Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
Since I did not become a Christian until my late teens, I do not recall ever having any spiritual issues with Halloween. For me, it was simply a day to dress in a costume, go out with friends, and get free candy. The worst things I ever did on a Halloween night were smash someone’s pumpkin and take a bunch of candy from someone who foolishly left the entire candy bowl on the doorstep with a note, “Please only take one.”
My wife and I do not have any kids, so we have not had to deal with this question personally as parents. But, every year, I think a lot about what I would do if I had kids. Would I let my children celebrate Halloween? The bigger question: should Christians celebrate Halloween?
It is tempting to avoid this question entirely, as there are very strongly held viewpoints on both sides, and especially on the anti-Halloween side. As with many topics on GotQuestions.org, we will be attacked no matter what stand we take. If we go with the anti-Halloween crowd, we are attacked as legalistic fuddy-duddies who are failing to engage the culture. If we go with the pro-Halloween crowd, we are compromising with the world, or possibly even worshipping the devil. If we try to take a balanced approach, we are spineless, wishy-washy fence-straddlers. But, we can’t just avoid the topic entirely. Halloween occurs on October 31 every year, and as far as I know, there are no plans to cancel it.
The origin of Halloween is interesting. The modern-day American celebration of Halloween is essentially a mixture of Samhain, All Saints Day (All Hallows Eve), All Souls Day, and numerous customs/traditions/myths from European and African immigrants. Throw in the commercialization that goes with every modern American holiday, and you have Halloween. Some reject Halloween based on its predominately pagan origins. While we should definitely take a holiday’s origins into account, I do not believe a holiday’s origins can alone be the deciding factor as to whether a Christian can/should observe it.
If the people who first put four wheels together, thus inventing the cart, bowed down to it in worship and used it to carry human sacrifices to the god of the dead, does that mean we should not drive cars? If an ancient culture poured out blood offerings in worship of sundials, should we not look at clocks or wear watches? If the days of the week were named after pagan gods…
There are many, many things in our modern culture that have very pagan and/or evil origins. There is no way to avoid them all. Ultimately, we can’t base our convictions on what some other culture did or believed about a certain event hundreds, or thousands, of years ago.
For me, the questions are these: Is there anything about children dressing up in costumes, going to neighbors’ homes, and asking for candy that contradicts the Bible? Can Halloween be observed as merely those things or does it necessarily imply more?
However you answer those questions, you should follow your conviction. If you are not fully convinced that Halloween can be observed in an innocent way, you should not observe it.
“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)
“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)
Whether your family participates in the full trick-or-treat experience, or attends a local harvest festival, or goes to a prayer meeting, or stays at home with the doors locked and the lights out – make sure you are following convictions that are solidly based on your study of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). And, make sure you allow others to develop, grow, and mature in their convictions as well.
For my wife and I, I imagine we will be at home, with one of us dressed in a giant macaroni and cheese box, handing out candy, gospel tracts, and invitations to our church’s children’s program.
S. Michael Houdmann
Should Christians celebrate Halloween?