Halloween is one of those topics that gets Christians a little freaked out. Is it okay to wear costumes? Should kids be allowed to go trick-or-treating? Are Halloween parties actually satanic rituals? If we do anything on Halloween other than turn off the lights and pretend we're not home, does that mean we're putting our faith at risk of spiritual attack?
Some Christians believe there is nothing wrong with dressing up in costumes or handing out candy on Halloween—that it's a totally innocent, fun holiday for kids and teens. Other Christians are convinced that it's an evil holiday that was established to worship Satan and darkness and all things occult. By now, you are probably pretty clear about how your parents feel about Halloween. But which view is right?
"Halloween" is not mentioned in the Bible specifically, but we can still use biblical principles to help us make a good decision about what to do. That said, there is still the whole "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" thing (Ephesians 6:1). So if your parents are adamantly against you having anything to do with Halloween, you have to go by the house rules. If they have no problem with Halloween, that's fine too, but now your responsibility to make wise choices about what you do next.
No matter how you slice the pumpkin, Halloween still does have pagan origins. Back in the day, it was known as All Hallows' Eve, a time when the dead were remembered. Historians believe that the association with ghosts, food, and fortunetelling on Halloween came from pagan Celtic customs that began over 2,000 years ago. Throughout history, other religions and regions started adding their own Halloween customs. In America, Halloween is super commercialized and there's a huge emphasis on scary, wicked, and evil themes.
But just because something has a pagan origin, that doesn't necessarily mean we can't have anything to do with it. Did you know that the days of the week were named after pagan gods? American dollar bills have an eye over a pyramid printed on the back. Even wedding rings were originally a pagan custom. But you're unlikely to see anybody getting mad about using a name that means "Thor's day" on the day after Wednesday, or not spending American dollars because of its imagery, or refusing to wear wedding rings because they were once pagan symbols.
Obviously, Christians should avoid pagan practices that directly involve witchcraft, occult, or the worship of other deities (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 13:6-11; Acts 19:19). But many common practices that began with pagans (like wedding rings) have now been so far removed from their original meaning that worrying about them has become a moot point. While some pagans will still celebrate Halloween as an occult holiday, that doesn't mean everybody has to.
We definitely don't want to take Halloween too lightly. Whether or not you decide to celebrate or do stuff on Halloween, you want to keep in mind how you are representing Christ on October 31. Dressing up with friends and/or handing out candy on Halloween is NOT a sin—just like it would not be a sin on any other day. (You know you want to dress up like Doctor Who and hand out jelly babies on April 23. Or not. To each their own.) Of course, you do need to make intelligent costume choices. Nothing immodest or scary enough to cause children to run in fear at the sight of you.
Philippians 1:27 says to "let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ." That means that a Christian should not participate in the darker aspects of Halloween, but instead use that time to shine God's love and light onto others. But it also means that we should not pour hate, judgment, or guilt on those who disagree with our own view (Romans 14). On a night that often celebrates wickedness, be a light walking through the darkness—a candle of hope among the shadows of the enemy.
Halloween is not mentioned in the Bible, but we can still use biblical principles to help us make a good decision about it. Historically, it does have pagan roots, but that doesn't necessarily mean that if we "celebrate" Halloween we are pagans. (Though obviously, Christians should avoid actual pagan practices.) Dressing up with friends and/or handing out candy on Halloween is NOT a sin—just like it is not be a sin on any other day. Make intelligent, modest, not-too-scary costume choices and let your life be a light to others (Philippians 1:27). If you choose not to do anything on Halloween, that's OK too; just don't judge or hate on others who do (Romans 14).
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.