Halloween and the Great Commission: Why My Kids Dress Up for Candy, but Don’t Pretend in Santa

Just so you know, I don’t think holidays are evil.  But some Christians do have a hard time navigating the holidays.  They are troubled by Jack-o-lanterns, Santa Claus,  and the Easter bunny.  I guess we could add a few more holidays to the list, but we will keep it down to the big 3 just for the sake of time.

Why its a big deal: No doubt somewhere somebody once told you that all the “Christian” holiday’s  like Christmas and Easter are really just “pagan holidays.”  Christmas wasn’t really on December the 25th and that the Easter bunny is all about fertility, being twitter-pated, new life and stuff.  I know, I know, its disappointing to have your whole Christian holiday stuff upset by some great big “pagan conspiracy.”  Why did they have to go pick the “Christian” holidays, why couldn’t they have hijacked some other holiday like Grandparents Day? No, the pagans had to come and take our Christmas and Easter. Or did they?…

How it might of actually started I think it’s the Pagans that should be upset that we are talking so much about Jesus around their holidays.  I guess that’s how it really started.  Some pagan got up to say, “through these winter months we look with joy to the new life of spring,”  and a Christian in the room stood up and said, “let me tell you about how God loves us and when the world was dark and cold, God came in the flesh and dwelt among us.”  And later in the spring when they were sitting around talking about how new life springs out of dead things a Christian got up and said, “They killed Jesus, but he rose from the dead three days later!” All of the sudden these pagan holidays centered around pagan ideas were hijacked by Christians telling their wonderful stories about the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus.  Yes, my friends, it is the pagans who have had their holidays hijacked… not the Christians.  Truth be told, I don’t know why we have a Christmas tree (nor do I care), but I do know why we have a manger.

The Real Danger: The real danger with “Christian” holidays is that we only think about the incarnation (birth of Jesus) and resurrection on holidays.  SEC football is a bigger threat to my kids than Santa Claus because I’m an Auburn fan.  The real danger is that I might look more excited about football for 4 months out of the year than I am about what Christ has done in my life.  The question isn’t, “do I make Christmas about Jesus or Santa?” The real question is, “do I make all of my life about Jesus?”  The real evil would be to tell my kids Santa isn’t real, tell the truth about Jesus, but forget about Jesus the other 11 months out of the year.

A Way Forward: I say we hijack all the holidays for the sake of the gospel… starting with Halloween.  I know it’s scary; kids all dressed up like witches and demons and stuff.  But think about it, when was the last time you were invited and expected to knock on every door in your neighborhood? (and rewarded with candy I might add!) It’s how we met most of our neighbors beyond just a few doors down.

You see there aren’t any front porches in my neighborhood, or side walks, or parks, most people park the car in the garage,  all of our backyards have 6 foot privacy fences, and most of our houses have TVs and computers so we never have to see each other.  But once a year, Halloween changes that and kids come to our house and we take our kids through the neighborhood. Halloween has become an avenue for relationships which is the avenue for the gospel.

I know, I know, your scared that the secret origins of Halloween now have a dark hold over my kids… Can I just say, “It’s not so.”  We serve a risen Savior who beat death, and destroys demons.  We dabbled more in the spirit world when we obeyed God, packed our bags and moved our family to Pensacola (trust me, my daughter had more nightmares and we wrestled through more demonic stuff in our obedience than we ever have with her dressed as a Strawberry).  It’s time that we worry more about the mission than the top-secret pagan origins of a holiday.

Where to draw the line:  I think the line on holidays looks different for each family.  We draw the line at deception or dishonesty to our kids.  We teach our kids that Santa  and the Easter bunny are not real.  We also teach that Satan and his demons are real.  Most importantly we teach that Jesus Christ has conquered death and is stronger than any demon will ever be.  One of our core values is the ability to discern truth from error.   We still teach a healthy amount of pretend and play.  Because we aim for this balance of truth and pretend we are a little weird.  The things we draw the line on are probably different than you family and that’s okay (you can be weird too!)