The Tragedy of Halloween

The bizarre preoccupation with Halloween shows no sign of abating. Indeed, the enthusiasm with which some shops are marketing this celebration of evil, death and the occult suggests that their owners are banking on huge sales of pumpkins, masks and witches’ hats..

Many concerns have been raised concerning Halloween over the years and the two most common are that Halloween encourages dabbling with the occult and that it celebrates evil. Both are true but let me add another: Halloween raises big questions but only gives lies as answers. This is serious because the questions are about important issues and most of the people involved in Halloween are children. What our children are taught today will affect how our adults behave tomorrow and there are four big lies that Halloween perpetuates.

The first lie is that evil is external. Halloween promotes a host of ‘evil creatures’ who will be banging on doors – characters clothed with artificial scars, fake teeth, claws and synthetic gore. What all this says is that evil is threatening but that it is something that is outside what we are. The reality is that while there is an external evil and children do need to be told that genuinely nasty characters do exist out there in the big wide world, the really dangerous evil comes not from outside but from within. Jesus himself said, ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander’ (Matthew 15:19). It’s not just them out there we need to worry about, it’s us.

The second lie is that evil is ugly. The best Halloween costumes are normally considered to be the scariest and ugliest. The message is that you can recognise evil because evil people look ugly. There are two problems with this. One is that it is terribly offensive to those people who suffer genuine disfigurements. Ugliness does not equal nastiness. The bigger problem is that the most dangerous form of evil is precisely that which appears wrapped up in a nice package. In fact, the Bible tells us that ‘Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14). Fraudsters, corrupt bankers and seducers of all kinds specialise in looking nice.