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The treat without the trick: a different take on Halloween

Thursday 29 October 2015

On October 31 last year, 45 year old Vanessa Hall donned a white gown, some wings and a halo, and took to the streets of her Sydney suburb.

“I felt like a bit of a freak,” says Vanessa, “but people responded pretty well. Instead of saying ‘trick or treat, I would say, ‘we’re not celebrating Halloween, we’re celebrating Halo-een, and we’d like to give you love and peace’.”

Three years ago Vanessa launched Halo-een, encouraging Christians to door knock on Halloween, but instead of trick or treating, offering a ‘peace and love’ card and chocolate to their neighbours.

“A lot of Christians have an issue with Halloween and what it portrays and encourages in our children and yet many do not know how to respond,” she said.

Many parents can be quite distressed about the whole Halloween experience, says Vanessa. She has seen children as young as five going to parties with fake blood dripping down their faces or frightening masks.

Ingrid, a Queensland mother, did Halo-een with her daughter last year.

Ingrid's daughter.

Ingrid’s daughter

“My daughter wanted to go as a witch, but then I saw [the Halo-een] DVD. We ended up having a blessing box for the kids, and she walked out as an angel and a huge heart. She sang songs for little old ladies. It was the best day ever and I shall never ever forget it,” says Ingrid.

“It was life-changing for me, for my daughter, [and] for all of us.”

Vanessa is not necessarily interested in telling Christians that they shouldn’t participate in Halloween celebrations, but is instead trying to “help people who are confused about Halloween, who don’t know what to tell kids, and who succumb to the tendency to turn the lights off and pretend they’re not home.

“We don’t want to judge, we’re just doing something a bit different.”

Vanessa grew up in a Christian family, but says that she was exposed to ritual cultic behaviour when she was younger. That experience has certainly informed her decision to launch Halo-een, because when October 31 rolls around she is always reminded of those cultic memories.

But she has also been studying theology for the last couple of years at Morling College, and has started to think more deeply about what it means to be a Christian.

“If Jesus was here, what would he do?” asks Vanessa. “I don’t think he’d be out there damning people, but also not locking the door and pretending he wasn’t home.

“I believe he’d go out there and love people, and just be who he is, be love. And I think that’s what we’re called to do.

“I want to take a stand without being judgemental.”

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