6 Reasons I Celebrate Halloween with My Kids (Even Though I’m a Christian)

My parents took Halloween away from me, and I don’t blame them. But I’m letting my kids keep it.

The 1980’s were a tough time for Halloween. Slasher films with Roman numerals were everywhere, and there were rumors of poison and razor blades in Halloween candy. Parents became TSA agents, checking every piece of candy before their kids were allowed to eat anything.

I don’t blame my mom and dad for just opting out.

That’s pretty much how I remember it. In 1982, I was trick-or-treating while dressed like Luke Skywalker, and in 1983 Halloween was forbidden and evil. On the last day of October, we started going to “harvest parties” at churches. This makes it sound like we hand-shucked corn and gathered bushels of apples, but all we actually did was dress up and walk around gathering candy. It was exactly like Halloween, only less spooky and at a church.

Now I’m a Christian parent, and Halloween remains controversial in my world. So I’m faced with the decision — should I trick-or-treat with my kids? I’ve decided it’s okay. Here are my reasons why.

1. Halloween’s origins are blurry

Halloween’s meaning has evolved through the years, and its origins are a mixed bag. Some of its history is linked to the Christian holiday of All Saints Day. Other origins are part of a Celtic tradition of wearing masks to scare off spirits during the harvest. Today, Halloween is mostly an excuse for candy companies to make lots of money and a chance for abandoned stores in strip malls to transform into a costume shops for a couple of months.

Halloween isn’t alone in its blurry origins. Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25, and the date of his resurrection didn’t rotate based on the March equinox. It feels disingenuous to be so militant about one holiday’s origins while ignoring the origins of other holidays.

2. We connect with our neighbors

It’s easy to be disconnected from your neighbors when you live in the suburbs. Every night you open your garage and disappear, and in the morning you reopen it just long enough to drive away to work. I meet more neighbors during Halloween than the other 364 days of the year combined. We go house to house, and I get to see the people who live inside. They compliment our kids. We learn each other’s names. One neighbor has a fire pit at the edge of his driveway where families gather around and make s’mores.

Our little community is more alive on October 31 than any other day of the year. Christmas and Easter are closed-off holidays where the select few are invited, but on Halloween everyone is welcome. The thought of flicking off the lights and pretending we’re not home while the rest of my neighbors celebrate seems cold and antisocial.

3. You have to earn your treats

On holidays, my kids unwrap presents they didn’t pay for, eat pumpkin pie they didn’t make, and watch fireworks they didn’t light. Now comes a holiday where they have to earn what they consume. You want another piece of candy? We have walk to another house, smile, act cute, and say the magic words.

This actually becomes a deal with my younger ones after a couple of blocks when their legs get tired. They love candy, but they know there is a price to getting a piece. And once they do, it’s theirs. They’ve “earned” it. That’s why Halloween candy is the best tasting kind there is.

4. The centerpiece is a vegetable

I told this to a friend and he said this reason is a stretch. Fine. But it’s near-impossible to get my kids excited about any vegetable, and for some reason they act like pumpkins are made out of chocolate milk. We always get ours from a local farm or pumpkin patch, and for just a few minutes, my kids realize that food comes from somewhere other than the grocery store. Going to a local farm with my kids and picking out a pumpkin is one of my favorite parts of fall.

5. My kids can be anything they want

My kids think for months about what costume they want for Halloween. It’s a vibrant discussion around our house as they change into mermaids, princesses, cowboys, and superheroes. I love the message: you can become whatever you want. They are little dreamers in their costumes.

For Christmas and Easter, kids have to wear adorable plaid and pastels. Those are for parents. But Halloween is their time, when they can imagine and dream and transform themselves into something they love.

6. We control the way we celebrate

I celebrate Christmas, but I don’t make my front yard look like Times Square with baby Jesus in the middle of it. I celebrate the Fourth of July, but I don’t illegally light fireworks in dry grassy fields. Just because I participate in a holiday doesn’t mean I condone every form of celebration.

Yes, we take part in Halloween festivities, but we control the way we celebrate it. We don’t dress up our kids like psychopaths or scantily clad medical workers. I don’t expose my kids to horror and zombies at our house or let them go to parties that do. My wife and I are the parents, so we take responsibility for what’s okay and what isn’t.

And, I use Halloween as a teaching example with my kids. When they get older, I want them to understand that just because you participate in some things doesn’t mean you have to participate in everything. If something is wrong, you can turn around and walk away.

I’m not saying you have to celebrate. But we do, and that doesn’t mean we’re Satanists. We’re God-fearing people who happen to like candy.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Rob Stennett
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  • Tucker Wannamaker

    Great article, Rob, as usual. I really appreciate this framing of it. My wife and I have wrestled around so much with this. My favorite section was: “I love the message: you can become whatever you want.” I love that message too.

  • Jason

    If only more Christians could see what a harmless holiday Halloween is….

  • thomachuck

    I am 73 and remember Halloween as one of the most fun and cohesive times of my childhood. My mother made costumes and we had parties and hayrides. That some faction or so-called fundamentalist orthodox authority would try to dissaude young parents from allowing kids such precious memories is reprehensible. God gave us free will and intellect. Let’s resist squandering these abilities. It’s a good thing this article was written.

    • Ditolus

      too bad creationists squander that god given intellect.

  • bakabomb

    Halloween should belong to the kids. Let ’em do most of the work on their own costumes. Make it more about the fun and less about yet another opportunity for the grownups to get smashed.

  • Gary

    Perhaps an orthodox understanding of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation means that you put on your humanity 365 days a year and bring self-sacrificial good to the world, a world you hear groaning, waiting in eager expectation, for all things to be made new. And perhaps fear-mongering faith leaders really shouldn’t be followed at all. Ah yes, one can be anything one wants Halloween or any other day of the year. But… Who wants to be like Christ? Really. Every day.

  • Luke

    Surely a holiday that has its origins in celebrating death and evil things is harmless and good for all Christians to participate in. You know that part in the Bible that says “no longer conform to the ways of this world but be set apart…” that really has nothing to do with celebrating worldly little holidays for the sake of “it’s just a little fun… and we get candy” not to mention turning a blind eye from the reality of what goes on during Halloween, child and animal sacrifices being only some. It’s not just someone’s imagination that thought of all of those gory horror films to coincide right along with this “holiday”.

    • Eli N. Acuna

      Yet you still go to the movies, restaurants and and partake in social media and other so called worldy activities!!! Just not holloween that’s from the devil! Lol we should not cherry pick our bible verses only to benefit us.

  • georgex9

    Many years ago Halloween seemed like a fun time with people trying to scare others. Since then we seem to see too much horror in movies and TV and each trying to be more disturbing than the previous. Humans have the potential for good and bad and we need to consider which is to be cultivated in society. Do we want to look at others as a danger or as human beings in a positive sense?

  • jack tarr

    My problem is that we are quite happy to celebrate what obviously has no root in god, but ignore what he says we are to observe by lableing it ‘for jews only’ or ‘no longer under the law’. Oh we can make it a time to spread the gospel, but we are supposed to do that 24/7 anyway. Halloween is an evil day.Halloween honors satan, idol worship, immorality, demonic rituials and human sacrifice. Halloween is not a day I want to celebrate because of what it has stood for and what it stands for today. Becaue of its association with ‘the above’. The bible warns us, ” the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to god, and I would not tht ye should have fellowship with devils” 1 cor 10:20. When do we become ‘set apart’ ? Become holy becuase He is Holy ? Proverbs 16:25There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

  • WendynSonny Kommany

    1. It doesn’t matter if the origin is uncertain, it is a holiday that glorifies darkness and death, something God hates
    2. Being the gospel to your neighbors and then maybe you can connect with them, in the way The Lord Jesus expects
    3. They can earn gifts as well, maybe something that won’t damage their teeth?
    4. What about having Jesus Christ as the center of everything we do
    5, kids don’t need an excuse or a holiday to dress up, they can do it any time
    6. You don’t expose them to zombies? Are you kidding me, out of all your excuses this is probably the worst…

  • elleyork

    Thanks for this article. I just don’t understand why all of a sudden so many people don’t celebrate Halloween. And the same people who have an issue with Halloween celebrate Easter and Christmas for all the wrong reasons. Cut it out!

  • elleyork

    Everyone knows that the world is violent. Have y’all read the bible or just go off what some preacher tells you on Sunday. The Bible is just as violent as any movie on TV.

  • EqualTime

    Ben Franklin said “it’s good to be a rational man, so you can find reasons for what you want to do.” This is a lovely article, bringing you to the result many of us just found in the joy of a child’s face participating in this most unpretentious of holidays. Thanks for sharing. I hope it helps others to find the same path.

  • Deanne Poschwatta

    ~~~Please note that my following reply is not meant to condemn or judge anyone, but hopefully to cause people to consider and ponder their choices and maybe be convicted by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, it is God who judges the heart, not man. Also, I am open to discussion and countering ideas, as I know that I am not all knowing or perfect. Just please do so respectfully.~~~

    The evils of Halloween are in some cases, obvious, but in others, subtle and secret. Yes, it can seem harmless to dress up and have good, “clean”, non horror-based fun. But to do so alongside something that celebrates death, sin, evil and depravity seems directly in contrast to what the bible tells us.

    Imagine if satan was throwing a party. A costume party, where people come dressed as demons and murderers and witches and the like. And some of the guests actually are demons and murderers and witches. There are skeletons and gore and deathly decorations, and fear and evil are pretty much the theme. In some of the back rooms, people are performing rituals and sacrifices and participating in seances, sexual depravity and every evil thing you can imagine. But of course they have lots of yummy candy and fun music and dancing and cool people to mingle with. Would you show up at the party? I mean, would you dress your children up as a princess and a superhero and join satan’s party? Doesn’t the “we’re just participating in the innocent, fun side” argument seem a little absurd here?

    I know this is an extreme example, and people will think I am taking it a bit far. But I feel like the problem is that we as Christians are comfortable justifying things because we can find a part of them that seems harmless. And herein is where satan has found his greatest weapon; in convincing us that things that are evil are actualy harmless. “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). The problem is not with what we see on the surface, but what is happening in the spiritual realm;

    Ephesians 6:12 ESV
    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

    In my above example, could you really attend that party, but justify it by saying “I’m not taking part in the evil stuff, I’m just here for the candy and the fun.”? Could you actually make the claim that you are there but aren’t actually celebrating what the party was designed to celebrate? That would be like going to someone’s birthday party, eating cake and singing “Happy Birthday” to them, but then claiming you aren’t celebrating their Birthday.

    Now I’m not saying that we should just isolate ourselves entirely from non-believers and never be near anyone who participates in evil. But to take part in things that are purposed to glorify evil in order to do so is absolutely the wrong strategy (I’m including several verses at the end of my reply that speak to this.)

    My ultimate point is this: More and more Christians today are content to accept the ways of the world by simply tweaking or customizing them enough so that we can justify participating and feel blameless afterward. This is happening in every area of society, from children’s literature & movies, to modern sexual morals and even health and wellness trends. I believe that we need to spend less time “justifying” our behaviours and more time examining what our purpose on this earth is; to bring glory to God and further His Kingdom. The pursuit of personal happiness and satisfaction is trumping God’s purposes a little too often.

    1 Corinthians 10:21 ESV
    You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

    Ephesians 5:7-12 ESV
    Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

    2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV
    Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

    Deuteronomy 18:9-14 ESV
    “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. You shall be blameless before the Lordyour God,

    (Please note that I do know that the above verses are taken from particular contexts. I feel that each of them contain a relevant and true message that does not change when placed in a different context.)

  • Mikko

    A good point of view – and here comes one from Europe.
    Halloween is:
    – another reason to sell lot’s of unnecessary plastic in a name of an American idea
    – coinciding and competing with the Christian All Hallows Day, with a very different approach to death
    – becoming more and more eerie – and celebrated in kinder gardens and schools in eerie ways
    – making supernatural reality a joke
    But what is the solution for a Christian parent? We pretty much follow Rod’s opinions, but also try to make more out of remembering our deceased loved ones and the hope and victory Christ has taken over evil and death.