I think I learned about Halloween when we moved to Canada in 1985. We didn’t take part in Halloween initially, but once I discovered that it was a night when people willingly, happily, gave children candy, I was sold. I must have begged my parents to let me go trick-or-treating because I remember my dad being against it. I worked on my mom—she knew I was in it for the candy so she persuaded my dad to let us go and get our sweet on and that’s how my sister and I got to go trick-or-treating for the first time. Our costumes were homemade: my sister was Cinderella (back in her servant days, not when she was a princess) and I think my face was painted and I wore mismatched clothes.
The amount of candy we collected in an hour or so was staggering—we got sweets from time to time, but we had never received that many treats at one time, nor had we ever consumed so many sweets daily in the weeks that followed, even with my mom controlling how many sweets we could have each day. As a kid, I saw wearing a costume and doing other Halloween-related stuff such as carving a pumpkin and eating roasted pumpkin seeds as the price I had to pay to get free candy.
But Halloween isn’t just a holiday for kids—adults get into it too: one of my colleagues looooves Halloween—she creates elaborate and impressive costumes (as in she actually sews part or all of them) and does amazing work changing her face into everything from a zombie to Cleopatra. This colleague is the biggest Halloween fan I know, participating in several Halloween-themed events, including costume contests, but even friends who are less likely to create elaborate costumes will put a costume together or rent one to wear to give out candy to trick-or-treaters or for a costume party.
And not just costumes, house decorating for Halloween is common, with people transforming their front lawns into crypts or graveyards, covered in fake spiderwebs, with eerie music playing on Halloween night. Haunted house tours and other scary events spring up—I’ve attended a few and even though I know it’s fake I get scared and that can be fun if you’re in the mood for it, but the older I get the more I dislike being scared (lol maybe real life is scary enough?!).
If I had my way, Halloween would fast forward to the part where stores reduce the price of their Halloween candy by 50% or more and I’m not heckled for refusing to dress up. That sounds dramatic but people take it personally when you refuse to dress up, even when it’s a costume-optional party.
Christianity and Halloween
After our first or second Halloween, my mom regretted letting us go trick-or-treating. Aside from the over-consumption of candy she witnessed, she was convicted that as Christians, we shouldn’t be participating in Halloween, which of course was my dad’s feeling from the beginning. Over the next few years sometimes we’d go trick-or-treating and occasionally we wouldn’t, and there were usually fights about it, because we kids felt that since we didn’t believe in whatever Halloween stood for and just wanted the candy, we should be allowed to go.
This is what I initially planned to talk about because I was at a Halloween party two years ago and I was the only person who wasn’t dressed up. The hosts knew I wouldn’t be dressing up and they were ok with this (I know because I offered to not come on account of not wanting to dress up!). At the party, a friend who’s known me for a long time said he thought my belief in God was the reason I had never enjoyed dressing up for Halloween, and while that makes sense, the truer reason is my lowkey ways (I’m the girl who wears her hair in a bun 88% of the time and wears no makeup 97% of the time) are more responsible for my dislike for costumes than anything.
So, is participating in Halloween a sin? The association of Halloween with ghosts, goblins, and witches, all of which are not godly means that Halloween is not something I should take part in. In the past I used the “I just want the candy” excuse, and I don’t think attending Halloween events has affected my Christianity. But is that true? By choosing to do something that I know isn’t godly, I’m sinning and sin always distances you from God.
What’s your stance on Halloween? If you are not a fan, would you let your children go “just for the candy”?
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