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The only child in our family who remembers trick-or-treating is my oldest son. The last year we took the kids out for Halloween was the year his little sister was 10 months old. He was 3.
After that, we decided Halloween wasn’t something we wanted to celebrate anymore. I’m pretty sure my mom grieved the loss of adorable grandkids in cute costumes because she kept telling me how much she loved trick-or-treating when she was a kid. I was terrified of Halloween as a child, so it wasn’t any big loss in my world.
We did replace the trick-or-treating with what we began calling Fall Festival. I didn’t want to take all the fun away from my little guy, so on that day his Grammy and Granny would come down and we would eat snacks and play games until the wee hours of the morning. It was the one night a year I let my kids stay up entirely too late.
But as my son grew up and the other children behind him had no concept or memories surrounding Halloween, the tradition of Fall Festival became less important, and we often found ourselves treating it like any other day. We didn’t trick-or-treat, we didn’t greet trick-or-treaters, we didn’t pass out tracts, we didn’t pretend the day didn’t exist (although Ty’s mom would never say the word “Halloween” in front of the kids – I’m not exactly sure why). We just had a normal day, made sure we put our pumpkins on the back porch (we had our pumpkins stolen one year and it about broke my kids’ hearts!), and kept our front porch light off.
Over the years I heard about Reformation Day parties where Protestant kids would dress up as Reformers, play games that revolved around Martin Luther, and bring home goodie bags, but we never participated in one, and it never seemed like a good fit for our family.
But, this year I changed our plans. I could give you an entire litany of how I got from where I was to where I am, but it is such a crazy, long bunny trail, you’d never be able to keep up! Suffice it to say it started with a Google search of the Church Year and ended with me putting together an entire day full of plans!
I was going to just keep all of this to myself, but the more I looked over it, the more I felt compelled to share it with others because for once in my life, I’m excited for Halloween to come! (did I really just say that?)
Our October 31st Plan
Please understand, I believe every family needs to treat this day with prayer and personal conviction. I don’t believe for one moment that my ideas are the only right ones. These plans are for the family who wishes to offer the light of Christ to their kids on this day while still having some fun. So, here is what we will be doing this October 31st, along with links and notes explaining the why and how behind what we are doing.
–> Talk about Halloween and what it used to be and why Martin Luther chose that day to tack 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church.
Note: Halloween was originally All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day for the Catholic Church. This was a very important holiday and a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning the parishioners must attend Mass on that day. Martin Luther knew his 95 Theses would be seen. This was a gutsy move, but he believed so strongly that the Church needed reforming that he was willing to put his life on the line. You can find a brief synopsis HERE.
–> Watch something about Martin Luther as a family.
Martin Luther LEGO short film
Martin Luther Torchlighters Series – Find it on Amazon Prime or RightNow Media (if your church has a subscription)
Luther – the MGM movie
Martin Luther Documentary on PBS (OLD) – I watched this in college. A new version premiered this September because 2017 is the 500th year anniversary.
–> Set up Reformation Stations around your home.
NOTE: You can find games/activities to do at each station HERE if you wish, but we are going to do a much simpler version of this since it is just with our family.
–> Sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
NOTE: If you don’t have a hymnal or don’t know this hymn, you can find many versions on YouTube with lyrics. HERE is one to give you a feel for the full chorus and organ or HERE is a more contemporary rendition (no lyrics) that doesn’t get too crazy.
–> Talk about the scary “monsters” of Halloween and what the Bible says about each.
NOTE: This link lists the people who were raised from the dead in the Bible. This is your jumping off point for the following activities. Some of these people were buried and wrapped in grave clothes, like mummies, but they were resurrected. God is our source of LIFE, and Jesus has conquered the grave! Now THAT is something to celebrate!
–> Play Lazarus Race
NOTE: Teams wrap one child in toilet paper as fast as they can, and when you call, “Lazarus, come forth!” they try to break free from the toilet paper. A more competitive version can be found HERE.
–> Make Mummy Luminaries
NOTE: This is a super simple craft project that becomes a powerful object lesson. It is the light of Christ that makes us ALIVE! Even if our body dies, we are alive in Him and we will not stay dead!
–> Enjoy an evening of pumpkin carving.
NOTE: Read The Pumpkin Parable as a family (if you don’t have the book, this pdf on The Pumpkin Gospel is very good.) And again, stress the importance of Christ’s light living in us and shining through us. Try roasting the pumpkin seeds, sharing an easy homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte or Pumpkin Hot Chocolate, and a piece of my Pumpkin Crumble Cake, or simply sit back and enjoy the flickering of each tiny flame within each tiny child in your home!
And there you have our October 31st plans! Now, I realize this might be a lot to tackle in one day, so go easy on yourself and either cut out some things or slow your pace down and spread the activities out over a few days.