Most of my childhood was spent celebrating Halloween. By “celebrating,” I mean dressing up in a costume and going trick-or-treating. What is more celebratory to a kid than stopping at the doors of strangers and relatives, and having them give you loads of free candy? As I grew older, Halloween became more about going to parties where nothing was free.
When I became a Christian, I was confronted with my first Halloween. I was immediately struck with a crisis: Is it permissible for a Christian to celebrate Halloween? The church I served and belonged to at the time didn’t think so, so they changed the name of Halloween to “fall festival,” and allowed costumes as long as they were “decent.” I was told these changes were necessary because Halloween was “the devil’s holiday.” I once even wrote and distributed a pamphlet which bashed Halloween.
As I matured spiritually and my understanding of what the Christian life means, my attitude towards Halloween has changed somewhat. Gone are the days of simply writing the day off as “the devil’s holiday,” and my thinking has been replaced by (is what I hope) a more biblically faithful understanding and view of Halloween.
I believe Halloween is the perfect opportunity to help shape a Christian worldview. Everything associated with Halloween forces us to think through what is permissible, holy, good, and evil. Therefore, I don’t see Halloween as the devil’s anything, but as a God-provided opportunity to shape my thinking and practice to be more like Jesus. Let me share a few of my thoughts with you:
1. A day is only as holy or unholy as you make it. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (2:16-17). To the Romans he similarly wrote, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each one be convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. . . For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord (14:5-8). In other words, each day belongs to Jesus regardless of what it’s called. Therefore, it is of no consequence for us to place special significance or insignificance on any day, or the purpose seen in that day. The question is to whom will we live each one?
2. Forget about the history of Halloween. This one is always silly to me. I’ll hear anti-Halloween apologists begin with something like, “Well, you know, Halloween has its roots in paganism, so. . .” Our reality is that ALL our days have their roots in paganism. What I mean is, the majority of our celebratory days, even the naming of the days of the week, have their origins in paganism. Many of our traditions at Christmas have their roots in paganism. Birthdays have their roots in paganism. Even our days of the week were named after pagan gods! Over the years, Halloween has morphed from an ancient Druid cult holy day to a day of mirth, cheer, and free candy. Therefore, it is silly and unprofitable to argue that we should not celebrate Halloween because of its historical pagan associations (2 Timothy 2:23).
3. Redeem the time. The days in which we live are filled with evil, pain, hurt, and death. The culture in which we live is far more more familiar and versed with these things than it is with Jesus, the love of God, and the grace of God. Therefore, we should use every moment we have to redeem the opportunities God has given us (Ephesians 5:16). Halloween is one such moment. What better way to demonstrate sacrificial giving to our most impressionable members of society (i.e, children), than handing them a fistful of candy with a smile? What better way to show them there are still safe havens in the world, where they can just be a kid? What better way to show God’s love to entire families in that there are still people who want to provide them a chance to eat, drink, and be merry, if only for a couple of hours? That is a big part of the church’s job, folks. It’s not about taking, but giving. Redeem the time, church, and use every opportunity God gives us.
4. Be something you’re not. A part of Halloween that gives me great joy is checking out all the costumes. People have an innate desire to be something we aren’t. Playing dress up is part of our culture and has been for centuries. Halloween is a great opportunity to pretend to be something you’re not. Like everything, where a person currently resides spiritually reflects in their choice of costume. I can’t judge whether dressing up like an animal is more “good” than dressing up like Frankenstein. However, in the matter of costumes, I think it’s wise to make sure what we wear on the outside is reflective of who we are on the inside. We each need to be convinced in our own consciences that our costumes, and those of our children, glorify Jesus and do not bring reproach. For a surrounding culture obsessed with sex, death, and rebellion, my advice as far as costumes go is, “expect to be shocked, but do not be offended.” Like everything, where a person currently resides spiritually reflects in their choice of costume.
5. Remember why Jesus came. As mentioned earlier, our culture is obsessed with sex, death, and rebellion. Our culture celebrates sex, death, and rebellion. Jesus came to redeem things like sex, death, and rebellion. He is greater than the culture in which we live, he is greater than the sin our culture celebrates. Halloween is just one more day to remind ourselves of this, and by our actions and attitudes remind others.
That’s why I believe Halloween is the perfect opportunity to help shape a Christian worldview.