We are a few days away from Halloween. A question that I am sometimes asked- should Christians celebrate Halloween?
Celebrate is a strong word. I probably would not go as far as to say we should “celebrate” Halloween. But a better question would be – should Christians participate in Halloween?
Last weekend our church hosted a Harvest Festival. It was a Halloween alternative with costumes and trunk-or-treat. We had many people from our community join us for this event. It was an opportunity for us to open our doors and meet people who might not show up for Sunday morning worship.
Halloween is the Eve of All Saints Day, which is a Christian Holiday. All Saints Day is not a holiday that widely observed in the Church. At least not on the same scale as Christmas or Easter. But that was not always the case.
It was on All Hallows Eve in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church doors to spark the Reformation. He picked this night because he knew it was a night many people would come to the church. All Hallows Eve in 1517 was much like our Christmas Eve of today.
Long before All Saints Day was a Christian holiday, it was a pagan holiday. The origins of this day are a bit of a mystery. You will find different things on the Internet about the beginnings of Halloween. But it is relatively clear that this day was focused on connecting with the spirits of the dead. The Church simply took this day and put a new spin on it. Rather than connecting with the dead, the Church focused on celebrating the lives of the faithful saints who had come before and passed the faith on to the next generation. The Church redeemed the day.
Today the focus of October 31 is not about All Saints Day. The day is more focused on its pre-Christian origins. God doesn’t have much of a part in the celebration. It is about costumes, trick-or-treat, hayrides, and haunted houses.
There are some Christians who will hide in their homes, turn off their lights, and refuse to take part in the event. And that is their right to do so. But I want to look at 1 Corinthians:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23–24 (ESV)
This verse is instructive for me. There is much to be desired about Halloween from a Christian’s perspective. At the same time, there is much good about this day. It is a day that people come out of their homes and meet their neighbors.
Rather than hiding from it, let’s show up and let the light of Jesus shine brightly in our neighborhoods. We can refrain from the portraying of blood, monsters, spirits, and other ungodly elements. We can participate in this event and still point to Christ. God is about the work of redemption. Rather than run from this day, let’s redeem the day just like the saints who came before us.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you think Christians should participate/refrain from Halloween? Why or why not?
- What are some ways to witness your faith during this event?
- Give God thanks for a faithful saint who helped to pass the faith on to you.
- Share your comments.