Yes, we should, and we should welcome the costumed kids and parents in our neighborhoods.
The word ‘halloween’ comes from “All Hallow’s Eve.” “All Hallows” is the Christian All Saints Day (November 1st). So Halloween just means “Eve of All Saints Day.” It is far from being a pagan or evil word. Ironically, a church near me changed their party name backward to “Neewollah” in order to avoid the word. Yet that seems creepier to me! We don’t need to avoid the word, or to have a harvest party at the church instead.
The emphasis on death and fear is actually rooted in Christian folk traditions. The idea was that because we aren’t afraid of death or the devil, we can laugh at the devil and the demonic. In some folk traditions, if you dressed up like a demon, the demons would pass by your house, or leave you alone. This is similar to the tradition of placing demonic gargoyles on cathedrals. If it scares people, that’s actually a good thing. It reminds us that death is real, and that only in Christ can we be free from fear.
Of course, people often become enamored with death, evil, and the demonic in morbid or sacrilegious ways. That part of modern day halloween is not healthy for our kids or us. And of course we’ve all seen the inappropriate or risque outfits that people wear, and can’t celebrate that.
But these are all reasons that halloween is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Why should we trick or treat with the kids, and fill our neighbor’s kid’s buckets with candy?
Because we love our kids and our neighbors. Kids love candy. They love being with the parents, and with friends. They love dressing up. This is a fun, neighborly night. We shouldn’t be the ones who turn off the porch light and close the door and say “No candy for you!”
So as a pastor, I would encourage all of us to dust off the old wolf-man mask, help the kids pick out or create a costume, and chuck out that $50 on candy for the neighborhood. Lets not be the imp that stole trick-or-treat. Instead, lets have some fun and get to know our neighbors better. Don’t have a party at your church on Halloween night. Instead, give folks a chance to love on each other the one time of year when neighbors actually walk around and talk to one another.
And then on All Saints Day (Yes, its a real thing! Its always falls the day after Halloween), we should gather for worship, remembering all of those who have gone before us in faith.