To Trick or Treat or Stay Home

31 October

Although originally posted in 2010, we think it’s important to highlight the spiritual dangers of this holiday!

To Trick or Treat or Stay Home

By Melissa Grimes

As most of us know this is the time of year when many people celebrate Halloween by dressing their children and maybe even themselves in sometimes “ghoulish” costumes to go door to door asking for candy. On the outside this may sound like a timid affair, anyone who doesn’t want to participate can keep their little ones home and the porch light out. With the holiday upon us I’ve been wondering if this is something a Christian should participate in or just stay away from.

Growing up I was never allowed to go trick or treating. When my neighborhood friends were out running door to door for treats my night consisted of dressing up and walking over to my grandparent’s house. My parents were very protective of us, I guess they heard of too many horror stories on the nightly news of kids discovering razor blades, pins, and other non-edible items in their candy it risk us going up and down our street on the hunt for sweets.

As I became a parent I decided I wasn’t going to do to my kids what my parents did to me so I let my children go out trick or treating under my supervision of course (I guess some of their protectiveness rubbed off on me). Thankfully we never discovered any questionable items in the bags full of sugar. Looking back though, I have to wonder if we should have considered what we were really teaching our children about Halloween then what we might find in their candy.

Before I was saved I never really thought much about the origins of Halloween. I believed it was what you made of it. If you wanted it to be scary and creepy it was, or if you just wanted it to be a fun night for the kids it was that too. In the Mormon churches I attended they held “Trunk or Treats” for the children in the church. The only condition placed on the kids who wanted to come was that they didn’t wear any masks. Back then I ignored the obvious glory given to darkness during this holiday and how it was absent of the things we are to seek after as Christians.

Back then I gave no thought to the deep pagan roots of Halloween. Recently I decided to do a little research into the origins of this holiday. I discovered that the Celtics believed there was one day a year when the dead could raise and walk the earth. They called this day Samhain, which is the Celtic word for “summers end”. The Celtics wore masks to frighten away any spirits they might encounter.

In the eighth century Pope Gregory 3rd established All Hallows Day held on Nov 1 to give honor to the Saints. He did this to dissuade the Celts from their pagan practices. They didn’t want to give up their rituals and merged the two holidays together eventually giving us Halloween.

In an attempt to give an alternative for those who still want to celebrate the holiday without the spookiness, many churches hold not only Trunk or Treats, but Harvest Festivals as well. When I think about it I wonder, should we should really have an alternative to celebrate a holiday that’s focused on evil?

God tells us from his word that we should avoid evil, and have nothing to do with it. Ephesians 5:11-12 reads:

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.”

While one can understand the well meaning intentions behind having Harvest Parties and Trunk or Treats, doesn’t it leave the kids with the impression that they’re missing out on something?  Why does an alternative need to be given in the first place?

These are just some questions that run through my mind as I think about why some Christians put their foot down when it comes to Halloween and others are okay with it under certain conditions. The important thing to remember is that we are under grace; we want to be careful not to become legalistic and yet still walk in the light of Christ.

In the end I think that Halloween can be a good witnessing tool. Can you think of any other time of year when strangers who might not know Jesus come to your door? Whether you allow your children to participate or not, you can participate by handing out gospel tracts with the goodies and maybe witness to the parents as well. It’s definitely something to think about.

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