Many Christians believe participation in Halloween is a form of involvement in worthless deeds; “evil and darkness” as one source proclaimed. However, many people today consider modern-day Halloween activities just harmless fun. Something that they looked forward to as a kid and their children and grandchildren look forward to every October 31st.
I walked into a local large grocery chain store this past week and was overwhelmed by the sight and sounds of displays of Halloween decorations. Masks, ghost sounds, Jack-o-lanterns, smoke blowing devices and on and on. I have friends in the church who have said that they don’t participate in the actually trick or treating anymore but they love seeing their grandkids all dressed up as ‘bees and bee-keepers’ during Halloween. Afterall, “they don’t dress up in ghost and goblin or evil costumes!” All of these viewpoints, the worlds and some Christians traditional ideas, I thought would be worthy of a biblical investigations, including the traditions of Halloween; the ‘how and where’ these traditions came from.
“For once you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprighteous of heart, and trueness of life. And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret” (Ephesians 5:8-12~Amplified version).
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE HOLIDAY
The two Celtic words Hallowed Evening came from ALL HALLOWED’S EV’N, and now we call it “Halloween”. This is now even more popular than Easter, and rivals Christmas in retail sales of merchandise. The roots of the festival come to us from Druid demon worship. Witches were said to fly brooms over the crops to “teach” them how to grow. It was a fertility myth.
When the first Roman catholic missionaries encountered these Druids, they met stubborn resistance because the inhabitants of Angle Land, Sweden, Neder Land, northern Germany, Fin Land, and Eire Land were very nationalistic. The ritual we embrace as Halloween was originally called the Feast of the Dead, SAMHAIN (pronounced Sa-ween), and was on November 1st. These pre-Christian Druids had the barbarians doing ghastly things. It was a dreaded occasion, since it was thought that time stood still, and the souls of the dead walked the land. Gifts, especially food, were left outside for these roaming ghosts, with hope that no harm would come to the households. The Druids chose certain children to be burned alive on “bone-fires”, as offerings to the sun. Parents tied yellow ribbons around old oak trees as prayers to the sun to have their children spared. Anything here sound familiar to you?
The fat left over from the child was fashioned into a candle, and placed in a carved-out pumpkin, or a hollowed out vegetable with a “round” (sun–shaped) design. The victim was called Jack-of-the-lantern. Prisoners and unlike people were burned alive in wicker cages shaped in the form of animals, and hung from trees. All of this was ultimately to pay homage to the sun, Woden, or Odin. As you might know, this Druid deity gives us our name for the 4th day of the week: Woden’s Day.
FROM “SAMHAIN” TO “ALL SAINTS”
Without forcing the Pagans to drop their practices but accept Christianity, the RCC merely made allowances to accommodate the barbarians, and called it “acculturation“. They “sanctified” the Pagan rituals by absorbing and camouflaging them. In the 7th century, the Pantheon at Rome was extracted from the barbarians, and made into a “cathedral” (Greek, katthedra, meaning seat, or throne). “Pan Theon” means all Gods. They re-named it the Church of the blessed Virgin and ALL MARTYRS. Thus it changed from the worship of “All Gods” (Pantheon) to the center for honoring “All Saints”.
The day chosen to honor all the “hallowed” saints was first observed on the evening of May 13, and was known as ALL HALLOWS FESTIVAL. This festival was officially authorized in 835 CE by pope Gregory IV after it was moved to November 1st, to coincide with the festival Samhain. It began on the evening of October 31st, which was called All Hallowed Eve.
You now have the history behind the holiday and should understand that HALLOWEEN isn’t just harmless fun! Satan has people in our modern era mimicking witches and the Druids of old.
WHAT IS THE BIBLE TEACHING ON HALLOWEEN?
“The priests shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the common or profane, and cause them to distinguish between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 44:23).
Is the WORD Detective a priest? Are you a priest, to teach God’s people, fellow believers in Jesus about the subject of Halloween?
“And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6)
“[Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5}.
As believers in Christ Jesus, God’s Word says that we are priests, and it is our duty to teach God’s people the difference between what is holy and clean and what is unclean.
LIVING IN THE TIMES OF “WITCHCRAFT”
I was attending a church picnic years ago, where there were two twelve-year-old girls, who were laying down on a blanket reading and discussing with excitement, the new “Harry Potter” novel. I mentioned to one of the mothers, “It’s probably none of my business, but do you approve of your daughter reading the contents of that book?” Her answer: “I see no harm in her reading “Harry Potter” books. She never has like to read novels before but now she has got her face in these books constantly.” We are living in a time when witchcraft is being revised in the media. “Charmed” on television is teaching people the elements of witchcraft and sorcery and yet we say things like “it’s not real; it’s really harmless fun”.
Have you noticed in the stores of late, how costumes and masks are generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year? The gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society. Not just on Halloween, but throughout the year in horror movies.
In my detective work of uncovering the churches reactions to Halloween, I ran across an article from an unknown author, originally published in the Colorado Christian news, October 1996:
“My family does not celebrate Halloween or participates in it. We do not believe that our children are “missing out”, and neither do they. Other days are used for costumes and parties. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 2:11).
HOW ABOUT CHURCH “HARVEST FESTIVALS”? They are okay, are they not?
I remember in the ’70’s, our adult church Sunday School classes came to gather for a “Harvest Festival”. We were to come as biblical characters, not dressed as the scary ‘creatures’ of Halloween. Dianne [being small in nature] came dressed as Zacchaeus (Luke 18:18-25), who had climbed a Sycamore tree to see Jesus; and I came as…you quessed it, as the Sycamore tree; I carried her in ‘piggy-back’. That’s better than ‘His and Her Towels’ previously costumed in another Festival Party. Oh so long ago and so foolish; lacking understanding.
“Harvest Festivals” maybe rational and with good intentions behind them but not the best approach. ‘Harvest’ parties tend to make an assumption: ‘Our children need something to take the place of Halloween since we won’t be participating in secular and pagan celebrations’. The suggestion to our church kids is that they are missing out on something.
WE NEED TO TEACH THE CHILDREN
The fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians that feel differently than we do about Halloween or institutions who promote and sell Halloween. BUT who we are fighting with is…
“against the despotisms (oppressions), against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickeness in the (supernatural) sphere” (Ephesians 6:12).
You might be thinking to yourself right now, “I’m not much into ancient history, or a ‘WORD’ detective like you. If my kids want to go out trick-or-treating on October 31st, it’s just harmless fun and I’m not going to interfere.”
SPIRITUAL WARFARE–is it fiction? Or is it real?
If you haven’t read “This Present Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti in a long time or never read it, try reading it before Halloween is here again this year. The painting of things we don’t see are brought to a clear and vivid expression through Mr. Perretti’s words. Let me quote from the back of the 1988 best-selling novel:
“If you think spiritual warfare is mere fiction, think again.
Set in unremarkable small towns perhaps like your own, pit ordinary Christians against extraordinary evil at the highest levels. The stories told will challenge you to open your eyes to the spiritual battle that’s raging in your world right now.”
Is Halloween “Just Harmless Fun?” Please don’t take my words, for you to decide the answer to that question. Look to relevant Scripture and let Holy Spirit help you come to your own answer:
1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22 “test and prove all things…Abstain from evil in whatever form or whatever kind”
3 John 1:11 “do not imitate evil”
Romans 12:9 “hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness]”
Ephesians 5:11, 12
1 Timothy 4:1 “in latter times some will turn from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach” ( We are in those “times” today!)
1 Corinthians 10:21 “You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table”—
2 Corinthians 6:14-17
1 Corinthians 11:1
1 Corinthians 10:31
James 4:7, 8
Ezekiel 44:23; Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5 “The priests shall teach My people…to distinguish between the unclean and the clean”. [We are the “priests” to convey the message about Halloween]
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” [Parents?]
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” [Better get informed–NOW!]
John 3:19, 20
1 John 5:19 “We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one”
2 Chronicles 7:14