By Laura Cooper
Does Halloween have you going crazy? It does for me! For a very long time, Halloween has been a source of debate and confusion in the Christian community. Many families, including my own, have wrestled with this question: How should we deal with Halloween?
I personally know Christian families that have landed all over the spectrum in how they respond to Halloween.
Some families celebrate Halloween but abstain from scary costumes, ghost stories, and the superstitions of the holiday. Some families don’t trick-or-treat, but participate in their church’s harvest festivals. Other families that choose to celebrate Reformation Day or All Saints’ Day instead. Others have a strict no-participation rule.
I’m not here to tell you which of these responses are right or wrong. But I am here to affirm that this is an important conversation, and to give you some general guidelines that will help you make a Halloween decision for your family.
Three Steps to Dealing with Halloween
1) Integrate your Faith into your Decision
The wrong, unbiblical approach to Halloween would be to ignore it completely, or to say that it doesn’t matter because it’s “just fun”. God isn’t just the God of our Sunday mornings. He is Sovereign over every aspect of our lives! God calls us to honor Him with everything we do.
Biblical decision-making involves Scripture, prayer, and seeking advice. As you think about Halloween, read Scripture, looking for principles that will guide you towards holy living. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Seek God’s will in your quiet time. And ask other Christian mentors, leaders, and parents for advice.
2) Include your Children in this Conversation (in age-appropriate ways!)
At FamiliesAlive, we believe that open, authentic communication builds trust and models good decision-making skills for your children. Teach your children about the pagan origins of Halloween, and what the Bible has to say about the spiritual world and how we are to engage our world. Talk together as a family about what it means to honor God in situations like this. Read your children Scripture passages and verses that apply to this conversation.
3) Trust God’s Grace
We’re human, and we’re never going to get things exactly right on this side of heaven. Remember, plenty of strong, Christian families have differed across the spectrum when it comes to Halloween. We will never be perfect parents, but we do have a perfect God that is full of grace when we make mistakes. We must trust in that great grace as we make tough decisions!
A Personal Story and a Creative Solution
As I’ve mentioned before, my family has wrestled with the Halloween decision for years. In 2012, we came up with a creative solution to the problem that I would like to share with you. We call it “Trick-or-Can”.
Each year on Halloween, we gather family friends together for a potluck chili dinner.
Afterwards, we break into groups and head out through the neighborhood with big canvas bags, knocking on doors. As our neighbors open the door to give us candy, we explain that we are collecting canned goods for a local food bank, to help those that have less than us. Most neighbors are able to run back to their pantries to find something to donate. Since we’ve been doing it for several years now, many neighbors have come to expect us, and they have cans of food ready by the door!
Dad drives around in the family Suburban, meeting up with the different “collection teams” and putting the collected goods in the trunk.
The day after Halloween, we take all the food items to the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian organization that supports homeless people in the downtown area.
I love this tradition because it redeems a pagan holiday for the glory of God. The kids still get the fun of dressing up in costume and getting candy from the neighbors, all while learning about serving and taking care of others. The people in our neighborhood get to see the light of Christ at work within us, and the dinner before is a great way to build community and participate in Christian fellowship.
It’s a creative solution that captures the heart of what it means to be in the world, but not of the world.
As you decide how to deal with Halloween in your family, I hope you’ll think creatively as you seek to honor God. If you’re interested in integrating “Trick-or-Can” into your family’s traditions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have!
How do you deal with Halloween as a family? Do you have any creative solutions? How did you come to your decision? Comment below! We want to hear your thoughts!
Here are a few articles representing widely-varying positions about Halloween that may be helpful to you as you make your decision. (The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent the views of FamiliesAlive, but they were helpful for me as I did research for this article):