I have a confession to make! This is going to be hard for a preacher to admit. I always liked Halloween. No, I’m not kidding — I like Halloween! I like the candy, scary costumes, more candy, horror movies, jumping out of the bushes screaming, “Boo!” Hmmm, did I mention the candy?
My old elementary school held Halloween carnivals with costume judging, cake walks, bobbing for apples and other games. Inevitably, a few of us would bring water balloons and bomb the crowd until we ran out of ammunition or collared by a teacher. Halloween brings out the trickster. After all, when else can you knock on a stranger’s door, scream “trick or treat” in your scariest voice and receive free candy? Halloween is a great day to be a mischievous kid!
But there is another side to Halloween that is not so innocent.
After becoming a preacher, I learned of the dangers surrounding Halloween. “If you allow your children to participate in Halloween (Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc.) you are allowing them to play on ‘the devil’s turf,’ and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage.” wrote William Schnoebelen. Stories abound of witches and devil worshippers meeting throughout the night and many of these stories are all too real.
Which view is right? Is Halloween innocent fun and candy or a thinly disguised satanic temptation?
The custom known as Halloween began with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in the British Isles. November 1 was a day of honoring the dead and celebrating the New Year. So, Christians combined the ancient practices and came up with “All Saints Day,” a sacred Christian holiday to honor Saints of the church who died the previous year. The night before All Saints Day became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening,” later shortened to Halloween.
Halloween was originally a blend of pagan and Christian rituals designed to help us remember and honor those who died.
So, which view is right? If we call ourselves Christians, how should we respond to Halloween?
Paul says to the Corinthians, “I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.” (9:22) Paul urges us to find a common ground before sharing our faith. Could Halloween be one of those opportunities?
Could we participate in Halloween activities with caution and also honor those who passed away?
Many churches offer alternative Halloween celebrations that allow children and adults to have fun within a safe environment. In addition, people who seldom venture inside a church are provided opportunities to experience Christians in action.
Here is another way to think about Halloween?
After someone was baptized, a co-worker asked what it was like to be a Christian. Caught off guard the new Christian didn’t know how to answer but she saw a jack-o’-lantern on her desk and answered: “It’s like being a pumpkin.”
“What do you mean by that?” the other worker asked.
“Well, God picks you from the patch and brings you in and washes off all the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. Then he cuts off the top and takes all the yucky stuff out from inside. He removes all the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts his light inside of you to shine for all to see. It is our choice to either stay outside and rot on the vine or come inside and be something new and bright.”
Halloween is a reminder that evil forces do exist and may occasionally have their day, or night so beware.
But the promise of God is as sure as the sun that is guaranteed to come out the next morning. He removes all the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts his light inside of you to shine for all to see.
All Saints Day belongs to God and the Saints of the church who will rise from their graves on their way toward the promise of heaven.
Now that I think about it, I may never look at a pumpkin or Halloween the same way again. But, I still like the candy.
Next week: What is your response to Halloween?
Then: Final Thoughts