Because devils, skeletons, ghouls and goblins, are considered dark and evil, many churches have banned Halloween and any activity associated with it. Some Christian parents, who want to take their kids trick or treating, feel like they have to justify their choice to their church friends.
As a pastor in the United Methodist Church and, after 30 years of debating this issue, I want to say that I think Halloween is fine to celebrate but to be honest, I don’t think it belongs at the church unless it is tied to the religious holiday, All Saints Day, that Halloween get’s its name from.
Halloween is a contracted version of “All Hallows Eve” or in simpler language it is, “the night before All Saint’s Day.” In the protestant church*, All Saints Day, is a day when we celebrate all those whom we have known and loved and who have gone on to heaven to live their life eternal with God. Halloween is simply, the night before All Saint’s Day.
All Saint’s Day is a great time to gather and have each family light a small candle, read a poem, say a prayer of thanksgiving, or simply remember the loved ones, who have touched their lives, and who they will be reunited with after they die and cross into life eternal with God.
However, whenever death comes up… we get a little nervous. Death and dying is not comfortable for any of us to dwell on and so Halloween originated as a way to act out, through costume and laughter, the anxiety we all feel when asked to look death in the face!
So, in my best world, I would have two scenarios in the church for the celebrating of Halloween:
1) Let Halloween be something celebrated at home and by trick or treating in the neighborhood… and then, on All Saint’s Day, gather at the church for a beautiful time of remembering our loved ones. It could be a worship service or it could even be a come and go event, where the church chapel is left open with a person present, during the day, so that families can stop by to say a prayer and light a candle in honor of their loved one.
2) Or if you want to have a Halloween party at the church, have it, but then have a place where families gather, or stop by, as they leave, to learn about All Saints Day and light a candle for their loved ones who live in heaven.
Let’s not celebrate Halloween as a stand alone holiday. Rather, let’s celebrate “All Saint’s Day Eve” followed by All Saints Day, because the message our kids need, which is much more valuable than a bag full of candy and treats, is: You will die… but that will not be the end… we, through Christ, get to live forever!
I also have a youtube with some ideas about All Saints day for you to use @:https://youtu.be/wqIDa1VBuuQ
*The Catholic Church celebrates two days following All Hallows Eve: All Saints Day (For the recognized saints of the church) and then All Souls Day (for all of those who have died and live in union with God forever).