Voices: How Does Your Family Handle Halloween?
Halloween is a tricky subject! Christian families all over the world handle it differently - many abstain from the festivities entirely, some take their little ones trick-or-treating, while others come up with their own alternatives. In this 'Voices' post, we've gathered an amazing group of parents and bloggers and asked them to share how they treat Halloween in their families! Read their thoughtful responses below:
"What am I trying to teach my kids, by the decisions I make as a parent?" "What is more important, being socially accepted or following a conviction?" "Which is more important to teach, the difference between right and wrong or what is fact vs. fiction?"
I think more than ever, we as parents and church leaders need to start asking ourselves which of the questions above better prepares our kids for life. What is a more important lesson for your kids? What is right and wrong? Or, what is fact or fiction? Our kids don't have a problem knowing right from wrong. They can learn that at school, on TV, with your rules, and definitely at the church. What I want us to consider is what we are doing to separate fact from fiction, truth from lies, and reality from fantasy.
I'd argue that teaching a child that Santa Claus is real is a riskier parenting tactic than dressing them up as a zombie on October 31st.
Why? Because I believe that it is more important for my kids to know the difference between a real Jesus and a fictional Iron Man, or a Santa Claus that doesn't actually know they are bad or good and doesn't come down the chimney. These teachings, along with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (don't get me started) have a real risk of causing our kids to wonder if Jesus is fake once they realize the other ones are. I want my kids to know that there was a real David and not a real Ron Weasley; a real Jonah and not a real Gandalf the Grey. My wife and I have decided to draw a clear line in the sand for our children regarding fiction and reality. So, when our children first began to understand Santa we quickly diffused their belief. Same thing with Harry Potter (even though we watch them) and all the other fantasy characters. For us, rooting our children in truth trumps worrying they will follow the devil if they dress like Mickey Mouse and ask for candy on October 31st.
- JT Witcher, Kids Director at Crosspoint Community Church, Nashville, TN
If Halloween were just costumes and candy, our family would be all over it. However, even the decorations at Target show the darker underbelly of the season. We have decided to just make Halloween no big deal. Throughout the years, we've gone trick-or-treating in the daylight at my aunt's house, we've been to the zoo, we've stayed home with the lights off, we've been to a church's fall festival. Overall, we just want to make it a non-issue, not a part of our big family traditions, keep it low-key and not a "thing" for us. It's served us well because it helps our kids see where our priorities are - we decorate and do it up for Christmas and Easter. Not Halloween.
- Amanda, blogger at ohamanda.com
Growing up, our family went from one extreme to the other on how we celebrated Halloween. With our own family to think about now, my husband and I have changed our opinions on a few things over the years, but the overall thought is the same - we want Christ to be the center of whatever we do. We participate in a fall festival at our church, but don't go gather candy from neighbors. We do carve pumpkins, but we always do one that is based on the book Let's Shine Jesus Light on Halloween and The Pumpkin Patch Parable, and focus on what the light of Jesus and what He has done for us. We can't avoid all the decorations that we see in the weeks leading up to Halloween, but we can talk about the scary things together. As believers we can still share and be the light of Christ during a holiday that is focused on darkness.
- Jolanthe, blogger at homeschoolcreations.net
Our family has made the decision to not participate in traditional Halloween activities. Our oldest turns 10 (this week!) and since becoming parents, we have probably done costumes and trick-or-treating 2-3 times. In our experience it has been more frustrating than family bonding. We have had little ones scared of the garish costumes that they have seen or there has been the neighbor that has costumed their child in a manner that we are uncomfortable with. I have a couple girls that are sensitive to things they see and it has just been in our better interest to find alternative plans for the evening. Last year, Halloween fell on a Wednesday and we participated in a costumed Awana night at our church which we enjoyed. This year, our plans look like they will include a fun movie (on a school night!), letting the kids pick out a favorite bag of candy and pooling our choices at home, and fun take-out food while we watch our movie. Truly, this has been something that I wrestle with every fall and the decision is different for every family.
- Stephanie Shepherd, blogger at Simple Things
Halloween has always been a really fun holiday in our household. Both my husband and I grew up in families that participated in trick or treating, decorating the house, and passing out candy to the neighborhood kids. My own kids have always dressed up, and have really looked forward to planning out their costumes from the first week in October.
Usually their costume choices fall in alignment with whatever their favorite movie or character is at the time. As an example, my oldest has been Buzz Lightyear, and Indiana Jones. My youngest has been Dash from the Incredibles, Zorro and a Ghost Buster. It's make believe, and it's fun.I do decorate my house for fall, starting in September and have decorations up until Thanksgiving.. I have a collected assortment of pumpkins (some jack o'lanterns) and fall flowers, and autumn colored table linens and towels. We have a few scarecrows that we put in the flowerbeds, and my husband and sons decorate the front yard and porch a bit closer to Halloween night. Attending Catholic schools most of my life, we were encouraged to dress as one of the saints during our annual Halloween parade, which of course fell the day before All Saints Day. Some people did, and some dressed instead as gypsies, clowns, hobos, or in "old fashioned" 1950's or 60's clothes--borrowed from our parent's closets.
I realize that there are people in the church who whole-heartedly disagree with any sort of Halloween celebration, and I can respect their point of view on this. Personally, we have just never found what we do to be anything other than a fun time for the kids, not to mention it being a great excuse to buy several bags of yummy candy!
- Lisa Strnad, blogger at talkinglikeagirl.com
We approach Halloween with our kiddos by not making it a big deal. We choose not to celebrate it, but we do engage in fun fall activities where our children still have the opportunity to dress up and get some candy! We do this by heading out to Harvest festivities in our area.
Of course, the subject of Halloween and why we don't celebrate it comes up because we are surrounded by it and many of our friends celebrate it. We tell our children that every family makes their own choices, and our family is convicted to not participate in a holiday that, at its' core, is a celebration of fear. You need only to look around to see the skulls and the blood and the witches and the darkness. It is a holiday designed to engage our fears, our worst fears, and for many it is a night of wicked happenings. For kids, Halloween can be particularly scary, and we don't want to put fear into our children. With that said, we are not interested in judging the convictions or beliefs of other families. We tell our children that not celebrating Halloween is how we believe God has led our family, and therefore we go with it.
Will our convictions change over time? Perhaps. Will we decide to light up our house on Halloween and give out the best treats to the sweet kiddos who come knocking or will we go dark? Honestly, I don't know. We're in process of figuring all that out. But our goal, our ultimate goal, is to be a light and to make decisions based on faith, not fear. And each family must go before the Lord and make those decisions. Whatever your family chooses, however you are convicted, go forth in confidence! We are God's holy and chosen people, so walk free and shine!
- Sarah Mae, blogger at sarahmae.com
Halloween is received with open arms in our household. Each year we accept the challenge to create our evening attire from items located in our home. I don't consider myself the creative one under our roof, but together we can create some nifty ideas.
Trick-or-treating varies from year to year, some years I've remained at home with the youngest to pass out candy, others years we walk the neighborhood together and hand off our wares to the next door neighbor to pass out from their driveway. Some years we like to attach a verse to our goodies with Psalms 38:8 - Taste and see that the Lord is good - other years we don't include a verse. What we enjoy most about this annual family event is visiting with many of our neighbors. We linger at campfires and hot dogs roasts, coffee and hot chocolate are sometimes offered, and the delightful "ooos" and "ahhhs" of costume admirers can be heard at each stop. At the end of the evening, we thank the Lord for His provisions, we combine them into one big pile, keep a few favorites, and donate the rest to our schools. A picture each years marks time, and every year I thank Him for the gift of the ones who reside in our home.