What Are You Going to Be Doing on October 31?


A friend asked me to write an article on Halloween.  This friend is against Halloween and everything it stands for.  Another friend asked me to write an article on Halloween and how Christians need to stop being so stuffy. Another friend posted an article on Halloween to her Facebook page…and the comments became very heated.

I have always been on the fence with regard to Halloween.


What I have learned is that there appears to be 3 groups of Christians when it comes to Halloween.

1. There are those who say, “We don’t want anything to do with that evil day! Why would any Christian have anything to do with that?”

2. There are those on the other end who let their children dress up as a non-evil things like princesses and go knocking on doors and collecting candy.

3. And then in the middle are the rest of the Christians. We’re not sure what they actually think, but they do things like “Harvest Fest” and “Reformation Day”  where candy still flows and kids still get dressed up.

I am firmly planted in group three…but because I am me, I asked this question, “So where did “Halloween,” as we know it, start?

druidsJust about 3000 years ago, beginning around 2000 BC, the Celts of Ireland celebrated the eve of Samhain,  or the festival of the Lord of the Dead, on the night of October 31st. This was their New Year’s Eve, the night that the Druids burned animals and prisoners to foretell the future and appease the dreadful Samhain.   The Pagans believed that Samhain sent evil spirits into the world to attack humans, who could only survive if they disguised themselves as evil spirits.

That sounds like something we should be a part of doesn’t it?

I digress…

In 834 AD Pope Gregory IV, appalled at the ritual, moved All Saints Day, from early May to Nov. 1, in an effort to “Christianize”the celebration of Samhain.  All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day are part of the two day celebration of Hallowmas. This is where we get the current name from: All Hallow’s Eve = Hallowe’en = Halloween.  This is also seems to be where “trick or treating” comes from.  Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling”, when poor folk would go door to door during All Saints Day, begging for food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day.

Let’s jump ahead to October 31, 1517 and the Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences better known as the 95 Theses.


Did you know that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to Wittenburg Chapel Door on Halloween day?  Yes October 31 is Reformation day, and it was not a coincidence that he chose this day to take his public stand against the Roman Catholic Church.  In the centuries leading up to the reformation the Roman Catholic Church had deformed to a religion of custom and superstition. Luther was appalled at the pagan-like superstition of the church and sought to bring the church to repentance and back to the true gospel.  Hallowmas, with it’s focus on praying to the saints and indulgences, was the epitome of why Luther wrote his 95 Theses and is likely the reason he chose this day to go public.

Let’s jump ahead to Oct 31, 2013.  Where will your kids be?  Where will you be?  We should think about why we do things.  We are not trick or treating, and we are not decorating with creepy tombstones, spiders or skeletons.  I am taking my family to harvest fest at my church this year to “celebrate reformation day.”  My daughters are probably dressing up as pink kitten princess things…but not because they are afraid that pink kitten/princess goblins are going to hunt them if they don’t disguise themselves.

What are you going to be doing on October 31?


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  1. laura says:

    We will be taking the kids ‘trick or treating’ in our neighbourhood. A great way to see the families that live near us 🙂

  2. doulanic says:

    I’m staying home and serving free hot chocolate and baking to the parents in the neighborhood. Martin will probably take the younger two out for some fun. I would still like to go to Aldergrove church that evening and take in the Reformation speech.
    Challenge for you Ryan …. Harvest Fun Night is not a celebration of Reformation Day – no matter how you word it. 🙂 If it’s to celebrate Reformation Day, then there should be no dressing up (unless the kids are dressing up as martyrs) and there should be no candy. Otherwise, all that’s being done is cloaking the tradition of Halloween and sticking it in a church under the guise of harvest. Which was Thanksgiving – a couple weeks ago.

    • Actually dressing up as Martyrs would be All Saints Day, which is what Halloween already is, since all saints day started out as a day for the martyrs. 😉 Truth be known I am not celebrating anything, as a cadet counselour we are holding a silent auction that evening for fundraising for gems and cadets since it is a regular Cadets night 🙂

  3. Cindy T. says:

    Definitely in camp 1! I just read an incredible article that explains exactly why. I can’t post it from my phone, but I’ll get on the computer after and share a link. A must read in my opinion.

  4. theodora1950 says:

    Please excuse the long response. About ten years ago I re-entered the work force at a call centre for incoming calls to help with computer issues (the only job I could get after being at home raising my kids for 20+ years). I met a young man who was temporarily my supervisor. I was a little wary of him, as he had an oddly shaved head, many tattoos and piercings and pointy black fingernails, but I respected him because he was always polite to me and knew his stuff. During the Halloween week he was gone, and when he came back, he said he’s had a really good vacation. He’d been to California to participate in religious rituals that he really enjoyed. I asked him what religion he was and he told me he was a wikkan priest, and they had sacrificed a goat. Those are illegal activities here, but still done in secrecy in California. He laughed when he saw how shocked I was. I asked him why if it was so secret did he tell me about it. Because he said, you’re blatant about being a Christian, and I had to challenge you. I was horrified at the evil he exuded. From then on I could not stand being near him. He laughed every time he talked to me after that conversation. Ever since then, I cannot abide Halloween, even the “innocent” festivities, because I know of the evil it is rooted in, which is still celebrated in the world. I don’t feel as Christians, as people of the light we should have anything to do with the darkness. Halloween is a feast of satan, plain and simple. But my view is not popular, even among Christians. I try not to preach, but I despair of Christians who refuse to see it. Satan laughs every Halloween when he sees covenant children walking disguised down the street, all just for a bag of candy.

  5. Flo says:

    I believe a nice family evening at home with the front lights turned off, hot chocolate and pumpkin spice muffins, teaching our children about Reformation Day would be awesome.

  6. Garrett says:

    Our church has a potluck so that we can “escape” the trick and treating and all the other stuff goes along with it. We focus as a family on reformation day and how we can be thankful that our God is faithful to protect His church.

    We must remember that in everything we must ask does this glorify God? So when your kids are dressing up in whatever costume and knocking on doors asking complete strangers for candy, how are you glorifying God? What about hypocrisy? I walked up to your kids any other day of the year and offer them some candy what would you tell your kids to do? I think that would be a news story of an attempted kidnapping!! What makes it right on a day that historically is a pagan sacrificial day?

    As for it being a “great way to see the families that live near us” why not invite them over for dinner let them see your family function as a Christian family, invite them to join in family worship would this not be a better witness? Not judging just trying to provoke thought.

  7. James says:

    My friends and I had some good discussions on this topic as well, so I appreciate the comments that are here. Our thoughts, after some debate, were:
    1. We aren’t the most evangelical of people even when we have an opportunity.
    2. This is one night when, instead of going to people to tell them about God, they come to us.
    3. If we turn off our lights and pretend we’re not home, what kind of name are Christians getting?
    4. Let’s hand out more candy to people than our neighbours and hand them a little tract with the candy. Better yet, if they’re neighbours, invite them over for a regular dinner. (I stress regular because if you’re inviting them to dinner to force-feed the gospel, you’re probably doing more harm than good).
    Just some thoughts.

    • Flo says:

      To James: The question is “What are you going to be doing on Oct.31/
      1. nothing to do with evangelising
      2. have discussion with family or friends about Reformation Day
      3. we do not turn our lights off and pretend to be away
      4. extra candy and dinner… sounds expensive

      just say’n

    • busyquiltmom says:

      James, I disagree with you. The people aren’t coming to your home to get to know you. Most of the time the kids come to the door and the parents stay by the road. I’ve gotten to know the neighbors in my cul-de-sac (more) by explaining why we won’t be participating in Halloween celebrations. And we aren’t the only ones…. Even non-church goers are changing up the way they do things because they see the evil in it and don’t want their kids involved. There are way better ways of sharing the gospel with your neighbor than joining in a pagan celebration.

      We don’t stay home and pretend we aren’t. We go to our church’s Harvest Fest and not to celebrate Reformation Day either. Quite simply to get away from craziness that Halloween is.

  8. Albert says:

    We plan to be at the Reformation Day lecture/rally at the Aldergrove CanRC. We have not opened our doors to trick and treaters for a long time.

  9. Miranda L says:

    We turn the lights off, our girls do not go out or get dressed up (we do walk them across the street the next day to the 3 neighbors we know very well, as they have always put aside treats for them as they know we do not celebrate). We remember the 31st as what it should be. A very important turning point in our Reformed Faith.

  10. Ryan,

    I appreciate the historical approach to the discussion, as it’s a necessary part of understanding what Halloween is about. I posted a video on my blog a few weeks back that is both entertaining and instructive:



  11. JS Park says:

    I suppose I’m one of those “hipster Christians” who enjoys both Halloween and the Hallelujah/Harvest Festivals. I’ve gone trick-or-treating most of my life, and have found it harmless. I understand the idolatry behind it. But there’s a way we can idolize anti-idolatry.

  12. kevin says:

    I don’t have kids and so I don’t really have to deal with this issue. I always trick or treated around my neighbourhood when I was younger, now I see some good arguments in favour and against it. This year I would probably be in group. All I know is, on Nov. 1 I plan to buy some extremely cheap candy 😉

  13. The 95 Thesis is among the events of history my little boy has memorized and that I will continue to elaborate on this wk and in the coming years. It’s just amazing what some churches – esp the giant ones – do on Halloween, in the name of evangelism. Their trunk-or-treat giveaways in their parking lots are decked with characters and decorations no less creepy than the world’s. I have misgivings even about more innocent costumes among believers. Seems to me the same worldly Halloween just baptized with Christian fellowship (that is, participating in the same tradition with fellow believers who quiet their conscience in numbers). But it’s not too different from the Christmas tree that has taken up non-negotiable residence not only in the Christian home but the sanctuary as well. Oh well.

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