I Don’t Like to be Tricked, But I Like to be Treated: Halloween and the Christian

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Halloween. It’s everywhere. And it never used to be (in Australia) but it’s become another date on the calendar to celebrate – another excuse to dress up and indulge in trick or treating.

The shops get in on the hype too. I fell for it and bought 4 bags of chocolates for $10 simply to treat myself and the kids.

Everyone has different views on Halloween. I’ve read Christian views and I’ve read those that see Halloween as harmless fun for the kids.

For me, Halloween is an indicator on the calendar that it’s two months till Christmas.

Even on Thursday, as we were going grocery shopping, Esther was telling anyone who wanted to hear.

“First there’s Halloween, and then there’s the Melbourne Cup and then it is Christmas. But we don’t celebrate Halloween and we don’t celebrate the Melbourne Cup but we do celebrate Christmas.”

As a parent with young children, I know there are going to be a few battles in the future about what the world celebrates and what we as a family choose to celebrate instead.

I’ve never been particularly scared or worried about Halloween. For me, the dress ups are ridiculously unreal, although recently they have been quite gory and horrific. My Facebook page has been full of kids looking more morbid than fantasy. I understand them as not being real. But my girls don’t have my understanding and they don’t have my spiritual maturity.

When I was a teen, our first trip to Disneyland was over Halloween. The main street of Disneyland was decorated with pumpkins and spider webs and the parades had a Halloween theme. We watched on, but didn’t flinch or frown despite not celebrating it.

I even vividly remember going on a Hollywood house tour in Beverly Hills where we were shown the houses of famous celebrities. During the tour on the mini bus, the driver doing the commentary was explaining the buzz about Halloween and the extreme costume parties. He was quite proud about his costumes and the previous year he had come 2nd with his costume. Someone on the bus asked what he dressed up as to come 2nd (as the competition could be quite competitive). He hesitated to answer as he looked back in his rearview mirror at my brother and I. He told everyone he couldn’t tell us, but after more prompting he told everyone he dressed up as a vibrator. My dad laughed, shaking his head, and my mum pulled her typical face when she’s not impressed. I had no idea at the time what a vibrator was at 13 years old, but I did a google search when I got home to find out.

Anyway, for me, the atmosphere seemed hyped with fun, and not with an intense focus on the gruesome, which is what seems to have happened in recent years in Australia as Halloween has come knocking on our doors. The scarier and morbid, the better.

Some communities in Australia have embraced the tradition and others are placing signs on their letterboxes to say no to trick or treaters. Everyone is entitled to how they will celebrate Halloween.

The real question about Halloween for me is who does the celebration glorify? You see we have Christmas which celebrates the birth of Jesus and we have Easter which celebrates the death and resurrection of the same man. A man, who I believe every human needs to have a relationship with to make sense of the world we live in, whether believed in or not.

Halloween celebrates death and its focus is on reaching out to the dead. The origins of Halloween come from a pagan background and it has strong roots with practices that connect with the dead and evil spirits. Both are practices God has warned not to partake in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 simply because we do not know the spirits we are encountering. Dressing up as a demon/ghoul/ghost and screaming at a demon (which are very real) will not stop a demon possession contrary to what Halloween customs teach. Demon possession is real and flirting with celebrations that encourage this practice is dangerous if you don’t have the spiritual maturity to handle it. And even if you don’t believe it, as parents we are protective of what our kids watch on TV, but when it comes to Halloween – it’s just harmless fun.

The thing is many don’t understand the spiritual attack that can come from participating in Halloween and I’ve seen many Christian families shrink away saying their children will take no part in the activities. I don’t blame them.

Yet, I have a different view.

For me, we won’t be celebrating or offering treats because our girls are too young to understand a witch or scary ghoul knocking on the door is not real.

But I know Esther will ask me about it next year when she’s at school because this year the school that Esther will attend is sponsoring a community event in our suburb. So what is seen as evil and demonic, is actually bringing our community together.

My response is rather than rebuke the celebration, I will join our community and represent a godly aspect to Halloween. Similar to a Red Frog response to Schoolies Week.

Halloween is the perfect time for us Christians to talk about the afterlife. What do we think happens when we die? Are there really ghosts? Are there demons? Are there good spirits and bad spirits? What about angels? Is there a God? The questions can be numerous and if Christians are to shut their doors on Halloween, we’ve lost an opportunity to love our community and to offer an answer that our community is desperately searching for – and it’s quite simply the meaning of life and is there an afterlife? Halloween stemmed from a fascination with the afterlife, and if Christians aren’t there to offer an answer, how are people to understand or know the hope we have in Jesus? Instead they see religious fun police saying ‘you shall not do this…’

Some Christians may view this response as wrong, and yes, I could be ‘flirting’ with danger, but for me I see it as an opportunity to love and to get to know my neighbors better.

In what aspect we take part next year, I don’t know. But maybe we will open our home for trick and treating and offer positive affirmations attached to lollies. I know Esther would get more joy from giving away than receiving. But I’m also mindful of her little mind seeing scary people rock up on her front door. I’m still not exactly sure what to do.

After being encouraged this week to find my ‘word’ about my current circumstances and situations, I derived my response to Halloween from reading 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, with special emphasis on 31 and 33.

‘So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved.”

These verses can be read as to not partake in anything evil so you don’t cause a brother or sister to stumble, but allowing them to stumble blindly with no Christian representation, I believe, is a lost opportunity. God is not surprised by Halloween and I think Jesus would have said a word or two about the afterlife. And any demonic activity would be stopped in His name. He would be there rebuking demons and setting people free.

And that is why Christians shouldn’t shy away from Halloween. You don’t have to ‘celebrate’ it by getting dressed up, but you can make a difference by offering an alternative that sows hope and life into the child that encounters your front door.

What do you think about Halloween? I am open to all opinions and discussions.