Last year I solicited opinions on how to approach Halloween. I’m still a bit ambivalent about the occasion, but at least this year I’m taking a permissive stance.
I have no desire to convince anyone else of that position, but I’m going to share my thinking just in case someone’s curious and because I welcome corrections to my thought process. Plus I like writing.
Is Halloween inherently evil?
Depending on who you ask, Halloween either began as a pagan celebration or as a response to a pagan celebration, but either way no one can deny there are aspects of this event that appear to celebrate some unsavory things.
Does that make it evil? I don’t think so.
If Halloween used to be about celebrating demons or frightening off the dead, can anyone really say that this is the purpose today for more than a tiny fraction of the population?
Does God really view acts that are devoid of meaning to these children as idolatry? Turn it around – does God view acts that are devoid of meaning as worship? No. Then the reverse is likely true too.
Children in costumes seeking candy may be doing many things, but none of them are worshipping the devil or seeking communion with spirits.
Are some elements evil or unhealthy?
Besides appealing to my inner dentist, you can certainly question whether Halloween places an unhealthy emphasis on death, gore, or danger. I’m not thrilled about the things my kids – or other people – will see, but they’re going to see most of it whether we “participate” in Halloween or not.
Eventually we’ll have to decide whether or not my kids can go to “spook houses,” but that experience really is not different than watching a scary movie – e.g., Psycho or Scream.
What is the purpose of "harvest festivals?"
The thing that most pushed me over the line was the fact that I can’t figure out how these church “harvest festivals” are any different than any other Halloween observance.
Kids dress in costumes. There will be fewer scary costumes, but my kids will be fairy princesses no matter where we go.
Kids will get candy. Kids will play games.
The question is, if kids in costume going door to door asking for candy and playing games is devil worship in neighborhood streets, what makes it different when this happens at church?
What about those stories?
You know the ones – kidnappings and sacrifices and orgies and all kinds of wickedness are alleged to happen on Halloween.
Those things happen 365 days a year, but there’s little evidence (beyond stories than have been handed down for 60 years) that Halloween is a special day for it. If there was a special day for pagan sacrifices, it would probably be the winter solstice, not Halloween.
If the stories are true, parents should keep an extra sharp eye on their kids on Halloween. If the stories aren’t true, parents should keep an extra sharp eye on their kids on Halloween. Honestly, the pedophiles are probably much more of a danger than the devil worshippers.
Is it wrong to trick or treat?
I expect I’ll revisit this question every year for my family, but this year I’m going to say no. Of course, we’re actually taking the kids to a “harvest festival” at my parents’ church.