How evangelical Christians celebrate Halloween:
How Evangelical Christians observe Halloween:
In advance of Halloween for 1999, Focus on the Family, a
Fundamentalist Christian agency conducted a poll of their web site visitors
concerning their plans to observe Halloween. 1 Results were:
||30% Avoid it because it is evil
||29% Enjoy costumes and candy
||29% Turn it into a fall festival
||9% Ignore it for lack of interest
||4% Observe it as Reformation Day -- a recognition of the founding of
Protestantism and the eventual division of Christianity into thousands of faith
In 2001, Christianity Today, an Evangelical Christian magazine,
conducted a pre-Halloween poll from among visitors to their web site. The
topic was their own church's response to Halloween. Results were:
||56% My church offers alternatives for the children
||34% My church ignores it. Members do what they want.
||4% My church opposes it.
||4% Other responses.
||0% My church observes it -- scary costumes, et al.
In 2003-OCT, Christianity Today asked the question: "Are your
kids participating in Halloween this year?" Results were:
||26%: They are doing a Halloween alternative instead.
||13%: I don't have kids:
||10%: They're doing Halloween and an alternative.
The total number participating in the poll was 1,340. This would make the margin of error less than 3%. However, the individuals who contributed to
the poll are self-selected and may not represent a typical
cross-section of Evangelical Christians.
- Trina Schaetz wrote an article in Christian Parenting Today's 2001-OCT
issue. She suggests other alternative celebrations at Halloween:
- Mystery bowling: The family plays a regular game of bowling,
but using unusual stances: bowl backwards, bowl with your weak hand,
etc. Losers have to add a silly hat, wig, etc. to their costume.
- Family film festival: The family makes a home movie using a
theme like a cowboy story or a science fiction tale.
- Nature walk: A family walk through a wilderness area, looking
for the most beautiful leaf, the smoothest rock, the most interesting
- Neighborly needs: Have your family volunteer to perform a
chore for the neighbors, such as: "cleaning windows, raking leaves,
or washing cars together."
- Host a pumpkin carving party: Invite friends and neighbors to
carve pumpkins, each with a single letter from a short Bible verse: e.g.
"Jesus is Lord." Then arrange the pumpkins to spell out the
phrase in your front yard. 3
- During 2003, an evangelical Christian suggested organizing:
"...a progressive dinner
with our friends ... finishing up with a collective time of reading (short)
inspirational biographies of exemplary Christians? After all, Christians created
All Saints Day (November 1) to remember the martyrs and intrepid saints who've
gone before us. Wouldn't this be a way to "hallow" a holiday gone awry? When the
trick-or-treater comes by, we'd just happily explain what we're doing!" 2
- During 2017, World Vision UK launched a new Halloween initiative called "Pumpkin Heroes." Rev. Gail Thompson commented:
"... parents can organize a community event at their church, go on hero hunts, and build paper pumpkins covered in Bible verses. ... [Engage in] hero-hunting, craft making, Bible-reading, game-playing pumpkin fun, as they find out what God has to say about loving others, and watch Patch the Pumpkin’s film." 4,5
- During 2018, Childrens Ministry Magazine described "5 Halloween Alternatives for Your Children’s Ministry." They begin with a traditional evangelical statement:
"Halloween’s origins are rooted in the occult. The ancient Druids believed that on October 31, Saman, the lord of death, called forth hosts of dead spirits to visit their earthly homes. They believed that demons masqueraded as fairies, goblins, vampires, and werewolves. People would set out food and drink to placate the evil spirits. Trick or treating is a direct outgrowth of these ancient practices."
Their statement has been picked up and displayed by eight other evangelical Christian web sites. In reality:
- The origin of Halloween was not in the occult. October 31 started as a seasonal day of celebration observed by Druids. It marked the end of their six-month warm season, and the beginning of their cold season.
- "Saman" is spelled "Samhain," is pronounced as if it were written "Sowen," and does not refer to a Drudic deity related to death. It was not a time when demons visited Earth. Instead, deceased ancestors were believed to sometimes return to Earth bearing gifts for their descendents.
Their web site suggests five alternatives to "trick or treating:" a family story telling retreat, children's or family dinner theatre, family harvest of blessings party, mystery tour of surprises, or family hay ride. 6
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "How will your household celebrate Halloween this year?," Focus on the Family at: http://www.focusonthefamily.org/
- "Welcome," The Connection, Christianity Today, for 2003-OCT-29.
- Trina Schaetz, "5 Fun Halloween Alternatives," 2001 at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
- Gail Thompson, "A Christian alternative to Halloween," World Vision UK, 2017-OCT-28, at: https://www.worldvision.org.uk/
- "Pumpkin Heroes," World Vision UK, 2017, at: https://www.worldvision.org.uk/
- "5 Halloween Alternatives for Your Children’s Ministry," Childrens Ministry, at: https://childrensministry.com/
Essay copyright © 1997 to 2018, Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-OCT-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
Copyright © Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-SEP-