A Christ-centered Halloween?

We’ve all heard of making Christmas and Easter more Christ-centered. What about Halloween? Is it possible? Is Halloween something we are going to celebrate in Zion? Or is it one of those “traditions of the fathers” that we are to leave in Babylon when we build Zion?

Here’s an intriguing article by Joyce Kinmont about Halloween, published in the Ensign, the October 1996 issue.

When my husband and I joined the Church early in our marriage, we felt a need to improve our behavior, including the way we celebrated holidays. We made Christmas and Easter more Christ-centered. New Year’s Eve became more goal oriented. And Halloween? Well, Halloween was a challenge.

We had enjoyed dressing up our first little daughter in a black witch’s costume, her heavily sprayed blonde hair sticking out all over her head and a piece of dry ice bubbling from her pot. But we began to wonder whether some Halloween practices were pleasing to the Lord, given that Latter-day Saints are to seek after that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (A of F 1:13).

As our children grew, we became increasingly wary of the role models we presented to them. We recognized that the portrayal of evil might be necessary in telling a story but that experimenting with evil and its appearance, even for “fun,” could be harmful. We did not want to personalize evil by encouraging our children to identify with witches, even cute ones. Nor did we want to encourage our children to pretend to be violent, grotesque, or ghoulish, or to engage in any behavior that would grieve the Spirit.

Doing away with masks and, rather, dressing our children as pumpkins, robots, and cowboys eased our concern. Often I made costumes that promoted dramatic play: southern belle dresses with hooped skirts or princess dresses with flowing trains. Some years we helped make Halloween fun for others. Our most memorable Halloweens were ones in which we gave a “treat”—a short program of music and poetry presented to the elderly, especially those who had no family close by.

Some wards, concerned about the safety of trick-or-treating after dark, have begun holding Halloween parties, dinners, or costume parades in their cultural halls. Other wards gather in the church parking lot, where members dispense treats from their car trunks and play games (see “‘Trunk-n-Treat’: a Halloween alternative,” Church News, 5 Nov. 1994, 5).

When our children became teenagers, we discouraged them from participating in spook alleys or other activities where participants, in disguise or under cover of darkness, would display threatening or grotesque behavior and pretend to engage in violent acts that were often patterned after scenes from violent movies. We also discouraged our children from committing malicious “tricks” and from attending activities popularized during Halloween such as fortune telling, séances, or theatrical satanism.

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned of such activities when he told young men and women, “A warning: there is a dark side to spiritual things. In a moment of curiosity or reckless bravado some teenagers have been tempted to toy with Satan worship. Don’t you ever do that! Don’t associate with those who do! You have no idea of the danger! Leave it alone! And there are other foolish games and activities that are on that dark side. Leave them alone!” (Ensign, May 1989, 54).

President James E. Faust, while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counseled Latter-day Saints to avoid becoming intrigued by Satan and his mysteries: “No good can come from getting close to evil. Like playing with fire, it is too easy to get burned: ‘The knowledge of sin tempteth to its commission.’ … The only safe course is to keep well distanced from him and any of his wicked activities or nefarious practices. The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague” (Ensign, Nov. 1987, 33).

Thirty years ago the cute little witch costume our daughter wore was so far removed from reality that she would never have identified with anything truly evil. But things are different today. Friends of ours recently were shocked and saddened when they arrived at a garden wedding to find that it was an occult ceremony. Their beloved grandson’s experimentations with “the dark side to spiritual things” were no longer mere Halloween curiosities.

We have found that it is not necessary to avoid Halloween festivities altogether. With a little planning, Halloween can be a fun family time. But as we gauge our behavior by the light of scriptures and modern revelation, we can set a proper example for our children and others as we heed the Lord’s admonition to “chase darkness from among [us]” (D&C 50:25).

I’ve talked to Joyce since she wrote this. She now says she wishes Halloween would go away. I’ve had that attitude. I stopped trick or treating with my kids when #2 was 2. We’ve gone for many years and not done anything special on Halloween night. Sometimes we’ve watched a movie. I’ve been thinking for a while that Halloween is satan’s holiday, and he is happy when were celebrating his day, so I don’t want to do anything too special. We watch movies occasionally at night so I figured satan would not think we are celebrating.

This year I am thinking I will celebrate the most correct book on earth, the Book of Mormon, on Halloween with a a Book of Mormon party.

This pamphlet from this site here advocates that Halloween is Christian in origin. The word does come from All Hallow’s Eve which was the day before All Saints’ Day, a day to celebrate great Christian people. I like the idea of making Halloween a Christian memorial day where we remember those saints who have gone before us. There are your costume ideas right there: Pilgrims, Columbus, George Washington, Joan of Arc, all the great people that have paved the way for liberty.

Here’s the description:

Many Christians are under the mistaken belief that Halloween, or more specifically All Saint’s Day, was established for the purpose of Christianizing a pagan holiday called Samhain.
But Halloween actually started as a Christian festival, not the other way around.
Many Christians dread the coming of Halloween, trying to shield their children from every part of it, and wishing it would go away. And that’s a shame, because Halloween is distinctly Christian in origin, and there are many ways that Christians can re-claim Halloween as a Christian celebration.
I have advocated through the years that we recapture Halloween as a part of the Christian calendar, a sort of Christian Memorial Day, and honor Christians who have been a part of our heritage.

Hmmm…Here’s an article that says the opposite, that Christians should not participate in Halloween. It sums up how I have felt over the years.

This article takes a middle of the road approach.

What do you think?

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