I’ve finally decided to write a post about Halloween this year, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, better late than never I guess!
Halloween is an event or day that has a lot of controversy in the Christian culture, in part because of it’s history, in part because people have grown up hearing entirely different things, and also in part from poor information.
THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
Halloween’s history went from a Christian celebration of the sacrifice martyrs made in the early church and eventually evolved into a more pagan celebration.
I could write a full, not-so-great summary of the history of Halloween here or you could read this one from John MacArthur’s site if you are interested in more history, it’s written better than I could do anyway.
MY HISTORY WITH HALLOWEEN
I grew up going trick-or-treating as a child. We lived in a small down where everyone knew everyone’s business and it was always a fun day (except if it was an especially cold day, then not as much fun).
My biggest Halloween memory from childhood was going to my Grandma’s neighbor’s house, he was a man in his 90’s and he gave us each a handful of rock hard mini marshmallows. I remember being slightly horrified but thanking him anyway (he was old, I gave him grace). Then when packing my school lunch for the next week my Dad put a couple of these rock hard marshmallows in my lunch kit for a joke. (My teacher’s probably thought he was the one that was crazy.)
When I started grade five we had moved out of town onto a farm making trick-or-treating something you actually had to put an effort into so it didn’t continue. That and the new school I started going to had “Fun Night”, an alternative to Halloween, that’s where I hung out every Halloween thereafter.
My thoughts on Halloween from childhood were neutral to positive. The only negative was it probably reinforced my addiction to candy and chocolate but one does not need to go trick-or-treating to buy a box of Halloween candy (just ask me how I know), so I can’t really blame Halloween for that. It was always a fun evening, whether I was trick-or-treating or at Fun Night.
Fast forward to when Jared and I were married. For the first few years we hung out in our dark house hoping kids wouldn’t come knocking on the door. This was mostly due to the fact that 1) we were no longer kids, and didn’t have kids, and the day totally snuck up on us without us having bought any candy (giving out rock hard mini marshmallows was not a viable option in my books) and 2) on the years that we actually remembered what day it was neither of us wanted to hang around the door giving out candy all evening (#introverts).
Then all of a sudden we had a child and she got super excited about giving out Halloween candy. I think she was probably three or four the first year. She dressed up in a princess-y costume and had a blast saying hi to the kids that came to our door and giving them candy. The next year she was talking about Halloween long before it came, to her the day was all about giving of candy (that and because it is the same month as her birthday she somehow had it in her head that the two were somehow related, like people went trick-or-treating because of her birthday).
The year the kids were six and three and we took them trick-or-treating for the first time. A cute little clown and fireman. I took the kids down our block and something very quickly hit me like a ton of bricks:
The neighbors were more open and friendlier than normal.
This is when I started to really think about Halloween and my role in it as a Christian.
HOW I APPROACH HALLOWEEN AS A CHRISTIAN
As much as I would kind of like to, I’m not going to tell you how to approach Halloween, I’m just going to tell you a bit about my aha moment and how that has changed how I approach Halloween.
It was that Halloween, three years ago where I realized that many neighbors, who would not normally open their door (or come to mine for that matter), would open their door wide and be the friendliest I had ever seen on Halloween.
I knew that if I wanted to be a light in the community I live in, this was my one chance a year to show some of them that we love our neighbors and be an example of Jesus.
Honestly, if Jesus were around now, what do you think He would do on Halloween? Would He sit in his house with the light off, hoping no one knew He was home? If you’ve read the Bible at all I hope you realize that would never be an option for Him. I’m sure He would do way braver stuff than I ever would but I do know that He would be out there loving His neighbor and that’s what I intend to do.
Heidi St. John addressed this topic in a recent podcast episode, I highly recommend listening to it, but this part really stuck out to me:
I guess the bottom line for our family has always been this. We don’t turn our lights off and close our doors and, “Stay away, you sinners.” Actually, we like to hand out the best things that we can possibly afford and talk to as many people as we can that come to our door, “Hi. How are you? Oh, my goodness, I love your outfit,” unless we don’t love it, then we just go, “Hi. How are you? Wow, that’s actually terrifying,” but I want them to see a smile on my face and hope in my eyes. For some of us, this is going to be the only time our neighbors are ever going to come to our house. They may never come back, and so use it to be an example of Jesus.
Don’t be that person that just shuts their doors and, “I’m not going to welcome in the sinner.” No. I just don’t think that’s what Jesus would have done, and so open your doors. Let your kids greet people that come to the door and be kind. Be kind. The Bible says it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance.
I definitely couldn’t have summarized it better!
Like I said, I’m not here to try change your mind but I do hope it is something you will think about.
A few years ago the kids were trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and we went up to a house of people I kind of knew, Christians, who had all their lights on, and when the kids said “trick-or-treat” they came to the door and told the kids they didn’t “do Halloween”. Uhh . . . that’s awkward. As Christians I don’t think that’s the feeling we want to give to the world, but all too often I think it is.
We are called to be separate from the world but also to be a light in it and that’s hard to do when you are hiding out in your basement.
All in all, no matter how you approach Halloween I hope you find ways to love your neighbors well.