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!
I love to read things like this. In the past I always sensed I was thought of as wishy-washy and didn’t quite know how to deal with that. But sometimes, things DO change in a family and what worked before no longer does.
Have fun with your daughter and ENJOY!
Christian@Modobject at Home
This thoughtful, purposeful, and prayerful change of your heart and mind… this process is, in my opinion, a really great thing for Caroline to observe. Tell her to have fun!
i like/support your decision and agree with your reasoning…..didn’t the apostle paul (or so he’s labeled) say something about how some things are wrong for some folks and not for others? if you believe halloween is “evil,” then it’s wrong to participate; if you don’t see it as an evil time, but consider the positive aspects, like you made, then…..it’s not wrong
heck, eating spicy pizza is wrong if you have stomach problems lol
true, making decisions based on fear isn’t the best way to live a life
thank you for your candor and sensitivity to a seemingly sticky situation in churchianity…..hope your caroline has a blast ;0)
This is so Romans 14. Each decision, based on faith and your current understanding of grace. If you had participated when you felt it was wrong it would have been sin for you. Now you have a deeper grace on the situation and it is not. Father parents us where we are. What is right for a 7 year old is not always right for a 17 year old and vice versa.
We’ve been on all sides of this issue as well, it is encouraging to see we are not alone/making it up as we go along, but that others have made and are making the same journey.
I am glad you shared this Sallie. I hope you both enjoy watching Caroline have fun in her costume.
I feel like we as a family were also influenced by some of the “puritan” christian websites when we first started blogging and have eased our stance in a few areas. We have also told our children that if they see evil images surrounding Halloween or on Halloween night (we know they will) then to think of those images as how any of us would be without the love of Christ–horrid! For us Halloween is folded into the greater Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day and is an example of how Christ triumphs over evil and death.
I wrote a somewhat similar thought on my blog the other day and then was afraid to post it. Now, I’m going to. Thanks for speaking out!
Karen shared this on Facebook and it is fascinating!
Halloween: An Orthodox Christian Perspective
Your blog post was very timely! I was actually in the middle of writing a very similar blog post when yours popped up into my feed reader. I added a link to here at the end of my post. 🙂 I noticed that #1 was very true of me, and releasing that tension about Halloween really was wonderfully freeing.
Just read that article – that is fascinating! I added it to my post. 🙂 I love that he took on the Christmas and Easter haters too. 😉
I’ve never thought of it as “celebrating”. The kids just pick a costume and walk around the neighborhood for an hour. That’s about the extent of our Halloween experience! They don’t mention it again until 365 days later when we’re standing in Target looking at costumes. Very few kids in the neighborhood go all out, but the vast majority of kids we’ve seen over the years are cute and dressed harmlessly, going door to door in hopes of a full size Hershey bar. Don’t think too hard about it. As she gets older she’ll gravitate towards peers who want to dress as cute as she does (our 12 year old neighbor girl and her friends went as Sesame Street character this year!). Caroline’s not at risk for going goth. 🙂
Stefanie @ Calledhis.com
I’m a proud Christian and lover of Halloween – I love this post. It’s so true. You don’t need to completely not enjoy anything ‘of the world’ to be a Christian. I definitely support your decision and I pinned 😀
Another family that changed their mind about Halloween
It was so fun to read your reasons for changing your mind. I am interested in knowing how the first Halloween experience turned out for your daughter! Thanks for sharing!
Cherie – She enjoyed it although the damp weather definitely made it less enjoyable. She trick-or-treated for about an hour and then wanted to come home and pass out candy. I think she enjoyed passing out the candy just as much (if not more). I asked her what she wanted to do this year and it sounds like she wants to stay home and pass out candy. Go figure. LOL!
We did not celebrate Halloween when I was a child. My father thought it was “getting something for nothing” and he didn’t like that lesson. He also saw it as a celebration of all that is dark and evil, and he didn’t want to encourage close association with such a spirit. I can understand that.
When I had my first child, I helped out at our church’s Halloween party, because I figured it would free up another parent to take their kids around Trick or Treating (a big loop inside our church building), since my child was very young and confined to a stroller. And as I watched the kids going from adult to adult, and listened to the adults delight in the costumes and the children’s creativity, it occurred to me that Halloween is not “getting something for nothing.” The children put thought and effort into creating their costumes, and then grown-ups “reward” that effort by giving kids candy. But it also brings joy to the children who get to dress up, and joy to the adults who get to be with the little children again – especially older people whose children are grown.
Halloween *can* be twisted and dark, if people choose to make it so. Or it can be sweet and innocent, if that is what is chosen. We have three boys now, and the older two have such fun planning what their costume will be. One year we couldn’t afford to purchase costumes, and I surprised myself with how creative *I* was, because my eldest wanted to be an orange traffic cone (!) and my second wanted to be a Horta (the rock monster from classic Star Trek). And we spent less than $30 to make those costumes, and a “Little John” costume for our baby! Basically, our rule is, like yours: nothing evil. We also do not permit masks, because people often are tempted to behave inappropriately when they think nobody knows who they are. But they still get the joy of dressing up, and of course the fun of eating candy! 🙂
We have a really good arrangement in this village. If you are celebrating Halloween and accept trick-or-treaters you put a lit pumpkin or other indicator outside the door and leave the porch light on.
If you would rather the broomsticks and skeletons didn’t stop at your door, you leave the light off and don’t put out any decorations. We tend not to celebrate Halloween but we do sneak around to the neighbors with chocolate for their youngsters.
At Christmas, the same thing applies – if you have an outdoor decoration or a candle bridge in your front window, then carol singers will stop to serenade you. I used to have window clings as well until the blind became too fragile to move. We haven’t managed to find anything to replace it with yet, so they’re off the agenda for this year.
Makes it really easy to indicate our willingness to participate in commercial holidays, at least.
Halloween is a social event and not a religious event (with the exception of a few deluded people who think they are witches etc.) I have no problem with it because I don’t take it seriously. It has absolutely zero impact on my life. Christmas is a different story. I find it distressing that secular society and non-Christians are trying to secularize a most holy day for many denominational Christians and to remove it from Christ and the faithful.
I’ve been thinking a lot the past several weeks about Christmas and how it’s been secularized. There were some interesting posts on Gab this year that gave me pause for thought. I’m still mulling them over in my head, but it does seem like there has been a very pointed campaign over the past 70-80 years to secularize Christmas. Most people reading this will say, “Well, duh. We all know that.” But I think it goes beyond what most people have realized.
So still pondering that.
We celebrated Halloween when my son was younger dressing up in harmless fun costumes going to church events. As he got older, he really didn’t care about it that much, so we made it a family time and watched movies and had pizza and didn’t pass out candy. He loved that better than going out anyway. We had fun as a family!
That sounds like a great solution for your family. I think this is one of those decisions that each family has to make for themselves.
Good to hear from you!
Well thought out and an opinion I really appreciated reading.
We celebrate Halloween, but have friends who do not. It’s as Paul said, for us it is not a spiritual struggle for me because I do not connect it with anything beyond having fun with my community.
My friends who don’t celebrate Halloween connect it with things like you do, and so they don’t celebrate Halloween. For them, it would be a problem for their spiritual well-being.
I really appreciate your maturity to see how celebrating for a time allowed you to better parent Caroline.
Ticia, I heartily concur…Tom