I did something earlier this week…….I went to a real fall festival for the first time. It is an event put on by a local homeschool co-op we recently joined. The group’s teens ran nearly all of it as a fundraiser for an upcoming trip. Hot dogs and popcorn was served, homemade carnival games were played, faces were painted, and treats were won at a cakewalk. It truly was a fun time, and the older kids got the chance to take a welcomed load off the moms to earn money for something they want. There were just a few things missing from the other
fall festivals Halloween parties I have attended over the years at various churches.
This one was not an alternative to Halloween. No one handed me a cute poem about how “we light up like a jack-o-lantern when Jesus comes in to live in our hearts”, and no one was dressed in a costume – except that one kid….. who may or may not dress up everyday. I know, I’ve been there.
I grew up in a small town in the 80’s. Trick-or-treating was always something I looked forward to every year. I have fond memories of going door-to-door, and even received homemade treats that were not poisoned. Those were the days! Fifteen years later, I was doing the same thing with my kids, but checking the candy thoroughly for opened wrappers. We’ve trick-or-treated in our neighborhood, at campgrounds, attended Halloween parties at the library, and for several years, did the once unheard of – Trunk-or-treating in church parking lots, and attending Halloween parties masked as fall festivals at church. They were not an “alternative” for us, because like many others, after the church festivities were over, we would still go around the neighborhood looking for friendly neighbors with their lights still on.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, I became aware that Halloween, and most other holiday traditions were steeped in paganism. You can find more information than one can handle on the world wide web, and I’m sure this information was also in our dusty set of unread Britannica’s from 1985. Although it is very interesting, that is not what this post is about. What it is about is this: Why in the hell (and I use that purposefully) are Halloween parties promoted at church of all places? And by “church”, I mean organized, official, entities.
Last week on my personal Facebook page, I polled my friends with a simple yes/no question: “Should churches support Halloween with festivals and activities?” Out of the ones who participated, it was a split vote. It really wasn’t a huge surprise. I feel many who did not respond have mixed feelings and chose not to vote.
It is approaching three years next week since I’ve last attended a Halloween party at church. That evening, I made up my mind that I would never attend one again. Through different eyes, I saw it for what it really was: a social gathering of Christians for a Halloween party.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Churches, don’t compromise and use trickery to try to make something obviously non-Christian, Christian. If this is something you are doing as an outreach ministry, perhaps use all the other days on the calendar and do something that the world is not doing. I wonder how many non-believers ride by and smirk at the full parking lots on Halloween night, and empty lots on Sunday nights.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
It is not your job to provide alternatives for the community by promoting a “fall festival”, “trunk-or-treat”, or some of the other pseudonyms for a Halloween party. There are plenty of events held at most public libraries, businesses, fire stations, and parks. I’ve seen many in my small town. My gripe is not Halloween itself, but the churches promoting it. I am not the one to tell you whether or not to dress up or hand out candy. That to me, is an individual decision, and one that I struggle with myself. Cultural norms have a way of giving us blind spots. I don’t personally know anyone trying to maintain the Celtic rituals. I look across my living room and see a piece of pottery with a cute face cut out that I display this time of year. I am not warding off evil spirits with it! The Apostle Paul addresses this when he told the Corinthians that “all things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient”.
As a homeschooling mom, I see an opportunity for a history lesson on where our traditions come from. As the fun mom, I may let the kids run around in a silly costume, and collect candy from grandma and a few neighbors. They’re already asking if we can dress our dog. On the other hand, I may just buy a bag of candy for myself when it goes on sale. As a Bible-believing mom, I can turn to the words of Paul in Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
My only recommendation is to the churches promoting Halloween. Rather than making yourself indistinguishable from the world, stop tricking yourself into thinking you are redeeming Halloween, and just get in that Book.
2 Corinthians 6:17a Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord