While some Christian parents are very accepting and calm about Halloween, others shudder. Christian kids on Halloween can have so much exposure to the occult and death and dying and darkness and decay and demons and devils”¦ What’s good about this? some parents may ask. Others let their children participate with angst and confusion, so that Jesus won’t look like “the guy who dislikes great tasting candy and good times.”
Should we let our kids participate in Halloween?
This question has very personal answers. Parents should not feel pushed by other parents to let their kids participate, nor should they feel that Halloween is a definite “thou shalt not” and pass judgment on parents really struggling about this.
A lot of parents’ decisions about Halloween activities will revolve around their neighborhoods, whether they are in tight with a stellar youth group (which often provides alternatives), and how their own children respond to spookiness. It’s a fact that some kids are not very susceptible to horror; they can be exposed to a terrifying movie, book or well-told tale and simply shrug in bed and night and get a great night’s sleep. Others will lie awake and have sleep challenges for weeks.
The Good News About Halloween
Halloween provides opportunities for our kids to grow in many ways. It opens doors to explaining to kids why God objected so thoroughly to witch craft in the Bible. It gives kids chances to imagine, and not necessarily in terrible ways! It also gives kids a chance to open their hearts and do things for others.
If Your Decision Is To Let Your Kids Go Trick-Or-Treating
Let’s say that you’ve decided to let your kids trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. Here are some mini-challenges to help your kids get the most out of it, turning darkness into light for their spirits, hearts, and imaginations. Some of the challenges may not apply to you, but if you fulfill those that do, you’ll find your kids responding to Halloween in healthy ways while creating some fun memories!
Mini-Challenge #1: Use the opportunity to explain to kids why God objects so strongly to witchcraft and other occult practices.
Halloween provides a great opportunity for kids to get to know some things about history and their great loving God.
It is well known that in scripture, God showed his thorough dislike of the occult, which is so heralded in much of Halloween dÃ©cor and celebrations:
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 finds God saying, “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.”
In Michah 5:2, a provoked God said, “And I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes.”
There are 30 or so scriptures of this nature in the Old and New Testaments. But why does God hate sorcery so much? Doesn’t he reveal himself often through the miraculous? A good start with your kids is not to deny the power of sorcery and tell them it is all fake. The fact is, God hates it because it is not. There are forces of darkness at work in this world, and they do have supernatural powers. We can call on them, and at times, they do work.
Here is one good explanation: “Let’s say a good and decent boy is in love with a girl. Let’s say the girl cheats on him, and not only that, but she cheats with her boyfriend’s former best friend who has done everything to make the boyfriend’s life miserable for years. How is the good and decent boyfriend supposed to feel? What should he do about the girl?”
“God is like the decent boyfriend. The forces of darkness, sometimes known as Satan and his army, are like the former best friend who makes misery on the boyfriend. He doesn’t charm the girl because he has any love for her at all, but only because he wants to hurt the boyfriend. We are like the girl. When we go to the forces of darkness for answers to our questions or solutions to our problems, it’s like we are cheating on Christ, who gave his life for us, and with a really underhanded and vicious boy. And that’s stupid, because God has the real answers, and the mean forces of darkness are only using us to mess with him.”
Halloween provides great opportunities to tell our children that regardless of how much witchcraft they see lauded around us, it’s not funny, it can be dangerous, and most important of all, it’s a slap in God’s face. Any Christian remotely familiar with the Bible scriptures on the occult would have to concur with this.
Mini-Challenge #2: Encourage dress up costumes – but the right ones.
Your kids should not dress up like devils, ghouls, zombies and mummies (as this is glorifying the death that Jesus died to overcome). They should not dress up with the primary purpose of the costume being to scare people (as that is a lust for power and a deprived kind of power). However, they don’t have to dress like Biblical characters to garnish blessings from Halloween.
But on the subject of Biblical character costumes, it is a great idea”¦it provides opportunities to tell others about Christ. Lazarus with his arms and legs bound and his head wrapped in linen may appear to be a frightening costume. But when kids ask “who are you dressed as?” it provides an op to tell one of the most lauded stories in the Bible.
But the greatest value in letting kids dress up is that a part of them actually becomes the person they are emulating. Great literary characters and historic leaders can provide great chances for kids to learn a little history or literature while creating an outfit.
One home schooling mom wanted her 9-year-old daughter to get some exposure to Shakespeare, and Halloween provided a great opportunity. She and her daughter watched the famous Zeffirelli film from the 1970s to study the costumes. The daughter not only became entranced with Juliet’s costumes, but also the language and the plot!
Ask your kids whom they admire in history and encourage them to dress as that person – and the costume can help take them to the faraway places, times and cultures.
Some parents will spend as much as $90 on a child’s costume in a Halloween store that is cheaply made. They are wasting a precious opportunity to spend time with their kids crafting costumes of their choosing. Go to a thrift store instead, where a former prom dress can be bought for $10-$15.
Don’t worry if costumes don’t look exactly like those in books or movies, and tell your kids to be creative, not rigid. Suggest various pieces to use as belts or bows or shaws. Have a blast and take a couple hours. If you have a decent sized Good Will store near you, you should be able to spend hours just looking through the racks of things.
Have sharp scissors at home, and don’t worry about hemming things. Cut to save time! But make sure that you’re creating a memory of you and your child together, exercising your imaginations and having fun.
Mini-Challenge #4: Encourage giving as well as getting.
Kids can trick or treat for UNICEF or any number of local charities. UNICEF provides an official container so that homeowners can see it and be assured that the kids aren’t just playing a joke.
Explain to kids that they can still collect candy while trick or treating for a charity! Some kids are unclear on this and think that if they collect charity coins, they cannot have their bag of candy also.
If you make giving as well as getting a part of trick-or-treat, your kids will remember it fondly into their adult years.
Mini-Challenge #5: As for you and your house, be positive.
Be the only house on your street to carve pumpkins that are smiling (not evilly). Be the only house where kids open the door, and the inside looks peaceful, immaculate, and smells of cinnamon apple cider. Be the parent that smiles amidst all those trying to spook everyone. Have seasonal or Christian music playing in the background instead of electric chair noises and howls.
Have the dog dressed up like a cat or the cat wearing a ribbon. Animals dressed up always make kids laugh. Have the house on the block where kids will leave smiling and a little more peaceful on a night when everyone is keyed up and half sick.
Mini-Challenge #6: As for you and your house, be healthy!
People often look for alternatives to oh-so-much junk when giving out Halloween candy. Here are some ideas:
- String cheese and bagged pretzels
- Hot cocoa mix
- Microwave popcorn
- Trail mix
- Teddy-bear shaped, graham cookies
- Crispy rice treats
- Flavored, sugar-free bubble gum
Another alternative is to give away little toys and knickknacks. Some ideas:
- Silly Bandz
- Sidewalk chalk
- Glow-in-the-dark bracelets
- Temporary tattoos
Mini-Challenge #7: Have your kids share what’s in their treat bags.
If you have a rescue mission near you, there may be kids inside that were not able to trick or treat because they didn’t have a home! Call and ask. As well, there may be a child from your church who was hospitalized or couldn’t go trick or treating due to being sick. Offer to bring some treats down to these children.
Ask your kids not just to give away some of the things they don’t like, but some of the things they like best! If they brought home seven Reeses Cups, it will not hurt them to give away two. This will be a very good lesson in “treating others as you would want to be treated.”
Be lights in the dark
Jesus didn’t ever tell people not to venture into dark places. He said to let our lights shine in darkness. Work with these mini-challenges during Halloween and see if you can’t be a light in your neighborhood and most especially to your own children. They, in turn, will be lights for others.
I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and opinions on celebrating (or not celebrating) Halloween with your children. Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments below.
Please be sure to also check out our 15 Christian Halloween Activities that draw children closer to God.