Every October 31, the streets are flooded with costumed children (some dressed as Elsa, Kylo Ren, or any other cultural icon one can dream up). With each passing year, many Christians are left with a lingering conundrum: how should Christians celebrate Halloween? Should they even celebrate it? How does one thread the needle between cultural engagement/relevance without neither compromising one’s faith nor conforming to this present age? On one hand, Halloween seems to be a dark season, one where wickedness and evil appear to be embraced, celebrated even, yet isn’t it also a time where kids can pretend via cosplay, and enjoy a candy party? What is a Christian to do?
Perhaps even a dark holiday can be redeemed via perspective shifting. Much like how December 25 used to be a dark time in Ancient Roman civilization, the Christians used their holiday time off to lighten up the festivities via celebrating the incarnation (the birth of Jesus). Could such a perspective shift redeem Halloween (a season of witches, skulls, and darkness)?
Satan is one who loves to take every possible opportunity to tout himself as a celebrity. Yet, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) meaning he is all about tricks. He knocks on the doors of people’s hearts wanting to deceive, devour, and destroy (1 Pt 5:8). At the same time, Jesus, God the Son, also knocks on the door of people’s hearts (Rev 3:20), willing to bring the ultimate treat: salvation, the forgiveness for sin. Whenever we knock on someone’s house calling out, “trick or treat,” that is indeed the question.
Perhaps it is not without irony that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther knocked on a church door. People had believed a trick (a lie) that salvation came via paying the church or paying to pray with observing certain sacred artifacts. Luther knocked on a church door with a hammer, nailing his 95 thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, declaring the truth of the treat of salvation through Jesus and Jesus only, salvation by grace through faith.
When kids ask why we celebrate Halloween, perhaps we may be able to take the time to share the historical work of God in the hearts of people, and how Jesus is knocking still today.