Why I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

“So, what are your kids dressing up as this year?” This question always gives me pause. You see, we don’t “do” Halloween. Never have. While I don’t have any reservations about our decision not to participate, I hesitate about the right way to answer the question. I don’t enjoy making people uncomfortable, and I’m not trying to convince anyone to change their own minds about it. We just have decided that Halloween celebrations are not for us.

Increasingly, I’ve heard more and more discussions among Christians about what our role is as Christians in Halloween. Some Christians, like us, choose not to take part in Halloween. Others see it as no big deal. Still others believe that Halloween is a great opportunity to engage the culture or reach out to their neighbors. There are many differing opinions out there.

While I’m aware of the arguments for the Pagan, as well as the Christian, origins for Halloween, I’m less interested in determining which origin story is the more important to today’s culture, and more interested in how Halloween is actually celebrated today. Halloween in today’s culture is a dark and disturbing celebration. From risque costumes to violent images, I just don’t see any redeeming factors in the celebration of Halloween.

Many people argue that Halloween is “no big deal,” that dressing up and eating candy are fun. Dressing up, of course, is a lot of fun, and who doesn’t love candy (actually I don’t really, but I know that makes me very odd. Now ice cream would be a different matter.) What’s wrong with having a good time? Nothing, in general, but what is being celebrated? The dead? Monsters? Evil spirits? Witches? The Occult? While there may not be anything wrong with celebrating Halloween, I just don’t see anything particularly right about it either.

I’ve read articles that say that Christians who choose not to participate in Halloween are letting fear rule them. They say that since Christ has defeated death and the evil one we have nothing to fear. Absolutely, we have nothing to fear from Halloween. I am not afraid of Halloween. However, I do believe that there is a devil and that evil spirits are both real and active in the world around us. Spiritual warfare is a reality, and it isn’t something to ignore or to take lightly. Along these lines, I have no desire to expose myself or my family to the darkness that runs rampant through Halloween.

I thought Dr. Al Mohler’s article really summed up my thoughts well on the matter:

While affirming that make-believe and imagination are part and parcel of God’s gift of imagination, Christians should still be very concerned about the focus of that imagination and creativity. …

Christian parents should make careful decisions based on a biblically-informed Christian conscience. Some Halloween practices are clearly out of bounds, others may be strategically transformed, but this takes hard work and may meet with mixed success.

The coming of Halloween is a good time for Christians to remember that evil spirits are real and that the Devil will seize every opportunity to trumpet his own celebrity. Perhaps the best response to the Devil at Halloween is that offered by Martin Luther, the great Reformer: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ’s church on earth. Let’s put the dark side on the defensive.

17 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

  1. jennifergrassman says:

    This is the best argument against celebrating Halloween that I’ve heard. I never felt that the argument that it’s “pagan” really held water because most of our holidays (except for what … July 4?) used to be pagan. I’ve known Christians who even went so far as to not let their kids have Christmas gifts or a Christmas tree, because Christmas used to be “pagan.” My response to that is basically “Well, we live in a pagan world. We can chose to participate in life and witness to others, or we can become hermits and everyone will think we’re freaks.”

    Back in the Garden, Satan took something that was good and twisted it into something that was evil and corrupt. I feel that we as Christians can do the same thing – but in reverse. Take that pagan tradition / holiday / trend, find something positive in it, and turn the evil on it’s head. Make something beautiful out of something ugly.

    I find it disturbing to see children dressed as demons, zombies, and serial killers like “Freddy.” I plan to allow my kids to trick-or-treat with adult supervision … but they’re going dressed as bumblebees, Spiderman, and fairy princesses. The dark side of Halloween is something I will leverage to teach them about sin, and the fun parts are things we will capitalize on to witness … and get a sugar rush (o:

  2. CivilSarah says:

    I applaud your taking a stance and being ok with it! Too often we as Christians pick a side and then kinda feel guilty about it. You make some interesting points that I won’t ignore. I agree that the devil has taken something good (or at the least, ambiguous) and put his own twist on it to make it something for his glory. I dislike the gory, demonic, death-centered costumes because I feel like they celebrate the wrong things.

    That said, I also think there can be redemption found in such a holiday, as this blog contributor has done. http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/redeeming-halloween/

    Rather than ignoring Halloween, this guy and his family have discovered a way to reach their neighborhood with the good news of Christ by building relationships with people who would otherwise “hit and run” with the candy. I love seeing Christians take something satan may have meant for evil, and turning it into something that furthers the Kingdom of Christ.

    Food for thought. 🙂

  3. Joanne says:

    I like Jenn’s and Sarah’s comments. As you know, my household really enjoys Halloween. We reject anything gruesome (costumes, decorations, etc) on Halloween and every day of the year, as there isn’t anything fun or funny about terror and suffering. But there is plenty to like about Halloween that isn’t about grossness or homicide. There are great family conversations to be had in terms of discernment. There is creativity in designing pumpkin carvings, decorations (my kids and their friends have been sitting on the floor each afternoon surrounded by construction paper, scissors, markers, tape, etc), and costume choices. Neighborhoods have parties, share food, focus on the kids. There are opportunities to mix fun with lessons, like the “boo”ing game where a family receives a basket of treats/prizes from an anonymous neighbor and then doubles the blessing by anonymously “boo”ing two other households. And at it’s simplest, a family can have lots of harmless fun together. In all my happy Halloween memories with family and friends, it was never about satanic or demonic things. I would assert that that doesn’t even occur to kids until someone characterizes Halloween in such a way, and even then, most of us just reject that. The holiday is what we make it, as is true for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. I respect our friends who ignore Halloween and I do not doubt they’ve put real thought into that choice. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind on this, and have only commented where someone else initiated a dialogue.

  4. grantsgazelle says:

    We have two reasons we give for not doing Halloween. One is Reformation Day. The other is my husband’s birthday. Usually saying it’s my husband’s birthday is enough. The other day our new neighbors suggested we should change our birthday party to another day. My kids just shook their heads and said that wouldn’t work. I’m wondering if we should have given the other reason.

    • Rachel Miller says:

      Yes, I’m familiar with his argument. I disagree with his historical analysis, and with his conclusions.

      As I wrote in the post, regardless of the origins, today’s observation of Halloween is filled with the celebration of dark and evil things. I’m not cowering in fear on Halloween. I’m simply choosing not take part in the festivities.

      I’m not a fan of Mr. Jordan and his interpretations of scripture or history.

      • Shelly says:

        Okay, thank you! We’ve never celebrated Halloween with our children, but I thought *if* his argument were true, we could celebrate it the way it is outlined in the article, but it would have to go along with a great deal of teaching (as with all things) so our children would know the reason.

    • Joanne says:

      Interesting take on Halloween. I like the mockery idea. Something for me to further investigate and consider. Thanks for sharing it, Shelly.

  5. Mark B says:

    “The best way to drive out the devil,…… is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”
    Luther was advancing an idea common in the medieval church, remnants of which still remain, like the caricature of the devil with horns and a tail…. I’m not sure I find the Biblical case made for it convincing though…

  6. Christine Zelmer says:

    I’m curious–
    We have informed our family that my husband and I will NOT be doing Christmas ant least in the “worldly” sense–
    What are your thoughts in regards to this topic?

    • Rachel Miller says:

      Hi Christine~

      My husband and I do celebrate Christmas, but in a modified way. We don’t do Santa. We do have a tree, an advent calendar, Christmas gifts and stockings. We focus on why Jesus came, and on being thoughtful to others in giving.

      • Christine Zelmer says:

        Thank you Rachel-
        Been listening to a few Christmas messages of John MacArthur this past couple days.
        That and pray will lead us to how the Lord wants us to do this!

  7. Heritage Bushcare says:

    Growing up in Australia, there was no Halloween but now it is everywhere. It began as a commercial venture and as a result it is a good reason to not celebrate.

    Having read a bit of history, it puzzles me as to why Christian America ever celebrated it in the first place, particularly as the statement “Trick or Treat” sounds like a perfect motto for the Mafia.

  8. Andrew Alladin says:

    I find it annoying that some Christians are always looking to find something “redemptive” in things like: Halloween, Breaking Bad, Rome, Game of Thrones, South Park, The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, Fifty Shades of Grey, etc. Perhaps they wanted to see what the hype was all about and then found the entertainment to good to pass up. But how to justify the nudity, profanity, violence, and sex? Simple: Purport to find a “redemptive” angle of good prevailing over evil. Or perhaps a cautionary tale of what happens when people succumb to temptation. Or an opportunity for “cultural engagement” with our secular friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

    If something can’t be enjoyed on its own merit then it’s something that Christians should not try to appropriate for holy means.

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