How should Christians celebrate Halloween? Halloween is a day commonly associated with death and darkness. Everywhere you look this time of year, we see skeletons, skulls, ghosts, and ghouls. So how do we as Christians react? Should we celebrate just like the rest of our culture? What does the Bible have to say about Halloween? Let’s explore the roots of Halloween, the different ways to celebrate, and what the Bible says to find out!
It’s spooky season, or so I am told.
In general, I don’t want to be controversial, but this is one of those topics that people really want to pick a side and die there. My goal here is not to change your mind. Instead, I hope to help us all to slow down and think Biblically (and logically) about this topic.
There is a wide range of ways in which people celebrate Halloween and I hope to address a few of the most common.
Again, I do not want to tell you how to celebrate a holiday, but if in fact we are Christians- we should show that every day of the year.
Be it Easter or Halloween.
So lay aside your bias. Lay aside your skeletons, pumpkins, horror movies, and out-of-context scriptures, and let’s think Biblically about Halloween!
So when it comes to Halloween, should we- as Christians– celebrate?
And if so, how?
Let’s start by first examining the origins of Halloween.
The History of Halloween
Contrary to popular belief, Halloween didn’t actually begin as a Pagan holiday or possess the pagan roots that so many claim.
In fact, it seems historically reasonable to assume that this holiday actually began as a Christian day of remembrance.
There are actually historical ties surrounding October 31-November 1st to a time of remembrance for Martyrdom- those killed for their faith in the gospel long before the celebrations of Samhain. (That’s the Pagan festival generally associated with Halloween.)
People from all walks of life celebrate this day in some form or fashion.
In many cultures or religions, the idea is that passed loved ones or those who have gone on before us are closer now than on any other day of the year.
This leads to rituals of everything from making your deceased family member’s favorite meal and offering them a spot at the table to attempting to contact the dead or even attempting to ward off evil spirits that may be closer than normal.
October 31st is seen by many as a day of darkness in an already dark world.
It is commonly associated with sacrificial rituals, hauntings, and of course death.
My ultimate question here- in terms of how to think Biblically about Halloween- is: Did God give Satan a day all to himself?
The answer to that is of course- no.
In fact, October 31st is also the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church doors- making this date also- Reformation Day.
Each day is a day that the Lord has made, and we can be glad and rejoice in it (Psalms 118:24).
So, is it right for Christians to participate in the celebration?
Well, that all comes down to how we choose to celebrate.
Is our focus on God or on spreading the gospel?
Or are we focused on ourselves, the thrill of it all, parties, or the celebration of death?
Let me be honest here-
I’m a little Biased
I’m not going to lie, I don’t celebrate Halloween.
Growing up I hated seeing October 31st rolling around.
Though it had nothing to do with Halloween itself. In fact, prior to maybe first grade I probably liked that day- though I can’t remember that far back.
When I was a kid we had a wreck on the way home from a Halloween party at school and then found out our house was on fire when the police arrived at the scene of the accident. For years, I associated Halloween with tragedy. I also witnessed a woman getting run over on Halloween as a kid, and I am still traumatized by that to this day. Though I do think she lived.
Needless to say, I didn’t care for the day.
It feels evil in my own head even now.
I want to be honest about how I view this day, but to also say my bias is not a reflection of my conclusion about whether or not we should celebrate.
I am basing that solely off of Scripture- though I am admittedly happy when I feel it defends my conclusions.
Okay, enough of the disclaimers- here are a few ways in which people celebrate Halloween and how we can think Biblically about each of them.
So what does the Bible say about Halloween?
This may sound odd, but the Bible doesn’t actually mention Halloween at all.
So I guess it’s a free for all! Have fun everyone!
I’m just kidding!
The Bible of course doesn’t mention Halloween specifically- it doesn’t mention Christmas either- but God’s word is full of wisdom and nuggets of truth that help us navigate every aspect of our daily life and modern culture!
The simplest way to break down the Halloween debate is to break down the different ways people celebrate.
There is a big difference between collecting candy and holding a seance in a graveyard.
So let’s look at some different way people celebrate Halloween and think Biblically about whether or not we- as Christians- should participate.
How Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
1. The Trick or Treater/Trunk or Treat
Everyone knows it is inherently wrong to knock on someone’s door and ask for candy.
I mean, Duh.
Do you really need a verse to tell you that? (That was sarcasm in case anyone is confused.)
As Mamas- trick-or-treating is probably the most common way of celebrating that we are faced with. I trick-or-treated as a kid and other than in my Nana’s neighborhood where everyone wore Scream masks- I enjoyed it.
It’s costumes and candy.
What kid doesn’t love that?
The problem with trick-or-treating is it is often hard to navigate.
Your child in a princess costume or decked out as a superhero searching for candy is not sinful, not even in Leviticus.
There is nothing inherently wrong with fun costumes and candy. (Though we will address other costumes in a bit.)
Trunk-or-treats and trick-or-treating can be a fun way to get to know the community, your local church members, or even some of your kids’ friends’ parents.
Certain ways of trick-or-treating seem like a fine form of celebration!
(If you feel a conviction that you shouldn’t participate, then honor that. But you don’t have to condemn everyone else who does. We don’t trick or treat, but that is a personal choice. There isn’t anything wrong with it, in and of itself!)
2. The Hauntings, the Horror, and the Gore
This is what can throw off even something as innocent as trick-or-treating itself.
As adults, if we choose to watch a scary movie or participate in some sort of haunted experience, we make that choice.
Honestly, I don’t think it is a good choice and I will insert Philippians 4:8 here:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.Philippians 4:8
Nevertheless, that is a choice many adults make for themselves, but choosing that for your children is a different story.
We are called to abstain from every form of evil. (Thessalonians 5:22)
I think that includes watching it, embracing it, imagining it, and especially exposing our kids to it.
I think this is where we, as Mamas, should draw a thick line in the sand.
Your two-year-old (or 10-year-old for the matter) does not need to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Nor do they need to be dressed like Michael Myers.
Nor do they need to be forced to embrace someone else in that costume while trick-or-treating.
I always hear “Well it is make-believe so it is okay”.
I can assure you, whether it is Michael Myers or Jeffrey Dahmer- pretend evil or real evil– it has the same effect on our minds and hearts.
I’m going to be honest, this is why our family stopped trick-or-treating.
Originally it was something I wanted to do, but after a couple of encounters with things I don’t want my littles to see- we chose to sit it out.
You cannot control what anyone else does, but as a Mama and gatekeeper, you have to do your best to protect your child’s mind.
Of course, I know how many will disagree with me here.
“Oh, it is just pretend.”
“Our kids will see it at some point- might as well go ahead and get them used to it.”
I’m sorry, but I think that is a really silly argument.
Our kids could be exposed to all kinds of things later in life that doesn’t mean we should show it to them as children.
Protect their innocence for as long and as well as you can, Mama. Childhood is short enough, don’t steal it away from them.
3. The Exaltation of the Dead
This is where things really start to go off the rails, especially for those of us who are Christians.
The Bible has a lot to say about life and death- I mean a lot.
The heart of the gospel is simple: We were dead in our trespasses and sins, and Jesus died in our place to give us new life.
He overcame death, hell, and the grave when He rose on the third day.
Jesus is synonymous with life and light.
Satan with death and darkness.
When we as Christians celebrate death, we are celebrating the very thing Christ came to save us from.
Of course, I miss those who have gone on to be with Jesus.
But my hope is not in a day when the Spiritual world is closer, but rather my hope is in Jesus and a true reunion in Heaven.
Exalting death is completely backward from what we are called to do in Scripture.
If the way you plan to celebrate Halloween this year honors those who have passed on more than it honors God- then it is time to reassess how you, as a member of the body of Christ, should celebrate.
4. The Spirits are Close
Remember when we were kids and Disney would always do the Halloween specials?
I remember this idea being a really common theme back then.
At this certain time of year suddenly the Tipton was haunted, the teachers were evil, and even certain characters would pretend to be possessed.
That is really dark when you look back as an adult.
And that is certainly not a theme I want my kids to associate October with.
We have anniversaries, birthdays, and too many fun things this fall season to dampen it with thoughts of evil spirits being in closer proximity.
I think as Christians we can get too into this idea on either side.
One, nothing is spiritual.
Or two, everything is deeply spiritual.
The truth is in the middle.
I think if we are truly Christians being led by the Holy Spirit no one needs to tell you what things are deeply affecting your soul. You most likely know deep down, though you may not be open to addressing it yet.
Celebrating with Ouija boards or seances is not a Biblical way to celebrate.
Not even a little bit.
Not even if you think it is fake or silly.
Remember Saul calling Samuel back from the dead? Yeah, let’s not repeat that
5. The Fall Festival
I feel like this was the common thing when I was a kid, though I don’t see a ton of them now.
Fall festivals are typically Halloween alternatives.
They revolve around an idea of gratitude for the harvest and the food that has been stored away for winter. (Similar to Thanksgiving.)
Usually, a harvest festival is celebrated with hayrides, bonfires, and large tables filled with pumpkin carving, caramel apples, and all sorts of seasonal goodies.
I see nothing wrong with celebrating a Harvest (or Fall) Festival.
Even on October 31st.
I know there are some who disagree with me and believe as Christians we should separate ourselves from the day entirely.
If that is your conviction, then by all means, don’t celebrate anything on that day.
Personally I don’t see a Biblical reason for that to be a hard and fast rule for every single person to follow.
6. The Pharisee
The Pharisee ‘celebration’, if you will, revolves around the idea of: “Strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel.” (Matthew 23:24)
This can come across in a few different ways.
One is to chastise your neighbor for decorating their lawn or taking their kids trick-or-treating while you sit inside your own home consuming Thrillers, Murder Documentaries, and Horror flicks.
Another way we can do this is to simply, within our own minds, declare ourselves “Holier” than someone else.
We have all fallen prey to this at some point or another, but patting ourselves on the back for how godly we look compared to our neighbors is not being holy as Christ is Holy.
There is a difference between being set apart and exalted.
In our weak mortal bodies that is often a hard line to walk.
7. The Ministry
The Ministry celebration of Halloween is simply the idea that if the community is getting together, we may as well join them and spread the gospel.
Again- I see no Biblical reason as to why this isn’t okay.
In fact, I see Biblical reasons to tell you that it is absolutely fine.
However, let’s not lose the gospel message in our effort to outreach. (Explained below.)
Turning the empty parking lot of your local churches into a trunk-or-treat or fall festival can be a great way to reach out to the community with a gospel tract or an invitation to church.
8. The “Reach them no matter what it takes” Ministry
This idea of “Reaching the world no matter what it takes” sounds really good on its face.
It is the idea of braving something you maybe wouldn’t normally attend or speaking to people you maybe wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise.
That can be a good idea so long as the message doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
A few years ago I attended a neighboring church outing that seemed to have this mindset.
They had a barbecue for all the young people in the area along with blow-up water slides and lots of games.
They checked all the boxes and the kids who attended had an absolute blast. But in all their planning, they forgot something: Jesus.
No one presented the gospel or invited us back for services or bible study.
At the time I wasn’t a Christian so I really didn’t mind, but I had been raised in church so I found it very odd.
And what’s more odd?
Kids were smoking pot, making out, being incredibly provocative and no one said a thing.
I don’t know who had planned the day to begin with, but I think they had good intentions.
The problem is intentions only go so far.
When our goal to reach the world is to blend in with the world- well, sometimes we blend in a little too well.
In this situation, it would be better for us to stay home and separate and be considered ‘superstitious’ or no fun.
Wearing the title of ‘Christian’ and looking like the world is not winning anyone over.
9. The “We Should Look Different”
This again is true.
We should look different.
I think I have touched on that a lot. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t look anything like the rest of the world.
I once heard Mike Winger, from BibleThinker.org, express how sometimes we can become so terrified of looking like we are participating in some pagan practices that we go out of our way to be weird about it. He stated that “Pagans fed their children too, but we don’t assume that means we shouldn’t feed our children.”
Now there may be a time and a place to separate ourselves from an odd practice or cult-like mentality.
Halloween is a time of year when we should look different.
Actually, we should really look the same as we do the other 364 days of the year.
But looking different doesn’t necessarily mean we should hide in a hole or brand ourselves and every conversation with anti-Halloween rhetoric.
If our kids dawn a Batman costume and grab candy from the neighbors- our salvation should not be called into question.
Stick to your own convictions but don’t expect everyone to have the same ones.
10. The Weak Minded
I’ve been told recently that this is me.
I am too weak-minded to celebrate Halloween because I can’t separate what is celebrated fictitiously from what is truly evil.
Perhaps that is true.
However, I would also argue that embracing the celebration of fear, evil, and death seems wrong whether you are serious about it or not.
So how should Christians celebrate Halloween?
We have freedom in Christ to reach different conclusions on how we should or shouldn’t celebrate this day, but ultimately anything that draws us away from Christ or brings glory to the things He saved us from should be left out of our Halloween celebrations.
The light of Jesus is brighter than any darkness, and Satan does not own October 31st. We are free to embrace some of the cultural norms without issue, but if it glorifies darkness or death over our Saviour of light and life then I think the Biblical answer is to abstain from that kind of celebration.
However you choose to celebrate this holiday, let your heart and your conscience be clear.
It doesn’t matter what your friends think of you, but it does matter what convictions God has placed on your heart.
Whether you carve a pumpkin, eat a kit-kat, and call it a night.
Whether you throw on a scarecrow costume and escort your kiddos around the block.
Or if you choose to minister that night or sit the night out altogether.
Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.
Because ultimately every day is His.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate? Leave us a comment down below!
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