When I was a kid, everyone I knew participated in Halloween’s most popular event: trick-or-treating. When I say everyone that includes all the people from my conservative-minded, small to medium sized Christian church. One of the best places to trick-or-treat was the pastor’s house—they gave out good stuff!
We lived in the country, hence, we were not subjected to the likes of “designated trick-or-treat days and times”. Heck, no, we trick-or-treated multiple times during the week of October 31—as many times as our mom would take us, her insisting we not miss one of the church’s little old ladies’ who apparently lived for seeing all the “kids” in their costumes. Sometimes heeding the designated times when we headed in to our “town” friends’ homes—but not always. We were rebels, I tell you. And serious masqueraders, too. You see, our costumes always included a mask or some sort of face-disguising mechanism, with the goal being to stump the person who opened the door. This poor or lucky person depending on your perspective HAD to guess until he/she uncovered the trickster’s identity. None of this bare-faced, lazy masquerading for us. No, siree. And we only went to the homes of people we knew, never strangers. Fortunately, we knew a lot of people, most of whom prepared weeks in advance for visiting tricksters.
And then a few years later, like overnight it seemed, trick-or-treating and all things Halloween were suddenly awful and terrible and of the devil. Say what? By then I was past the age of actually going trick-or-treating and didn’t have children yet so my immediate interest in the subject was minimal, but still, I struggled to grasp the sudden change.
In the next couple years, many in our conservative-minded community got on board the “we don’t do Halloween” bus and took quite a stand, citing the centuries-old origins and practices surrounding the holiday. As parenthood loomed in our future, we felt compelled to check out the “new” evidence suddenly wrapped around the very events that held many fond memories for both me and my husband. We didn’t delve too deeply into the history and traditions of the holiday but enough to discover some things we’d never associated with our innocent, fun-filled Halloween traditions. Yeah, some of the stuff was pretty yucky and nasty and evil. But what did that have to do with us and our Halloween traditions of wacky costumes, stumping our friends and neighbors and hoarding massive amounts of candy?
We eventually settled on a happy medium. We’d never been into the really scary stuff anyway, so we set a precedent of no super scary costumes—monsters or really gross creatures. Or stuff like the devil or corpses. Costume decisions became a family affair, requiring agreement from both parents. No springing an idea on us the day before. After much discussion, our daughter once wore a pair of black pajamas with the major skeletal bones outlined in white with glow-in-the-dark glasses that imitated facial bones. After all, skeletons ARE a real fact of life and not necessarily scary or evil. Right?
I love all things fall and wasn’t about to give up my favorite season because some people had deemed Halloween, pumpkins and every other staple of fall to be evil. Pumpkins are cute and fun and make for mighty tasty treats. They are not evil. And the gorgeous rainbow of fall colored leaves? Nothing morbid about them. God’s handiwork at its finest.
So, we put a big emphasis on fall. We decorate with pumpkins and leaves, inside and out. We stockpile canned pumpkin and actually schedule which of our favorite treats we will make when, leaving room each year for scrumptious new recipes. Sometimes we entertain with a fall theme—everything is either shaped like a pumpkin or leaf, has pumpkin as an ingredient OR is orange in color. It’s just fun.
A few years ago, our church weighed in on the Halloween debate and decided, rather than to protest Halloween or join forces with those who’ve denounced any and all celebration, to host a family friendly outreach event—Trunk-or-Treat—during the local city’s trick-or-treat time slot. Since our church is 6 miles from town, we rent a pavilion at the park, line the parking lot with family-friendly decorated car trunks or truck beds from which candy is distributed to trick-or-treaters. In the pavilion we serve hot soups, an array of home-baked goodies, hot and cold beverages. And we visit with people. We ooh and ahh over their cute little ones. We make new connections and renew old acquaintances. We share church info, when asked, and have brochures on hand. We welcome 500+ people from the community at no cost to them. A fact that many find quite difficult to believe.
You do this for FREE? Every year? Wow…
Yep, we do. It’s a lot of fun. Quite a bit of work too, but many hands pitch in to make the evening a success.
So, that’s how we do Halloween. What about you? Do you do Halloween?
Like you, I grew up with Halloween. Dressing up as a princess or a gypsy were my favorites. Once I learned about the historical practices, I also had to decide whether I would let my children participate. This was our decision:
If Trick or Treat Night was on a night other than All Hallow’s Eve, we were fine with our kids dressing up and knocking on the neighbors’ doors. But if that night was to be on Halloween itself, no. It’s a night that pagans and witches celebrate.
To me, it would be like the pagan population celebrating Christmas with all the trimmings. Some of them do the gift-giving I’m sure, but otherwise, do not celebrate Christ’s birth. Many want nothing to do with a holiday giving praise to God and Jesus.
And I want nothing to do with a day that celebrates the satanic.
The idea of Trunk n Treat is okay, but I figure most families load up on sugar both at the church and in the neighborhood. And in our area, all the church alternatives are on a night other than Halloween. Seems hypocritical.
As you can see, my feelings are pretty strong on the issue, but I recognize it’s a gray area. Each person relies on their own conscience, and I’m fine with that.
Our town’s trick-or-treat night is always the Thursday before Halloween so I guess only once every 5-6 years it would fall on October 31.
It’s one of a vast number of things that Christians don’t agree on. My hope is that we can disagree in a way that’s loving rather than hateful as constant bickering does nothing to win people to the LORD. I pray we are all sensitive to GOD’s leading in our own lives.
P.S. your picture with the two little ones are adorable! Yours?
Nope, not mine.
Your celebrations sound so much like mine. We lived for the Halloween party at my grandparents’ tiny country church. We had a dear older neighbor who got scared by packs of teens and kept her lights off. She’d call Mom and we’d cross the street and pretty much got a bag of miniature candy bars to share.
My mom also made us wear disguises. The absolute minimum was a pair of pantyhose over the head and a wig but typically one of those old plastic masks and a wig.
I remember the church had us march in a circle and guess who was who and decide who had the best costume.
When I was in eighth grade were surprised to find out our new non-denominational church didn’t do Halloween. That wasn’t a problem by then I was in middle school and participated in the school functions & friends’ parties. I do remember going to a barn party one year with kids from the youth group.
Today we celebrate with the town’s trunk or treat and if it’s not on Halloween, we take the kids trick or treating in the neighborhood. This year my daughter is a clown and my son is a gladiator. And my costume is the steampunk Elf from one of my short stories (minus the pointed ears).
Our former church (before we moved) did a “harvest festival” and allowed non-scary costumes (they run a preschool too). Our current church doesn’t do anything but typically AWANA nearest Halloween is Bible character night.
This Thursday I get to dress up for Bible study. We’re studying Esther & we’re doing a Purim celebration.
In case you didn’t guess, I’m a former drama geek and love to dress up!
I think church sponsored alternative events can be a good way to engage current members and connect with new people. Take pics of you in your steampunk Elk costume!
I remember one church we went to would rent out the local skating rink Halloween night as a bring-a-friend option. We had a costume contest and the moms would bake for us in lieu of candy.
Sounds like a fun time, Bethany. Especially the home baked goodies! Thanks for stopping by!
My husband and I do not participate in Halloween. Not even the Autumn festivals and such that many churches/Christians choose to do. We arrived separately at that decision before we had even met, having thought it through on our own. We do not participate because to us it’s a compromise. People do them to provide sanitized versions of Halloween so their kids won’t feel deprived. But the kids will get over it. I wasn’t all that pleased as a child when my parents had similar opinions but as a teen I ended up making the same choice for myself. Not to mention my husband and I find nothing appealing about it whatsoever and we’re not going to give Satan the satisfaction of even a compromise. We waffled on it one year when our daughter started school – allowing her to stay for the party and even wear one of her play-costumes. But all it took was seeing *kindergartners* in bloody clown costumes for us to firm up our opinions. The conviction afterwards literally made me feel sick. We will not compromise again. But we don’t have any issues with the many, many Christians who feel differently. (And we have no problem with cosplay or the type of costume, though I find the gory ones repulsive.) Romans 14 applies here.
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