Late to the party
I’ve basically been writing this blog post for the last 3 weeks and as Halloween has now gone it’s actually a little late. However, I thought I’d still share my thoughts as it’s only going to happen again next year and I don’t want to be late to the party again!
I have had so many conversations with friends over the past few weeks about Halloween and how we handle it as Christians and as parents and to tell you the truth I am still totally undecided as to where the answer lies. In previous years, I would have simply answered the Halloween question with, “I’m a Christian, we don’t celebrate Halloween,” but I’m realising that’s just not enough. Particularly as so many Christians do seem to be celebrating Halloween.
As a Christian I believe I am called to be in the world, but not of the world and I am constantly trying to figure out what this looks like. I do know, however, that for me it needs more than saying, “no I’m a Christian, I don’t do that”. I know I need to be thinking through my values all the time and about what’s going on in the world so I can truly explain why I will or won’t engage with something. It’s not good enough for me to simply disengage.
So, to Halloween…
Personally, I find Halloween scary. I do not get the appeal of trying to scare yourself, or others. As a kid I once went on a ghost train and it was one of the most horrific experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never been brave enough to go on one since. Dressing up to scare one another honestly makes absolutely no sense to me so this reason alone is enough for me to not want to be involved with Halloween. And that alone is enough for me not to want my kid involved. (As a side note: I’d love for someone to explain to me the fun in exposing our kids to something that could scare them, as I really think I’m missing something because so many people do it?!)
However as well as finding Halloween scary, my faith is also a big part of the reason that it is an issue for me. In the Bible it says to, ‘hold onto what is good and reject every kind of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Whether or not you’re a Christian I can imagine that you might agree that seeking out good and avoiding evil seems a pretty good piece of life advice to follow?
I know many people will argue that Halloween isn’t evil, that children are simply dressing up as ghosts and pumpkins and eating candy. For some families this may well be the case, but the people dressed in gruesome, gory costumes, with make up that looks like fatal wounds and satanic symbols painted on garage doors for ‘fun’ (that happened near me this year) point to something a little more sinister in my opinion.
I won’t go deep into the origins of Halloween debate, I’m sure many people know that it was originally called All Saints Day and was a time people celebrated, remembered and gave thanks for those who had died. It was not linked to evil, ghosts or the demonic but that is what it has become. I’m not convinced that many people could explain why they actually celebrate Halloween and that is part of what actually makes it so confusing for me. If you’re not celebrating the ‘scary stuff’, and it’s just for the candy and dressing up, then why not do that another day when the shops aren’t out to get a lot of money off you?!
Whether or not you think Halloween is inherently evil, there is a lot of sinister stuff out and about and it forms a big part of Halloween. Personally I think it’s really wise to think about how much we engage with evil. I want to guard my heart and my brain, and I want to guard my kid’s heart and brain while he’s so young, then I want to help to make choices to do the same as he grows up.
This year I noticed that my American Christian friends were posting a lot of Halloween photos on social media which really puzzled me so I asked an American friend who explained that Halloween in America differs somewhat and that often churches throw huge harvest parties for masses of people and the costumes are definitely less dark than over here. We don’t get many opportunities to engage with our communities and our neighbours, so this version of Halloween is certainly far more appealing to me. I do quite fancy the idea of throwing a harvest party, creating an opportunity to be thankful with my neighbours and friends – although that sort of sounds like I might as well do Thanksgiving?!
I hope that my muddled thoughts might be of some help to someone who is also muddling through the same debate. Halloween has become a big deal, and its popularity as a festival has grown, and I think we have to engage with it. Perhaps we engage with it by choosing not to be involved at all, simply to say, “we don’t do Halloween”. Perhaps we choose another route. I have no answers and I think the answer will be different for every Christian but I do think that it’s important that we think about it. Simply saying no without thinking it through doesn’t enable us to chat through our family values with or kids and think about why we’re not getting involved; it doesn’t give us opportunity to think about how we’re going to have tricky conversations. How are we going to explain our views on Halloween to people and tell them what our faith means to us if we haven’t stopped and though about it first? Maybe you’ve already done this but I realised this year I’ve definitely not thought enough about it and I want to be better prepared next year.
I think I will always be an advocate for church light parties which celebrate all that is good and of God rather than a Halloween party, and I am unlikely to let my kid go trick-or-treating (knocking on stranger’s doors seems to go against what I’d normally teach him). However, I do want to be able to discuss that as a family, to think through who God has called us to be and why that matches or doesn’t match with an activity, and if my kid can convince me that trick-or-treating or going to a party fits in with our family values one day then I will let him go.
So, all I know for now, is that on Halloween I will celebrate that God is the King of Kings who overcomes all evil because I celebrate that every day. I will reject evil, but I won’t be rejecting my neighbours. However, until next year I have no clue as to what this will actually look like on Halloween! I’ll let you know.