Halloween is right around the corner. I know this because of all the ads I’ve seen for children’s costumes and home décor, as well as Pinterest pins for spooky snacks for the kids and spiked drinks for the adults.
I remember trick-or-treating a couple times as a kid. It felt kind of weird, knocking on stranger’s doors and begging for food—something we never would have done otherwise. Then, when I finally got home with all that candy, my mom had to go through every piece “to look for razor blades.” I wondered, So, do we trust these people to give me candy or not? It was a confusing situation.
Later, when my family owned a cookie store in the mall, we were required to participate in the yearly Halloween event. The idea was that kids from throughout the community could come to the mall and trick-or-treat in a safe place. As the youngest employee, I was recruited to dress up and pass out candy for our store. Someone picked a simple witch’s costume, and I made it as realistic as I could. Unfortunately, it was a little too realistic, and I ended up scaring a couple kids. They actually cried! I felt horrible, and immediately removed my makeup and hat. This was the first time I asked myself, What exactly am I representing here?
Over twenty years have gone by since that day, and I’ve seen a huge shift in our culture. Instead of just seeing witches on Halloween, witchcraft and the occult have now invaded every area of our lives. Want to buy your kid a doll? How about one that depicts a witch, a dead girl, a ghoul, or a demon? Want a board game? The Ouija Board is one of the best-selling board games of all time. Books? The Harry Potter series has its tentacles in tens of millions of homes and schools throughout the world. (Read more about the dangers of that series.) There are even witchcraft cookbooks—and I shudder to think what they’re cooking! As for TV and movies, those that don’t directly promote witchcraft and the occult often support it through themes and images of New Ageism, humanism, reincarnation, idolatry, and more.
Now that I have a child of my own, I find it’s a full-time job to keep these evil images and ideas away from my family. And then comes Halloween, and all that evil junk increases while well-meaning family and friends ask, “What is your child dressing up as for Halloween?”
The Reality of Halloween
ESP Ministries is led by evangelist Ben Alexander, a former spiritualist medium turned Christian. He also happens to be a friend of my mentor. ESP Ministries labels itself as “A Christian Ministry Dedicated to Fighting Cults and the Occult.” And they have a lot to say about such things as Halloween. In their article, “Halloween: Are You Tricking or Treating Your Child?,” Ben describes the following origin and meaning of this spooky holiday.
Halloween is rooted in the Druid religion, which revolved around worshiping evil spirits and making offerings to them to ensure the welfare of the worshipers. The name of the original Halloween festival meant “Satan’s Watch.” As Ben states, “It was the night given over to Satan and his demons to work all the evil they wanted in the hope they would leave people unmolested the rest of the year.” Fearful people lit a fire and hid in their homes while the ghosts of the dead would arise and seek vengeance against those who wronged them.
The current symbolism found in Halloween—and witchcraft in general—hearken back to the original religious meanings. The witch on the broomstick is a personification of evil, a substitute for Satan. The lit jack-o-lantern symbolizes the fire that was kept burning to keep the evil at bay.
Then there are the kids dressing up as evil characters and begging for candy. Ben states, “trick-or-treat” is a “modern form of saying ‘offering or revenge.’” The evil costumes kids wear “are symbolizing Satan and inspiring fear to get an offering.”
And what does the Bible say?
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 NAS).
Ben describes the bottom line: “Satan likes Halloween celebrations because this is a glorification of evil.”
What is the God-centered, biblical response to this?
Many parents will have their kids wear something innocuous but then still participate in trick-or-treat on Halloween night (like my family did). While that’s got to be better than dressing your kid up like the devil himself, the message to kids still isn’t clear. They wonder, Are we celebrating Halloween or not?
Kids of all ages follow our lead. As parents, we need to be the ones who define what is acceptable and model what is godly. Halloween should not be seen as a “vacation day” from Christianity.
Instead, I suggest we respect the intelligence of our kids. Let’s teach them the history of Halloween and how it displeases God. Then we can point to Scriptures and personal experiences to show our kids that God is the one who is all-powerful. We do not need to offer sacrifices in fear; instead, we can praise God in joy because of all that He has done for us.
As for the cultural demands of candy and dress-up, there are plenty of ways to appease this without making our kids feel left out and without honoring Satan. Here are a few ideas that would please God:
1 – Host a dress-up party on another day (not Halloween). Enjoy good food, candy, fun movies, and games. Only requirement: no scary or evil costumes. Instead, get creative. Host an animal-themed night where everyone has to dress up like an animal. Or their favorite cartoon character. Or their favorite food. Use your imagination and have fun with it.
2 – Take your party on the road. Instead of getting dressed up and staying at home, take the group to play put-put or go-cart. The kids will feel even more special if they’re the only ones dressed up and everyone else is oohing and aahing over their outfits.
3 – Instead of trick-or-treating, host a candy or baking party where kids get to make their own confections.
4 – Incorporate selflessness by passing out food—and yummy desserts—to neighbors in need, the homeless, etc. A group of kids dressed up as vegetables passing out food at the local shelter is sure to make everyone’s day (and may even end up in the local paper)!
5 – Throw a “rock-n-roll” party. Have your kids decorate rocks with pretty images, Scriptures, or encouraging sayings. Then drive through your neighborhood and pass out the rocks. Have the kids ring the doorbell and then “roll,” running as fast as they can so the recipients don’t know who gave them the little bit of encouragement. Kids will get a kick out of blessing others anonymously and will get the thrill of ringing doorbells and running away.
What about trunk-or-treat? A lot of churches host an event where they decorate their cars and park them at the church or in needy neighborhoods and let the kids come by to get candy. Although the thought behind this seems to be sincere, I’ve seen too many instances in which the cars are decorated with evil images. As a parent, it also weirds me out that we’re encouraging children to approach the trunks of strangers’ cars. Isn’t that usually a big No No?
Remember, children are very smart; they pick up on unspoken messages far more than we realize. This Halloween, I encourage you to make sure your message is clear, that it encourages safety, and that it reinforces your Christian beliefs.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NAS).
Do you have ideas for biblical alternatives to Halloween celebrations? Share them here by leaving a comment!
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