Should Believers Celebrate Halloween?
My wife says I should not even use the word “Halloween”. Maybe she is right. Halloween is said to have originated in Ireland as "Oíche Shamhna" or "Samhain Night". The pre-Christian Celts apparently had an autumn "fire festival" and feast, when the dead were believed to revisit the mortal world. The Celts believed Samhain, the lord of death, would send evil spirits to attack humans, who would hide by disguising themselves. It was believed that the waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Large community bonfires
would be lit during the night to ward off the evil spirits.
In the year 835 Pope Gregory IV established All Saints' Day, or All “Hallows” Day to be celebrated on November 1
. The new holiday coincided exactly with Samhain. It was an attempt by the Church to transform the day into one of thanksgiving for a good fall harvest. However few Christians today see Halloween as any kind of Christian celebration. My seven grandchildren go out each year in costume and the only thing on their mind is candy and lots of it!
However, Halloween is still celebrated as a sacred day for those who follow “Wicca” or witchcraft, ie Satanists. It is considered a high and “holy” day for the occult. The Celtic belief in roaming spirits and the actual worship of Samhain are still practiced on Halloween. For witches and warlocks there is no question that they believe Halloween is an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
So Halloween is historically a Christian holiday, but also an old pagan ritual, and also still a dark holiday for modern Satanists. So what should the modern Christian do? The best guide to this or any question involving right and wrong is to read what Scripture has to say. The Old Testament is pretty clear, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD” Even the new Testament condemned witchcraft, Galatians 5: 19-21 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So the Bible condemns witchcraft and sorcery in all its forms and rightly so. In essence these are the worship practices of Satanists. While most of us would shun the idea that we would ever practice devil worship we should not fail to notice that “rage, ambition” and a few other sins that are more familiar to everyday life are right there next to witchcraft.
The controversy over Halloween reminds me of the annual debate over the secularization of Christmas. As Christians we want and expect the secular world to allow us to have December 25th as a day set a side to celebrate. We deplore policies that diminish the religious significance of Christ’s birth. But we still welcome and practice non-religious traditions like putting up Christmas trees and dressing as Santa (Don’t tell my grandkids) and those practices do not diminish our faith.
In the same way I believe we as Christians can accept that most Americans practice the traditions of Halloween as a purely secular holiday. They do not adhere to or are even aware of any evil or satanic meaning to what they do. While I discourage my grandchildren from dressing as the walking dead or as witches, I see no harm in dressing as angels or firemen in an effort to collect as many sweets as possible.
Still, we must be aware that there is evil in this world which originates from the spiritual world. While our children are in many ways innocent, the battle still rages around them and us. I think I’ll follow my wife’s advice and stay away from “Happy Halloween” and just say..”Trick or Treat” !!