To Trick or Treat?
that is the Question
evangelicals have various opinions about halloween.
Should we avoid this occult-tinged holiday or seize it as
an opportunity to reach out? By Sheila wray Gregoire
ever since I was laughed at merci- lessly in Grade 3 for my Wonder Woman costume, I have never enjoyed Halloween. I didn’t like the monumental decision of choosing a costume.
I didn’t like walking around in the cold
and rain. And I didn’t like being scared.
Many Christian families approach
Halloween with a certain degree of trepidation. We know the evil roots of the
celebration but all around us family and
friends lure us to participate.
My children have participated in the
past simply to appease extended family.
The year our youngest daughter turned
three, we plopped her in a princess costume and then rapidly hit a snag. Though
we forbade anything scary, our neighbours had no such compunction. Down
the road, creepy music was blasting
while eerie lights lit up fake coffins. Katie
wouldn’t budge. Sometimes, even when
we choose to be positive, we can’t escape
the negative influences around us.
And it’s those negative influences
that make Halloween so controversial.
Our cultural traditions apparently were
founded by Druid priests in ancient Britain who believed that evil spirits roamed
every October 31. To “trick” them into
not entering their homes, people laid out
“treats” on their doorsteps. Hundreds
of years later, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day,
reciting a mass the evening before “
hallowing” in the celebration. He wanted
to redeem a pagan custom that was still
largely practised by the Celtic converts.
Since then Halloween has been the
September / October 2009
busiest day of the year for occultists.
What, then, should a Christian family
do? We don’t want to alienate neighbours and friends, but we also don’t
want to participate in something that
celebrates the demonic.
1. Ignore It
Build Family Memories
Many families decide Halloween’s evil
roots are too great to participate. Jan
Rowe, a home-schooling mom, organizes a potluck dinner at Melvern
Fellowship Baptist Church near Kingston, N.S., for any families who want
to avoid Halloween festivities. Instead
of inviting kids to dress up, she invites
families to join together to watch movies, play games and enjoy being together
– away from trick or treaters.
“We say no to costumes and too
much candy,” Rowe explains, “because
we think emulating a satanic holiday in
any shape or form is hypocritical.”
Deb Elkink likes to retreat with her
husband, Gerrit, and some friends to a
cottage in the Alberta Rockies on Oc-
tober 31 to celebrate Reformation Day.
It just so happens that, on October 31
back in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his
95 Theses to the Wittenburg door. The
Elkinks think this is cause for a party!
They gather around the fire debating
Lutheran doctrine and sharing quota-
tions from Luther, though none of the
Elkinks is actually Lutheran. But it
seems like a much more intellectually
stimulating – and safer – way to com-
memorate the date.
Wander the hallways of any of the
eight Koinonia Christian schools in
Alberta on October 31 and you will
see nary a costume in sight. Christian
schools are often in a difficult position
around October 31 because parents
have such differing viewpoints. So
many schools have decided it’s best to
This perspective is one that Vern
Rand, Koinonia’s superintendent and
principal of the Red Deer campus, is
personally comfortable with.
“We do not endorse it, we don’t
support it and we tell our parents why
through a letter we send home every
year,” Rand says. The letter explains
the school’s perspective: the Evil One
has “costumed” the real nature of the
demonic holiday so people think evil is
attractive. “Ah, look at the cute goblin!
Here are some Hershey’s Kisses!”
Rand notes that when they get com-
plaints about Halloween it’s more likely
to be about the quantity of candy con-
sumed on November 1 than about the
fact they ignore the celebration.
2. transform It
Invite Neighbours for an Alternative
At Delta Pentecostal Tabernacle in Delta,
B.C., you’ll find a big party on October
31 though you won’t find any witches
or goblins. In fact, you won’t find many
costumes at all. What you will find are
dozens of neighbourhood and church
children hopping from room to room
playing games and winning prizes!
After an hour of festivities, every-