I know it’s fitting to wish you a happy Reformation Day today, but is it also appropriate to wish you a happy Halloween? That question leads into the topic of today’s blog: Is it OK for Christians to celebrate Halloween?
It’s hard to outright ignore Halloween. It’s everywhere. Stores are stocked with Halloween items. On the 10-minute drive to school, my children and I see numerous yards decorated with skeletons, spider webs, corpses, and other creepy things.
Halloween is a big money maker. I read that Americans spend $9 BILLION per year on Halloween. One fourth of all annual candy sales take place during the Halloween season.
So there’s no hiding from Halloween. But should Christians participate in it? Should Christian children be walking the neighborhoods trick or treating? Or should the Christian community rise up and boycott Halloween altogether?
Some say, yes, Christians should boycott Halloween. In arguing that Halloween should be off-limits for Christians, one Web site traces the origin of Halloween back to pagan festivals in the first century AD. The argument continues that blood, witchcraft, and horror have become the dominate themes of the day. Furthermore, Christians opposed to Halloween will cite Bible verses that condemn witchcraft and sorcery, as well as Bible verses that command Christians to separate themselves from all that is impure.
Others will say, no, Christians don’t need to boycott Halloween. One writer calls it revisionist history to claim that Halloween is rooted in a pagan festival. He writes that Halloween is rooted in Christianity. All Hallows Eve is the evening before All Saints Day (Nov. 1). This writer and others challenge Christians not to back down to the culture but instead to reclaim Halloween. Many feel it’s possible to “soften” the holiday by wearing non-scary costumes like classic superheros and princesses and establishing wholesome family customs.
But here is the argument that was most persuasive to me: Halloween is a rare occasion out of the entire year to get out of our houses and interact with our neighbors!
I was amazed the other day. For a project I’m working on, I walked my neighborhood on a beautiful day to survey any neighbors who were outside. I had to walk for a long, long time to find anyone in their front yard, and even when I did, two were actually in the garage, and one was putting up Halloween decorations (and was trying to finish quickly and return to the football game on TV).
Keep in mind, God is infinitely resourceful. What if, in His perfect wisdom, God desires to leverage Halloween to build community among people? Halloween can be a strategic time to see your neighbors face to face (or maybe mask to mask, but you get the point). Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) We understand “neighbor” to mean any human being … which includes actual neighbors in your neighborhood!
So, Ashley and I will be taking our children trick or treating. And we’ll be looking for opportunities to engage with our neighbors!