Head into any supermarket this week and you’ll be met with all things ghastly and ghoulish. Now the third biggest retail moment in the calendar, Halloween has grown and grown in popularity, as we take our lead from our friends across the pond.
But for many Christian parents, this presents somewhat of a dilemma – to let their children engage, or shun it completely? When I was growing up, on the dreaded night when the neighbours’ children would go out trick or treating, my sisters and I would have to turn off all the lights and sit in darkness so that people thought we weren’t home. Because we were a Christian family we couldn’t be seen as engaging in any way, we thought.
But the irony is that Halloween was the Church’s idea in the first place. The word is simply a shortened version of ‘All Hallows Eve’ – the day before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. On this day, the Church celebrates Christ’s defeat of death and life beyond the grave for those who believe in him.
Maybe it’s time we reclaimed it? Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Church could turn Halloween into an opportunity for hope.
I believe it’s more important than ever for Christian parents and church youth leaders to engage the children in their congregations in a Christ-centred, creative way. Because as Christians, we’re called to be salt and light in the communities in which God has placed us. We are challenged, like the Apostle Paul, to find points of connection with the culture and from there to find points of contradiction; to be in the world but not of it; to engage with the prevailing narratives of our day, but to point to a better way.
That’s why World Vision has launched Pumpkin Heroes - a set of Bible-based resources starring Patch the Pumpkin to equip children in churches and communities to respond to Halloween in a positive way, and doing it while thinking about the children less fortunate than them around the world.
We’re hoping Pumpkin Heroes aged 4-10 from churches across the UK will spread light and love in their local communities. They will enjoy a fun-filled journey around your neighbourhood with lots of storytelling, craft-making, game-playing and pumpkin partying, all suitable for Christians seeking a different response to the season.
We believe that Jesus is the light of the world and that he came to bring life in all its fullness for every one of us. But for millions of children around the world, life in all its fullness seems a far cry from the reality of their daily lives. Our vision is of a world in which every child is loved, protected and cared for, and enjoys good health and an education. That’s why we work in close to 100 countries to bring about long-term change; we give children a voice in the places where decisions are made and we respond quickly to the emergencies that affect more than 250 million people around the world each year.
As people of hope, we long for the children we serve to live lives free from fear. What better opportunity, then, do we have to turn Halloween into a night of hope, by not only engaging children in the love of Christ for their communities but also enabling them to think and pray for these children, who God loves just as much as he loves our own.