Germany. The very first memory I have of Halloween, is when my dad helped the local teens paint the windows of our apartment building in Germany. I wanted to help, but I wasn’t allowed to hang out with him on the indoor staircase. I have a photo of myself, around the age of four, dressed in a witch costume. I didn’t really understand what witches were about, but I’d seen them in books and movies. For years, I had a great fear of witches.
Texas. Around this time, I accepted Jesus into my heart, during children’s church. One early memory of Halloween, was waiting and waiting with the babysitter for my parents to come back from a Halloween party. All the kids had been out “trick or treating,” and I was anxious. We were running out of time. It was nine o’ clock by the time Raggedy Ann and Andy came home. Apparently the homemade costumes had been a huge hit, but I didn’t care… I wanted candy, and I wanted it yesterday.
At the first house, a kindly lady said in a sweet voice, “Oh you poor things! You’re just starting out?” Plunk! Plunk! She dropped double treats into my orange plastic pumpkin, and also took care of my cute little sister. The rest of that night was a race to get candy at strangers’ houses where the decor wasn’t too scary. If blue lights flickered along with the echoes of evil laughs, it meant that the house would be skipped; even less candy!
Italy. When I was around eight, we moved to Italy. There was no trick or treating there. But I was told about the ancient customs of opening the windows to chase away evil spirits, and dressing in costume to scare them away. On a balmy evening, the sheer curtains blew in the windows like dancing ghosts, and my parents threw a mini American Halloween party. They made scary sounds by using the old reel to reel stereo player and a microphone. My little sister got frightened, so they turned it off. I was mad. She had spoiled the fun. Now I wish I could wrap her four-year-old soft little self in my arms and whisper, “I’m sorry, I’ll keep you safe.” There were games and skits and candy. For not going “trick or treat,” it had been lots of fun. But there were also terrible stories from that time; a man had been outside and had killed some cats. I’m choosing to leave out the details. It was something I’d overheard, so there wasn’t much choice than to tell me the story. I was probably spared most of the horror of what it all meant. Fear. The world is an evil place.
Texas again. Back in the United States, in spite of disappointments and fears, Halloween was generally a fun time, resulting in lots of candy. And for once, as a sixth-grader, I finally got to choose my costume; I’d be a pretty princess in pink for one night! Wasn’t it great that at least one time of year our neighbors were not considered strangers? Everyone was sooo nice! What? We had to check the candy? Anything unwrapped was automatically thrown out. But that sweet lady down the road who had worked so hard to make the soft sugar cookies… she wouldn’t have put razor blades in her home-baked goods … surely not! And, just in case, KSAT News was on, telling parents where they could go to x-ray their kids’ candy, in order to make sure it was safe. Wait? Why were we worried about this again?
Alaska. I was 14 and too old to go trick-or-treating. But my girlfriends and I decided to get silly, and go for one last hurrah. We created lame, lazy costumes, using an Ace bandage to wrap around our heads. In addition, I wore a pirate’s eye patch, which made all my friends laugh. The effort didn’t matter much, because all the kids had to wear heavy coats and boots and gloves to trudge through the icy wind and slushy snowy neighborhood quad.
When we came to the darkened house with a note on the door, saying: “We don’t celebrate Halloween here,” we all hooted. “Those people are soooo weird! Rude! Whatever!” We went on through the dark, cold night with one goal: filling our pillowcases with as much chocolate as possible. It was the Air Force Base. Who needed to check candy when we lived in such a “safe” environment? Weren’t we lucky?
Texas. When I was way too old for Halloween, we went to an evening church service where an older teen, around my age, stood up and told us what really happens on Halloween night. It was scary and creepy. It was horrific! He talked about satanic rituals and the occult. He mentioned animal sacrifices and witchcraft. I felt sick to my stomach. Why did he know all this stuff? He had been the victim of satanic abuse… on Halloween night. I thought I would vomit.
I began to feel uncomfortable about celebrating Halloween. Yet, there’d be a chance to dress up, or a fun party over here and over there. Maybe it was a creepy haunted house that made me feel like something wanted to attach itself to me. But, still I reasoned, wasn’t it okay if we were just hanging out with friends? Yes, there was also a lot of drinking at these events, but if you didn’t get drunk or wear something evil and scary, was that so bad?
I became a public school teacher. There were alternative Halloween activities for both churches and schools. Yet still, scary and inappropriate costumes would make their way in the doors, or the prizes would reflect the theme of Halloween. There were seemingly innocent games rooted in evil pagan traditions, such as “bobbing for apples.” Most people aren’t even aware of the sinister meaning behind this game. It seemed to me, that these alternative festivals were still actually celebrating Halloween.
Virginia. Suddenly I was married. My husband was fine not celebrating Halloween. We didn’t have to dress up or hand out candy all night. We could turn out all the lights, rent a movie, and eat nachos. It didn’t really have an effect on us… until we had our twin babies. Oh wouldn’t it be cute to just dress them up? I mean, we wore Halloween costumes as kids, after all. But I chose fall pumpkin hats instead, and the babies looked adorable! But suddenly, our babies were children. We thought.. what’s the harm of a non-scary costume? We didn’t want them “missing out” on what we had experienced during childhood.
We took them “trick or treating.” And I felt uncomfortable. For a month straight, we had looked out at our neighbor’s house, remade into a haunted mansion, complete with graveyard, skeletons, and tombstones. It scared my sweet little boys. As we walked to neighbors’ houses, we were offered mixed drinks, and at the next house, Jell-O shots (with liquor). We turned down the offers. It felt unsettling; a kids’ night turned all night booze fest. There were grotesque costumes, and adults inappropriately dressed.
God began revealing truth through our adorable twin boys. Though Spider-Man and Hulk looked very, very cute; they were afraid out there in the dark evil world. We had fun with friends, yet there were overly creepy costumes, houses with graveyards and hanging ghosts, and candy we needed to avoid because of allergies and simply too much sugar. Some of our friends told us of safe houses, where we could go, since they knew the people who lived there. But did we know the people who lived there? What would this be teaching our children about strangers?
I wrote up my own devotional, attached to a lollipop, to hand out to children who came to our house for Halloween. It felt great to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in hopes of reaching the lost. I’d hand out up to 500 in just a few hours. Occasionally, a small princess or superhero would ask, “What’s this?”
I’d tell them, “It’s a letter about how much Jesus loves you!” The child would smile, and wish me a Happy Halloween. I couldn’t say that back; so I’d wave, “God bless you!” In the end our boys decided they just wanted to hand out candy. But very scary creatures came to the door, especially that guy with the “bloody axe in his head.” Why again, were we doing this?
The last Halloween I remember celebrating, we were visiting out of state. The other kids had left my boys behind, for they weren’t with their own familiar friends. I stayed with them and afterwards, though they were allowed to play outside with other children, they chose to get ready for bed and watch a movie. There was a loud, lively Halloween party going on downstairs for the adults, and my boys were uncomfortable and unsettled. I was too. We didn’t fit in; we weren’t partiers, and we just didn’t do horror. I vowed to never again travel near Halloween.
When the boys were around nine, we were leaning towards no longer having anything to do with Halloween. After arriving home from dinner, we had a stressful half hour, when the boys began thinking they might want to dress in camp gear and go out. We were living out in the country, so we would have to go into town. I was pregnant with my daughter, so it would likely be my husband who would have to take them. I’d been letting the boys trade candy for dimes, so they wouldn’t have too much sugar. Brilliant or ridiculous? This idea now seemed ludicrous. I was paying my kids to give away their free candy, when I could just buy a limited amount at the store. Stomachaches, hyperactivity, and cavities… why? On this almost-last Halloween night out, in the end we all decided it wasn’t worth it.
There’s a reason animal shelters don’t adopt out black cats this time of year. They are used for sacrifices. This one time of year, kids are: taking candy from strangers, allowed to roam the streets alone, eating more candy in a night than they would normally eat in a year, taking in sights and sounds of rated PG and R horror; which many parents would normally shield from their little eyes and ears… and dabbling in witchcraft, the occult, and the devil’s favorite day of the year… I can’t. I won’t. I don’t.
The next year our daughter was born. We’d grown more spiritually mature, and our little beauty had changed all four of us into a better family of five. We wanted to protect her from anything and everything bad. We fell in love with her twinkling eyes and bubbly laugh. God began convicting us more and more about worldly views and issues. He began to heal us and reveal to us the lies which had deceived us as children. We began to understand that we didn’t need to continue tradition just for tradition’s sake. We needed to follow Jesus and do what pleases GOD. We could start our own traditions.
As a family, we decided we would not celebrate Halloween any longer, and we would also raise our daughter to understand that there was not a Santa Claus (another blog post for another time). We had all been deceived in this area; though we were all aware there had never been any evil intentions. But each person in our home had been hurt and angry upon finding out Santa didn’t exist, and we wanted to change things for our growing family. The Silver Lining of giving up past traditions, has been in gaining something so much greater: new joyful traditions, founded in our brand new heritage in Jesus Christ!
So that’s where we are now. My daughter hates Halloween. She hates darkness and death. She hates the frightening, evil images. She hates horror. She loves pumpkins, and she loves fall. She doesn’t miss out on Santa Claus. She loves reindeer, and she loves Christmas. She loves Baby Jesus in a manger. She was our later-in-life miracle baby. Our daughter is a gift and reminder of my very favorite bible verses, which sum up everything from this journey. My daughter hates evil and loves what is good. That’s good enough for me. God’s words are good enough for me!
In Philippians, God tells us what things should be on our mind; in Deuteronomy, God tells us what should NOT be on our mind. We have free will. Obeying God results in blessings. Disobeying God results in consequences. The battle is good versus evil. God promises victory to those who fight for Him. The Lord Jesus Christ is good; and he gives us peace!
God wants us to do, and think about, what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy… good things! He promises to be with us and give us peace!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:4-8).
God is serious about the occult. He hates evil. The occult can harm you and your family and your relationship with God. God says occult practices are detestable!
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God” (Deut. 18:9-13).
Is God is being celebrated when we are celebrating? Questions to ponder:
Is God glorified?
Are His commands bring obeyed?
Does it bring others to Jesus?