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10 Reformation Day Activities for Christian Families

Martin Luther statue in Dresden

Written by Krista Smith.

As a kid, I always looked forward to Halloween. The candy. The costumes. My last time trick-or-treating was when I was 16. (Insert the blush of red cheeks here.)  I don’t know why the six of us way-too-old-and-tall to be out trick-or-treating went that night, but we did. Not surprising, there were several people who turned us away with a shameful glance and a reproachful, “Aren't you guys too old for this?” I blame Liz. She was 6’2” and wearing a giant ape costume with a purple bra strapped to it.

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Needless to say, when I became a mom, I started questioning a lot of the things I had done and celebrated as a kid growing up in a non-Christian home. I realized that while I didn’t have a problem with other people celebrating Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, or Halloween, I didn't think any of them fit with my desire to have Christ and His glory take center stage each and every day, but particularly on those holidays that are meant to reflect His Gospel to a watching world.

Around 6 years ago this time of year, I heard a fascinating youtube video talking about the history of Reformation Day and I have to admit, I had no idea that such a day existed or even when it was. To my surprise and delight, I learned that it falls every year on October 31. 

Our family has been celebrating it ever since. 

To the friends and family who always imagined the poor Smith children sitting all alone on Halloween sans costumes, eating plates of boiled brussels sprouts instead of candy, the mere mention of an alternative celebration was welcomed…even if it left a few scratching their heads.

10 Reformation Day Activities for Christian Families #reformationday #halloweenalternative

Reformation Day is a wonderful time of remembrance for folks in Reformed circles to celebrate Martin Luther’s bold stand against some abuse of power happening in the Church during the 16th century. It marks the day that he nailed his 95 grievances (or his now famous 95 theses) to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

So why celebrate this day at all? What is there to celebrate anyway? you may be asking.

As it turns out, quite a lot! In an article on Reformation Day, Robert Rothwell states,

"An heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther is one of the most significant figures God has raised up since that time. This law student turned Augustinian monk became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope's attempt to sell salvation, Luther's study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God."

Luther couldn’t have known that the banging of his hammer on the door in Wittenburg that day would be the sound of change that swept the entire globe in a way Christendom hadn’t seen since the Apostles brought the Gospel to the Roman world; a change that came to be known as “The Reformation”.

Reformation Wall

This day has so much sweet and poignant significance for our evangelical family. Every year, on the last few days of October, we weave some staples into our daily rhythm to celebrate. Maybe this year will find you donning some new traditions too! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Ten Reformation Day Activities for Christian Families


Leading up to Reformation Day, listen to the masterfully done audio drama from Ligionier ministries called Luther: In Real-Time.

Reenact Luther's courage. My children have put on a play of Luther nailing the 95 theses to the door and are already planning their play for 2021 as I write this! Last year, my son "nailed" the paper used in the play to his closet door and left it there for months afterward. Every time I went into his closet I had to laugh. It was signed “Marty L.” Oy.

Martin Luther sketch

Use the days leading up to Reformation Day to do a brief unit study on the Reformation and its impacts, especially in Western civilizations. There are also some well-done videos on Youtube that we have enjoyed immensely.

Read Reformation ABC together. This fantastic picture book gives short biographies on many Reformers throughout History.


Read the full story of A Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan together. If your kids are too young for the unabridged version, try A Dangerous Journey or Little Pilgrim's Progress, two picture storybooks based on the Bunyan classic. Another option would be to listen to a modern-day audio version of this timeless story. (Please note: The original book is written in Ye Old English. We have found the Aneko Press Christian Classic version, in updated modern English, easier to read.)


Watch the Torchlighter’s series on Pureflix. We haven’t watched these yet but they have come highly recommended!

Listen through the Desiring God series called Here We Stand, a 31-day devotional mini-biography series on thirty-one of the greatest reformers throughout history including the likes of Martin Luther, Lady Jane Grey, and William Tyndale. We listened to it last year and loved it.

Wear the garb. Martin Luther is frequently pictured in his… interesting hat? Encourage your kids to make one out of felt. Complete the look with a black robe to get into the role.

Martin Luther in robe and hat

Make a special traditional German treat for your family like Torten von Epffel or Apple Tart. This amazingly simple and delicious dessert was enjoyed throughout Germany in the Middle Ages. No doubt Martin Luther had eaten his fair share of tarts in the fall time when apples were ripe for the picking!

Play pin the Theses on the Door (a slightly stuffy cousin to Pin the Tail on the Donkey!) or one of many other Reformation Day Games! I found a ton of great additional resources, including some free printables here!


So this Halloween, skip the ghosts and goblins. Instead, hike up your knickerbockers and add a little Reformation fun to your regularly scheduled October activities!

___________________________________________


Krista Smith is the adoring wife to an amazing man and together they have three beautiful children (two biological, one adopted from Japan). Krista is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for Coke, tan-colored coffee, Star Wars, and all things Lord of the Rings (the family minivan’s license plate may even be in elvish. Nerd. Just sayin’). But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ! So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor and glory and credit for anything she writes, says or does.


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