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It’s that time of year again. Vampires, ghouls, ghosts and skeletons will be haunting our doorways. American retailers celebrate a 7 billion dollar a year candy, card and costume business ($1.5 billion in Canada).
I was driving in Madison (outskirts of Nashville, TN) and saw two Halloween stores within a few blocks. Stores devoted to Halloween! In between the two was a Party Story decked out with monsters and skeletons.
Sound like I’m making a big deal out of nothing? Do these images bother you?I don’t want my children exposed to the store fronts.
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.
Before we look at the history and what the Bible says about pagan holidays answer these questions:
- How would you feel if your spouse kept photos of his or her former girlfriend of boyfriend?
- How would you feel if he or she celebrated an anniversary of special times with another after marrying you?
- Our God is a jealous God demanding exclusive devotion (Exodus 20:5). Do you think He cares if you encourage your children to partake in a holiday that honors Satan, the god of this world?
Halloween’s roots come from the ancient Celts, a tribe living about 2,000 years ago in the areas that are now Ireland, Great Britain and northern France.
The Celts were first described as a fierce, warlike, terrifying people, many of whom would have strings of human heads tied on their bridles.
Halloween was their main holiday a festival that honored the the end of the harvest. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay. It has some elements of a festival of the dead.
The Gaels the dead could reach back through the veil that separated them from the living. The custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the spirits or placate them.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 edition, Volume 12 says:
“It was a Druidic belief that on the eve of this festival, Saman, lord of death, called together the wicked souls that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals…” (pp. 847-858)
Yearbook of English Festivals by Dorothy Gladys Spicer says:
“All Hallows’ Eve or All Hallow E’en, with its tradition of witches, ghosts, hobgoblins and spirits, its games and incantations, still is a gay time for pranks and parties in many North country homes. Fun-loving Americans have borrowed from their British ancestors many Hallow E’en games such as apple-bobbing, nut roasting and tossing of apple parings. Transplanted to the New World soil, the old practices have become revitalized, and currently are observed with more enthusiasm than in the country of their birth.”
“To ancient Druids, the end of October commemorated the festival of the waning year, when the sun began his downward course and ripened grain was garnered from the fields.” “Samhain, or ‘Summer’s End,’ as this feast to the dying sun was called, was celebrated with human sacrifice, augury and prayers; for at this season spirits walked, and evil had power over souls of men.”
“Not until the fourth century did the pagan vigil for the god of light give way to All Hallows, the mass for Christian saints; and not until the tenth, did the Druids’ death feast become All Souls’ the day of prayer for souls that had entered rest. Cakes for the dead were substituted for human sacrifice, fortune-telling for heathen augury, lighted candles for the old Baal fires.”
Halloween in the United States
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 a 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.
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.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.
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.
Halloween is more than childish fun.Witches have eight special holidays during the year. Halloween is their day above all days. Witchcraft is not child’s play. It is an abomination to the Lord. Johanna Michaleson, former occultist and author of The Beautiful Side of Evil said, “For a true Christian to participate in the ancient trappings of Halloween is as incongruous as for a committed Satanist coming from blood sacrifices on Christmas Eve to set up a nativity scene in his living room singing Silent Night, Holy Night with sincere devotion to baby Jesus!”
One thing Halloween should not be for the Christian is a time of fear. It should be a time to rejoice in the fact that The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8). This is a time of spiritual warfare. October 31 should be spent in prayer for the community and children; a time of worship by singing praise to the Lord. This can be a good time to teach our children to sacrifice by not sharing in the rituals because you love the Lord. Whatever your family decides to do on this day, ask yourself, “Does it glorify the Lord?”
…they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Leviticus 17:7.
Halloween and Purim?
Someone recently mentioned they thought Halloween came from the holiday Purim. It is true children dress up during Purim to reenact the story of Esther but it has nothing to do with Halloween.
Halloween is centuries older and Purim costumes are Bible characters. Purim is observed on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar (February-March). It is a celebration of the deliverance of the Persian Jews over one of the most dastardly plots in history to exterminate the Jewish people. The book of Esther tells the story.
How Do You Deal With Halloween?
Candy wrapper and bag toppers with Scripture is a way to witness to neighborhood children.
Share your Halloween experience in the comments. Did your family put away Halloween? How did your children handle the decision? How does your church handle this holiday? Is there anything wrong with compromising and promoting a Christian Halloween?
A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays
The symbolism in the Bible is an absorbing subject! This book reveals Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, all foretold in the Spring holidays, and find out how to recognize His second coming by learning about the Fall holidays!
This giant, 585 page telephone-size book gives an an extensive look at the nine annual holidays: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles, Hanukkah, Purim and the weekly holiday–the Sabbath!
“In 34 years of publishing Messianic Catalogs we have never seen such a creative contribution to the body of Messiah …” Manny and Sandra Brotman, founder of The Messianic Jewish Movement International
Dr. Marvin Wilson, Professor and Chairman of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, Wenham, MA and author of Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith said:
“I enthusiastically endorse this exceedingly creative project! This family guide is a Christian exploration of Biblical Holidays adaptable for all ages. This impressive work is visually attractive and sculpturally anchored. Here is a delightful educational tool serious students will appreciate, for it will provide them with a detailed understanding of one of the foundational instructional pillars of the earliest Jewish church. Explore wonderful basic foundational truths that are found in the only Bible the earliest church knew.”
For More Information:
- Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween
- Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History
- Halloween Other Festivals: Death And Life
- The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year
- The Facts on Halloween (The Facts On Series) by John Ankerberg
- More Halloween Articles
- Read about the Holidays Ordained by God