Every year around this time, I spend a lot of time thinking about about how to approach Halloween and what to teach my children regarding this holiday. When they ask me questions, I want to give them good answers, answers that reflect the truth of the word of God. It is a no-brainer that this is a celebration of wickedness, this is also the second largest commercial holiday in the west. To put simply, it is a celebration of fear at its core.
History tells me that Halloween originated as a festival of the Celtic people. The Celtics believed in Samhain and he was considered the lord of the dead. .They believed that on October 31, Samhain would call together all of the dead and these souls wandered the Earth on that night. This was called the Vigil of Samhain. This was a scary thought and to ward off the evil spirits they created bonfires and would disguise themselves in costumes. They also carved turnips and potatoes and put candles inside to symbolize ghostly spirits.
When the holiday came to America, participants found that pumpkins were easier to carve than turnips, and that’s how the jack-o-lantern was born.The Celts continued with their ceremonies until they were conquered by the Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholics soon Christianized the holiday into All Hallows eve which was the All Saints Day on November 1st with the hope of doing away with the vigil of Samhain on Oct 31st. But these ceremonies continued and was then called All Hallows Even. Through the years the name was shortened to Hallowe’en and then to Halloween.
Over the years people have developed some strategies to face their fears. As the popular thinking goes, if you can’t win them, join them. This time, join them by taking them lightly, laughing them off, making a joke of them, bringing in elements to attract the kids, and making it a fun night as a nation to laugh off evil, and to help the little ones see there is nothing much to fear. After all, the lights and the candies and the costumes are all comforting right? You can have so much of comfort in the midst of the celebration of evil, you see? As a nation we dedicate a day to celebrate laughing off evil and then what?
Also the bible says, take Satan lightly he will flee from you, right? or some other version says, laugh off Satan, make a joke of him, he will flee from you right?
Wrong! I would have thought so and lived so, if not for the truth of the scriptures. My bible gives me certain mandates to follow and I am trying to bring perspective as I think through this holiday in the light of the scriptures. I had not given it much thought until I felt cornered to teach my children the truth. This is a journey of learning wisdom and applying truth for me. I know my take on this will evolve with every year that pass by and the bottom line for me will be tested by the “whatever principle”. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is honorable and whatever is right. ( Phil 4:8)
Right now I am teaching them;
Every Day Is Good
“This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24 Whether it is Halloween or Christmas, every day was made by my Lord and he wants me to rejoice and be glad in it. I teach my kids to rejoice everyday because the Lord made it not because of the candies they get or the costumes they wear or because of the strategies available to ward off evil this day. Parents why stop at candies and costumes to make a day good for your children? Dive into the goodness of Jesus and his redemption power with your kids and teach them about the one who made every day good.
Fear not is a promise they can cling on every night. Their fears are real. They do fear evil especially the cobwebbed darkness and the skulls at my neighbors yard around this time of the year. I want to develop godly patterns of thinking thru the scriptures to fight off their fears, starting NOW!. It does not help my children if I let them out with costumes and candies to fight their fears. They need more than candies and costumes. I don’t have a 3 step program to overcome Halloween but I do have a one step program to overtake fear. That is simply holding onto the promises to fear not.
Fact and Fiction
I want to use scriptural truths to teach them to understand fact and fiction. Fiction does not lighten facts. Fiction complicates all facts for little minds. That is the problem. Celebrations capitalize on fiction. Whether it is costumes and candies to ward off or laugh off Satan or the big guy in red suit to copy Jesus, there is so much of fiction to ease little minds to comfort and cloud their minds with no place for facts . I am not against fiction. I know the benefits of good fiction and classical stories to develop imagination. But their little minds need facts too. Fiction without facts make Santa Claus comparable to Jesus. Fiction makes a little mind think that buzz light year can buzz off “to infinity… and beyond!” Fiction without facts starve truth in children. Don’t get me wrong, make-believe is good; but believing in the Maker should come before make-believe.
Scriptures penetrate and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is nothing powerful as the word of God to divide fact from the fiction.Show them where fiction ends and show them the One who has no beginning or end. The Harry Potter costume on your son is cute and because you chose to have him wear it does not mean he is going after the devil. But someone needs to tell him that Harry Potter was born in someone’s mind and even if he was real the most he could be is as clay in the original Potter’s hands. Parents, don’t stop at getting fictitious costumes for your children, give them facts too.
Truth builds; Substitutes Comfort
I do not want to use substitutes to comfort my children forever. When I have the most powerful weapon in my hand, at my disposal, to ward off their fears, why would I use substitutes to satisfy and comfort their vulnerable hearts? I, as a parent have been given the responsibility to develop godly patterns and godly appetites in them from their conception. I can use easy and cheap substitutes to satisfy these appetites. A child who is raised with pounds of substitutes never learn to realize or appreciate the ounce of truth.
As a parent, substitutes are quick fixes, easily available, socially acceptable, and emotionally and mentally non demanding on me. But to find out the truths, to teach them the truths, to watch and pray, to wait on the Lord to grow it, at the same time answering a hundred questions on why they can’t do what others do and battling my own doubts of whether I am psychologically harming my children… oh! the agony of birthing godliness! The gift of grace God has poured into my heart prepares me in that battle for the long run, not to quench their appetites with substitutes but to take the long and painful route of faithfully satiating their hunger by serving the truth of the word of God, sowing seeds in the hard places by tilling and pulling weeds and waiting on the master to harvest.
As I faithfully do this over and over, without giving up, I am developing a pattern in them that one day they will come to own, that will be weaved into their inmost being. We have the power to help them establish godliness by choosing to navigate the scriptures as bread and medicine for sustenance and cure for them. So parents, why stop at fiction and develop sweet tooth with substitutes? Feed your children truth and grow healthy appetites in them now, to be able to discern that only truth builds, and that fighting the devil is not with costume or decorations, but as the scriptures say- ” Submit yourself before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Clothing Before Costumes
I want to teach my children that many years ago there was a similar night when the powers of hell were loosened and there was gathering of all forces of darkness at a place called Golgotha when Jesus disarmed the powers of darkness and triumphed over them at the cross. On that day he made available a new clothing to all who believes in Him. I want to teach them it is this clothing that gives them the power to defeat evil in their lives. This garment of salvation has the power to cover their shames and give them boldness as they allow God to redeem their lives and many lives thru them.
There is also another garment the bible tells me to put on. It s more than a costume. It is an armor. ” Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 May be this is a good time to learn together what this armor is and how we can stand against devil with this armor.
Having said that I have nothing against costumes. They are good means to encourage make believe/ role play. My children own some costumes but it has a place and function that we use it for. Studies encourage role play in children to develop that part of the brain that is in charge of self control, decision making etc. I want to teach them to have good fun with costumes as they pretend and play taking different roles. There is nothing in a costume or candy that is inherently bad. But do not use it as means to attack or ward off evil. Parents why stop at candies and costumes? Teach your children about the new life and eternal clothing, and the armor that comes from Jesus and helps us to stand against the devil.
Redeem My Time; Not Redeem Halloween
The bible tells me to redeem my time wisely because the days are evil. “…Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” I don’t think I need to redeem Halloween and Christianize it. There is enough confusion already from trying to Christianize this pagan holiday. I want to teach my children that Jesus would be more interested in redeeming your time and the lives of the people around you, everyday not just Halloween day. For that end, I need to choose good priorities as a lifestyle. I want them to see me choosing people over presents.” Parents, why stop at opening doors and handing candies out? I challenge myself first and then you, to go all the way to choose godly priorities to redeem your time everyday, as the days are evil.
Grace To Those Who Differ
When the priority is about redeeming time and not redeeming Halloween, the question becomes not Whether or not we celebrate Halloween or what we celebrate, but WHO we celebrate everyday. To the mother who goes all out in giving away candies and carving pumpkins to invite children to her home, to make relationships with them and make yourself a good friend to the unbelievers in your neighborhood, I would give you a hug and probably say as long as you use a spirit of moderation and wisdom in choosing to redeem your time and the lives of others thru this way, please go ahead full steam.
To the mother who chooses to stay home with lights off because for your children Halloween can be scary, I encourage your parental insights to protect your children, may this be a time you choose to go over scriptures to help them face their fears with Jesus. To the mother who chooses to participate in alternate and safe fun hosted by your church, I say go ahead, but don’t stop at fun and candies. Discuss everything that is said above, or more as appropriate. Our ultimate aim is to be salt and light in this world, in whatever ways you choose to do it, grace to you.
Parents, I challenge you not to stop with candies or costumes but to go beyond that and to make everyday count as you watch and pray and sow in your children’s lives with your imperfect, yet trusting heart. Remember the world does not have to pressurize or dictate on how you choose to redeem your time for the Lord. As for me, I am keeping my mind and heart open as I think more, pray more, learn more truths and add more grace to my imperfect life to redeem every day for the Lord and Halloween is no exception!