Editor's Note: Halloween is not a holiday Seventh-day Adventists can get excited about. The whole thing is dark. Steeped in Paganism and worse. Still, there are ways Adventists can turn on a bright light in dark places. Here are some practical ways that can be done.
If you grew up in the North American church, especially in the 70s and 80s, you might have some fear and trepidation at the thought of celebrating Halloween. When I was small, my parents only knew Halloween as an American tradition of dressing up and going house to house asking for candy. It was as unusual (and pagan) as Christmas trees and Easter eggs. In their effort to help my brother and I fit into our suburban neighborhood, we participated. Those years gave me many happy memories of peeking into very American homes and meeting people who were different from us. Because my Halloweens were family-friendly, I continued the tradition with my kids in our neighborhoods, leaving the porch light on and vying for title of “House with the Best Candy.” I’m so glad to belong to a church that also embraces Halloween as a missional opportunity for our families.
I believe that Halloween presents a valuable evangelistic opportunity to connect with our neighbors, where it is acceptable and expected that strangers will open their doors, greet each other, and share with each other. I believe that we should challenge our members to leverage this opportunity to be known for reflecting God’s welcome and generous spirit. I believe that when people knock on our doors this Halloween, that we should not only offer treats, but also an invitation to linger – an invitation to come back later that evening or at a later date to sip apple cider or cocoa and get to know each other better. I even think that churches can provide the beverages free for families that sign up and report back with a photo taken at their “host the neighbors” event.
Other ideas for a family-friendly Halloween—
Preschooler – Kids under 5 may not really know much about Halloween, but they do enjoy fall celebrations such as trips to the pumpkin patch and apple picking. Let them dress up for the event, as most kids enjoy dressing up every chance they get. Young kids may see “scary” things on TV and at stores, like jack-o-lanterns and spiderwebs, so it’s a good idea to prepare them by telling them that some people like to scare each other during this season. Remind them that God is bigger than any scary creature we can dream up.
Elementary School – If there are dress up activities and parties at school or in the neighborhood, talk to your kids about what the activities will contain and if they fit with your values. Dressing up, eating candy and visiting with neighbors don’t have to be off-limits, but set guidelines on what kind of costumes are acceptable, how much candy is acceptable and which homes they may visit (neighborhood, friends and family, or the mall).
Tween and Youth – Plan to do something age appropriate and fun. Many kids may be invited to do things your family is not comfortable with, including haunted houses or horror movies. If your kids have a fun alternative (bowling, trampoline park, or just a party at your house), they won’t feel the peer pressure to participate in activities that are not healthy for safe or them.
Whatever you decide to do for Halloween, remember that the most important thing is to talk with your kids about it. Values are only shared with future generations by constant, open, safe conversations between people who love each other.
Rajinie Sigamoney Dixit is a Speech Language Pathologist. She is married to a pastor and has three children.