This fall, most parents or caretakers will be asked: What will your children be for Halloween? 

As a mother of two elementary-aged children, I like to focus on the humor and conversations about identity encouraged by this festivity rather than the horror and scaring aspects. Halloween costumes are an opportunity for children to tap into their God-given creativity and to understand the concept of identity. Each October, I talk with my children about who they want to be and how we can bring that to life in a playful way. 

My 9-year-old daughter designed her Queen Hippolyta costume with a 90-cent dress and a $2 gold belt from the thrift store. My husband and I were inspired by Proverbs 8 to name our daughter Sophia, the Hebrew word for “wisdom,” and as she’s grown, we’ve encouraged her to be wise and strong. We were delighted she chose to portray the wisest and strongest mythical Amazonian.  


I like to focus on the humor and conversations about identity encouraged by [Halloween]  rather than the horror and scaring aspects. Halloween costumes are an opportunity for children to tap into their God-given creativity and to understand the concept of identity.


My 7-year-old son and I are going to team up: I as a potted plant and he as the gardener. Our costumes reflect our shared love for our garden, with a fun twist. We love spending time in our garden admiring the new flowers, plucking out weeds and watering it with recycled water. We talk about our mysterious and magnanimous God who oversees such a complex and beautiful creation. This year, when someone asks about my son’s costume, he’ll have a story to tell about something he loves.  

Dressing up for Halloween helps children explore who they would like to be and, in a safe way, act that out through costume creation. The conversations you have about costumes can be a great segue to discussing our identity in Christ. No matter what we wear, we are all God’s children, and the Spirit dwells in us.   

Practices 

As we live as faithful families in a secular world, I find open conversation and a sense of levity important. How will your family approach Halloween costumes?

Here are some ideas: 

  • Brainstorm costume ideas with your household in advance. You won’t be surprised by what they pick, and there will be conversation and, hopefully, collaboration behind it. 
  • Lean toward the humorous side of costume possibilities. Use this as an opportunity to be playful together. 
  • Use this conversation as means to talk with your children about our identity in Christ. As a family, read and discuss the meaning of 1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 
Janelle Rozek Hooper
Janelle Rozek Hooper is the program director for ELCA Ministry with Children and campus pastor at the University of Houston and Rice University. She is author of "Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew," published by Augsburg Fortress Press. Hooper lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

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