Lots of Christians aren’t sure about the best way to respond to Hallowe’en. Is it a pagan festival which celebrates evil and darkness, or is it just harmless fun that allows children to indulge in sweets and dressing up?
The Bible says nothing about Hallowe’en (obviously) and so many would believe that what you get up to on 31st October is a matter for you and God. But, whatever your opinion, you can’t hide from the fact that Hallowe’en is a really popular holiday amongst children. Here are a few ways you could help young people in your church to enjoy the holiday in a way that brightens up the gloom.
There are loads of Hallowe’eny activities you can run for kids that you know. Bobbing for apples is a classic. All you need is a bowl of water and a few apples – easy-peasy! The harder thing is for the children to retrieve an apple using only their teeth. It can even remind us of the abundance of God’s harvest this autumn. Fancy dress is also one of the highlights of the season and can bring loads of fun and laughter to youth groups. If you’re apprehensive of children dressing up as scary monsters, you could always encourage them to pick their favourite superhero or TV/film character. If you want to combine dressing up with another game, you could also try “Mummies”. Challenge teams to make the best mummy in a minute by wrapping someone up in an (unused!) toilet roll.
Even if you’re wary of some Hallowe’en traditions, it doesn’t mean young people in your church or community can’t have fun!
Carving out a lantern from a pumpkin is a classic Hallowe'en activity. It can also be a great way to illustrate that Jesus brings light into a dark world. Whilst you make your lanterns, why not read John 1:6-9:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
Ask what it means for Jesus to be the light of the world who gives light to all people. How can we be lights in the world like Jesus? How can we be shining lights at school, at home and with our friends?
In recent years, comic book and superhero movies have really taken off! You might find that Spiderman or Iron Man costumes are even more popular this year than your standard zombie, mummy or witch. You could start by watching your children's or grand-children's favourite superhero film, or maybe share one from your own childhood (just so long as you avoid the worst film ever!). Superheroes are great characters to talk about because they are aspirational – our favourite heroes tell us a lot about who we would like to be. Strong, self-sacrificing, courageous. These are great qualities to celebrate and aim for.
Superheroes can also point us to the strongest, most self-sacrificing figure in all of history – Jesus! This Hallowe’en, why not show that Jesus is the only hero we need? He can rescue us from the worst situations of life, he provides the perfect model to aspire to, he gives himself fully to the world! And nothing – no darkness, no evil, no spooky creatures – is stronger than him!
Did you know that “Hallowe’en” is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” and marks the day before (or, “Eve” of) All Saints Day? All Saints Day is a liturgical tradition found in a range of Christian denominations worldwide as a time to honour all of the saints, known and unknown. Some Protestant traditions choose to observe All Saints Day differently, electing to honour and remember members of the universal Church as well as deceased members of the local congregation. It is a time when Christians can celebrate that death is not the end and that, in Christ, there is a hope of eternal life for all the saints.
This All Hallows Eve why not share the story of an inspirational figure from the Church’s past. There’s no shortage of charismatic figures through whom God has done some amazing things! Do you have a Christian hero you could talk about? If you wanted to keep it much closer to home, why not use All Hallows Eve as an opportunity to thank the ‘saints’ in your community for their service and for the way they model Christ?
Trick-or-treating is perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of Hallowe’en. Something about wandering the streets in ghoulish garments requesting sweets or promising tricks can make some Christian parents and grand-parents very uneasy. But here’s the thing. As Christians we are not called to shut ourselves away. The Church’s job is not to run from the world’s cultures but to redeem them.
There are loads of ways that young people can be part of the Hallowe’en festivities without shutting the doors and forming a Christian clique. Some groups like to go door-to-door singing songs. Others might take their lanterns they made earlier to bring a bit of light to the dark autumnal evening. As a grown-up, what will you do if some neighbourhood kids knock on your door? You could switch off the lights and pretend you’re not in, or you could use it as an opportunity to bless children who don’t know Jesus. You could bake some special treats, offer invites to the church youth group or share something about your hero Jesus who defeats all evil and darkness!
What are your thoughts about Hallowe’en? Do you think it’s something Christians can get involved with or are we better off steering clear? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
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