It’s ghosts and ghouls, candy corn and corny costumes, sweet treats and candle lit jack-o’-lanterns. But October 31 also harkens a darker and more iniquitous day, one whose hellborn roots often times become lost in the profundities of cheap candy, toilet paper pranks and haunted hay rides. So the question to pose is: should a Christian, in good conscience, celebrate #Halloween?
Perhaps you don’t believe in supernatural spirits, dead ancestors watching over us, or souls trapped in the depths of the underworld or Purgatory. Your kids like Halloween, and for many families, that serves as ample motivation. But does the ignorance of a holiday’s roots excuse one from making an informed decision? Should obliviousness excuse mindfulness?
Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, with its origin in Celtic harvest festivals and pagan roots, marks the liturgical time of year where we focus on the dead. According to the Encyclopedia of American Folklore, Halloween, at the ancient festival of Samhain, is a time when "mortals are most capable of glimpsing into the spirit world." As a whole, the holiday is "integrally related to the prospect of contact with spiritual forces, many of which threaten or frighten."
Consider the Halloween traditions. The idea of giving out candy traces back to a medieval custom of souling, which has morphed into the Westernized trick-or-treating. In souling, a small, round cake was given to children and those in need, who would go door-to-door and either sing or say prayers for the souls of those destitute or for those who had died. Candy was also thought to appease the wicked spirits, who were most active – and dangerous – on All Hallows’ Eve.
Costumes, worn in the tradition of guising, were donned by the ancient Celts, who believed that malicious spirits would be duped by those dressed up, thinking the costume wearers were spirits themselves, thus moving on to another quarry to terrorize. Souls of those lost in death are said to be wandering the earth until All Saints’ Day (November 1), and the eve before would serve as a final opportunity for the dead to enact vengeance on the living. In order to defeat that, people would dress up to fool the spirit enemies.
What about pumpkin carving? The custom started with turnips, and the grotesque lanterns were said to ward off evil spirits. It also has been suggested that the candle inside represents the soul of a Christian, lost in Purgatory and awaiting deliverance.
Setting aside the Pagan roots...
So let's set the pagan pedigree of Halloween aside. If we ignore the facts, we can distill it down to a day marked by divination, fortune telling, Zombies, vampires, Wiccan celebrations, Satan worship, ghosts, goblins, haunted houses, mythical monsters and horror films.
Frankly, all of the above is anathema to #Bible teaching. God’s Word is clear on all such practices: “There should not be found in you anyone…who employs divination, anyone practicing magic, anyone who looks for omens, a sorcerer, anyone binding others with a spell, anyone who consults a spirit medium or a fortune-teller, or anyone who inquires of the dead.” (Deuteronomy 18:10,11) The book of Leviticus says those doing such things are “unclean” in God’s eyes. And Galatians lists “spiritism” on par with other God-dishonoring practices like sexual immortality and idolatry.
While the Bible does not support the idea that our dead ancestors are among us, it does tell us about the demons – spirit sons of God that forsook their place in Heaven to join Satan in his rebellion. The Bible shows that man is a soul; they do not possess a soul that becomes lost in Hell or Purgatory. The dead are “conscious of nothing” and cannot harm us. (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10).
But Satan and his demons like nothing better than to keep people in the darkness spiritually. And what better time to do it than a day that celebrates their own maleficent existence? With knowledge comes the freedom to choose – will you choose to celebrate Halloween? #Religion