The Church’s Role on Halloween

If you grew up in the North American church, especially in the 70s and 80s, you might have some fear and trepidation at the thought of celebrating Halloween. When I was small, my parents only knew Halloween as an American tradition of dressing up and going from house to house asking for candy. It was as unusual (and pagan) as Christmas tress and Easter eggs. In their effort to help my brother and I fit into our suburban neighbourhood, we participated. Those years gave me many happy memories of peeking into very American homes and meeting people who were very different from us. Because my Halloweens were family-friendly, I continued the tradition with my kids in our neighbourhoods, leaving the porch light on and vying for title of “House with the Best Candy”. I’m so glad to belong to a church that also embraces Halloween as a missional opportunity for our families.

At my current church, we believe that Oct 31 – Halloween, presents a rare ‘evangelistic’ opportunity to connect with ones neighbours — where it is acceptable and expected that strangers will open the door, greet each other and give to each other. Rather than being known as the curmudgeonly Christians on the block, we want to be known for reflecting God’s welcome and generous spirit.  When people knock on our door this Saturday, along with the “treats” we are hosting a neighbourhood gathering to share cider and hot chocolate, and get to know each other better.  This was an awesome idea from our Church Outreach Committee – they are even providing the beverages for free.  I hope our church members will be known as the best neighbours, not just for candy and celebrations, but also as a place to go when others are in need of a friend or a listening ear.

Other ideas for a family friendly Halloween

Preschooler – Kids under 5 may not really know much about Halloween, but they do enjoy fall celebrations such as trips to the pumpkin patch and apple picking. Let them dress up for the event, as most kids enjoy dressing up every chance they get. Since young kids may see “scary” things on TV and at stores, like jack-o-lanterns and spider webs, so it’s a good idea to prepare them by telling them that some people like to scare each other during this season. Remind them that God is bigger than any scary creature we can dream up.

Elementary School – If there are dress up activities and parties at their school or in their neighbourhood, talk to your kids about what the activities will contain and if they fit with your values. Dressing up, eating candy and visiting with neighbours don’t have to be off-limits, but set guidelines on what kind of costumes are acceptable, how much candy is acceptable and which homes they may visit (neighbourhood, friends and family, or the mall).

Tween and Youth – Plan to do something age appropriate and fun. Many kids may be invited to do things your family might not comfortable with, including haunted houses or horror movies. If your kids have a fun alternative (bowling, trampoline park, or just party at your house), they won’t feel the peer pressure to participate in activities that are not healthy for safe or them.

Whatever you decide to do for Halloween, remember that “to the pure, all things are pure”. We don’t need to be afraid of Halloween, we just need to be wise. If you happen to have kids, the most important thing is to talk with them about it. Values are only shared with future generations by constant, open, safe conversations between people who love each other.

Photo by (Flickr CC): Yvonne Eijkenduijn