Halloween Celebrations – One Chaplain’s Perspective
Dear Heritage College family,
I thought I would share my reflections on Halloween. No doubt you will each have your own view, and my views are my views - I do not speak for the school. If you are interested, read on.
During last year’s Halloween celebrations, as my family was driving home from basketball one evening, my kids noticed a lot of children out trick or treating. My daughter Jameer asked me in the car why I didn’t allow her and her siblings to get dressed up in Halloween costumes and walk the streets like the other kids. That was the perfect time for me to share my perspective on Halloween with her and her siblings in a child-appropriate way.
Here were my reasons:
- I don't think the themes of Halloween are child-friendly. Once images are in a child's mind they are impossible to erase. I am for keeping them joy focused for as much of their childhood as possible. That goes for the books they read, movies they watch, games they play, things they do.
- The symbols of Halloween have pagan origins and are strongly linked with the occult, and many are quite scary and graphic. I know much of what we do and things we use every day have pagan or secular origins. But I put Halloween in a very different category to those.
For Christian adults, responses to Halloween vary markedly, and include:
- It is Satanic and has no part in a Christian's life. Such events should be opposed and actively discouraged.
- A mildly opposed stance where pagan origins are acknowledged.
- A neutral stance where Halloween is neither practised nor opposed.
- Seen as just a fun day. In cultures like North America, where it is a big deal, many churches celebrate it as the community do – with Hayrides and Trick or Treat street parties etc. Other churches turn it into a family and community day that gives them a chance to get together for a meal and some fun and maybe go around doing acts of service rather than "trick or treat." These attempt to change or transform the culture around them in a positive/inclusive way. They make it a family fun day with a picnic and hayrides, turning the day into something positive.
So there is a wide variation in thought and practice within the Christian body - as there are in most things.
My concern is that Halloween celebrates the occult (even if unknowingly) and makes it appear fun and harmless. Haunted houses, ghost stories, pranks and costume-wearing converts darkness into entertainment. The satanic becomes enjoyment with no apparent sting in its tail. That's a dangerous place for a child (or adult's) subconscious thought and attitude towards "darkness" to go I think. God warns us to be careful of Satan's schemes, to be on guard, and to think only on good things. I reckon there is a reason for that. I for one do not want to trivialise the very real battle there is going on in the spiritual realm between good and evil.
Does that mean I am nasty to kids who come knocking on my door dressed like zombies?
Not at all. I have a basket of lolly bags to give out to any groups of kids who come to my door. The sugar I give them may end up causing them more damage than the costumes they wear, but that is the currency of fun they understand for now. I want the kids of my neighbourhood to think of my house as a friendly house with an adult who is fun and likes them. Maybe one day down the track - because of a small act of kindness and a smile rather than a frown now - I'll get a chance to sit alongside one or more of them and tell them about what Jesus can do in their life. But this is not the time for that - now is for building friendships and putting some joy in their lives - not for a lecture on the evils of what they are doing. Does me giving them lollies encourage Halloween? I guess that's open for interpretation and I would not expect us to all agree on that.
So - that's what I think and do. You might disagree and I'm quite OK with that. But I would encourage each of you to keep thinking through what you do and think, and know why you do what you do. That may change over time - I hope it does! The other option is to just blindly go along with whatever culture dishes out. I don't think any of us would see that as the way to go.
If you have any questions on this topic, I am more than happy to have a chat with you.