Every fall the posts and hot takes are flying: Should Christians celebrate Halloween?In this episode, Phy breaks down the history of Samhain and All Hallowed’s Eve, then discusses how to discern the celebration of this holiday and the options of imitation, abstention, or redemption. She also discusses magic in books and movies.
Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer. I’m here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before, and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey, because every woman is a theologian.
Hello, friends. Welcome back to Verity podcast. I am so excited you have joined me this week. I have a feeling that some of you may be listening to this episode, who have never listened to my podcast before. Whenever I talk about controversial Christian topics, I usually get some new listeners, and I just want to say thanks for being here. I’m so glad you are here. And if this is your first time, I hope you’ll hang around and check out a few of my other episodes, too. What we’re about here at Verity is applying scripture to all of life and letting our love for Christ, guide our decision-making. From things as seemingly insignificant as Halloween, to things as huge and complicated as understanding the Trinity or discipling our kids or tending to our marriages. I’m glad you’re here.
In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about Halloween. This is one of those divisive topics that comes up every fall, and since it’s the beginning of October when this episode is going out, I figured what better time than now to get this out into the world, so we can have thoughtful conversations around this topic, instead of anger and vitriol and guilt, and condescension. Doesn’t that sound like a better option? [laughs] I think that is what the Lord wants for us. And I think as we look at scripture, and as we look at Christian history, we’re going to see what God’s intent is for each of us in our individual families, as we make decisions about Halloween.
Before I dive into, some of the history of this holiday, if you’re new to Verity, we are all about looking at the history and development of both Christian holidays, but Christian thought and practice because it helps us in discerning what to do and what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. We’re going to look at the history of this holiday in just a little bit. Please also excuse the jingle bells in the background that is Perpetua, our cat, and she just is all about being in my podcast office right now.
Okay, so before we get into the history, I first want to set the stage or set the expectation for our whole outlook on Halloween. Why do we care at all, because I sometimes see online, people saying things like, “If you don’t want Halloween to be about Satan, don’t be a Satanist. There, fix the problem.” And as we’ll see, in a few moments, that’s an oversimplification of the issue because this holiday when celebrated according to the original roots and the original intent in the current intent of Wiccans in the New Age, it really is a Satanic holiday. So, we have to as Christians be discerning about it. That’s an oversimplification, but at the same time, we don’t want to go back to this Satanic Panic of the 1980s, where there’s a devil under every rock, you’re scared of anything that might have a thread of darkness in it or a mention of magic or a fairy godmother or something like that. We don’t want to go that far. We don’t want to stray into legalism either. So, we don’t want to be dismissive, and we don’t want to be legalistic. And the beautiful thing about the Christian faith when rightly understood and rightly practiced, and grounded in scripture, and guided by the Holy Spirit, it always ends up in holy moderation. That’s what we come to over and over and over again on this podcast when we look at issues like this, holy moderation, and wisdom is what we see.
Another thing we’re going to talk about is the discernment process for someone who claims to be a follower of Christ as they are deciding how they disciple not just their family, but the people around them. The holidays we choose to celebrate are a part of how we shape our people and their view of what is good and true and beautiful in the world. This phrase of good and true and beautiful is something I really, really want to emphasize at the outset. This is actually part of an educational philosophy often found in classical and in Charlotte Mason educational approaches. The goal of it is to give children, specifically, but any person a feast, or a huge smorgasbord of options in media and books and experiences that elevate what is good and true and beautiful, and this lines up with scripture.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” This has to do with the renewal of our minds in the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in Romans 12.
As Christians, our long-term goal and our long-term glorification, sanctification by the Holy Spirit, is to be renewed and transformed. And we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we learn what is acceptable and good and perfect. What is God’s will, this is the goal of the Christian. I want to start in this place, because what can happen is we start to take our Christian freedoms, and we elevate our Christian freedoms to the point we’ve actually abdicated our Christian power. And here’s what I mean by that.
We’re more interested in what we’re free to do than we’re interested in the authority that we have. And by operating only in what we’re free to do, we choose to do things that take us away from the authority we have in the world, and the power we have in the spiritual realm, specifically. We have the Holy Spirit of God overcoming power of Christ, to impact our world and our communities to guide and disciple, both our children or our spiritual children, the people around us that we are to be a witness to and to lead and be an example to. And part of doing that is elevating what is good and true and beautiful. And that’s why I want to start here, because as talk about Halloween, I want us to keep in mind, is what I’m choosing to do and how I’m choosing to do it, elevating the good, true, and beautiful in this world, or is it doing the opposite.
As I get to the different ways that Christians navigate this holiday, I think that you will be able to discern what you need to do for your family in order to do that. So, without further ado, let’s go into the history of Halloween.
What I’m about to share with you is not drummed up to take away the fun of the holiday. It’s a google search away, you do not have to dig deep to discover the history of this holiday as it’s currently celebrated, because we have a mixture here of the Christian/Catholic Church and its holidays mixed in with a Druid and Wiccan holidays and we’re going to have to make a distinction between the two. But all of this is right out there, and I have this all-in written form in my eBook on Halloween and All Saints Day with all of the references I use to develop the history I’m about to share with you.
This is from History.com and multiple other places that I have the references for you. Reuters History, Washington Post, Alt Press, it’s all out there. I have all of the references in the Halloween eBook, which is in the eBook library on phyliciamasonheimer.com. If you want to do your own research, you can start there and then expand from there. This is all a google search away.
We’re going to look at the origins of Samhain. So this is the holiday that was established before the Catholic church established All Hallows’ Eve, which we’ll look at in a second. Samhain is what brought about most of the Halloween traditions that we know about today, that are celebrated today. That’s where they originated.
Samhain is one of the eight Wiccan sabbats or high holidays. And most Wiccans believe that it’s the most important or powerful sabbat of them all. And so if you don’t know what Wicca is, it’s a sect of paganism. It’s kind of like a druid religion, and it’s actually on the rise. It’s becoming very popular and elements of it are being integrated both into New Age practice and just general spirituality. Some places that you’ll see Wicca on Etsy or TikTok, #TheCottagecore or Cottagecore vibe, Pinterest. If you look at Cottagecore materials, you’re going to see a lot of Wiccan elements there. You’re going to see them in New Age kind of shops or Instagram accounts where you’ll see no crystals and connection with Mother Nature. You’re also going to see Wicca combined with the natural birthing community. So, I am very involved in the home birthing community because I’ve had three home births.
One thing you’ll often see in the natural birth home birth community is this New Age mother goddess, mother earth approach to things and you’ll see Wiccan elements kind of integrated into that too. There’s some crossover between Wicca in New Age. And female Wiccans are called witches and they gather in covens to celebrate their sabbat holidays. These sabbats tend to follow the astronomical and ecological calendar. This is not unique only to Wicca. This is something that everybody kind of revolved around, even if you look at the biblical feasts for Israel, they’re kind of following this agricultural calendar. But in Wicca, they also in an upside-down way, celebrate plantings, equinoxes and harvests. Samhain which is spelled S-A-M-H-A-I-N is post-harvest on October 31st, and is considered the new year for pagans.
There are seven other holidays from the winter solstice to May Day to summer solstice and then the fall equinox, which is September 20th, but the biggest holiday of the year is Samhain when on October 31st. The fall equinox is important to pagans for a very specific reason. They believe this is a time when the veil is thin between the physical and the spiritual worlds. And there’s an access to those who’ve died or passed to the spirit realm. It’s easier to reach them, they expect spiritual movement. And so, the traditions that we know, costumes, trick or treating, and in pagan circles something called a Dumb Supper, where you set a place for departed loved ones at dinner. This originated with Celtic paganism in Ireland and in Druid worship services that were associated with it.
When Rome then conquered the Celtic lands, some of those pagan Roman festivals such as Feralia, which honored the dead were integrated into Samhain. And then eventually, in the 1840s, a modified version of this as it developed over the years came to the United States in the 1840s during the Irish immigration. The Celts are observing this Samhain kind of festival, where there’s this superstitious kind of approach to the dead, and this contact with the dead and elevation of ghosts and communicating with people who have passed on. At the same time, the eastern and the western church were commemorating the dead, but doing it in a very different way.
In May 13th of 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV created All Martyrs’ Day in honor of those who died in the Roman Pantheon. This is 400-500 years after these great persecutions of Christians, and the Pope decides, “Let’s make an All Martyrs’ Day to honor them.” But then Pope Gregory III moved All Martyrs’ Day to November 1st, and he expanded it to include saints as well as martyrs. So not all martyrs received church sainthood, some dead, but when they expanded the day to include all saints, it now included church fathers and mothers, people who’d accomplished miracles. They were also included, even if they hadn’t died for the faith. Another day was then added on November 2nd, this is called All Souls Day, to honor other non-persecuted dead. So, this made All Saints Day, the eve of All Souls Day, and so they’re November 1st and 2nd, back-to-back.
Today, many Wiccans resent what they call the Christianization of Samhain. They even acknowledge that the name Halloween reveals how the church redeemed the pagan holiday with a biblical alternative. So, many scholars believe that when Pope Gregory moved All Martyrs’ Day to November 1st, he was very specifically trying to counter this holiday of fear of the dead and worship of the dead with this commemoration of the Christian dead, those who had died for their faith.
All Saints Day celebration was called originally All Hallows or All Hallowmas. It was from the Middle English, which means All Saints Day, All Hallowmas. The night before it was called All Hallows Eve. So, Halloween, as we know it as Hollow Eve, All Hallows Eve, that word is a Christian name. It’s a Christian name and it refers to the day after it, which is All Saints Day. And Wiccans resent this. They do not like that it’s called Halloween. The Halloween name is pointing to All Saints Day. It’s not pointing to Samhain, and the festivities that we know culturally are all associated with Samhain. So, the church was directly trying to counter this pagan festival by creating All Saints Day or moving All Saints Day the next day. And even today, Wiccans do not appreciate this.
When I was doing research for this episode, I went directly to articles that were talking about how to celebrate Halloween as if you were Wiccan or as if you were pagan, because I wanted to hear their perspective on it. One thing I found so interesting was an article from altpress.com about how to celebrate Halloween, like a witch, and this quote was in the article. “If you want to celebrate Halloween like a witch, keep doing what you’re doing. Unbeknownst to you, you’re already partaking in a celebration derived from a long history of magical tradition.” I thought this was fascinating because a lot of the things that we do on Halloween seems super harmless. Trick or treating, dressing up in costumes. And the question Christians have to ask is, “Do I have the power to redeem this holiday just by being a Christian? Can I participate and just and be like, I’m a Christian, I don’t have to fear this. I can just participate. It’s just clean fun.” Or, is there a spiritual reality that we should be acknowledging? Especially as we raise families, nd make a decision about this holiday. Those are the questions I want you to be asking, I want you to be thinking about. I really want you to keep in mind, this concept of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, as we navigate this.
As we go to the next section, which is about discerning what to do with a holiday that has a clearly known Wiccan bases and then this alternative holiday of All Saints Day that is based in a celebration of people who followed Jesus. It’s so fascinating to me that the church saw, “There’s this holiday, it’s pagan, it’s pretty dark, let’s move All Martyrs’ Day from May, let’s move it to November and let’s celebrate it then.” And I wonder what was going through their mind that they did that? Were they really trying to redeem what Samhain was doing? Was there another reason? It seems to me like it was pretty intentional and that’s what historians tend to believe. So, knowing what we know about the history of the holiday, we then have to decide what do I do when my kids in school everybody is celebrating Halloween, what am I do when I’m even in church and everybody’s celebrating Halloween?
Last year, in October at church, my kids are homeschooled, my kids were asked repeatedly every Sunday leading up to Halloween, what they were going to be on Halloween. And we personally don’t celebrate, which I’ll get to in a second. But it was just funny that even in church they were being asked this question and so we have to be able to answer our reasoning for why we are or aren’t celebrating. I don’t want our reasoning to ever be legalism. I don’t want our reasoning to ever be rules and law. I want our reasoning to be both understandable to my kids and understandable to the people that we communicate it with but I also want it to be grounded in the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in the Holy Spirit of God. So as families are navigating whether or not to celebrate Halloween, they are going to fall into one of four camps.
First is ignorance, second is imitation, the third is abstinence, and the fourth is redemption. So, let’s dig into these. Ignorance, some families don’t dig into the origins or history of Halloween at all, so maybe they grew up celebrating the holiday, maybe they just never thought to ask any questions. Whatever the case, they just imitate the existing trend and just hop right into it with little resistance because they don’t know any different, or they just haven’t stopped to examine the issue. And this includes many believers, okay, especially first-generation believers, why would they have a reason to even think about this until they begin following Jesus. There’s plenty of people who are in the ignorance camp.
The second is imitation. Some families know the objections to Halloween, but maybe they write them off as legalistic, maybe they experienced real legalism growing up, maybe they were part of the 1980’s Satanic Panic movement. They’re just like, “Oh, my gosh, this is just exaggerated,” or, whatever it’s just fun. So, they continue to participate without really asking any questions, even though they know more than the families who are just ignorant.
The third camp is abstinence. Some families completely boycott Halloween. They’ll even turn off their lights and refuse to open the door to trick or treaters, they just don’t participate at all. This may mean that they participate in church events but some may not even go that far. They just believe that no association is the best option.
The last camp is redemption. Some families don’t observe the cultural holiday but will participate in outreach events to the community on Halloween. So maybe they’ll even dress up, hand out candy with their church, maybe they’ll do a trunk-or-treat at their church or community. Or maybe they’ll have people come to their house who are trick or treating and open their door. I want to share that when we live downtown in the city, our city is a huge trick-or-treating city. It also has a strong Wiccan and New Age presence, which is interesting to combine with that, but people will bring their kids even bus kids in to trick-or-treat in our city because it’s a really awesome place to trick-or-treat. When we lived downtown, we could not in good conscience, close our door and shut out this parade of neighbors on the one day of the year that they were coming to our house. We opened our door, we handed out candy, we asked them their names, “How are you?” “Oh, what are you dressed up as?” Because most of the people at our door do not know Jesus.
They do not know Jesus, they do not know the roots of Halloween. And even if they did, they might not care because they don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding them. They don’t have the Holy Spirit convicting them. They don’t have that. They’re not walking in that kind of knowledge that we are responsible for. We also want to keep the gospel front and center here. I want to know my neighbors. I want to love my neighbor. While we were living in the city, we operated in a redemption model of Halloween. We gave out candy, we talked to our neighbors, we talked to the kids, we got to know the people on our street. I know several other people who use Halloween as a neighborhood outreach event, someone else I heard about has the biggest trick-or-treating house on the entire block. Like people want to come to their house because they give out the best candy. They are so much fun. They even set up a little tent in their front yard for offering to talk with people or pray with people if they need it, kind of off to the side, but they just throw this big shebang when these people come to their house. That’s an example of redemption.
We are inviting people to come to our homes, and we’re using this holiday to say, “Hey, I care about you, I want to build a relationship with you and I want you to know me, so you can know Jesus in me.” This doesn’t mean you have to hand out tracts, although maybe that’s what God calls you to do. It just means that you’re cultivating relationship. This would fall under the redemption model. However, we then move to the country. And here we have no trick or treaters whatsoever. We don’t have a need to open our door on Halloween. So, the question then becomes what do I do about my children, who are school-aged children and who have a mixture of homeschooled friends, public school friends, and they have friends who are celebrating Halloween? How do we navigate this as a Christian family without operating in legalism or condescension or pride? How do we express Christian freedom while also upholding what is Good and True and Beautiful? Am I going to be ignorant? Am I going to imitate? Am I going to abstain? Or am I going to redeem? And I’ll finish that story in a little bit here.
After a three-year hiatus, Verity Conference is back and it’s coming to Petoskey, Michigan, November 4th and 5th. I’m so thrilled to bring back Verity Conference after our short break of a few years for COVID, and this time, we are much bigger with two amazing speakers joining me, to talk about Apologetics and Evangelism. How do we share our faith effectively in today’s culture, in a way that is both gracious and truthful. You’ll hear from me, Jeremy Jenkins of All Things All People, and Pricelis Dominguez, who is going to share with us, how to love other people, while also speaking the truth. Jeremy specializes in world religions and cults and he will be talking about evangelism in that context. I am so excited for this event. I hope you can join us. You can grab the remaining early bird tickets on my website, phyliciamasonheimer.com if you click the “conference “tab.
I want to add one other element that I think we need to consider when we decide what to do about Halloween. Of course, we’re thinking in terms of what is pure and lovely and good, but many Christian families will say, “Okay, I get you, I hear you. But my son wants to go as Mr. Incredible, my daughter wants to go as a princess. They’re not dressing up as anything gory or yucky so what’s the big deal?” I would say, maybe there isn’t a big deal, maybe there’s a way for you to redeem the holiday with your kids, but here is the big thing that needs to happen. If we’re going to disciple our kids biblically, while participating in a holiday like this, we must nurture in them a respect for the spiritual nature of the world, because here’s the deal, you guys, the longer you walk with God, the more mature you grow, and the greater your pneumatology, your theology, the Holy Spirit, the more aware you become of the spiritual nature of the world. This is not a fearful thing because as I said earlier, “We’re walking in our Christian power, we’re walking in the authority of Christ.” And His name has authority over everything, but His name’s authority is not meant to be abused for our freedom. His name’s authority is for us to make an impact on our community, which leaves us with only a few options when it comes to things like Halloween.
We don’t have the option of passive participation if we’re walking in the authority of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the option of abstention so abstaining, or redeeming. I believe that every Christian family must decide how am I actively redeeming this holiday or how will I abstain and what will I replace it with? That’s where we are left because if we have this appreciation and respect for the spiritual nature of the world, we cannot ignore what the Wiccans are doing on Samhain.
I’m perhaps more aware of this and more conscious of it because of where I live, because they’re doing tarot readings in my local coffee shops because of what is sold downtown because there are people in the woods in my area on October 31st worshiping the enemy. And I just want the people who are listening to understand that this is a very spiritual thing and it doesn’t end at Halloween. It’s not just about Halloween, this is not supposed to be scary. It’s supposed to be weighty. And to remember that, as I pray over my city, as I pray over my street, as I pray over my neighbors, I want to be asking God, how can I both be a light and how can I be a minister of the gospel to these people. And how can I also elevate what is Good and True and Beautiful in a spiritual world?
When I have that in mind, when I turn towards my children, I have to ask myself, am I cultivating in them an apathy and dismissiveness to the spiritual nature of the world? And this is what I fear can happen regarding Halloween, and it’s a reaction to the Satanic Panic of the 80’s. So the devil under every rock legalistic stuff, we swing the pendulum to the other way and now we’re just like, “Ah, whatever, just don’t be a Satanist.”
Hmm, no, there’s more here. There’s more here biblically. I mean, the New Testament was written in a pagan culture, okay. Worshipping other Gods, doing weird stuff about dead people, having sex in weird places [chuckles] like, this was happening and they were having to be conscious of what is holiness in this context. And that’s the same question we’re having to ask. It’s a slow fade from this stalwart Holy Spirit-led Christianity to this apathetic dismissive halfway Christianity. This cultural Christianity. And what I encourage my listeners to do is to ask, how can I participate in any holiday, not just Halloween, any holiday in a way that cultivates my children’s respect for the spiritual nature of the world, for the name of Christ, for the gospel? Am I cultivating apathy and dismissiveness of my kids? Am I teaching them to just be like, “Whatever, it doesn’t matter?” that’s just what we always did. My parents never talked about it. Whatever you choose to do, and I absolutely am not telling you what to do, but whatever you do choose to do, your children should know why you do it.
Here at Every Woman a Theologian, the ministry that I founded, and run with my husband, we’re about teaching women and families, not only what they believe, but why they believe it. And your children should know the why. If you’re celebrating Halloween, just like everybody else, they should know why. You should have a conversation about it. This is why we celebrate this and this is why we don’t wear ghost costumes, or we don’t participate in these other things or this is why we don’t celebrate Halloween. When you’re explaining that, you’re giving them the tools to critically think about this for themselves, bring it back to scripture, give them a scriptural defense for why you do or don’t celebrate Halloween. Why you do or don’t celebrate Christmas in a certain way, why you do or don’t do Santa, why you do or don’t do the Easter Bunny or anything that you are doing, you should be able to bring it back to scripture and say, “This is why.” Especially on a holiday like this, we must return to our guiding principles. Is this good and true and beautiful or am I celebrating it in a good and true and beautiful way? And am I cultivating in the people around me a respect for the spiritual nature of the world or am I cultivating apathy and dismissiveness?
As we close this episode, as we get towards the end, I want to do a quick little rabbit trail regarding magic in general because this is a question that comes up a lot. Well, what’s the difference then between celebrating Halloween and reading Narnia, or Lord of the Rings or, hey, Harry Potter, what’s the difference? I’ll toss this out here is something to think about. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and that’s totally fine. But there’s a couple of things I want to offer as thoughts on the difference between celebrating a holiday with the history that Halloween has, or Samhain has, and reading, say Harry Potter. When I read books, both for myself and then for my children, I am again looking for what is Good and True and Beautiful. My standard for that is scripture, it’s the gospel, that epic arc of a story across the Old and New Testaments with a God who is good and strong, and a God who fights for his own. A God who wins. Good wins in the end in the Bible.
And that is the element that we see in stories like Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, and even Harry Potter. When I am reading a book, if it has magic in it, here’s what I want to see and look for. Is the storyline here upholding that good, true and beautiful arc? Does good win? Is good win? Is good clear or is there confusion about what good is? Is there confusion about who the bad guy actually is? Is it clear because one of the things I found to be most problematic, especially in fiction or regarding magic is when good and evil become hard to discern. I’ll give you an example of this.
My husband loves Marvel movies, and we watched through most of the Marvel movies and shows up to about two years ago. I’m recording this in 2022, so probably up into 2020. We had watched through the Marvel movies and shows, so Loki had released, the show Loki had released and Wanda Vision had released. As we were watching through them, one particular thing that stood out to me was in the movie End Game, if you recall, the bad guy in End Game, kills half of the Earth’s population. And why does he do it because he believes that’s merciful? This is an example of good and evil being confused and conflated. That was the point where Josh and I said to each other, “The Marvel movies are headed down a dangerous road.” Because this confusion of good and evil, what is good, what is evil, and what is actually bad? Who the actual bad guy is? That’s where we start to stray into this relativistic confusing territory that leads to no good at all, no truth, and no standard of beauty.
When I’m looking at a book or a movie, and it has magic in it. I’m not as concerned with magic, which has been written into stories for eons and been able to uphold that core of what is Good and True and Beautiful. I’m as concerned about the magic as I am with the clear delineation between good and evil. And also, I’m asking myself, who’s reading or watching this. If it’s me, I’m an adult, I’m a mature Christian, I can discern through this. Am I going to let my seven-year-old watch it? Probably not. Am I going to hand my seven-year-old Harry Potter? No. I probably wouldn’t let my kids personally read them until they’re 13. Even then we’ll probably have open conversations about those. Have we introduced Chronicles of Narnia? Yes, we have but even then, we’re having open conversations about what magic is, that in this book, magic is being presented in a good way and that there’s also an evil way. We talk about the White Witch, what is she? What does she represent? We talk about magic in general that in books magic is presented as good and evil, but in real life, it’s different. We don’t need magic, because we have the Holy Spirit. We have God’s power in us when we follow Jesus, and that is stronger and better than any magic. It’s like Aslan says, “It’s the deep magic from the beginning.”
How you explain this to your kids is probably going to be different than it is for us. But we just are doing a continual work of distinguishing between magic and miracles between magic and the Holy Spirit. We’re explaining when we’re listening to something like Chronicles of Narnia, this is fiction, this is a story, we don’t emulate this in real life. We’re teaching them a framework of truth, we’re teaching them a framework of good and beautiful. I’m always remembering, it’s my job to cultivate the tastes of my children, in my family, and as their parent, as their teachers, since they’re homeschooled, I am choosing what cultivates their tastes. I’m not going to hand them things that are cultivating and directing their tastes away from what is pure and noble and praiseworthy.
And so, in your own home, you have to decide, maybe it’s not worth it to you to, let them read Lord of the Rings, you don’t think that that’s cultivating their tastes in the right direction, and that’s totally fine. I believe this does fall within a Christian freedom spectrum but we do still have to consider what is objectively true in scripture. And what’s objectively true in scripture is that we are not to partner with darkness, we’re not to celebrate what is dark, evil, gross, gory, deathly because Christ overcame death. He is the resurrection life. He is the one that is light and goodness and truth and beauty and so what we are taking in the storylines we’re consuming, the holidays we’re celebrating should align with that.
Let me tell you something. I didn’t celebrate Halloween growing up and I never once felt like I missed out. It was never legalistic, it was never thumbing our nose at other people. We didn’t do it. It was a beautiful and happy holiday with my family. We did other things. We did fall festivals, we did Good and True and Beautiful things and it was great. I’m not scarred for life because of it. But here’s the thing, and this goes back to something I mentioned earlier. My parents actively had other things for us to do. And I think if you do decide to abstain, it’s super important to have something else that you’re filling that space with. What is it that your kids can look forward to when you’re not choosing to follow the culture or to follow your community down this path, what do you do instead?
So, this brings me back to the story I was telling of when we moved from downtown to the country. Our kids were older at this point, we actually had to think about this and that’s when we decided, let’s look at the church calendar because we had started really observing the church calendar, paying attention. We are not in a liturgical church or in a non-denominational church, it leans Baptist, but we celebrate Advent and Easter Resurrection Day, and several other church holidays. And I have guides for celebrating those if you’re interested, they’re in the shop. But we began celebrating All Saints Day, which as we talked about the beginning of this podcast is the day on November 1st, that Halloween is named for. All Hallows Eve is pointing to All Saints Day, and I love All Saints Day because it is celebrating the rich history of the church across time, across nation, and across experience. I just love that about All Saints Day.
What we’ve done is we have baked fun cupcakes, and I buy these little puppets that are different Bible characters, yowe stick them on little sticks, we stick them in the cupcakes and they can pick whoever it is that they want to have. We get baskets with little candy; they wake up at their places. We do a party usually on All Saints Day where we invite people over and we all dress as our favorite Christian hero from any time in history. I was St. Catherine, Josh was Peter, the Apostle, the girls dressed up as Joan of Arc, and then another one of them dressed up as a queen who helped in the Reformation. We had friends come over who dressed up as missionaries, someone came as C.S. Lewis. So, there’s so much fun that we’ve had with this holiday, celebrating it in a different way, to the point that my girls look forward to it, and they don’t feel like they’re missing out, but we do throw a harvest party earlier in October a couple of weeks prior to Halloween and that’s all it is. It’s just a harvest party, just a fall festival. And we’ve thought about, “Hey, maybe we make that a costume party, maybe we say you can bring a costume and dress up into whatever you want.”
To us, this is a way of creating fun things that have nothing to do with the specific observations of Halloween. And you might be listening and be like, “This is literally splitting of hairs.” You’re free to think that but we don’t think that because again, when we have grown in our respect for the spiritual nature of the world, and we’ve, we’re aware of what’s happening in our specific community, we have decided that it would be better to not partner with the patterns that are associated with this holiday, and to instead observe other fun things.
We could do a summer costume party; you don’t have to have a costume party only on October 31st. But even if you don’t choose to celebrate the way we do, so you don’t do All Saints Day, you don’t completely stop participating in Halloween, you still do it or you hand out candy to trick or treaters or you just do trick-or-treat. My encouragement to you is, as you participate to be thinking, how can I actively redeem this? Am I actively redeeming this? Am I communicating clearly to my kids if I have them, why we’re participating and what authority they have in Christ? Do my kids know what this holiday is about, have explained what Christian freedom is? And am I regularly explaining the why behind our holidays to our kids? Because here’s the thing, guys, this is not just about one holiday. This is really about our overall Christian outlook on the world, and towards the things we build our lives around.
Holidays are lived liturgies in community. That’s why they matter so much. They’re repeating to us what matters most they’re repeating to us, what we want to celebrate and build our lives around. And that’s why when we as a family, we’re picking what we want to celebrate, we pick the things that echo the Good and the True and the Beautiful. We picked the things that elevate that. I do believe that it is possible to do Halloween in a way that is redemptive and actively promoting the gospel and actively building relationships with people that you are ministering to. I believe that’s totally possible and I respect families that choose to do that.
I think the only time we really need to be concerned is when we are elevating Christian freedom above our Christian power and authority. When we’re being dismissive or apathetic of the spiritual world and training our kids to be the same. When we are celebrating Halloween in a gory, deathly, ghostly kind of way, that’s when we have a problem. But if you have prayed about this, and you’ve talked with your family and you’re thinking thoughtfully about this, and you know you can redeem this actively, then it’s absolutely possible to continue walking in the power of God, and to be aware of what God is asking you to do.
This year, I talked with my church actually about doing an outreach event, our church is located downtown, to maybe join in the trick or treating to meet some of the people who would be out and about downtown, and I was a part of suggesting that as an outreach, so obviously, I think it’s possible to redeem Halloween. But I think it has to be very intentional and it has to be something that is operating in Christian authority and by the Holy Spirit and it’s not something that’s dismissive or apathetic about the holiday. I
hope that as you listen to this, I gave you just some things to think about. Some things to consider and pray about. If you would like this in a written format with all the history the links that I shared, as well as a celebration guide for All Saints Day with links to recipes and to activities, scripture readings, little hand puppets, or costumes, you can grab the Halloween and All Saints eBook in the shop. If you go to phyliciamasonheimer.com, and you click the drop-down menu, and you’ll see eBooks and it is the Death Has Lost Its Sting eBook, because ultimately, you guys, that is what this is about. In Christ, Death Has Lost Its Sting. There’s no point in going back and celebrating death. We have all the hope of life ahead of us. And as we walk in that, we get to experience the true goodness and beauty of life in Christ, and we get to bring that to our communities however we are convicted to do it.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoy this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity, and about Every Woman a Theologian, as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s Word and the heart of Jesus Christ.