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Who’s Afraid of Halloween?
Is dressing up as ghosts and goblins harmless fun or a celebration of evil?

When I was a young tyke living in Montreal, Halloween was my favourite holiday after Christmas and my birthday. Christmas meant loads of gifts and my birthday party included chocolate cake. But Halloween unleashed all sorts of spooky fun. I got to wear a cool costume and parade around the neighbourhood after dark with my pals. My dad and mom stood at the end of the block bundled up in their winter coats—if it was cold on those late October nights, I never felt it—as I went up and down the street, knocking on doors requesting a “trick or treat.”

I always finished at my grandparents’ house—they lived next door to us. Imagine their surprise when I took off my mask to show them that it was me all along! They never would have guessed, even though my dad was obviously lurking in the front bushes. The best part of the night was coming home and going through all that candy. Pumpkinful after pumpkinful of it! If I was careful, I could ration out my loot right through to Christmas.

Of course, I always carried my UNICEF box with me. Our Catholic-school teachers gave us a lecture on Halloween afternoon about how there were children in Africa who were not as fortunate as we were, so it was with a Christian sense of duty that we held out both our boxes and our plastic loot pumpkins.

Halloween was good clean fun that I outgrew near the end of primary school, just like graduating from MAD magazine to National Lampoon. So I was surprised to hear that Halloween these days is not regarded by all as an innocent night of fun. In recent years, some Christians have looked askance at the hordes of little kids in devil masks and witches costumes, imagining what dark Satanic conspiracies or witchcraft might be brewing in the bosoms of five- and six-year-olds. With the best of intentions, some would prefer their kids go AWOL rather than participate in what they perceive as an unholy night.

If you poll the young trick-or-treaters who ring your doorbell on October 31st, I dare say that none of them would understand what all the fuss is about. But concerns about our children’s spiritual health should not be taken lightly. Perhaps Halloween can be an opportunity to reinforce the Christian faith without spoiling kids’ fun. After all, it is the precursor to All Saints or All Hallows Day, which celebrates the sacrifice and devotion of saints who died faithful to Christ. Why not transform this pagan holiday into a Christian one (see sidebar for suggestions)?

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15-16). Rather than looking at life through the prism of our fears, it might be worth trying to see it through the eyes of innocent children.

Don’t be scared of Halloween. Instead use the holiday as an opportunity to share the message of how God brought life and love into a world broken by sin. He has the ultimate victory over the devil and the forces of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published in Faith & Friends, October, 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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