Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday throughout the world. It is celebrated by the young and old alike, and involves dressing up in costume. The young go “trick or treating”, and the adults usually attend a wide array of festivities. Often, when Christians are convicted that celebrating Halloween is not godly, they justify their behavior by saying that they are not dressing up as anything demonic, or ifs just harmless fun. However, they ignore the fact that the Bible expressly forbids us to participate in anything evil (Ephesians 5: 11 ). The truth about Halloween is that it is indeed a pagan holiday celebrating the dead, and even if you are participating in it without the “ghoulish” element, you are still part of it, and are still sinning. So how did this “celebration” seep into Christian existence?
According to History.com, Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people lit fires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts. Eighth century Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints’ Day honoring all saints and martyrs. Unfortunately, All Saints’ Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st which marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark, cold winter which was associated with death.
Celts believed strongly that the night before their New Year the boundary between the living and the dead became thinner. On October 31st they celebrated Samhain when they believed that ghosts returned to earth. They also believed that these ghosts caused trouble and damaged crops. They were also convinced that they made it easier for the Druids to make predictions about the future.
To mark the event, Druids created sacred bonfires where people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to Celtic deities. Often the Celts wore costumes (usually animal heads and skins) and attempted to engage in fortune telling. The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next years crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.
There was much superstition amongst the Celts associated with this time of change including the belief in fairies, and that the spirits of the dead wandered around looking for bodies to inhabit. Since the living did not want to be possessed, they dressed up in costumes and paraded around the streets making loud noises to confuse and frighten the spirits away.
Additionally, the New Year began for the Celts on Nov. 1st so the day of Samhain was believed to be a day that was in neither the year past or the year to come. Since it was in between, chaos ruled on that day. Often, people would pull practical jokes on others as a result.
Pope Gregory later expanded the festival to include saints and martyrs moving the previous observance of All Saints’ Day from May 13 to November 1 si_ In the 9th century, Christianity had influenced the Celtic lands and blended with Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D. the church made November 2nd All Souls’ Day which honored the dead in an attempt to create a related church sanctioned holiday. This new celebration included the Celtic traditions, but also incorporated dressing up in costumes such as devils, angels, and saints.
In America, in the late 1800’s, Halloween was molded into a holiday about community and get-togethers as opposed to ghosts, prank, and witchcraft. By the turn of the century, parties for children and adults became the norm. Parents were encouraged to remove all frightening or grotesque elements out of their Halloween festivities.
By 1920, Halloween retuned to a secular holiday by returning to parades and town-wide parties for entertainment. Vandalism became a common occurrence on Halloween. Trick or treating was also revived at this time, and was seen as an inexpensive way for a community to share in the festivities. By the 1950’s vandalism became limited, and Halloween became directed at the young. Today, Halloween has become the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
The Jack-O-Lantern originated out oflrish folklore about a man called Jack who tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Once the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross on the trunk preventing the devil from descending. The devil made a deal with Jack not to allow him into hell after Jack died if Jack removed the cross from the tree. After Jack died, he couldn’t go to either hell or heaven, and was forced to wander the earth with a candle to light his way. Originally, it was placed in a turnip to make it last longer. Later, when the Irish immigrated to America, the turnip was replaced by the pumpkin, and brought about the superstition that black cats were reincarnated spirits with prophetic abilities.
Despite the attempt of the church to make a pagan holiday more “holy”, Halloween still morphed into a celebration of the dead. Instead of converting the unsaved into Christians, the reverse happened: pagan rituals infiltrated Christianity. Today we still dress in all sorts of ghoulish costumes, collect candy, and celebrate the day with horror movies and the occult.
Furthermore, Christians deceive themselves into believing that even if they don’t dress up as anything evil, celebrating this holiday is fine because they aren’t doing anything evil. .. per se. This is a deception. Just because you aren’t dressed as a ghoul doesn’t make celebrating this pagan holiday any less sinful in nature. You are still a participating in something evil. You are still engaging in a day that celebrates the dead, and all of the superstitions surrounding it.
You may deceive yourself into believing that it’s just for the fun of it, but how is celebrating the demons and Satan fun? What would God say to you if you justified your actions to Him? Instead of celebrating what is holy, you have chosen to celebrate a day that was meant to honor evil. Sounds like a contradiction.
So what do you do on Halloween instead? Don’t celebrate it. This year, choose to not participate. You can also choose to suggest that your church have people come in and share the gospel with them making the event more about Jesus than Satan. Give these unbelievers good food, and make it better than what the world has to offer. Who knows? Maybe you will win a few souls in the process.