October 22, 2023

Halloween-less Homes

How four families relate to Halloween


It Had No Attraction

While we don’t recognize Halloween as a holiday  worth celebrating, it does give opportunities to train our children. Halloween decorations tend to be ugly, scary, and morbid, and we didn’t want these images engraved upon their minds. We are told that we should “guard the senses,” for they are “the avenues of the soul.”1 When Halloween decorations were on display, we taught our children to close their eyes or look the other way. Teaching children diligence in guarding their eyes is a principle that will bless and benefit them far beyond the Halloween season, and this is a great time to reinforce that.

Though candy can be an added temptation that attracts kids to Halloween, we were blessed not to worry about that aspect, because our kids were raised without candy and didn’t crave it. We were intentional about guarding their sense of taste as well.

If we remove the decorations, scare factor, and candy, perhaps only two other aspects of Halloween might be attractive to kids: dressing up, and going door-to-door. Our kids had many opportunities to do both, though not in connection with Halloween. They had dress-up fun throughout the year. And they didn’t need Halloween to go knocking on doors. They had many opportunities throughout the year passing out GLOW tracts and doing other forms of evangelism.

Now that they are older, our kids say they didn’t feel like they missed out on celebrating Halloween as children. My son (now 18) said, “We were raised in a culture where nothing about the holiday was promoted or interesting, so it had no attraction. I think [ghosts, witches, graveyards, and other Halloween-related themes] are naturally repulsive unless you encourage them.”

Daniel and Kerri Mendez live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with their son and daughter (ages 18 and 15).

Answering With the Bible

As decorations go up and neighborhood kids dress up in costumes, our children often ask questions. Why don’t we celebrate Halloween? Why is our house not decorated ? Why can’t we get Halloween costumes? Why are we different? Why can’t we be like everyone else? Navigating these questions in a world that seems to have fully embraced the holiday can be challenging.

We have built a tradition for the evening of Halloween. Once the kids get home from school or whatever activity they had that day, we have dinner together. We’ll usually have homemade pumpkin or butternut squash soup, homemade bread, and the kids’ preferred dessert. For worship we review what the Bible teaches about the state of the dead and explain why we don’t celebrate the event. The kids go to bed a little early, and we turn off both indoor and outdoor lights to avoid the trick-or-treat doorbell ringing.

As the years pass, the children continue to raise questions about our beliefs. We try to answer them with the Bible’s teachings. Having our own family tradition on Halloween night has also helped us navigate the challenge of being in the world but not of the world.

Valmy and Clem Karemera live in the Houston, Texas, area with their two daughters, Laelle (9) and Arielle (7).

Happy Kim Day

Halloween always seemed like the one holiday you wanted to ignore. Yet Ellen White counsels, “I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days . . . let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view.”2

We call October 31 “Happy Kim Day.” Yes, the name is terrible, but we thought of it just hours before we celebrated the first one, and it has stuck. The kids dress up. Of course, we’re careful about what they pick, and Joe joins in by dressing up too. The costumes are typically made from stuff around the house, but occasionally we get something simple from the store.

Each year has brought a new theme, but the general idea is that they work together to solve a challenge. When they were younger, we would leave a note or picture in the room as a clue. For example, it might be a simple rhyme that suggested the next clue was by the piano. This would continue all over the house until they finally solved the puzzle in one of the rooms and won a reward. We focused on the kids cooperating. As they have grown, the puzzles have become more difficult and now include more physical and mental challenges. Our eldest son is old enough that much of his job is to help the youngest.

Joe and Jacquelyn Kim live in Yakima, Washington, with their three children, Trey (11), Izabella (9), and Gianna (4).

A Wonderful Event to Celebrate

From the time my children were small I knew we wouldn’t participate in Halloween festivities. But what could I offer in its place?

Martin Luther intentionally chose October 31 as the day to nail his 95 theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door in 1517. He knew more people than usual would frequent the church the next day, All Saints’ Day, to venerate the relics that would be displayed. Nailing the 95 theses to the church door is a wonderful event to celebrate! So, with my family and friends, we have a Reformation party. It’s so much fun!

After a meal, the kids visit different stations we have set up. They try writing with a quill and ink. They are introduced to the printing press by going through all the steps it requires. We set up a matching game with Luther’s five “solas” to see if the kids can match them to their English definition. I have even printed out the 95 theses, built a really cool gothic-looking door, and let the kids each nail a copy onto the door! Finally, we watch a wonderful animated children’s movie about Martin Luther produced by The Voice of the Martyrs as part of their Torchlighters series. This party takes a fair amount of preparation and planning, but it’s well worth it! Kids and adults learn so much and have a great time!

Justin and Stephanie McNeilus live in southern Minnesota with their three children (ages 10, 9, and 7).

1 Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 401.

2 Ibid., p. 472.