This article will tackle the controversial question, "Should Christians observe Halloween?" Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are strongly divided. Some Christian believers feel complete freedom to observe the holiday, others run and hide from it, many boycott or ignore it, a number celebrate it through more positive and imaginative observances or Christian alternatives to Halloween, and still others choose to take advantage of Halloween's evangelistic opportunities.
With no direct references to Halloween in the Bible, resolving the debate can be a challenge. How should Christians approach Halloween and is there a biblical way to observe this secular holiday?
Halloween comes from the ancient pagan festival of Samhain that was practiced by the Celts and is celebrated by today's neopagans. The Celts believed that from sundown on the last day of the year to sunrise on the first day of the Celtic new year the veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead was at its thinnest, and thus the dead could enter the realm of the living.
The disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife.
The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. So therefore, people wore masks and costumes to either scare away the dead, or to mingle amongst them in order to deceive them into keeping away from recognizing the living.
Meaning of the word "Halloween"
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. The Catholic Church adapted this holiday to honor dead people whose souls are supposedly still alive.
Halloween, “All Hallow’s Eve”, is celebrated annually on October 31. Almost as old as the celebration of All Saints' Day is the tradition associated with All Hallow's Eve. ("Hallows" mean "saints," both mean "holy ones," as in "Hallowed be thy name." "Eve" means the evening before.)
So, Halloween means "the evening before All Holy Ones' Day." Today we call that festival Halloween (Hallow's Eve) and we have many fun secular ways of recognizing it in addition to religious ways.
Meaning to Wiccans and Witchcraft
To Wiccans, Halloween is a very “lively” time. (Pardon my pun) Halloween is considered a sacred day for those who follow Wicca and various other forms of witchcraft. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them. The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day.
There is no question in my mind that to those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
Meaning of Halloween to Christians
However, it's important to remember that among the Christian Church, the celebration of Halloween has a long, positive history. What sort of history is that?
Christians remembered death itself on All Hallow's Eve and celebrated Christ's victory over death.
During the Middle Ages, Christians would gather in Churches for worship and they would remember the saints' victories over evil. Likewise they would put on little displays showing Jesus' victory of Satan, often using unusual masks and costumes to act out the story.
Thus, the festivities on All Hallow's Eve were the Christian's way of laughing at death and evil, something we can do in certain hope of Christ's victory over the powers of darkness.
The Church for centuries, however, has seen All Hallow's Eve not as a glorification of evil, but as a chance to affirm eternal life in the face of the death of our mortal bodies.
Much like other popular festivals such as Christmas and Easter, All Saints' Day and All Hallow's Eve have some connection to pagan festivals. People of many races and cultures have remembered their dead and have had superstitions about death itself. Just as Easter among Christians is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection as a victory over death and evil, so is Halloween an opportunity for Christians to celebrate triumph over death and evil!
A Reasonable Conclusion
So after discovering this, what is a reasonable conclusion? As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries.
My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that:
- There is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10);
- Life with Christ has power over darkness (I John 4:4); and
- Those who celebrate Halloween according to worldly customs and traditions are either unaware of its evil roots, or are intentionally promoting evil as a higher power.
To counter the evil influence of the traditional worldly Halloween celebration, we need a positive shift in mind set and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints throughout time over the evil in their day. Many Christians, today as in the past, are destroying the works of the devil through their commitment and obedience to God, the father of our Lord Christ Jesus.
So lighten up, party down and let's kick the devil's arse at his own game!
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About the Author: Daniel Sweet is the President and founder of God's Word First Biblical Research and Teaching Ministry. He is an ordained minister, biblical scholar, teacher of the holy spirit and an expert author on the subject of Leadership. He and his wife, Debbra Sweet have overseen the growth and development of multiple in home fellowships and have been instrumental in helping many people come to the knowledge and truth of God’s Word.