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Halloween: the Christian’s second most important holiday

Easter is, of course, the winner. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there would be no Christianity. That is important to celebrate.

I am relegating Christmas to the number three spot because it is owned by commerce. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful family holiday. Yes, we Christians celebrate the incarnation of God (even though Jesus never said we should). Yes, I love Christmas. But frankly, we Christians just don’t own it anymore. The shops do.

We don’t own Halloween either, but we could.

I grew up hearing about the evils of Halloween – satan worship, demons, razor blades in apples – not from my parents, but from the Christian culture I lived in. I grew up going to Halloween alternative events, having lots of fun in my bible character costume, knowing that I was safe from all the devil-worshiping psychos that were certain to get me if I dared to risk knocking at the doors of the heathens in my neighbourhood.

Then one year I tried it, and I didn’t die.

As soon as my son was old enough (3) I introduced him to the joys of trick-or-treating. That was when I started realising that Halloween is the second most important holiday for Christians.

Jesus said there are two commands that matter: love God and love your neighbour. The Easter holiday is all about the first command. Halloween is all about the second.

What other day of the year can you put on funny clothes and be welcomed at your neighbour’s house? In my neighbourhood Halloween is the only day of the year that that people actually get out of their houses and chat with the neighbours that they don’t know. It is a night of celebrating community.

In the neighbourhood behind our church they throw a party at the shop and lots of people come out and have a great time. That’s where we went trick-or-treating last year.

On Halloween people let down their guard and come out of their houses. And unlike Christmas, it is not fraught with expectations and busy-ness. So here is my plan of how Christians are going to take over Halloween:

1. Ignore the demons and the occultists. (Almost) no one else in your neighbourhood cares in the least about that stuff. They are interested in costumes and sweets. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good, not with huddled prayer meetings in the church basement. If you want a prayer meeting, do it on the 30th. If you want to do some real spiritual warfare, put on some silly clothes and go hang out with your neighbours.

2. Cancel your anti- and alternative events. In the words of Disney’s little mermaid, ‘I want to be where the people are.’ Hint: they live around you in those house-shaped things. Stay home, put some pumpkins in the window, hand out a bunch of sweets (not tracts!) and have a nice chat with all the witches and axe-murderers that come by. Even better, go outside and meet the little ghouls’ parents lurking at the bottom of the drive.

3. Be positive and proactive. Find out in advance where the nervous old people live. Let them know that there will be adults out and about and that you will keep an eye on their house. Have some extra glowsticks to give to kids who need to be more visible. Find good places to hide so you can jump out and scare the trick-or-treaters. If you are feeling really ambitious, have an open house/garden with games and hot chocolate and snacks.

4. Check your motivation. You are doing this because God commands us to love people, not because you are trying to score crowns in heaven by getting converts. People can smell a rat a mile away.

5. Make Halloween the starting place. Probably sometime over the course of the evening you will meet somebody and there will be a bit of a connection. Go with it. Invite them to join you for bonfire night. Have their kid over to play with yours. Give the relationship opportunity to grow. And remember it is about loving people, not converting them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun (and useful) than anything else you could be doing Halloween night?

Jeff Gill

About the Author

Jeff Gill is an American. His wife Christine is Welsh. Together they are the children and family pastors at i61 Church in Conwy, North Wales. They have three children and a collection of pets and houseplants. Jeff is also a graphic designer and kind of a comic artist. You can follow him on Twitter at @jqgill.