Halloween is celebrated by millions of people as a fun time for kids, putting on costumes, and going door-to-door to get candy. However it is also known as a time of witches, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts. On one hand, some see Halloween as a safe time of fun and on the other, a frightening and demonically inspired night to be avoided.
Halloween is not just a time for cornstalks, pumpkins, apples and cute and not-so-cute costumes. There is much, much more. Before deciding to celebrate or not celebrate any holiday, it is important to understand the history of that holiday.
The word Halloween is derived from the term “All Hallows Eve” which occurred on Oct. 31, the end of summer in Northwestern Europe. “All Saints Day or All Hallows Day” was the next Day, Nov. 1st. Therefore, Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day.
It seems that, the origins of Halloween can be traced back to ancient Ireland and Scotland around the time of Christ. On Oct. 31st, the Celts celebrated the end of summer. This was important because it was when animal herders would move their animals into barns and pens and prepare to ride out the winter. This was also the time of the crop harvests. This annual change of season and lifestyle was marked by a festival called Samhain — pronounced ‘sow-ane’ and means ‘end of summer.’ Sow rhymes with cow.
There was much superstition connected 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 by spirits, they dressed up in costumes and paraded around the streets making loud noises to confuse and scare the spirits away. In addition, the new year began for the Celts on Nov. 1. 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.
Later, around the 5th century, as the Catholic Church developed and moved into the area, instead of adding a new day to celebrate, it took over the Samhain celebration. Nov. 1st became “All Hallows Eve” where all the saints of the Catholic church were honored. A later custom developed where people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2, requesting small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives of each house. This arose out of the religious belief that the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to heaven or hell and that the prayers of the living could influence the outcome. This may have been the precursor to Trick-or-Treat.
The Jack-O-Lantern apparently comes from Irish folklore about a nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”. When the Irish came to America in the 1800’s, they adopted the pumpkin instead of the turnip. Along with these traditions,
they brought the idea that the black cat was considered by some to be reincarnated spirits who had prophetic abilities.
So, it appears that the origins of Halloween are a mixture of old Celtic pagan rituals superstition and early Catholic traditions.
In the United States, many early American settlers brought with them various customs such as the above. However, because of Christianity among so many of the settlers, Halloween celebrations were not celebrated until the 1800′s when several immigrants from Ireland and Scotland introduced their Halloween customs. They brought various beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. Other groups added their own cultural influences to Halloween customs. German immigrants brought vivid witchcraft lore, and Haitian and African peoples brought their native voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft.
All Saints Day, a day the seventh century church set aside for remembering early Christians who died for their beliefs, was first celebrated in the month of May. By the year 900 the date was combined with the pagan rituals to be celebrated November 1. Another name for All Saints Day was All Hallows. October 31 was known as All Hallows Eve which was shortened to Halloween. The church made a grave mistake trying to combine pagan worship with Christianity. This is not scriptural! Because of that unwise decision, Halloween remains a holiday in America today.
Scriptures warn us that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the third and fourth generations.
You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. Exodus 20:5.
Those who disregard God’s warning and make contact with occult spirits risk terrible repercussions in the form of misery, sickness, insanity and even early death.
Why do people living in this age, especially Christians, desire to be a part of any ungodly worship? This pagan belief, even celebrated by Christian churches, celebrates the union of gods and a goddess in the universe that supposedly control the seasons, bring fertility to crops and animals, and bestow magical powers on their followers.
What does the Bible say about Halloween?
Although the Bible doesn’t specifically mention Halloween by name, it makes it very clear that the origins and practices of Halloween (adapting pagan customs or borrowing the ways of those who worship a false god and using them to worship the true God) are detestable to God. Deuteronomy 12:29-32. The Bible clearly teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you 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. Deuteronomy 18:9-11
Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. Our Lord Jesus would not go to a party to honor the feast of the Samhain. Moses did not come down from Mount Sinai and combine the Israelites Passover holiday with the idol worship that was going on. Allowing children to dress as witches and sorcerers or hanging evil decorations in our windows is imitating that which is evil.
The verse says, “come out from among them, says the Lord.” Does that mean come out from among them–but don’t deprive your children from all that fun and candy — celebrate the same pagan ritual in your church building? The Bible is very clear about Christians being involved in such celebrations. Ephesians 5:8-11 says,
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
Exodus 22:18, You shall not let a witch live.
Deut. 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, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…”
The Bible definitely speaks negatively about occultic practices, spirits, and witches and condemns not only the practice but also the people who are involved in it. As Christians, we are to have nothing to do with the occult. Tarot Cards, contacting the dead, séances, lucky charms, etc., are all unbiblical and can harm a Christian’s fellowship with God and open the Christian to demonic oppression. Most Christians know this and avoid these activities. But, the question still remains. Since there are ancient pagan connections and present occultic connections, what is the Christian to do?
The Christian is not to be involved with or support the occult, witchcraft, demonism, or any other thing that uplifts the occult. To do so is to contradict God’s word, dabble in demonic spirits, and invite judgment from God. If a Halloween celebration is centered on demons, devils, spirits, etc., I would say don’t have anything to do with it.
On the other hand, it isn’t wrong to dress up in a costume and go door-to-door saying “Trick or Treat.” Provided that the costume isn’t demonic, I can’t see anything wrong with this. It’s just fun for the kids.
In the Bible in 1 Cor. 10:23-33, Paul speaks about meat sacrificed to idols. This meat was often sold in the meat market and the question arose, “Should a Christian each such meat?”
Paul said in verse 25, “Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience’ sake.” This is most interesting. He says it is okay to eat the meat bought in the market place even though that meat may have been sacrificed to idols.
Then in verses 28-29 he says, “But if anyone should say to you, ‘This is meat sacrificed to idols,’ do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?” (NASB). Paul is saying that if you find out the meat was sacrificed to idols; don’t eat it — not because of you, but because of the other person. In other words, eating that meat won’t affect you. But, it may affect the attitude of another who does not understand the freedom the Christian has in Christ.
Is it any different with Halloween)? No. Even though Halloween has pagan origins, because of your freedom in Christ, you and/or your kids can dress up in costumes and go door-to-door and just have fun. However, if you are not comfortable with doing this, then you should not. If you know of a person who would be hindered by doing it, then you shouldn’t either.