Most Australians consider Halloween as a good excuse to dress up in costumes and beg for unhealthy treats from the neighbours, a bit weird but mostly harmless. Others see it as the increasing appropriation of American culture by young Australians and finally, others see it as something far more sinister. Regardless of how you see Halloween, I would like to suggest three unhelpful lessons that Halloween may be teaching our children.
1. Halloween may be teaching our children to celebrate dark themes.
It’s undeniable that Halloween has dark roots. It goes back to the Druid new year when the beginning of darkness (symbolically and literally i.e. UK winter) was celebrated. It was believed to be a time where the gates of hell were opened and is still a key festival for modern pagans today. The carry-over is seen in the dressing up as witches, ghosts etc. and some groups use the evening for specific anti-God purposes.
2. Halloween may be teaching our children to take “candy” from strangers.
I am sure the confusing message and practices of Halloween have not been lost on you. Even the most casual observer can’t help but see the inconsistency of teaching children to not accept gifts or lollies from strangers…..unless of course, it is Halloween, in which case this rule goes out the proverbial window. Now generally older children can understand the nuances of different rules for different contexts, but for young children, it is not so evident. Furthermore, any absolute message will be diminished for a child of any age if there are exceptions to the rule. If an exception is made for Halloween, are there other exceptions it would be okay to accept lollies from strangers?
3. Halloween may be teaching our children that it is okay to use bribery.
“Trick or treat” is basically saying that if you don’t give us candy then we will make you pay! It is a bribe and coercion pure and simple. Hopefully, not many trick or treaters follow through with egging the house of someone who ran out of candy (although I know of people where this has happened in our neighbourhood). I understand that, “can I please have a lolly?” doesn’t have the same ring to it but the words are powerful.
What should you do about Halloween?
It’s completely up to you as parents. You may want to continue your own traditions, knowing a little more about the holiday, and that’s fine. However, maybe it’s a good time to talk to your children about some of the mixed messages Halloween may be teaching them?
As a Christian school, we want to celebrate God’s power and the wonderful victory Jesus won over death and evil. We believe spiritual evil exists and is very real but God is more powerful than evil. We don’t want to celebrate an event that has such an emphasis on death, darkness and superstition when Jesus Christ gives life, faith, light and hope. That is why we don’t celebrate Halloween at GCC.
Mike Curtis, Principal