ideas for Family Fun at Kidology
- Activities for Autumn at FamilyFun
- Craft Ideas
- Fall crafts at About.com
- Fall crafts (and some homeschooling type activities) at Enchanted Learning
- Fall crafts at Kaboose.com – I love the paper bag scarecrow!
- Extended Reading
- What Does Your Heart Worship? (What does the bible say about worship/Halloween? Written by myself back in 2007)
- Christian Halloween – All Hocus Pocus?
- Halloween: Trick or Treat? (In the lefthand sidebar, click on the article under “Halloween Helps” and it will automatically download the .pdf file.)
- Halloween Thoughts
- How is Carving a Pumpkin Like Being a Christian?
- Halloween – Should Christians Participate?
Share the Love:
What favorite activities, crafts, recipes and other fall/halloween alternative traditions do you share with your family? If you have a favorite book or craft idea that you’d like to share you can leave it in the comments.
It’s about your heart:
In the end, the decisions you make are between you and God (and your spouse if you have one) and no one else. Ultimately I believe God is more concerned about the state of your heart than about whether or not you went to a Halloween party. I believe He is most pleased and glorified when your heart is seeking His will. God sees the inmost parts of our hearts and knows their every desire. Regardless of where you stand on Halloween, regardless of what He has or has not convicted you of thus far in your life – every day including Halloween is a day the Lord has made, an opportunity to honor and worship Him and give Him all the glory. In all that you do, may God be glorified!
Image Source: Pumpkin by Petr Kratochvil