STOP calling it Fall Festival!

This content originally appeared in “All That Jazz” a column by Jasmine Banks in the Siloam Springs Herald Leader.


Notice the bible track in my hand? Some asshole gave them to us when we were trick or treating… it had people burning in hell fire on the inside and talked about how “hell” was the “real trick”… no joke, y’all!

Halloween is almost here!!! Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. Well, Halloween and Kwanzaa… but that is a discussion for another time. I love Halloween for so many reasons: fun costumes, candy, the spooky decor, whimsical pumpkins, crisp air, pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. It is a wonderful time of the year. Imaginations get to run wild and creativity is unavoidable.

The other day I was driving and I passed a church sign that advertised a “Fall Festival”. The banner outside of the church emphasized fun costumes, candy and lots of carnival games. The date of the activities were suspiciously close to the day of Halloween. I lie, they weren’t suspiciously close… it WAS on Halloween. I laughed to myself, “what in the world!” I don’t understand this cultural trend. Why are Christians doing the whole bait and switch thing? Also, what is wrong with Halloween? Last time I checked it was a highly commercially driven endeavor that is made even more wickedly awesome by adorable tiny people dressed in costumes  and pilfering candy. Are we still afraid of the whole “demons/satanic” thing on Halloween? Really? Is calling it a “Fall Festival” changing anything about it?

I tried an experiment on my son. I made him a peanut butter sandwich, like I always do, handed it to him and said, “Here is your Nut Butter Sandwich.” He looked at me and replied, “Peanut Butter, right?” I said, “No! Nut Butter.” He laughed, “Mom… you are crazy. It is Peanut Butter. I can tell!” Giving something a generic tag doesn’t change what it is at its core. So I am confused.  Why the semantics? Doesn’t it just make church communities look even more separatist when they try to ignore the larger culture that is doing the same thing they are, but just renamed!  This phenomenon is right up there in the confused category of churches that don’t “believe in dancing” but do allow “rhythmic moving”. Lets add to that list people who use replacement words for explicatives. Don’t you mean the same thing and don’t those replacement words mean to express the same thing as the words they are replacing? Can someone explain this to me?

Of course when I found myself perplexed with this Halloween versus Fall Festival business I took to the internets. By internets I mean Facebook. I took a quick poll on the subject. The responses I got were varied and it was very interesting to see how people who were forced to celebrate Fall Festivals felts as adults. Jordan, a commenter, responded, “ My family did that when I was a kid, because our church taught that Halloween was a pagan holiday in celebration of Satan. So I never got to trick or treat. Every year, we would dress up in “wholesome, Christ-centered” costumes, and go up to the church for an evening of carnival-type games with free candy. Personally, I wish they had let me celebrate Halloween instead.”  Another person responded about people saying Halloween is related to Satan, “Satan, my eye! Current Halloween traditions are based on Samhain (pronounced SOW-ehn) an ancient Gaelic festival, heavily influenced by Irish, Scottish, and English folk traditions.”  Yet another person, Rob Sorbo a John Brown University Alum, chimed in:”Since Halloween is really All Saints day Eve, my guess is that Fall Festivals are the evil atheist versions.” Of course Rob was kidding about the whole “ evil atheist version” line, but he makes a good point. The religious significance of why Halloween has become Halloween is missed by many churches in the United States. My most favorite reactions was this: “You can put lipstick and heels on a pig and it is still a pig!” Well said!

The reality is that Fall Festivals that do the “Halloween Thing” without calling it Halloween aren’t fooling anyone. We know you are celebrating Halloween, y’all! Also, important opportunities to teach our kids about cultural and religious traditions are being missed when we shy away from such a fantastic time of the year! Can we stop calling it Fall Festival now, please? Like my son Isaiah, who was not fooled by the “nut butter” bait and switch, we totally know y’all are celebrating Halloween too.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


  1. I agree with you 100% on this one! My kids are nearly grown & I’m a church goin’ woman. But, I always thought the same thing when we had Harvest Festivals at church. If they truely think that Halloween is satanic & a big no-no, then don’t do it at all. If I think something is wrong, I don’t come up with a substitute just to make my kids feel better. If I firmly believed it was the wrong thing to do, I would teach them it was wrong and why. I think Halloween is just fine and a fun time for kiddos to dress up. A Harvest Festival is just a Halloween Carnival with a different name!

  2. I’m from the land of Halloween and godless heathens and was SHOCKED when I learned about this practice! Seriously, WTF?

  3. I love your shenanigans. And it is Halloween, btw. Stupid fall festival bullshit.

  4. Yes I remember that track and it really made me mad and I’m glad I never taught you kids it was evil we always had fun.

  5. What happened to people who were able to lighten up? You know, people in the 50s could call it Halloween AND still go to church as “good” Christians. Why can’t people in this day and age do that? Oh, wait, I forgot — we have to be “politically correct” all the damn time. Yeah, well, the phrase “politically correct” offends me. There’s nothing correct about politics. ;)

  6. Not sure my previous comment made it.
    In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing affright you.” Your column is very important here.

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement! I’ve recieved some really scathing responses… I appreciate your voice!

  7. I asked POTUS in his second term to make Halloween a national holiday.

  8. Agree! Christians can keep calling it Fall Festival, if I can call the December holiday “Giving Gifts & Indoor Evergreens Celebration” because I’m atheist. Fair enough? I mean come on. I love Christmas music, family get togethers and decorating the house. I love it all 100%. And I can do that while not going to mass, not posting “Jesus is the reason for the season” memes and not caring that it’s called Christmas (the real pagan holiday). I don’t think in all my 41 Halloween’s have I or anyone I know participated in any “evil” doings as part of the festivities. Oh wait no one does….. because it’s just a fun holiday! Quit ruining my stuff Christians! You already made a horrible version of rock music. Jesus gave you your own online dating service, why you gotta take my Halloween? ;)

    • Haha! “You already made a horrible version of rock music.” I died! LOL!

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