One Parent (and Pastor’s) Take on Halloween

Well, it’s here. Tomorrow will be the last day of October and on top of that and more importantly it is Halloween. This has become a big holiday event and it seems to get bigger every year. I don’t recall people decorating their houses very much for this night in years past, but things change.

Churches take a variety of positions on this night. There are some who do not acknowledge the event at all and suggest that participating in this holiday is evil. The emphasis on witches and satanic rituals that occur on this night supply the rationale for this opinion. There is the sense of “being separate from the world” and observing Halloween is compromising with culture.

Other churches take a more moderating position by offering a “trunk or treat” night. Parents are encouraged to come to the church parking lot and open their car trunks to the kids. Children come by the different cars and pick up candy from the “trunks” of the vehicles. It’s not the same as going door to door to unfamiliar houses, and a way to avoid some of the risks associated with receiving candy from strangers. You don’t always know who’s living in a house. Plus it makes some folks feel better because it’s held at church.

Our church does not take a specific stance on Halloween. We do leave it up to the parents to determine how best to recognize this day. Our church did have a Fall Festival last weekend and yesterday our children and youth went into the community for a “trick or eat” experience. Rather than receiving candy from our neighbors, they knocked on doors asking for canned goods to be collected for charitable organizations. It’s a reversal of what many of them will be doing tomorrow night, and a good way to engage our community and make our presence known.

As a parent and pastor, I have thought about the implications of celebrating this day in any fashion. I’ve come to realize that there are good features to this holiday as well as the fearful and evil qualities. However, as it relates to children, Halloween should be redeemed for its positive qualities rather than for its bad ones. I don’t want evil to have a hold on any day, let alone Halloween. I enjoy seeing our children dress up as Snow White, Hannah Montana, or Spider-Man and go out into our community to see our neighbors. I’m not going to allow them to dress up as Jason, Freddie, or other sinister creatures though. We’re fortunate to live in a good neighborhood with lots of children. It’s fun to see my children ring doorbells and yell out “trick or treat” and then look at see what they got in their bags. Of course, Lori and I scrutize the candy before they eat it and don’t accept anything that’s “homemade”  and not in a secure wrapper.

This is a built in time to meet those in your community while allowing the children to have a good time. My view is that children don’t see the negative side to Halloween, but focus more on costumes and getting candy. So, for me, I look at it as a family event to be enjoyed. And having it on Friday plus “falling back” an hour on Saturday evening should make it a good weekend.

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