Spiritual Trick or Modern Day Treat? Conversations about Halloween.

The weekend is drawing closer and as many of you know, it will be Halloween on Monday night (31st October). For those of you who follow the liturgical calendar, it will be All Saints Day on the November 1st, a day to celebrate Christians known and unknown, and to celebrate all those who have gone before us.

I’m currently writing this post just after having a conversation about whether Christians should take part in halloween, or indeed anything to do with ‘spiritual darkness’. When I was growing up, my mum allowed me and my sister to go out ‘Trick or

Treat’ ing (but I have to say, she wasn’t and isn’t a Christian), whilst the church would push leaflets through all the doors of the local area, a bit like the one in thepicture. My dad’s side of the family, many who had recently been converted to Christianity tended to agree with said leaflets. Of course, as a growing child, I wanted to know what the truth of halloween was. Well, I say ‘truth’, I just wanted to know whether it was right or wrong to go out trick or treating.

Here’s some facts from BRIN:

With exactly one week to go to Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve), one-third of Britons may be planning to observe the day in some way, according to a new poll. TNS interviewed 1,030 British adults aged 16-64 online on 27-29 September 2011 about their expected activities during the month of October. Results are available at:


From a checklist, 32% of respondents said that they were planning to buy food and drink for Halloween and 32% other items for the day, such as sweets and decorations. Anticipated observance rose to one-half for those who were parents of children living in the household, falling to one-quarter for those without resident children.

More generally, two-fifths of younger people (aged 16-44) intended to make Halloween-related purchases. There was a sharp falling-off among the older age groups, with only 13% of the 55-64s expecting to buy food and drink and 19% other Halloween products. There were no great differences by social grade, but there were regional variations, with two-fifths of Scots planning Halloween purchases against one-quarter of Londoners.

Far fewer of the sample, 12%, thought they might go trick or treating. The proportion rose to 29% for parents of children in the household, compared to 5% who had no children at home. It was somewhat under one-fifth for those aged 16-44 but a mere 2% for the 55-64s. At 9%, the number was lower in the Midlands than in the rest of Britain (13%).

These percentages derive from a survey conducted one month before the event, and it remains to be seen whether expectations will be translated into actions. If they are, however, it looks as though Halloween’s penetration of British society (from Ireland and America) may be steadily increasing.

So, the celebration of halloween seems to be growing and increasing in the UK. Why do you think this is? Is halloween something to be avoided or something to be apathetic about? I wouldn’t ask a Christian whether they should ‘celebrate’ halloween, but would Christians who read my blog allow their children to trick or treat, if nothing else?

If no, then do you allow your children to watch Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings?

Also, what would Jesus do? What about us being light in the darkness?

And, also to consider, what about seeking what is true and lovely, as we are implored to do as Christians?

Get talking!

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • I think the best approach for the Church is not to panic about ghouls and trick or treating but to teach the true meaning of the festival – especially in offering remembrance and prayers for the dead in line with the Apostolic Tradition.

    Trick or treating has its roots in a Scottish custom of Alms giving to the poor which also could be emphasised.


    • Interesting, Eddie. Thanks for your comments 🙂

      Though, many Christians may be scratching their head at the moment and wondering why someone would want to offer prayers for the dead. Would you like to explain?

      • Firstly for those of us who follow early church teaching we can pray for those in purgatory or undergoing theosis. “The faithful widow prays for the soul of her husband, and begs for him in the interim repose, and participation in the first resurrection, and offers prayers on the anniversary of his death” to quote Tertullian from AD 213

        But even if we hold to some of the more recent doctrines found in elements of protestant Christianity we can still pray and give thanks for the life of someone, seek healing and forgiveness  for past faults, and praise God for those who inspired our faith.

        I am probably closer to the latter than the former!

  • I don’t personally enjoy the ‘theme’ of halloween – I wouldn’t consider buying costumes or decorations for it. But I see no wrong in it. I wrote something on it two years ago, and find I still agree with it: http://bit.ly/sukFRb

  • As a youth worker who lives near the kids I see everyday in school, I make sure we have stuff to give the trick or treaters who call at our door. We had the first ones today which just proves they do it as they are bored and want the sweets. However, they are always surprised to see me at the door and it’s a great opportunity to chat as they often ask what I think or why we have no pumpkins. Halloween is just another time of year where we need to love our neighbours without being judgemental, particularly when a majority have no idea of the origins and are just getting involved in another commercialised holiday. Lets make sure we approach this time of the year with grace and understanding in the knowledge God is bigger than any of it.

    • We are carving our pumpkins tomorrow and preparing our costumes for the Social Club party on Saturday – the Children’s costumes competition I always judge.

      Hey ho!

  • AgentCormac

    @ EdwardBGreen

    The very fact that you adhere to thinking that dates back to AD 213 says so, so much about you and your church. And also says so much about the way religion is, as I have previously stated here, a millstone around the neck of humanity. Honestly, it’s unbelievable that in this day and age there are still (sorry about this) morons like you who just want to drag us all back kicking and screaming into the most primitive times of human development. Those people couldn’t explain rainfall. They couldn’t explain rainbows. They didn’t know that the world was round. Yet you think it’s a good idea to live by their rules? Oh, come on! You can obviously use a 21st-century computer – how about using a 21st-century brain?