There are varying opinions among followers of Jesus regarding what to do about Hallowe’en. Some say we should steer clear of it because God’s people shouldn’t be celebrating the devil’s holiday. Others say we should engage, either because it’s just dressing up for fun or because it’s a way to witness to the community.
I have some sympathy with each side, I must admit.
Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, the day marked in the liturgical calendar ahead of All Hallows’ Day, or All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. Its origins, my wife reminds me, are Christian: poor children would go door-to-door in search of food. Prayers would be said over homes. The needy would be cared for. God’s work would be done. Only later did a more sinister element come into the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve.
The devilish twist that has come to Hallowe’en is yet another mark of the depravity of humanity. The idea that anyone would throw eggs at the homes of those who do not give out candy is not part of the original plan. Rolling large pumpkins down hills and having them splat into whatever got in their way is not what the poor children of small English towns were seeking to have happen. Putting poison in apples or razor blades in candies is not what was intended for marking All Hallows’ Eve.
Can Hallowe’en be redeemed? For a while, one would see ‘alternative’ gatherings, where kids were asked to dress up as their favourite Bible character and come to the church. But it just wasn’t the same for anybody. There are still alternative activities that are offered, and they can be fun.
Taking your kids around to neighbours’ homes can be a way to build bridges with your neighbours, perhaps leading to relationships that could help you share God’s love. Opening your home to kids who come seeking goodies can be valuable, too. Carve a cross into your pumpkin (to ‘let your light shine’!). Don’t wear a scary costume. Engage the kids in real conversation. On top of that, opening your door to trick-or-treaters can be a way to get Scripture into their, and their parents’, hands and hearts. I especially recommend Scripture selections – little snippets from the Bible on pertinent topics – from the Canadian Bible Society. They aren’t doctrinal in nature – just offering pure Scripture in an easy-to-read translation that will give the kids who come to your door something to think about…something to chew on as they chew on the goodies you’ve given them!
But if you’re going to mark Hallowe’en as a form of Christian witness, make sure the candy you put in beside the Scripture selection is really good stuff. After all, the Bible tells us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8a, NIV)!
By the way, more important than Hallowe’en, today is Reformation Day. It was on this day in 1517 that Augustinian monk Martin Luther made public 95 ideas for reforming the church from the inside. In today’s terms, it “went viral”, and began the Protestant Reformation. Happy Reformation Day! May the Lord bless you in whatever way you celebrate.