Today, October 31, is Halloween in many parts of the world. One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at this site is whether members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate Halloween. I have made a pact with myself to not get on social media this weekend because all I would be doing is looking at Halloween pictures! It’s entertaining to see what people come up with. Actually, true confession, before I remembered that I had this deal with myself, I did see some fun ideas. I love seeing how creative people are around this holiday.
Before I get into answering this question, there’s a holiday coming tomorrow, Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), that the Church has created some official content around Día de los Muertos this year, and FamilySearch has shared content over the years (see, for example, https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/day-of-the-dead-traditions, https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/day-of-the-dead-fun-activities-to-honor-our-ancestors, https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/celebrating-dia-de-los-muertos).
Why is there more official attention around Día de los Muertos? Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ believe strongly in connecting with the stories and lives of those who have gone before. We believe life continues beyond the grave, and that because of Jesus Christ, family relationships can continue after death. Incidentally, some research shows that family history can help with mental and emotional health, including self-esteem and resilience. But that is all a topic for another day.
But Halloween also can reflect our belief that wholesome fun is important to have in our lives, and Halloween can be a vehicle for such fun for families, congregations, and communities.
My babies are all grown and gone now, but we enjoyed Halloween during their growing-up years.
Halloween got even more fun as my children started to take responsibility for their own costumes. This was the year my children decided to be skunks. I don’t remember why I didn’t join in the theme. Perhaps we used up our supply of black fabric that was lying around? I chose to be a newspaper.
One of my favorite Halloween memories before I became an empty-nester is helping my daughter turn our car into Minnie Mouse for a trunk-or-treat with her friends. That daughter is now serving as a missionary for our church.
Over the years, I’ve dressed up as things such as as the aforementioned newspaper, a baker (my husband was Cookie Monster, wearing an aluminum foil tray of cookies), and a banana tree (that one embarrassed my family for some reason, but I had to do something with the yellow monkey toy my sister had left behind when she’d lived with us all those years before; it made such a fun ooo-ooo-ooo monkey noise…and I had plastic bananas from my banana neighbor… might…a story for another day).
If you were to ask individual members of our church, they might give you different answers, but on the whole, members of the Church enjoy this holiday and some make many days of it. I’ve seen friends doing dinner in a pumpkin, spending all week working on costumes for school parades, and posting pictures of local congregational events that occurred during the week.
With COVID, the “trunk-or-treat” seems even more common this year. I was delighted with the fun that people in my ward (local congregation) had with our trunk-or-treat. Some went all-out with how they decided to decorate their trunks, hatchbacks, or the space around their cars…or themselves. And others kept it simple, just showing up to support the younger generations. The idea was to have fun, together, and to offer a non-Sunday opportunity for the children and youth in our ward to get some Halloween fun courtesy of the adults. (More on the question about what happens when Halloween falls on a Sunday below.)
Many wards have Halloween parties around this time of (sometimes called by different names). Costumes are common, and so are treats, and fun activities for children. Below are some pictures from years past when COVID wasn’t a thing. What I’m observing is more are option for outside activities, since we have been asked by our worldwide church leaders to wear masks when we gather indoors.
This article at LDS Living addresses some of the wide range of ways members of the Church might individually choose to celebrate Halloween or not). They address how some are uncomfortable with the gore that can sometimes be associated with the holiday, and we are definitely against Satan worship. But there is much about this holiday that has just become about creativity, fun, and play.
I like LDS Living’s simple conclusion:
“Just as with many other holidays and traditions, the Church does not dictate how Latter-day Saints should celebrate Halloween. Instead, our Church leaders leave it up to each of us to seek inspiration, ponder, and decide how we should celebrate this holiday with our families. Each family is unique and the traditions that bring each family together will be equally unique, meaning not every Latter-day Saint will agree on what Halloween means and how it should be celebrated. So give each family room to decide what is best for them, respect their individuality, withhold judgment, and celebrate the fact that there are many ways to have [wholesome] fun.”
What do Latter-day Saints do Halloween falls on a Sunday?
Because today is Sunday, the chance of finding members of the Church out and about trick-or-treating will be lower, since for us, Sundays are our Sabbath, our day of rest. (There won’t be any Church-sponsored congregational activities, that you can count on.) We are encouraged to make this a day to focus on changine from our usual routines to focus more on spiritual things, attending church to partake of the sacrament, and talking about the scriptures and other faith-promoting content, and celebrating the restored gospel of Jesus Christ together with our church families and at home.
Some members may choose to answer their doors today for their friends in their neighborhoods, as previous articles have explored. Or some may leave treats on their doorsteps. But please don’t be offended if some choose not to. Some of us are even still having to be careful because of health issues (that is the case for me…I was sad to not be able to answer my door last night). I actually love answering my door on Halloween, usually, and plan to continue the tradition in future years when we aren’t still battling full hospitals and such as we are where I live.
So, yes, the short answer is Latter-day Saints celebrate Halloween, but you will find a variety of approaches among our membership.
But if you want to find us today, please consider joining us at one of our worship services in locations around the world. (Please do wear a mask, not of the Halloween sort (if you can) when you come. We all look forward to when this won’t be an important piece of trying to reduce spread of COVID but for now this is part of how we collectively have been asked to help reduce the spread.)
Or we invite you take a minute to learn about what we believe in the comfort of your own home. But we do hope to see you sometime at one of our worship services. Or if you know a member of the Church, ask about service or social activities that might be happening in your area.
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**You can read other posts we’ve had about Halloween by following this link. This site has been around for nearly a decade, so some of the photos are in posts when we used to be called Mormon Women: Who We Are (mormonwoman.org). Because many would never get to the understanding that “Mormons” believe in Jesus Christ — that He is central to our faith — our website name and content has shifted to highlight that more.
***This post has been edited from its original to include a little about Día de los Muertos (which is tomorrow, November 1), and to add a few other minor edits.