The Dark and Light Sides of Halloween

Last week, I posted my thoughts on Halloween and my preference to call it Reformation Day.

This week, a bit more about Halloween. I’ve wavered back and forth over the years from being hard line opposed to any participation in the “Devil’s Holiday” to a more practical acknowledgement of the cultural event that Halloween has become, and to give focus to the significance of the day as the first shots fired in what is known as the Protestant Reformation.

In our neighborhood, I’ve been amazed that Halloween is competing for Christmas in yard and house decorations, complete with grave markers in front yards. Why such obsession with death?

“Trick or Treat” was never a part of my childhood experience. My parents didn’t take a hard line against Halloween as such. We were allowed to participate in dressing up for Halloween for school, but I think they just weren’t comfortable with their children threatening the neighbors with harm in order to get candy.

Of course, we were aware of the dark side of Halloween, the focus on monsters, ghosts, death, and Satan; and the ‘tricks” that crossed the line into criminal behavior. But every party seems to incite some to bad behavior, those who find joy in actually harming others or who just don’t have the wisdom to know when it is time to stop or what are the borders to inappropriate actions.

So, I’m still not at ease with the history and major premise of this holiday.  But I’ve eased up on making a federal case about it with my kids and grandkids and see it as a way to express friendship to our neighbors.  One neighbor always has a portable fire pit on the driveway and makes an evening of it,  Avoiding interminable doorbell rings, they create a welcoming atmosphere for the whole neighborhood.  We could all learn from that fine example. How can we be lights in the darkness of our neighborhoods?

Reports are that weather patterns expected for Halloween have led several communities in central Indiana to officially move the celebration to November 1 this year.  Thus, it will not be Halloween, but All Saints Day, when the kids show up.  I wonder how that might affect the evening.

For a better review of the roots of Halloween and how we respond to the spiritual darkness associated with it, I refer you to a favorite blogger, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I commend his Halloween post, Christianity and the Dark Side—What about Halloween?



2 thoughts on “The Dark and Light Sides of Halloween

  1. Tom,
    I nearly always agree with you. However, permit me to offer a slightly alternative view. When we leave our lights out and go to our local church with our family, what message are we giving our neighbors? When we vocalize we don’t support Halloween “because we are Christians” are we loving our neighbors? How often do our neighbors see us and have us welcome them into our home? For many people, Halloween may be the only night of the year when we have an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus. I think your neighbors idea is great! I understand the opportunity for evil, but if we hide behind the doors of the church who is winning?

    Let’s proclaim God’s love for the world through our actions on Halloween!


    1. Greg,

      I fully affirm your perspective, but I can’t figure out how your view is alternative to what I expressed, but rather a further development of it. Perhaps I left it assumed that I followed my parents in the practice of not “extorting” candy from the neighbors(my weak effort at a little humor)? Yes and No — We took a more conservative approach with our kids because of the “dark side” of Halloween (this is where I have changed over the years and lightened up considerably as a grandparent), but wanted to be sure we were not rejecting the neighborhood. Any personal reservations I’ve had about Halloween over the years, I’ve largely kept to myself, did not even talk about it in the church, let alone the neighborhood. You are absolutely right that going negative about Halloween to the world is a non-starter at best and actually a terrible way to bear witness to Christ. Thus, we have always participated in the neighborhood with our lights on and welcoming the kids who come for candy. I totally agree with your conclusion that Halloween is a great opportunity for building community in the neighborhood, which was the point of my article. Your point about abandoning the neighborhood by going to church is exactly what I began to feel Sunday evening services were doing. What started for evangelistic outreach lost that focus entirely. In warm weather, I concluded that leaving the neighborhood every Sunday evening was at cross purposes with the original purpose. Halloween alternatives? That’s another question that needs some more thought. It can be a great outreach event or another “turning inward” approach. Thanks for your comment!


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