Redeeming Halloween by Kim Wier & Pam McCune states quite emphatically that you can celebrate Halloween "without selling out." With the origins of Halloween spelled out, the authors go on to give tips and suggestions for celebrating this day commemorating the holy martyrs of our faith. I'll include these ideas here:
- Dress up in costumes representing the kind of people who need Christ (hint: this would be everyone!). While dressing up in costumes depicting Biblical characters or heroes of faith is great, it can also be quite limiting - you can go beyond this and come up with anyone actually in need of Christ and His salvation. So yes, stretching it to include musicians, sports stars or even certain Disney characters (Mulan representing the people in China or the Little Mermaid representing those who make their living on the sea) could be acceptable as long as the intention is to represent and pray for others who are in need of the Truth. Training our kids in the knowledge that they can reach others with the gospel is no small thing.
- Decorate with light representing the True Light of the world. Decorating is an important part of any seasonal celebration. It sets the mood, symbolically communicates a message, and adds some plain old fun. Like nativities at Christmastime, we can use lights at Halloween to testify to a needy world. White Christmas lights, luminaries lining your walkway and candle lights in your window all display light, look festive and even give you a head start on your Christmas decorating! Make a banner with a scriptural truth ("Jesus, the Light of the World" or "Father of Lights") printed on it or display a wreath with a verse on it.
- Use traditional Halloween props to teach parables. The jack-o'-lantern can be a great teaching tool. Use the carving process to share the gospel. (We actually did this just tonight! It was fun and spiritually educational. If you're interested in this activity, I would be happy to lend you the book.)
- Start the tradition of watching a family movie that either retells the story of a Biblical hero or martyr or includes a Biblical message such as, depending on the age, Veggietales, Storykeepers, classics like Ben Hur or The Robe or movies by Vision Video (Check out Behemoth). A movie night with a redemption theme is a wonderful opportunity for celebration. By establishing this kind of a movie night during the Halloween season, kids will have fun being introduced - maybe for the first time - to these unique characters and faith heroes. Make it a fun night, possibly one with costumes or movie-themed food, and then talk about the movie's message afterwards.
- For older children and teens, plan an Underground Church Party. This party celebrates the history and adventure of the early church heroes. An Underground Church Party is full of action and fun as kids discover the risks that people around the world can face when they choose to follow Christ. The party can include games, dressing up, easy snacks, and a devotional, and it can help kids grow a real heart for believers around the world. (Detailed instructions for the game is included in the book.)
- Be welcoming to the trick-or-treating public - always have your lights on, be known as a generous giver, engage with not only the children but the parents and overall show the love of Christ to all who come knocking on your door.
- Host a Fear-Not Party. [Halloween] is a season of commemorating ordinary people who did not "fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear [ed] Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) [The party] is an outside event with s'mores, a costume parade, Romans-versus-Christians Flashlight Tag, and a "scary" story around the campfire. While the whole party is fun, we have found that it is the story that makes the biggest impression, because it is always the tale of someone who faced the greatest unknown and conquered his fear. It is the story of one of the heroes of the faith from the era of the church's early persecution. The Fear-Not Halloween Party is not an alternative to a Halloween event. Instead, it celebrates the very heart of the season by rejoicing in God's goodness and communicating the message that faith drives out fear.
- Be a Tricky Treater secretly leaving offerings of love and encouragement to those who need it most.
- Send a care package called a Harvest Box to a missionary and pray for them.
- Celebrate your Halloween 'season' like you do with Advent - take the four weeks before Halloween to study various heroes of the faith.
- Read The Pumpkin Patch Parade by Liz Curtis Higgs*
Celebrating All Saints' Day:
- Play "God is Great" Game - Repeat "God is great. He made..." and then go down the alphabet thinking of things He has made such as "apples", "butterflies", "candy",etc.
- Worship through song.
- Read some Psalms.
- Be creative and worship God through art. Have your children draw or paint their praise!
- Worship Him through nature - go on a hike or stargaze and talk about His wonderful works.
Not coincidentally, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church falls on the first Sunday of November. It is our privilege and our calling to "remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" (Hebrews 13:3).
Remember, and then pray.Some of these ideas might seem like alternatives to the world's version of Halloween (and didn't the authors mention their ideas would NOT be alternatives to Halloween?), however the ideas are simple but effective ones - getting your children to think outside the box and to start thinking in terms of our spiritual heritage as well as the needs of others. When I first picked up this book, I wasn't sure what I would learn nor how I would feel about reading another fundamentalist's viewpoint on an "evil holiday". Now I feel as if my eyes have been opened and I've just been shown the true meaning of the holiday, such as a new Christian seeing past the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs to be able to reflect on the Cross or seeing past Santa Claus and presents and seeing the nativity and God's Gift to us. With all the relatively unknown holy days surrounding Halloween, it seems this is a time for reflection, commemoration and true celebration. We celebrate holidays such as Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, and they are worthy holidays. But how much more as Christians should we take time out to celebrate a holiday season for which the heroes and martyrs of our faith are remembered? Honor them this Halloween, and in so doing, your focus will be on the Light that shines through the darkness of this world.
All text in maroon including all celebratory ideas unless otherwise noted comes from Redeeming Halloween: Celebrating Without Selling Out by Kim Wier & Pam McCune.
* Book suggestion comes from Homespun Memories for the Heart
Some great websites about learning more about the persecution of Christians around the world and what you can do can be found at Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Christian Freedom.