Of all the holidays, Halloween definitely provides the most instigation for controversy among the Christian community.
In some circles, it’s the “no-no” holiday.
Should it be celebrated by Christians?
Should Christians even hand out candy?
Should churches condone the idea of children dressing in costume? What’s more, should churches host Halloween or Fall events?
Are Christians going to hell for celebrating on “the devil’s day”?
Here’s my view–
The day of Halloween holds no power of evil for me, for I am filled by the One who overcomes all evil.
The devil doesn’t have any more power on Halloween than he does any other day of the year. The evil and sin that plague the world are just as bad on October 30 and November 1. But here’s the good news– we know what happens at the end of The Book. Evil is destroyed and Goodness wins.
So what should Christians do on October 31? What we should be doing every other day of the year– being a bold, blazing bright light for Jesus Christ in a dark, dark world. Whether that means we let our kids dress up and collect candy door-to-door or simply smile at a stranger we pass on the street, our mission is the same on Halloween as it is every day.
I read a post the other day from a Christian Mommy-blogger that said that because Halloween was evil, she and her family locked themselves behind closed doors every year and avoided people at all cost.
The post made me sad. An opportunity missed for the message of Christ to be spread on Halloween, even if by handing out invitations to church or a simple “God loves you” to go along with a piece of candy.
Now I’m going to go all history nerd on you.
When speaking to Believers who do not celebrate Halloween, the number one reason given is: “Christian’s shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it’s pagan.”
Not so much. As a historian and born again believer, I’m ready to de-bunk the myths of the “pagan” Americanized Halloween.
Many of the American Halloween traditions are relatively new. In the grand scheme of history, dressing in costume and going door-to-door asking for candy have only become popular in the last century.
Before that, Halloween was an unorganized compilation of various religious beliefs and traditions from many European cultures.
And many of these religious beliefs and traditions were started by the Church. (Big “C” church refers to the Roman Catholic Church–the earliest form of organized Christianity.)
Back in the day, the Celtic people of Europe (the UK and northern France) had beliefs tied to this time of year. They celebrated a holiday called Samhain (sow-in) that recognized the changes in the seasons–from light to dark, warm to cold, and from life to death. October 31 began the new year, and they believed that at Samhain, the land of the living and the land of the dead could overlap.
From these ancient traditions, the Catholic church attempted to reach converts. To take the emphasis off of the paganism of Samhain, the Catholic church made November 1 All Saints Day, or the day to remember and honor the saints. They then added November 2 as All Souls Day, or the day to remember and honor all of the dead who had gone on before.
These two “holy days” fell into the Catholic church’s method of conversion for pagans in the early church days--Keep doing what you’re doing, just do it in the name of Jesus. Remember that in those days, it wasn’t about converting hearts as much as it was about numbers. So the idea of the living and dead overlapping fell under these days–Church sanctioned days of commemoration for the dead.
The night before All Saints Day became known as All Hallow’s Eve, and then was shortened to Hallowe’en.
One of the traditions during All Souls Day was for children or youngsters to go house to house asking for small cakes. In return, they would offer prayers for the family members who had died. Some believe that our tradition of trick-or-treating might have come from this early practice.
The idea of wearing costumes has no real “pagan” tie. In general, it can be traced back to the idea that many who instigated “trickery” or pranks during this time of year really wanted to mask their identities.
In the early 20th century, communities looked for a way to stop the pranks and keep kids safe on Halloween. They decided to organize community wide parties and parades for kids to show off their costumes, and later on the idea of subduing “tricksters” by offering them sweets turned into modern day trick-or-treating.
The Jack-O-lantern might be the most “evil” of all Halloween traditions. According to old Irish folklore, a man named Jack O’Lantern was so bad that he was kicked out of hell with only a burning ember to light his way. He wanders the earth at night with his ember in a hollowed out turnip. When the legend came to America, children began hollowing out pumpkins to create their own “Jack O’Lanterns.”
Okay, so there’s the history of our Americanized traditions.
We know what the Bible says about evil. We know what it says about what happens to a soul at death and where it goes. There’s no need to argue whether or not some people emphasize the negatives of the holiday–they do. It’s the non-Christians who’ve darkened the holiday; for well over a thousand years, Christendom has attempted to refocus it.
And if one still wants to cling to the pagan argument, then we must also point out all of the pagan influences in other parts of Christianity. Celebrating Christmas on December 25th, for example. That was not Jesus’ actual birthday. No, no. It was a Roman pagan holiday that the Church usurped, once again taking emphasis off the pagan rituals and putting them on Christianity. So can we ignore one holiday for “paganism” but not another?
If you and your family choose not to celebrate Halloween, there is nothing wrong with that. I respect your decision completely.
No matter your views on Halloween, it is important to remember that evil has no power over us when we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit.
Emphasize the positive: happy costumes, candy, and communities coming together. Remember The Great Commission– we are to make disciples on all days, and not avoid any opportunity to shine His great light.
Everyday is hallowed when we walk in the light of the Lord. Nothing can change that. Glorify the Lord in all you do, even on Halloween.
For more info, check out this video from The History Channel.
Share with me: What are your family traditions on Halloween?