Halloween is a very old festival rooted in superstition at best and pure evil at its worst. The traditions of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating were devised in an attempt to protect people from the evils they believed to be most active on October 31. Some traditions come from ancestor worship, some from various forms of Satanism and Wicca (witchcraft). The hideous costumes were to blend in and not being recognized by the evil spirits believed to be about. The treats were gifts to the dead or the evil spirits so they would be nice to the household, not play any bad tricks. What we know as a jack-o-lantern was also to ward off evil spirits. There is also a legend of someone making a deal with the devil and then wandering forever with their jack-o-lantern lit by a coal from hell. Some cultures observed Halloween as a night for mayhem, anything goes. For some it is a night of sacrifice- produce, animal and even human sacrifice – to appease the spirits and their gods.
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs is a wonderful example of redeeming something that once was dark. Using a pumpkin as an object lesson it teaches about Salvation. God chooses us, cleans us up and gives us his love to share with everyone we meet. We carve pumpkins some years. We refer to the parable while we work on our creations and we carve whatever we want, nothing scary or gross.
We do not go to any Halloween parties or haunted houses. The idea of intentionally going to get scared is quite strange to me. Jesus died to give us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. He conquered fear. Why would I invite it back into my life? Or give it permission to enter my children? The enemy is already a thief trying to steal, kill and destroy me and my family. Why help him out?
We live in an area where people do not come out trick-or-treating; it’s too far out, too cold and too dark. It sort of defeats the purpose of a costume if it’s under your snow suit! I have never had to decide what to do with people coming to my door. If I lived where people came to my door I would not hide. What I would do I can’t say for sure. I think I would have treats, be kind and find a way to share Jesus. My house sometimes has fall decorations, sometimes cheery carved pumpkins but no spiders, witches, bones, ghosts, etc.
Centuries ago the church attempted to redeem Halloween by declaring All Saints Day on November 1. If people are going to celebrate give them something worth celebrating. Martin Luther chose October 31 to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the church. This challenge to the church’s teaching contributed to the Reformation. Some hold Reformation Day celebrations teaching church history in a festival type setting. There are churches and groups today that choose to provide a God honoring alternative to Halloween, often called Fall Festivals or Harvest Parties. Kids do think its fun to dress up and get candy. There are many fun things to do. I grew up in a church that hosted a “Harvest Party” complete with haunted house. Doing all the same activities as Halloween under a different name is not really redeeming anything.
I know there are those who say “It’s just for fun”. Remember Satan is a thief, opportunistic. He doesn’t care if you meant anything by participating in his traditions. He’ll take it. In a way I think the “fun” as well as all the very cute ghosts and witches help feed the cultural idea that Satan and evil aren’t really real. What better way for Satan to operate? How much opposition are you going to have from people who think you don’t exist or at least are not a threat? If dressing scary or haunted houses are “just for fun” what’s to say that séances or Ouija boards aren’t? Satan is real, and though defeated, he still has power in this world.
I am cautious of the “not wanting to be left out” attitude. “Everyone is doing” it is a poor argument in any situation. Is this a reasoning you want your children to live by? We are called to be different, set apart. We can’t do that by looking and acting like them. I want to be living a life that leaves the world feeling left out; in a way that draws them to my loving God.