Halloween Dilemma: Should Christian Parents Allow Trick-or-Treating?

trick or treating during Halloween
Kids dressed in costumes wait for candy while trick or treating during Halloween in Port Washington, New York, October 31, 2014. |

It's that time again for Christian parents to decide to allow their children to trick-or-treat, or not.

My children are grown now, but this was a BIG deal for us for many years and is quite the dilemma. On the one hand all the kids are going and it does involve candy (and believe me I am the biggest of candy lovers!). On the other hand, observing a pagan holiday does bring some concerns.

Kathleen Patterson
Kathleen Patterson, Ph.D. is a professor at the School of Business & Leadership, Regent University, and serves on the board of CareNet.

So, let's look at our options.

Option One: Go Trick-or-Treating.

The argument is that this is a harmless activity, a great opportunity to enjoy the neighbors and community, to dress up, and enjoy some treats. After all, why should Christians miss out on all the fun! Some might even say that Christians are finicky to not go trick-or-treating. And let's face it, the cuteness of our little ones in costumes is undeniable adorableness beyond ourselves!

Option Two: Do not go Trick-or-Treating.

Halloween is a pagan holiday, and we as Christians should certainly not participate in a holiday that promotes the gory and the scary. Halloween is known as "All Hallows Eve," the evening prior to "All Saints Day," — and is also considered the most evil day of the year. Do we want our children participating with evil?

I offer you Option Three: Make it your day!

In full disclosure, I did both. When my sons were smaller I dressed them up and we went trick-or-treating, but as I became a more experienced mother and Christian, I did begin to question the holiday.

Admittedly I had an "out" which made it easy — my husband's birthday is on Halloween, so we were already celebrating, just not celebrating Halloween. I would take my sons to a local candy store — give them each a bag and with the instructions to "fill it up with whatever your heart desires" — paying for their dream candy was worth it to me. They had candy, a birthday party, and a celebration — we made the day our day.

I asked my friends if they thought trick-or-treating was a good idea or not, and most responses centered around not ignoring the day as Halloween, but also not participating in the evil side of the day.

Kathleen Patterson's children on Halloween.
Kathleen Patterson's children on Halloween. |

Dressing up? If one is to dress up — then avoid the demonic and scary costumes. Have the fun of costumes, enjoy the dressing up appropriately. My sons were football players, knights in shining armor, dinosaurs & kittens, nerds and even hobos.

Trick-or Treat? The ideas here abounded — if you decide not to go trick-or-treating, then find an alternative — a lot of churches have trunk-or-treat events, Harvest events, or the like. Some friends noted the option of going only to the homes of family and friends.

Celebrate? Well, not exactly celebrate the darkness of the day, but certainly enjoy togetherness time as a family. Several of my friends mentioned fire-pits and neighbors, and even handing out candy and enjoying their neighbors.

Making it your day may not look like the Halloween of others — but you have preserved the integrity of your Christian faith, the safety of your family — and hopefully enjoyed some good candy.

Kathleen Patterson, Ph.D. is a professor at the School of Business & Leadership, Regent University, and serves on the board of CareNet. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Regent University.

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