I’d be interested to here to what extent everyone participates in Halloween. The conversation almost always comes up in our home this time of year since my wife grew up in a home that entirely shunned the idea and I was in the opposite sort of home. If you do participate what sort of traditions do you have?
We spend the whole month catching goblins and locking them in our basement. At the end of the month we make goblin stew.
No but seriously, we dress up and trick or treat.
My household does not participate. We shut our lights off and lock our doors like good little curmudgeons.
We trick or treat, in theory. Though my kids have never really been into it. My oldest doesn’t care for candy (!!!). My second is shy and doesn’t want to go out in a costume. Once he wore a Batman costume but was embarrassed by the fake muscles (he thought they looked like breasts) so he took it off and wore shorts and a white t-shirt and trick or treated with the other kids. People would ask who he was and I would say Bruce Wayne. He didn’t like that.
We also discuss the Reformation with our kids like good little Protestants.
My wife puts up a sign asking people with scary costumes not to knock, because it scares the kids
I’m not so excited by Halloween, but nevertheless I stay home to man the candy station so as to participate in the mass cultural event. In contrast, my kids love dressing up and doing trick-or-treating and start planning their costumes months ahead of time. We don’t allow our kids to dress up as anything associated with witchcraft and necromancy, which disappointed my oldest one year since she wanted to go trick-or-treating as the Witch-King from LOTR. My kids go around with the neighbor kids and my wife goes with the neighbor parents, so I see it as a way to build relationships.
I have the opposite situation as you, as I didn’t observe Halloween growing up(at school we made Reformation Day decorations) and it was a big deal for my wife growing up. She loves the creativity of costume planning, especially for little kids.
I used to have kind of a downer attitude regarding Halloween celebrations, but I’ve come around somewhat, mainly through seeing the joy on my kids faces at dressing up in fun costumes, which my wife usually makes. Generally we take the kids to the local nursing home, and there’s a lot of joy in the elderly people’s faces when they see the kids, which is pretty great. This also helps avoid any scary/demonic decorations someone could put up.
Also, as I recall, there’s an early Sound of Sanity podcast on this issue. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the first one I ever listened to.
I don’t mark it. Where I come from, it has become custom for churches to have ‘light parties’ as a very conscious response to the paganism underpinning Hallow’een. Two media references with more information:
To be honest, before my wife and I had our first child, we were set against celebrating Halloween. Then, having multiple children who love the festivities and seeing older brothers and sisters in the faith who celebrate unburdened our consciences to let the kids enjoy it. All of our kids have nut allergies, so we don’t let them take candy, but they love the yard decorations and the costumes, which seems innocent enough to me.
I could be persuaded not to celebrate it again, but to answer the original question: yes, we “celebrate” Halloween.
Yes. We celebrate it. We go nuts over it even.
In fact, my brother and I were planning our trick-or-treat route yesterday… With his six kids and my five we straight up wreck a neighborhood. We still have Halloween candy in March.
It’s also a great time of the year to teach the kids about taxation. (real horror)
I’m not a fan of churches using Halloween for pragmatic purposes. I’ve never heard of light parties until now, but I’ve seen Harvest Festivals and such that have all the form of Halloween but deny the power thereof. Not against them per se, but it seems like a lot of unnecessary hoop jumping. Just call it a Halloween party. Trunk-or-treat seems to be the best kind of option if the church does something at all. But why not just stay home and give out candy? Sometimes I wonder if churches hold these parties for the community (as they usually say), or to be a Safe Space for their members…
I think evangelicals have a hard time coming to grips with the aspects of death and terror/horror/macabre or anything scary at Halloween. I don’t want to tread on another man’s conscience about what he thinks best for his family, but we allow the spooky, scary, monstrous, and weird, even witches/wizards, as costumes for our kids. But we’ve also worked hard to build a foundation that undergirds them. Encourage an enormous Imagination that rests in our enormous God. A God bigger than any powers, principalities, wizards, or witches. Who of all people have a better opportunity to play light and loose with death than a people whose God has defeated death? If my God was restrained in some way by the evil powers of witchcraft, I’d think twice before letting my 8 year old dress up as a witch.
But stuff like this is, in my mind, a perfect shepherding/parenting training ground. If I shutter my kids from scary costumes, how does that benefit them (my kids, not yours)? Fear of water, fear of drowning, is legitimate. But how does never allowing a child to enter the pool teach them to overcome their fear of water, or provide the necessary tools to avoid drowning in the first place? If they never learn to swim, not only will they retain their fear, not only would they be unable to help themselves if they find themselves neck deep, but they’d also miss out on the thrill and joy and fun of swimming itself! Halloween (among other things) is a perfect way to shape a good and healthy imagination that will help overcome fear and also give them the tools they need to survive when I’m out of the picture. Halloween is me holding them while they are learning to swim. And they take off faster than you realize.
Of course we have limits. Fun and mockery rather than aiding and abetting evil. We also avoid sexualizing anything. Shepherding the imagination doesn’t include indulging in wickedness. We use the knife to cut an apple, not to juggle. But even if they wind up juggling knives one day, they need to be taught how to cut correctly first. How fun would it be to juggle knives without harm!
I hope this didn’t come off as a little disconnected (or judgmental!). Just a smattering of thoughts.