Why can’t I write about Halloween?

Maybe because I can’t make up my mind!

As a kid, I liked it.

As a parent, I compromised.

Now, I am conflicted about it.

Halloween has a very dark side to it, and there is a line which we as Christians mustn’t cross.  It cannot be denied that Halloween has a pagan and occult origin, and many of the characters associated with it (witches, goblins, ghosts and so on) are not a mere joke. One such character that is popularly associated with Halloween is a skeleton, it is associated as a symbol of death.  Well, I was a skeleton in 1964, and I wasn’t ruined by the experience; I’ve never dabbled in the occult and as an adult, I understand that the occult is terribly dangerous and evil.So is a child’s costume really that big of a deal? Maybe, maybe not.

Sometimes I wonder if making our kids skip Halloween altogether might do more harm than good.  What I mean is that if everyone else is having fun, and my kids are required not to participate because we are Christians, might that end up contributing to or causing them to resent Christianity? My best answer was “maybe” so I compromised and just tried to teach them the truth as best I could and limited their costume choices.  That was almost 20 years ago, and I’m still not sure I made the right call.

With that said, it always bothers me when people or churches have “Harvest” parties.  Our church did that one year back when my kids were little, and even the youngest saw right through it at 4 years old. “Why do they call a Halloween party a Harvest party?” A truthful answer to that one is hard to give to a four-year old; she didn’t get it, and pronounced the whole thing “dumb.” As an adult, I understood both sides of that one.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea of my dilemma here.  The good news is that my kids are grown up and have their own kids now, so I don’t have to deal with the issue, and they are much too smart to ask me what I think anyway.  These days, I have nothing whatever to do with Halloween.

You might just say that there are a few good things about being older…

…and that is why I just can’t write about Halloween!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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27 Responses to Why can’t I write about Halloween?

  1. Wm Haney says:

    Interesting writing. Sounds like MCC will have another “turnk or treat”. Some churches will like hide and pray for those who participate in Halloween. Cannot go wrong there but this is also a time for Christianity to shine the love. I like to think of it as “alternate programming”. People can bring families for treats at our church without worry. Like the chick flick on Super Bowl night. Showing the community that you can have the love of God on Halloween and don’t have to be like the knuckleheads who get drunk, trash things, and sadly do cruel things to animals. Namely black cats. Another issue for me. I am one that would rather let them out to see what they really are. Then the path of Christ may look more inviting. I am replying on the fly and my thoughts my not be an exact wording of what is intended by the churches on Halloween. Basically, if ever a time to show the church is Halloween and days like this. Hmmnn… college spring break on Florida beaches may not hurt either.

    I always had socially awkward situations with Halloween and lonely moments too. For me, trunk or treat would be just fine this year. Hmmn…. but it I was to dress up, I want to be the Green Hornet. I just would not have a Kato.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Well maybe Britton can be Kato!

    • dwmartens says:

      One of the blessings we’ve seen from MCC’s Trunk-or-Treat outreach comes the concentration put on the adults who bring the children, with associated activities that promote opportunities to get to know the people of the community, and for them to get to know us. Then, we are not just “that church over there,” or another candy handout spot. It is a point of beginning a relationship that sometimes grows to making disciples.

  2. Little Monk says:

    Thank you for posting this. I will manfully try to resist the severe temptation to mount one of my own “rant hobby horses”, but I respectfully pose a couple of reflections here.

    The “Opposition Party” to the acknowledgement of Halloween (a three day triduum instituted in the 8th Century of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, and All Soul’s Day), especially the opposition of otherwise dedicated Christian Church people… in light of our current century and society’s growing materialism, pragmatism, and humanism… simple baffles me. Given that only about 20% of our society attend regular worship, and 80% do not, it is an uncomfortable but stark truth that for a vast majority of our culture, October 31st may be the only occasion all year on which they even HEAR the words “hell”, “demon”, “devil”, or “soul”. Granted, Halloween may provide a vehicle only for a “caricature” of Satan, hell, and spiritual warfare… but at least the fundamental concept rises to conscious awareness.

    For many years, some outreach ministers and I served young people’s spiritual needs by helping conduct a “Haunted House” experience that presented the demonic, the occult, hell, and the soul… with a “safe landing happy ending” experience to the event presenting the Plan of Salvation, and providing ministry for those who chose this…. Along with counseling ministry for young people who wanted to enter into serious spiritual discussions afterwards, with or without a profession of faith.

    Peter warns us to, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) For me, Christians who decide that death, the dead, salvation/damnation, and spiritual warfare are “not fit topics” to deal with in this annual cultural and historic tradition… just pack up their bat and ball and go home, yielding to darkness without even contesting the field for the Great Captain of Light.

    Rather than turning our backs on these frightening realities, and baptizing them with far more comfortable images like “Harvest Festivals” and dressing up as Ninja Turtles or fantasy heroes… what if Christians embraced the truth here, acknowledged the realities of Light and darkness and the battles involved in defeating the devouring lion, and affirmed the “spirit and truth” of Halloween, rather than retreating to our vastly more comfortable warm fuzzy corners, forfeiting the battle by failing even to show up?

    Just sayin’… Grace to thee! LM

    • Don Merritt says:

      Hmm… Some good points, and a nice little rant; always appreciated here.

      I’m hardly one to avoid the spiritual warfare and dark vs. light topics, and they are in various posts here. My concerns are not from the fear of taking demons, Satan and hell head on either. They are more in the arena of participating in things that make rather light of serious things. Anyway, I’ll have to consider your points some more before I say something really stupid “on the fly”

      Thanks very much for sharing today!


  3. I have long fought with how much “Halloween” should be allowed. Like you, I now do not have kids around, nor even grandkids, so it doesn’t hit my radar as much. Yet as a Christian, shouldn’t it? Trunk or treat isn’t the answer, nor is dressing up as your favorite saint, though that is more close to the original intent.

    Of course the origins of Halloween was that it occurred on All Saint’s Eve – ( all Hallow’s Eve). It was a political and religious reaction to one of the early Pope’s making All Saint’s Day the prime veneration day for the faithful who had passed on. He did that in order to stop churches from competing for who had the “best saint” and who could put on the most lavish celebration on their saint’s day. Halloween began as a mockery of his attempts. Then in the Medieval Days of plaques, superstition and lore, it took on the witches and demons twist. Dress up like one so they will swoop by and pass you over.

    I wonder if 100 or so years from now, if Jesus hasn’t yet come back for His own, if people will have the same push-me, pull-you dilemma with Christmas and Easter, and wonder how it ever could have been a “religious” holiday? Already, we see the secularization becoming a stronger leverage and our Christian kids are often ostracized when they make Christmas more than Santa,candy canes and gifts, and Easter more than bunnies and egg hunts.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Nicely put! Of course I do have a little bit of a dilemma with Christmas, but handle my compromise better than with Halloween, at least I think it makes sense. My Halloween compromise bugs me still!

    • Little Monk says:

      “It was a political and religious reaction to one of the early Pope’s making All Saint’s Day the prime veneration day for the faithful who had passed on. He did that in order to stop churches from competing for who had the “best saint” and who could put on the most lavish celebration on their saint’s day. Halloween began as a mockery of his attempts.”

      Just for clarification, and bearing in mind that in the Catholic Church, there is a fixed Liturgy, or scheduling of texts and topics for daily worship and unity among the Church communion…

      “Elsewhere in the [Catholic] Church, monasteries had established the custom holding requiem masses for the brothers of their order who had died. The theology of Purgatory required that we on earth continue to pray for the dead in order to shorten their time in Purgatory. These requiems were held at different dates throughout the year, depending on the region and the monastic order. The Church thought it reasonable to unify all of these commemorations on a single date for the sake of liturgical order. Therefore, by the turn of the Second Millenium, the Church had established the triduum of commemorations that began on October 31st and ended on November 2nd.” (Source: http://www.missionstclare.com/english/people/nov2.html)

      Blessings and grace to thee!

  4. sfdgnalri says:

    This is an issue I am having this year. I remember going trick or treating as a child. My children (well 1 has- long story) have never gone trick-or-treating. For several years I have wanted the fun of dressing my kids up and taking them. This year I face it as a single mom making the choice on my own. I have opted to take the kids this year, but they have been warned that just because we do it this year, we may never do it again.

  5. Floating on Tiptoes says:

    I live in Australia so we have been largely unaffected by Halloween until recently. For some ridiculous reason, many Australians have decided that we should start celebrating this pagan festival as well. Now I get kids knocking on my door asking for ‘candy’ (we don’t call it candy in Australia, we call them, lollies). Firstly, I reject Halloween because it’s American and we are Australians. Secondly, I reject it because those Australians who now celebrate it don’t even know what it is! It reminds me of Americans suddenly adopting Australia Day; it makes no sense.

    As for its pagan origins which I am aware of, I have had the same issue with celebrating Christmas. Christmas as we celebrate it in Australia is pagan and materialistic. Some of us attempt to put a Christian spin on it but it doesn’t cut it for me. I prefer to just have a nice lunch with my immediate family and go to the park or something like that. I hate the falsity of what it has become. But overall, I think these things are a matter of conscience. I don’t celebrate Christmas because I am uncomfortable with it. Many other Christian friends of mine are the same, and some love it. I think it’s an individual choice and we have to go with how we are convicted. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer.

    • Don Merritt says:

      First, I’m really sorry that you have our silly Halloween moving into Australia! Surely we could have sent you good people something better than that!

      That aside, I agree with you 100 %

      Thanks for your excellent remarks!

  6. juliasarahelizabeth says:

    Don, I think it is great that you even admit you have doubts. Thankfully as I am not a parent, I do not have to face this decision. I have often wondered what I would do because like you I grew up participating in the yearly display. I did also see this taken to a pount of legalism within some churches. “You can not possibly be a growing, obedient Christian if you allow your children to go trick or treating.” “Proper families” even disassociated themselves with those who did such things. I think that is taking it a bit too far. Kindess is always the best policy to all people.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I agree with you; that legal sort of approach strikes me as a big mistake. If nothing else, Halloween can provide an opportunity to teach and create better understanding about all sorts of things, but that’s always hard to do when we aren’t on speaking terms.

  7. LetmebeRae says:

    I remember that my church did a walk through play of what Hell would be like during Halloween time. So you would walk down one of the hallways with it being dark, people chained up pleading for their life, bad smells, being really hot, demons jumping out laughing at you. In each room down the hallway was a brief skit of what were ways that you could end up in hell (practicing murder, adultery, overall rejection of Christ etc). Then at the end you come to a large room that’s the area of hell that Satan is as he threatens you and Christ comes to take the keys of death and minister of how his resurrection can save you from all of it.

    It was pretty interesting, creative alternative. But anyway, I have no idea either of whenever I have kids of what I do. My parents refused to allow me to have on a costume and yes I’ve been to those church parties that gave out candy. I don’t decorate my house or anything, and I’ll be at work anyway that night so oh well for trick or treating lol I think I’ll push the thought aside until I have kids. I got awhile I’m sure!

    • Don Merritt says:

      That sure does sound like an interesting way of making the point; might be a lot of fun too. There are certainly a number of churches with creative alternatives for Hallpween, but in the end, like you I’ll probably need to push it aside for another year!

  8. Planting Potatoes says:

    the very idea that if you celebrate in this fashion….you will be rewarded for it is one of satan’s most basic traps. My wife is from Germany and the first question she asked me about Halloween is why do people have to pretend to be someone else in order to get candy?

  9. nrichmyleads says:

    Well my point is made a few times above but one thing is notably missing. Yes the pagan and therefore devilish practices are more evident in Halloween but they are also present in Easter. The Roman church has as one of it’s tenets that it is the mother of all religion so it chooses to embrace rather than object to pagan practices thinking that it makes the gospel message more easily entreated. Seems they want to minimize the repent aspect of that message. We have freedom as Christians to choose what we allow in our lives and what we do not, So I am with you the legalistic solution is not the answer, Informed society is what we want. The pagan practices of honoring the fertility gods and sunrise services at Easter time, like the trees and 12 days of gifts of Christmas are just as pagan as the homage to the power of death and sorcery that is a part of Halloween. God has said that we who want to learn the ways of the heathen should not so desire as it has consequences. Look at Jeremiah 10 for the most straight forward admonition about this. Why do so many want to observe pagan rites and rituals during the year? Because they do not practice the Words way of living all year long. God does not say wait for the winter to give to others or try to remember the resurrection with eggs and bunnies, else in the celebrations they would be more concerned with their remembrance to reflect more accurately when these things that are supposedly reflective of the Word actually took place. Jesus was born in what we know as September, died on a Wednesday and was raised just before Sunset on a weekly Sabbath day. Why is not this taught by more church leaders because it is easier to allow the pagan ways of Life to continue to flourish than inform people of the truth that makes them free. I say you should be just as conflicted about the observances as practiced by most of holidays year around as you are the day death is celebrated. God does not say we cannot celebrate things, but I think he would be better pleased if we would work to be aware of just what it is we are doing. Then perhaps those of us that do not have the abundance that God wants us to have in our lives would not be so driven to over extend ourselves to honor pagan traditions. Some people steal so that they can give a gift on Christmas and the belief is raised in the power of the occult on Halloween that it is one of the busiest days of the year in ER’s. I don’t recall which holiday is tops on destruction but Halloween was up there. People use holidays as excuses to behave differently than normal. We could avoid a lot of grief if we made “normal” the way to behave in a way that is a blessing rather than picking a certain day to do what we wouldn’t tolerate or at least think as appropriate, the rest of the year. Selah

    • Don Merritt says:

      Interesting and thought provoking as usual. I agree with several of your points and there are a few things I’ll have to think about . Thanks for sharing; it will be interesting to see if anyone would like to join in the conversation!

  10. I agree. Sometimes I think we put our grown up issues on kids. They just want to dress up and get candy!

  11. Hey Don, my opinion here is short and sweet.

    What does darkness have to do with light and visa versa? Halloween is dark and it celebrates darkness. I hear you on the dilemma front though and I aint judging, my folks did the same thing – ”compromise” and we turned out ok.

    … But as for me, and my house … ”hell no” .. (no pun intended 😉 )

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