May Christians and their children participate in Halloween activities? To answer this question, we should first distinguish the secular observance of Halloween from such important Christian festival days as Christmas and Easter. Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, and Easter commemorates his resurrection. Both these Christian holidays memorialize profound aspects of the life of Jesus.
Halloween has no such Christian spiritual features. True, this holiday falls on October 31, which is the eve of All Saints Day, which is a festival day celebrated by some Christian churches. However, the modern celebration of Halloween is not generally thought of as a time of worship.
The day does have religious significance for some people, particularly wiccans and druids. For some people and in some regions, Halloween or some of its elements may have a non-Christian religious meaning. Some Halloween activities could be considered anti-Christian, and would, therefore, be avoided. Christians would want to avoid demonic associations, for example. With these things in mind, it would be appropriate for Christians to consider carefully their activities on this holiday.
For most children, however, there is no religious significance involved in either the day itself or in such elements as pumpkins or costumes. It’s true that such things as jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires and black cats, which are part of the Halloween tradition, may have roots in pre-Christian activities. But when children go trick-or-treating or visit “haunted houses,” they are not thinking about participating in any religious festivities at all. They are just trying to have fun, as they would at a movie or amusement park.
Most Christians believe they can celebrate Halloween (in some respects) as a purely secular evening of fun. We should remember that much of the television we watch and many movies we see are what we often call “mindless entertainment.” Many other things we do for fun, we do precisely for entertainment and for no other reason. That’s the way entertainment is. Playing checkers or a video game, for example, has no redeeming features of a cosmic nature except that it’s fun, and sometimes relaxing. Many classic children’s stories include magic or other elements that children know are make-believe.
Many people see trick-or-treating or visiting a haunted house as being in the same category. It has no spiritual, religious or enduring significance. Viewed on that basis, participating in various Halloween fun activities wouldn’t be any different than going to Disneyland’s “haunted house” or enjoying similar entertainment.
The issue of whether to celebrate Halloween in any way is usually a question only for parents who have small children. Retailers advertise Halloween as a time of great fun for kids, so children naturally want to participate in trick-or-treat walkabouts, don costumes and visit local “haunted house” stations provided by some merchants or involve themselves in other related activities.
For parents who don’t want their children involved in such things, they might consider having, with other parents and children, a home party that doesn’t involve Halloween-type festivities. Some churches offer an evening get-together for children and parents, with fun Bible-centered games and party snacks.
Should Christians and their children participate in Halloween activities if they are unsure whether it is the right thing to do or are convinced it is wrong? The Bible teaches us that we should be fully persuaded in our own minds about these things—either pro or con. But we should not judge or condemn others who are of a different persuasion. The apostle Paul’s advice in Romans 14 can be applied to the question of Halloween activities.
If some people feel uncomfortable participating in Halloween activities, perhaps due to problems in their family or their region, then they should not do so. The day has religious significance only to those who give it religious significance. (As mentioned earlier, we would do well to avoid activities that still have an unChristian flavor.) It is the responsibility of each Christian to decide, based on biblical and Christian principles, whether to participate in Halloween activities, and to avoid judging other Christians who have different circumstances and make different decisions.