Update January 2022
I’ve decided not to write an additional post about why we are no longer celebrating Halloween, but I am going to push this out as a “new” post. I’m going to add a bit to what I originally wrote below, including the quick November 2021 update most people probably never saw.
If I had it to do over again, I would make the same choice and allow Caroline to celebrate Halloween. The reasons I explained below in the original post are all still valid in my mind for the time in which we made them. We made the choice based on the needs of the child we had for the reasons I gave below. Caroline is now 15. She understands why we don’t wish to celebrate Halloween any longer and why we did choose to let her celebrate for a number of years. She did trick or treating until she was 12 or 13. We passed out candy as well up until this year when we did not. I wish such a community-oriented holiday did not have such evil overtones but it does in our culture. It helps that there are a number of other Christian families on our cul-de-sac who also do not pass out candy so we are not the only ones. If you struggle with this question, I understand. But I am relieved we are past this part of our parenting journey and we can use the day for other purposes, in agreement as a family.
Update November 2021
We’ve decided not to celebrate Halloween any longer in terms of passing out candy, etc. I will update this post or write another one, but in the interest of full disclosure I wanted this on record.
Original Post October 2013
Caroline is seven years old and this will be the first time we’ve celebrated Halloween with her. I considered not saying anything about it here, but decided that it was important to me to articulate why we changed our minds in case anyone else might find it helpful. I know many Christians struggle with this holiday as we have.
There are four reasons we changed our mind about celebrating Halloween.
1. Not celebrating Halloween made me hate October
It really did. I just dreaded the entire month. I dreaded dealing with the questions from others. I dreaded all the displays and trying to avoid them from Labor Day on. I dreaded trying to explain it to Caroline. Not celebrating Halloween took one of the most glorious months of the year and made me hate it and dread it.
It should not be so. October is a gift from God, especially where we live with the glorious colors. To allow two hours of one day to ruin an entire month for me was not worth it. Now when someone asks us about how we’re celebrating Halloween, we just happily give an answer. No more feeling awkward or like we’re coming across holier than thou. That was never my intention when we didn’t celebrate, but I always felt like it came across that way. I felt like it was a bridge burner rather than a bridge builder.
2. Not celebrating Halloween would be more damaging than celebrating it
Ever since last Halloween David and I have struggled with what to do. Most years we were able to just ignore Halloween. We did our own thing and it worked out fine. Last year Caroline was fully aware of what was going on and she was miserable. She saw all the kids outside trick or treating, dressed up in their costumes, and it was very upsetting to her.
Caroline doesn’t see Halloween as evil. She sees it as a fun time to dress up which is something she loves to do. She’s an off-the-chart creative, imaginative child. From the creativity standpoint, Halloween is probably more her kind of holiday than any other, to be perfectly honest.
This past summer I had a long conversation with an experienced mom who has creative children like my Caroline. She didn’t celebrate Halloween with her children when they were growing up, but all of her children now do celebrate with their own. She said if she had it to do over again, she probably would celebrate.
I told this mom that I was coming to the conclusion that to not allow Caroline to celebrate Halloween would probably be more damaging to our relationship with her than any potential downside of celebrating. I see celebrating Halloween as putting money in our relational bank. She sees that we were willing to consider changing our mind about something and I think that carries a lot of weight with her.
In this case, we decided to opt for grace, believing in the long run it is better for our family to allow her to celebrate.
3. It’s not a hill I’m going to die on
Whenever I struggle with issues of Christian conscience, I ask myself if it is a hill I’m willing to die on. If you’ve read my blog any length of time, you’ve probably seen me state this before. There are very few parenting hills I’m willing to die on. There are very few theological hills I’m willing to die on. I save the hill dying for really big things (of which there have been some already). Halloween is not one of them.
4. We try not to base our theology on fear
Maybe this should have been the first point, but here it is. David and I try not to base our theology on fear. This is something we have not always done well in our life together. We have made choices out of fear in the past and have learned that is not the way to follow Christ. We’ve had people tell us that they choose to do something because they don’t want to get to heaven and find out they were supposed to do it and didn’t. In my humble opinion, that is fear. If I make a mistake, the blood of Jesus covers it. If we don’t have a clear sense from God that we shouldn’t do something, then we move forward in the freedom to do it. And if we get to heaven and find out it would have been better to not celebrate… God’s grace covers that. Nothing we can do will ever change our standing before our Heavenly Father because our standing is based on Christ’s righteousness, not our own. (See also this excellent article about the origins of Halloween. It’s rather eye-opening.)
So we go forward
We did lay down some parameters for Caroline when we told her this summer she could celebrate. Nothing evil and nothing scary. We won’t glorify evil and that IS a hill I’m willing to die on. She’s going as the princess from Tangled which is fine with me. I’m not a crafty mom so we just bought a costume from Meijer.
After we made the decision, I waited to see if I would have a check in my spirit that we had made the wrong decision. None came and so David and I move forward, glad to have this issue behind us. I don’t regret that we waited until now to let Caroline celebrate. I think before this she would have absolutely freaked out over much of the scary stuff she’ll see when she goes trick or treating. I think she’ll handle it well now.
So now we wait to see if the thunderstorms hold off so we can actually go!