The Halloween season can be a confusing time for Christians because we want to witness for Christ by actively participating in our communities, but we don’t identify with the symbols of this holiday. Christianity has no connection with black cats or jack o’ lanterns, let alone some of the darker images of Halloween. (On the other hand, it’s hard to object to a baby dressed up as an adorable pod of green peas, or an earnest three-year-old fire fighter or ballerina knocking on your door.) The best approach to this holiday is to recognize the spirit of generosity that underlies the neighborhood traditions, and to channel our children’s excitement by shaping the holiday around acts of kindness.
Practicing Radical Generosity
One Christian family found a unique way to approach the annual Halloween dilemma. They felt hesitant about joining in with all the spooky symbolism, but they also didn’t want to just close their doors and turn off the lights. They said, “We wanted our neighbors to know we cared about them whatever day of the month or year it was.” To give the holiday their own special twist, they decided to practice what they called “radical generosity.” They handed out full-size candy bars to everyone who knocked on their door. The first year, it was 300 candy bars. The next year, 800. And the third year it was over a thousand. They didn’t pay out-of-pocket for these treats: Instead, they drafted college students from their church group to fund-raise for this giveaway, drawing those young Christians into the spirit of celebration. Needless to say, the family’s house has become a neighborhood magnet on Halloween night!
Compassionate Awareness of Others
A couple of years ago, a 15-year-old in San Diego showed that his family had taught him to view Halloween in a spirit of giving. Lawrence Malot was out with other kids trick-or-treating, when they came to a house where the candy bowl was empty. Thinking of the children who would come later and also be disappointed, Lawrence took a big handful of candy out of his own bag and put it into the bowl as they left. When his identity was figured out, he and his family were featured on the local TV station, as an embodiment of the right kind of holiday attitude. This heartwarming story has undoubtedly made a lot of people feel like they live in a more loving world.
An Opportunity for Expressing Gratitude
There are many reasons behind giving: It can be a way to provide care to those who are in need, or a way to express membership in a community. Other times, generosity is a means of saying “Thank you.” The tradition of giving candy at Halloween can fit into this third mode, and Operation Gratitude is a good example. This organization collects donations of fresh, wrapped Halloween candy from trick-or-treaters, and asks them to include a personal letter. The candies and letters are then included in care packages that are sent to overseas service members. Lt. Col. (ret.) and CEO of Operation Gratitude, Kevin Schmiegel comments, “The Halloween Candy Give-Back Program provides every American child the opportunity to learn about service, sacrifice and generosity.”
The origins of Halloween are complex, but historians believe that the holiday's earliest roots began with celebrating the harvest. This is easily translatable to the present day, when we can appreciate the richness of God's bounty, harvested from the beautiful earth He created. To help your congregation express God's abundance throughout the year, contact NewFire Giving to schedule a free thirty-minute discovery call.