Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
It’s a question many Christian families struggle with year after year, and for good reason. The Bible never actually talks about Halloween and Christianity, and there are excellent arguments on both sides of the Christian Halloween debate.
Some Christians do not celebrate Halloween, citing its pagan origins, close ties to witchcraft and obsession with all things gross, gory and evil.
They remind us that Christians are supposed to be different–set apart–and that missing out on one night of spooks and teeth-rotting candy isn’t really missing out on anything at all.
They have a good point.
On the other hand, some Christians DO celebrate Halloween.
These Christians focus, not on the ways Halloween has been celebrated in the past, but the opportunities it offers Christians today.
When answering the question “Should Christians celebrate Halloween,” these Christians see the holiday more as a fun, Americanized tradition or even see Halloween as a ministry opportunity — rather than as an exercise in sin — and argue that, if Jesus were alive today, he’d be passing out the biggest candy bars of all.
They have a good point too.
So, who is “right?”
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
It isn’t just your average American family that struggles with the question of “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?”
Many well-regarded pastors, authors and bloggers come down on both sides of the debate, although most will readily acknowledge the other side’s opinions as valid as well.
In her thought-provoking article “Christians Who Celebrate Halloween,” Carissa Shaw writes, “What other time do you have an opportunity to be a light in your neighborhood literally dropped in your lap like this?”
It’s true. Halloween definitely provides a great way for neighbors to get together–something that simply isn’t done on a regular basis anymore.
And in her article A Christian View On Halloween, Courtney Joseph writes: “Since the Bible does not give a clear mandate “thou shalt not participate in passing out candy or dressing up as Minnie Mouse on October 31st” – this is an area of Romans 14 – called liberty, conscience or a grey area.”
Personally, I tend to agree.
So, if there is no one “right or wrong?” — How do you decide?
Do you fully participate? Participate in an alternate activity, like trunk or treating? Use Halloween as a ministry opportunity? Ignore the holiday and treat the day as any normal day?
That depends on your convictions and motives. But here are five things you may want to consider as you make your decision:
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1. Everything is Permissible, but Nothing Everything is Beneficial
1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but not everything is constructive.”
Even if Halloween isn’t immoral, is it the best use of your time? What would the outcome be if you did or did not participate? How would you, your family and your neighborhood be affected if you did or did not participate?
Is Halloween a chance to intentionally invest in the lives of children in your neighborhood in a way that will edify everyone? Or is it a chance to “one up” your neighbor with a yard display, candy selection or gory costume that puts theirs to shame?
Whether you want to participate in Halloween or you don’t want to participate in Halloween — Why? What’s the real reason? What are you really hoping to get out of it?
2. Halloween is a Great Opportunity for Outreach
On the other hand, if you want to develop community and share the light of Jesus with a world in need, Halloween is a great chance to do it!
I don’t know how it goes in your neighborhood, but Halloween is the ONLY night of the year when you can have tons of strangers come knock on your door and when you can go knock on tons of strangers’ doors and be welcomed.
Why not take advantage of it?
And if your church does some kind of event like trunk or treat — that’s a GREAT way to meet and welcome neighborhood families who may never set foot inside your church doors (or in your church parking lot) any other way.
3. The Devil is Very Sneaky
Although, one thing that does concern me is how sneaky the devil is.
You see, the devil rarely just shows up and says “Hey, how about a big ol’ pile of disgusting, vile sin! Dive right on in!” No, we’re smart enough to see right through that. We’d head for the hills in a heartbeat, and satan knows that.
Which is why satan doesn’t try to get us to jump straight into big sins, but will often quietly and methodically lead us astray through things that we think are “not that bad” or “not a big deal.”
And if he can convince children that “pretending to be evil and creepy is a lot of fun!” and parents that it’s “not a big deal” well… that sounds like his kind of plan to me.
In fact, Rachel shares some of the dark side of Halloween that we American parents typically completely overlook in her post “The Question Christians Should Be Asking About Halloween.”
Worshiping the dead, offering sacrifices, conjuring spirits, and placing curses on others… These things may not be happening at our neighborhood trunk-or-treats (I sure hope not anyways!), but they are definitely still happening, and I’d be willing to bet that they are a lot more common and probably a lot closer to home than you’d think.
Definitely something to keep in mind…
4. Halloween is a Great Opportunity to Teach About Good vs Evil
As Christian parents, we are presented with plenty of opportunities to teach our children the good, happy side of the gospel — that God loves us, wants what’s best for us, and that we can all go to Heaven someday if we believe.
But what about the other half of the gospel?
That we have a real enemy, that death is real, and that some people believe other things than we do?
Well, as it turns out, Halloween is the perfect time to have discussions about things like darkness, fear, evil, and death.
5. The Devil Doesn’t Get a Holiday
As you are helping your children answer the question “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween,” be careful not to give the devil too much credit, however.
Yes, Halloween may have pagan roots, but that doesn’t mean the devil gets to claim it as his own.
God created all 365 days of the year. Satan created 0.
The day isn’t his. He has no right to it. And I’m not about to give it to him, nor am I about to let him use it to create fear or anxiety in me.
For you, that could mean that you don’t give it to him by choosing to not participate. Or that could mean you don’t give it to him by choosing to give it to God instead, ignoring the dark side of Halloween altogether.
I don’t think either is a bad answer.
But either way, you need to make a choice: How will YOU honor God this Halloween?
6. Halloween isn’t the Only Cultural Tradition With a Questionable Past
Not participating in Halloween due to it’s ties with witchcraft and satanism? I totally understand and respect that.
But that brings the question: Where do you draw the line? Because Halloween isn’t the only cultural tradition with a questionable past.
- Wedding rings, wedding ceremonies and funerals were and are a pagan custom – should we also boycott those?
- Several months of our calendar year are named after gods.
- MANY Christmas traditions (such as lights, bells, mistletoe) come, at least in part, from pagan sources
- And the same is true for Easter traditions as well.
If you must, in good conscience, boycott Halloween over it’s undeniable pagan ties, wouldn’t it be right to boycott many parts – if not all – of Christmas and Easter as well?
Where do you draw the line when Christian and secular history is so intertwined?
7. “Alternative” Activities Aren’t Really Any Different
So, say you decide you will participate in Halloween, but you will do it in a more “God-honoring” way.
But if you take your kids trunk-or-treating instead of trick-or-treating, or if you celebrate “Hallelujah Night” instead of “Halloween night” — is it really any different?
Are you actually setting yourself apart? Or are you just modifying a bit so that you make yourself feel a little better?
Do you really have “Putting God First” in mind? Or are you just trying to make a small concession to ease your guilt and make the decision easier on yourself?
Something to think about…
(And I am absolutely NOT judging or condemning here. Just providing some questions for you to think through yourself as you decide “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween” for yourself and your family!)
Personally, my family does participate in Halloween – but only in the Americanized, sanitized version of it.
We carve pumpkins into silly faces, dress up as superheros and princess, and go trick-or-treating for way more candy than any little belly needs. And we might even do a cute craft of two (like these cute handprint spiders).
But we draw the line at dressing as witches or demons, anything gory, or anything eerie or evil.
That’s what works for us. You’ll have to prayerfully consider what will work best for you.
Hopefully these seven thoughts give you a few things to think about as you decide.
What do you think? Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? How does your family spend the day?
Thank you for this interesting article. I would like to add another angle. I do not participate in Halloween but I now teach in a school that has set aside a teaching day in the syllabus to allow for Halloween and I must teach it as an English lesson. I have gone the route of focusing on creative writing, vocabulary, interesting things about spiders and bats and a few simple crafts. It still does not sit well with me and I hope to lessen the emphasis on the devil and his tricks. I have also arranged a bring-to-school food item harvest to celebrate the gathering of the harvest before winter and we will share this with less fortunate members in our community also in an attempt to shift the focus off the evil and more to showing Jesus to the community.
That’s a great idea 🙂
So I'm gathering that it's all in the intention you set. It's great to ask God for guidance and also ask ourselves the importance questions aka the "why's". We just need to be real without selves and God.
Great points! Thank you for sharing!
I don't celebrate Halloween. Instead I plan to celebrate Harvest Festival Day when I have a family. I will decorate my house in autumn themed decor (pumpkins, leaves, cornucopia, autumn fruits and vegetables etc), put autumn themed sheets and blankets on the beds, make autumn themed meals and praise God for the things that He has blessed us with. Another family tradition that I want to establish is putting together healthy food baskets which include a booklet about God and giving them out to the poor and needy. I don't really like the idea of going door to door for sugar laden candy. Trunk or treat is a good idea because it allows people to use their GOD given creative talent to glorify God. At the end of the day GOD reads your heart and He knows the motives behind your actions.
Those are all wonderful ideas. I love it.
Years ago the Lord challenged me to think about the things we normally celebrate and how we go about that (think: Easter eggs). The bible mentions the Lord was angered at the Jews because they adopted the practices of the pagan peoples around them. The Jews started to bring those pagan traditions into their every days lives and also into their religeous practices. This is what the Lord showed me. Halloween began with pagan peoples. Take a real look at halloween. Over the years it has become about violence and gore and demons. This is no accident. Halloween is the satanist’s high holiday and I believe the evil one loves it when he sees Christians celebrating along with his people. Our family goes out for the evening to get away from it. We might go out to eat or do our shopping. A couple of times we even went away for the night (when it falls on a Saturday). It has been hard. Very hard. We want to do all of the fun stuff with our family and share what we did as children but we also have to do the hard stuff of saying no sometimes.
I think God may call some to completely ignore it as best they can. It IS hard to not do things when everyone else does them. He may also call others to use this time as a moment to minister to others. I like how you still make things about family… just in a different way.
When my children were young I really didn't know about the background of Halloween. But once I did we didn't
celebrate it in the traditional sense but did participate at church functions. But having spent more time in the word I feel it is not appropriate to celebrate Halloween. My grandchildren do participate at church functions but to me it's doing the
same thing-celebrating just using a different means or label. I guess it's about your heart. As one gets older one's
heart becomes more tender. I think of the affect of Halloween on God's heart. Is it something true, noble, lovely, pure, of good report, praiseworthy to meditate on….ouch. (Philippians 4:8) I don't think Halloween fits.
True. Your heart plays a big role along with what God would call each individual person to do. Thanks!
I appreciate this. My family does not do church Holloween parties either.
Great article. I really like how you ask the questions as questions not saying yes or no things to think about. My family has always celebrated different ways through out the years. It has depends on parents time and age of the children and who was doing what.
Thank you for your feedback! And thank you for sharing about how your family celebrates Halloween.
Our family celebrates a modified version of Halloween—it’s a fun time to dress up and meet the neighbors, and we decorate our house with lots of pumpkins (thank you, pick-your-own farm!) and fall leaves from the local craft store, but we stress that God is a God of life, and the gory, zombie and witch costumes celebrate death, not life. The devil loves death, and we don’t want to give him a foothold in our family. I explained this to our kids when they were younger. Our elementary school had a Halloween parade to show off the students’ costumes, but it also held a harvest party for those children whose parents didn’t celebrate Halloween, which I appreciated. Note that my kids are “too old” to trick or treat, I have them hand out candy, which I don’t think is a pagan custom (though I could be wrong…) and do a nice, pumpkin and squash flavored dinner to celebrate the season. I think that straddles the line nicely!
Thank you so much for sharing about your family’s traditions. It sounds like your house is all decked out for fall! I love that!
Halloween has its roots from the Christian faith. The word Halloween comes from 'All Hallows Eve' . All hallows Eve (Halloween)is the eve of all saints day (All hallows day).
In the Our Father prayer we say Our Father 'hallowed' be thy name. 'Holy be thy name.'
The catholic faith celebrates on all hallows day (all saints da). All the holy Saints in heaven.
Known(st Francis Assisi, st mother Teresa,.,..) and also the unknown saints.
All hallows day (the celebration of all saints day ) was formally celebrated on may 31st. Until the holy father pope Gregory ( around about the year700…) moved the celebration of all saints day ( all hallows day) to November 1.
When the holy father moved all hallows day (all saints day) to November 1. All hallows Eve (the eve of all saints day. halloween) came to be celebrated on the 31st October. Just like Christians celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas day… Catholics/Christians celebrate the eve of all saints day halloween (October 31) and the actual all saints day itself all hallows day (1st of November)
The following holy father after pope Gregory iii. Took things a step further . Halloween (the eve of all saints day – all hallows day) was formally a local Italian celebration in Rome. Pope Gregory IV) extended the celebration to all Catholics all over the world.
l Catholics in different parts of the world had their various ways of celebrating all hallows Eve tide eve of saints day- halloween.) Some would dress up, others would carve faces from turnips… This extended celebration by pope Gregory IV was made in the year late
When people began to move around and live in different countries.They brought their traditional celebration of halloween with them. As people moved to America all these traditions became meshed together.
Like Christmas and , Easter all hallows Eve halloween (eve of all saints day, has moved away from its point of origins
Celebrate Halloween from its roots. A holy day of celebration remembering the saints in heaven. Some Catholics will dress up as st Francis Assisi , mothe Teres ….to celebrate Halloween I would recommend googling 'should Catholics celebrate Halloween.' Then clicking on search result. 'a catholics guide to halloween' It's very interesting.
Thank you for sharing that history. Very interesting!