Should believers reject “All Hallows Eve” or celebrate it? Ban trick-or-treating or grab their buckets and traipse door to door collecting candy along with everyone else? Ignore the day’s festivities or try to redeem them in some way? Is there a way to honor God on this holiday? A middle ground? How, exactly, should Christians handle Halloween?
I’ve wrestled with those questions for years. One the one hand, Paul tells us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) On the other hand, Paul himself pointed to an idol of the Athenians and used it to preach to them the gospel: “For as I walked around and examined your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore what you worship as something unknown, I now proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:22)
I don’t feel qualified to give a definitive answer as to whether Christians should celebrate Halloween (other than to pray it through and follow the Lord’s leading). But I can share with you what how our family has handled it.
Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
When our children were little, we were able to avoid Halloween altogether. And that is the tack we took. But as they got older, we had to find new ways of navigating this holiday.
- For several years running, we spent October 31 celebrating Reformation Day, instead of Halloween. We’d sing Martin Luther’s hymns, watch a biopic of his life, and do several other activities described in this post.
- Sometimes, I’d plan family vacations toward the end of October, so we’d be out of town for Halloween.
- On years our church hosted a Fall Festival, we’d spend the evening attending and/or volunteering at that event.
- We’ve let our little ones dress up and taken them to visit elderly neighbors on Halloween night (after those same neighbors called our family in advance to tell us they’d made special treats for our children and could hardly wait to see them in costume).
- Sometimes, we’d go out to eat or see a movie before trick-or-treaters started showing up on our doorstep. (Once, before heading to the restaurant, we set a huge bowl of candy on the front porch with a note to “please take only one.” But before we ever made it out of our driveway, one greedy kid dumped the whole bowl in his sack and ran away. Jackpot!)
- We’ve even visited a local farm on Halloween. There we petted the animals, took a hayride through the pumpkin patch, and felt our way through a corn maze by the light of the moon.
Shining as a bright light on a dark night
Then, several years ago, we moved to a neighborhood that has a reputation for being the best place in town for trick-or-treating. Kids come here by the busload to knock on our doors.
So I began to wonder if there might be some way to redeem this holiday? Some way to use Halloween to point others to Christ, as Paul used a pagan altar to proclaim the gospel on Mars Hill? Might there be a way we way we could shine as a light in the darkness? A more mission-minded way to approach Halloween?
Sure enough, we were swamped with 1000+ visitors our first year here. We even installed extra lighting in our front yard that year and invited friends over to share the gospel with parents while we passed out candy to the kids and entertained them with a couple slight-of-hand tricks.
We stocked up on gospel tracts and about ten times as much candy as we normally buy for Halloween. Even so, we ended up having to raid the pantry for PopTarts and granola bars when we ran out of candy with a throng of costumed kids still on our porch.
The following year, we were better prepared. I designed my own cute, Halloween-themed gospel tract to pass out — along with the best candy we could afford — to the horde of Disney princesses and superheros who would soon descend upon our front porch to trick-or-treat.
We included the tract in little goody bags we assembled a couple of days in advance. This was a fun family project and made the distribution process go much more smoothly.
Some years we’ve handed the tracts out with full-sized bars. Other years we’ve assembled our treat bags in advance. Either way, I make a new trick-or-treat tract each year, in an effort to keep repeat customers engaged. We’ve even translated a few of my tracts into Spanish, so as to have something to offer the Spanish speakers who come to our door.
Print your own trick-or-treat tracts
To read or print our Halloween-themed tracts — in either language — just follow this link: Free Printable Trick-or-Treat Tracts
What a great opportunity trick-or-treating has been to share the gospel! It’s like reverse door-to-door evangelism. The crowds come to us!
Since our kids love any excuse to dress up, they don costumes to help pass out tracts and goodies to the neighborhood children (or to collect a few themselves).
I’m certainly not the first person to notice October 31 provides a ripe opportunity for sharing the gospel. Several years ago, I ran across an excellent article on redeeming Halloween that sums up our family’s evolving attitude toward this holiday beautifully. Follow this link to read it: Being Missional on Fright Night
I love the writer’s tradition of giving out King-Sized candy bars on Halloween — “because there’s no King as generous as ours.” That story was what first prompted us to do the same. It inspired me to make “King-Sized” gospel tract, as well. We now have 10 different trick-or-treat tracts to choose from. We rotate the designs from year to year, so neighbors won’t get the same tract in their bag every October.
Other great ideas for being mission-minded on Halloween
- Share the gospel while carving pumpkins – You’ll find a great script for this activity on the blog Being Confident of This
- Add Bible verse stickers to the candy you distribute – The Happy Home Fairy offers free printable gospel stickers you can make at home. I love her thoughts on Halloween post, too.
- Pass out bottled water – Man a water station at a busy corner of your neighborhood and offer drinks to passing trick-or-treaters and their parents. Use the opportunity to tell them where to find living water.
- Don’t wait for your neighbors to come to you – If your children will be trick-or-treating themselves this year, why not let them take some tracks to give as thank-yous to neighbors who leave their porch lights on?
- Turn the day into a history lesson – Teach your kids about Reformation Day, then use this free Martin Luther multiple choice test to quiz them on what they learned
How does your family handle Halloween? Hide from it? Run with it? Redeem it for the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.