How Do Mormons Celebrate Halloween When it Falls on a Sunday?

Oct 25, 2010 by

Do Mormons Celebrate Halloween? Even on Sundays? ~ by Heidi

Here at Mormon Women, we receive numerous emails about Halloween in the month of October. What started out as a pagan ritual in the centuries long before the birth of Jesus Christ, has now, in the United States, become mostly a festive holiday that, through the lights, colorful costumes and fun food, brightens up the darkening days of autumn. Whether or not one celebrates Halloween is a personal preference and there is no official LDS doctrine in regards to it. Most Mormons I know think of Halloween as a fun time for children with rituals and customs that bring warmth to days that are becoming colder.

Most Mormons will dress up their children for Trick-or-Treating (a custom that includes children going from door to door to ask for candy), celebrations at school, at home, and at the church building. Some costumes are silly and some are spooky. Masks are usually avoided as they are considered dangerous, not just amongst members of the Mormon Church, but in society at large. For example, masks can make it hard to see when out Trick-or-Treating in the dark of night. They also make it hard to know the identity of a person, making it easier for a stranger to attend functions to which he/she was not invited. Also, when people feel as if they are anonymous, it can encourage negative behavior they would not normally engage in. In addition, truly scary or gory costumes are discouraged when attending functions attended by small children who might become frightened.

Many people decorate their homes just as they do at Christmastime. Some decorate outside, some decorate inside, some do both.  Some set up haunted houses within their own homes for people to tour through. Again, anything too scary is never a good idea when children are involved.

In the U.S., Halloween is a time when adults engage in a lot of drinking of alcoholic beverages. Mormons don’t. [Read more about the Mormon health code, called the Word of Wisdom.] Other than that, the only thing that is truly different about Halloween amongst Mormons is when it falls on a Sunday. In that case, the celebrations are shifted to Saturday night, or even Friday. Trick-or-Treating is limited to only Mormons as it would be rude to knock on a stranger’s  door the night before Halloween and ask for candy.

In our case, our ward (church congregation) always has a Halloween party the Friday or Saturday night before Halloween. This includes traditional games such as bobbing for apples and a costume parade. It also includes a Trunk-or-Treat, where-in the children go from car trunk to car trunk to ask for candy out in the parking lot of the church building. Many of the cars are heavily decorated and there is a prize for the best costumes as well as the best decorated car. In some wards I have attended, Trick-or-Treating is done in the building where-in each room is decorated as if it were someone’s home. It’s a fun, warm and safe solution to a night that can be a bit dangerous.

Because Halloween is on Sunday this year and our ward is having a party on Saturday night, the ward members have decided to pass out candy to the children who knock on their door on Friday night. Come Sunday night, some Mormons will choose to turn off their porch light, a signal that no candy will be given at that particular home. However, most will have a bowl of candy ready for the children of the neighborhood who come knocking on their doors.

To our Mormon readers, jump in and share your response to this question. Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, what do you do when it falls on a Sunday?

7 Comments

  1. The wards in our area nearly always have trunk or treating activities whether or not Halloween falls on a Sunday. They are a safe and wholesome (and free, since shopping centers and community centers here sometimes offer trunk or treats, but they charge admission) alternative to roaming the neighborhood at night. Particularly in years where Halloween falls on a Sunday, trunk or treat becomes an opportunity for those not of our faith to meet and get to know us a bit as they are looking for the safe, wholesome Saturday alternative.

    We aren’t big Halloween celebraters. Our costumes are usually superheroes and cartoons, not scary. Our decorations are harvest decorations and are usually left up until Christmas. And when Halloween falls on a Sunday, we turn the lights off outside our home and enjoy a quiet Sunday at home–perhaps eating the candy we got at the trunk or treat the night before.

  2. We celebrate Halloween here. Because we usually have three or more wards using the same church buildings, each ward has a ward night set aside for weekly activities, in my ward case, our night is Thursday…so we do trunk o’treat on Thursday night. In fact, we will be having our trunk o’treat this Thursday.

    As for Halloween falling on Sunday, Laie which is a Mormon community, trick o’treating will be done on Saturday. My family will be tick o’treating on Saturday night among the other LDS.

  3. Scott

    My boys get all decked out, most of the time in scary costumes, and go out with bag or bucket or the container of choice and hit all the streets around, on Halloween Night. I really don’t get the point of doing trick-or-treating during the waking hours, with the sun up. It’s about spooky stuff, even thought it’s all generally fun, at night when the shadows grow and dance in candle light.
    I honestly believe that if Our Lord and Savior were to decide to make His 2nd Coming either on Sunday or on Monday, many mormons would shut the door, draw the drapes and say… Sorry, it’s the Sabbath, or It’s Family Night, Not Interested. When the 4th of July, the birthday celebration of our great and free nation of America falls on Sunday, we celebrate it on Sunday. If Christmas falls on Sunday, that is when we celebrate it. If our child has a birthday on Sunday, that’s their special day. Moreover, if our wedding anniversary falls on the Sabbath, that’s our very special day and we will celebrate it on that very day. Sunday was made for man, and women, and children, not all the family made for the Sabbath.
    Fire when ready! I got my firesuit on!

  4. We will be attending a trunk-or-treat on Saturday night, but we won’t go trick-or-treating on Sunday. I’m okay with passing out candy on Sunday, though. Ironically, the we are all dressing up on Sunday in our Halloween costumes because we’re going to a big family dinner that night. Spending time with family is a great Sabbath activity, for sure!

  5. Our church ward (congregation) is having a Halloween party on Saturday night complete with dinner, games and trunk-or-treating.

    On Sunday, we will have dinner together as a family and go out trick-or-treating. I think it’s a great opportunity to meet with our neighbors and do something fun as a family.

    This year, we will have one vampire, one butterfly and one Buzz Lightyear. Happy Halloween, all!

  6. Blake

    Why if it is that Halloween falls on Sunday “The first day of the week” why would they move it to Saturday” The seventh day of the week Or as the bible puts it sabbath day”? I was told by an lds member that they do it in order to keep the sabbath day holy. But if this is so then why move it? I’m just curious is all. And if its the case, do Lds actually follow the rules of Sabbath or just use it as an excuse? No fire, No electricity, No untieing of a knot, no work ect.

  7. mormonwomen

    Blake,

    If I understand your question correctly, you are wondering 1) about why we observe the Sabbath on Sunday (the first day) instead of on Saturday (the seventh day) and 2) if we observe the Sabbath with the rules that some in ancient times upheld during law of Moses times.

    Assuming I’m understanding you correctly, first of all, I want to say that these are good questions. I hope I can help with both.

    1. This lesson material on the Sabbath Day from lds.org explains why we observe the Sabbath on Sunday. “Until the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he and his disciples honored the seventh day as the Sabbath. After his resurrection, Sunday was held sacred as the Lord’s day in remembrance of his resurrection on that day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). From that time on, his followers appointed the first day as their Sabbath. In both cases there were six days of labor and one for rest and devotion.”

    2. Regarding how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observe the Sabbath, again, I’ll point you to that lesson material (or you could search on the topic to find similar material at lds.org). We don’t follow the strict rules you listed that some of the Jewish leaders encouraged anciently. (In fact, some of the examples are also addressed in the lesson linked above.) We are encouraged to make the day a holy day by going to church, resting from our daily work, and doing other things that build our relationship with God and our families, allow us a chance to rest from our labors, and serve and lift others.

    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to ask. I hope this helps. If not, please ask follow-up questions!

    ~Michelle

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