Today is October 31st, the day of Halloween. For this reason, we’ll talk about a question that Christian parents are always wondering about: “should I let my children celebrate Halloween?”
I would first like to make it clear that I understand that you’re the one who knows what’s best for your children—and I respect your opinion. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t worry about kids. I want to positively influence God’s people on such delicate topics. So, I’d like to make a deal with you: read this short text, pray about what will be said—and make a decision about how to handle Halloween.
That said, let me begin by explaining the origins of Halloween, after which I’ll address the main issue of our chat today.
Origin of Halloween
On October 31st of each year, Celts used to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of a new annual cycle with a festival called “Samhain.” For them, this day was full of superstitions, including the belief that the dead would be wandering around searching for human bodies to incorporate.
Around the 5th Century, the Catholic Church, decided to associate itself with this pagan tradition and adopted November 1st as “All Saints’ Day.” So, the day before it became the All Saints’ Eve, or “All Hallows Eve,” from which the name “Halloween” originated, as you may have noticed.
It’s interesting to note that this Catholic-pagan tradition influenced a certain custom on November 2nd, the day after All Saints’ day. On that day, people used to go from house to house asking for sweets (cakes, etc.). If they received any, they would pray for the dead that they believed were in limbo (or purgatory). They believed that their prayers would influence the fate of the deceased, determining their final destination—Heaven or Hell.
Over time, this tradition of asking for sweets was linked to Halloween. This is why in many cultures we have the “trick or treat” tradition. Nowadays, many parents dress their children in Halloween costumes that resemble witches, ghosts, zombies, and other devilish creatures of the sort.
In all this, the main question of our chat today is contextualized: should we as Christians allow our children to participate in this pagan festival?
Even before answering, let’s first see what the Bible has to say on this subject.
What the Bible Has to Say About Halloween
Although the Bible does not speak specifically about Halloween, it has much to say about the kinds of things it celebrates.
In the Old Testament, it is more than clear that God’s people are prohibited to engage in anything related to witchcraft or the occult. Let’s see:
Never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12) [1. If you want more Old Testament references, see also Leviticus 19:31, 20: 6, 20:27 and Exodus 22:18]
I know that many of you are now thinking that the above verse doesn’t quite describe what most kids do on Halloween. Agreed, but on the other hand—Halloween is a marketed version of witchcraft, or, at least a representation of it. If it’s not evil, it’s the representation of evil; it’s the appearance of evil, and I think everyone would agree with that.
Furthermore, the scriptures teach us:
…test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22)
And that is what we should do.
I remember an argument that some Christians used to justify their participation in Halloween: they say that the Old Testament laws no longer apply to us. For that reason, I’ll share some other passages in the New Testament. Let’s see.
The book of Acts, which tells the beautiful story of the early church, presents some examples that show us clearly how all that relates to the practice of witchcraft and sorcery should be avoided by Christians.
I ask you to read the stories of Simon and Elymas in Acts, 8: 9-24 and 13: 6-11, respectively. In both cases, these practices that are celebrated today are strongly reprimanded. To give you an idea, this is what the Apostle Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit—says to Elymas:
You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time. (Acts 13: 10-11a)
The behavior that God expects from Christians is that they respect the standards of their namesake—Jesus Christ. We must represent what is right. We should cultivate our kids’ imaginations with things that bring life and not death as in the case of Halloween.
See what Scripture has to say about it:
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. (Philippians 1: 27-28)
We have to live a life that imitates Christ’s. Does letting our children dress up like the devil accomplish this? I don’t think so.
What should we do with our children, then?
Should we leave our children at home?
No, we shouldn’t leave them at home. I said that our children shouldn’t participate in Halloween because premised on principles contrary to the Word of God. So if we shouldn’t leave them at home, then what should we do with them? Since most of their schoolmates are out celebrating Halloween?
Halloween is a great opportunity for us to teach our children about how to behave in these darkening days. I think we can to teach them that they have an important role in the world, to influence people positively, and to look for opportunities to shine as lights.
I believe that the role of Christian parents—and the church—is to organize a parallel party on Halloween, with a different theme and purpose. On this gathering, all children must come costumed, not in diabolical dress, but rather in costumes of princesses, cowboys, superheroes, and the like.
Churches should strive to make these festivals more attractive to the kids than Halloween. In addition to solid teaching from the Word of God, there must be candies, games, and everything else they like.
Finally, (and most importantly), the churches must view these festivals as evangelistic opportunities, including them in their missions’ budget. Churches should encourage children to invite their classmates and their parents to the party, so that they’ll be able to see the difference between a celebration in the house of God—and a celebration of demonic activities.
You may be asking: what if my church won’t do this? Then I suggest you get together with other Christian parents to do the same thing, even if at a smaller scale. I’m sure the kids will really enjoy it, as they learn a valuable lesson—that true joy comes from the Lord—and there are always ways to experience it through promoting positive situations.
By doing this, we’ll be able to reach out to others for the Kingdom of God, and teach our children the right way. As Proverbs 22:6 says, if we direct our children in the right path, even when they are older—they will not leave it.