Give Out the Good Candy this Halloween
Halloween is right around the corner. Next to the end times, there is perhaps no more debated topic in the church than this holiday. I’m only half joking.
There are two contrasting approaches when it comes to Halloween.
Camp 1: Reject Halloween
Some believe that Halloween is a “demonic holiday” and should be completely avoided, pointing to the celebration’s pagan beginnings. It’s believed that Halloween originated from an old Celtic pagan religious practice called Samhain. The Celts believed that one night a year the dead would return to earth. The Samhain festival involved bonfires and costumes to ward off spirits from destroying crops and other perilous activity.
Eventually, the Romans conquered the Celts and the holiday blended with traditions of honoring the dead. Later, the Catholic Church co-opted the holiday as a way to remember saints and martyrs. Hence November 1st became All Hallows Day (aka All Saints Day) with All Hallows Eve (aka All Saints Eve) or Halloween on October 31st.
But because of its possible pagan roots and the connection to ghosts and spirits, many Christians take issue with Halloween. They believe in the holiday’s ties to the demonic and pagan worship and that to participate is to open oneself up to the occult.
Camp 2: Accept Halloween
By the late 1800’s, Halloween focused less on remembering the dead and other ghoulish activities, and it became more of a community event. Much of the focus on the dead was downplayed and the day became an event for children to enjoy. By the early 20th century, Halloween became almost entirely secularized, removing any religious elements from the festivities. Trick-or-treating as we know it became popular by the 1950’s. As a result, many families choose to wholeheartedly embrace the holiday as a fun night of dressing up and loading up on candy.
I grew up in a family that rejected Halloween. But once I became a father, I made the switch to accept Halloween and chose to let my kids get in on the action. I love taking my boys trick-or-treating (and administering a dad tax on their candy!)
As we’ve participated in Halloween over the years, I’ve noticed something important: there is no other holiday on the calendar where more of your neighbors will be outside at the same time than on Halloween. This day offers an incredible opportunity to interact with people. It is, perhaps more so than any other day of the year, a prime opportunity to make inroads with those who live around you. So I challenge my church members, regardless of their position on the history of Halloween, to redeem this day for a missional purpose.
Here are a few suggestions for leveraging Halloween:
- Make your house a rest area for families. Set up a tent and offer beverages. Provide chairs to sit down and take a break for a minute.
- Set up a chili bar for your street. Send out flyers ahead of time and invite neighbors over for chili.
- Give out the good candy. Be the neighbor every kid remembers. After all, Jesus modeled this when he turned water into wine. He saved the best for last, which was actually a picture of himself. Jesus is the better wine that God the Father saved until just the right time. As his followers, we should live in like fashion, with generosity. This provides us opportunities to tell our neighbors why we give out the good candy – and that’s what neighboring well is all about.