Millions of people celebrate Halloween every year. Through the eyes of a child, it’s a day for make-believe, costumes, and candy. For others it’s the celebration of witches, ghosts, and scary movies. Some want to celebrate and enjoy the fun and some even view this day as a demonic holiday to be completely avoided!
So what should Christians do?
I think it’s important to first look at the origins and history of Halloween. October 31st is the day of Halloween, the shortened version of “All Hallows Eve”. The very next day, November 1st, is known as “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows Day”.
Traced back to ancient Ireland and Scotland, this day marked the end of summer with celebratory events. People everywhere could be found harvest cropping, herding animals into barns and pens, stocking supplies, and preparing for the impending winter season. This cold and dark time of year became associated with death and many pagans believed that the souls of the dead began to travel and move among the living. The Samhain festival was believed to help the dead along their journey and keep the people safe from the spirits of the dead inhabiting the bodies of the living. During this festival pagans would sacrifice animals and food to the dead and light bonfires. They wore animal skins and heads to confuse, mimic, and frighten the spirits. This is the origin of costume-wearing on Halloween.
When the Celtics were later conquered by the Roman Empire, the influence of the Catholic Church began to infiltrate the Celtic rituals. The Catholic Church declared the Samhain festival to be evil and began to change the local customs to become more Christian-oriented. The Pope declared November 1st as “All Saints Day” to remember and honor the saints. The following day on November 2nd known as “All Souls Day”, Christians would go door to door requesting small cakes in exchange for prayers of the household’s deceased relatives. While the Catholic traditions continued to change minds about this season, the Celtic traditions were so deeply ingrained that some continued to leave food on their porch to pacify the spirits of the dead. This is the derivation of trick-or-treating – to give candy or goodies to masked people to keep them from harming you.
The tradition of the Jack-O-Lantern and pumpkins for decoration comes from an ancient Irish folklore about “Stingy Jack” who tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Jack carved a cross on the trunk of the tree preventing the devil from being able to climb down. The devil and Jack made a deal that if Jack removed the cross, the devil promised he wouldn’t send Jack’s soul to hell. Because Jack led a cruel and selfish life, he was unable to go to heaven or hell and was left to wander around with a single candle to light his way. The Irish believed Jack kept his candle burning in a turnip. But after coming to America, they adopted the pumpkin instead.
So what does the Bible say about Halloween? Here are some Bible verses that we can apply:
Exodus 22:18 – “You shall not let a witch live.”
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…”
Leviticus 19: 26 & 31 – “Do not practice divination or sorcery. Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”
2 Kings 21:6 – “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritist. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
The BIG question…. Where should Christians stand on this issue? Can Christians celebrate Halloween? The answer is yes…. and no! The Bible is especially clear about participating and engaging in occultic practices and even condemns those who are involved in witchcraft. As Christians, we are to completely avoid anything that has to do with witchcraft and the occult – contacting the dead, séances, tarot cards, magic spells, horoscopes, psychics, palm readings, astrology, Ouija boards, fortune telling, crystal balls, etc. These things will certainly affect your fellowship with God and He will condemn those who practice any form of witchcraft. Once a person has opened a door to the demonic realm, you have given Satan permission to permeate your life. These scriptures are not to be taken lightly.
Is it wrong to dress-up in your favorite princess or superhero costume and go door to door asking for candy? No. The Bible even tells us in Ephesians 5:7-12 – “Don’t participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” Christians can celebrate and be an example of wholesome and Godly things. Yes, Halloween does have multiple pagan origins but our freedom and redemption in Christ allows us to be IN the world and not be OF the world.
If you do have a strong conviction for not celebrating this holiday, please stand firm on your faith and continue to allow God to reveal His truths to you. If you desire to continue celebrating this holiday in a God-honoring way, continue to be a light in this world. You never know who will see Christ through you!
Some Halloween ideas for Christians to participate:
- Host a church harvest event
- Add scriptures to your candy
- Bible themed costumes
- Host a block party
- Organize an evening activity – bowling, skating, dodgeball, etc.
- Go trunk-or-treating