The school year has hardly begun, and though summer-like weather still lingers, you can feel the crisp hint of autumn in the air – and in the stores. You definitely feel it, see it, and can almost taste it at most retailers. Bushels of apples, candy apples, apple cider and pumpkins are everywhere. Then of course, there is the candy; candy corn and endless bags of your favorite candy bars. From supermarket displays to mall windows, Halloween decorations, displays and costumes abound.
But because of the origins and many themes behind Halloween that many Christians don’t believe coincide with their faith, celebrating the holiday isn’t in everyone’s itinerary, come October 31.
In the early days of the Christian church, the night before All Saints Day (a day set aside to remember Christian martyrs) was dubbed “All Hallows Eve.” Through the years, All Hallows Eve became known simply as “Halloween.”
Early leaders in the Church, in an effort to challenge pagan rituals and customs entrenched in the community, designated certain Christian feasts and festivals on the same dates popular for pagan celebrations. The results often backfired, resulting in “Christianized” pagan rituals. This was the case for All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, which coincided with the pagan Druid beliefs that the dead came back to walk the earth alongside the living on a night, or series of nights, at the end of the harvest just before the winter season started.
Here is one documentary that divulges some of the influences behind Halloween and explores many of the inhibitions some Christians have when it comes to celebrating Halloween — it’s called Halloween? Trick or Treat?
Because of these pagan origins, many Christian families choose not to celebrate Halloween.
Whether you take a pass on trick-or-treating on Halloween because of the imagery, its pagan origins or simply out of concern for your child’s safety, there are alternatives that will still allow your child to enjoy some of the treats and fun of the fall season.
Costumes and candy are not evil in and of themselves, and can be incorporated into a trick-or-treating alternative. Organize a block party or hold a themed costume party in your home. Promote positive costume choices with a theme that promotes positive values such as “Come dressed as your favorite community hero” (firefighter, police officer, doctor, teacher), for example. Invite local heroes to visit, or have your own parade, marching to your local fire department to share goodies with real-life heroes.
Outreach Children’s Ministry
Many churches offer alternatives to trick-or-treating. These events, sometimes known as “hallelujah parties,” can be incorporated into youth outreach ministry efforts. Activities can include hayrides, games, family activities, a family-friendly movie, performances and of course, candy.
Your children can enjoy some family fun – and candy – as part of a family night out, or in. Plan a trip to a favorite restaurant, go to the movies, hold a family game night, go bowling, or (if Halloween falls on a weekend), go to a hotel with an indoor swimming pool or indoor waterpark.
Alternatives to Candy
If you prefer that your little one not indulge in sugary candy, make your own healthy treats to enjoy and share.
Clemson University Cooperative Extension provides a list of many simple healthy, non-candy, and non-food treats, including cereal bars, snack packets of dried fruit, animal crackers or goldfish, 100 calorie packs of a variety of treats, sugar free gum, juice boxes with 100 percent juice, pudding, apple sauce, Jell-O with fruit, and single-serve bags of microwave popcorn.
Non-food ideas include glow sticks, miniature games and puzzles, crayons or markers, stickers, pencil toppers, coloring books, rub-on tattoos and even toys that promote activity such as bouncy balls and jump ropes.
Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. —Psalms 1:1