The last 100 years, Halloween has gradually become a national event, celebrated now by statesmen and workmen alike. Beginning with the Eisenhowers, American Presidents commemorated this holiday.
After Halloween 2017, the Business Insider recounted,
The White House transformed from a grandiose building into a haunted spectacle to celebrate Halloween eve on Monday. Giant spiders and their webs hung from the walls as Jack O’Lanters featuring the faces of previous presidents were scattered across the garden.
How should a Christian respond to Halloween?
American Christianity has long been plagued by the deadly sacred/secular divide. This sacred/secular divide claims that God speaks on Sunday mornings, but says nothing about the activities of the rest of the week, whether they be education, work, family life, or entertainment.
However, II Timothy 3:16-17 emphatically proclaims that all of God’s Word is sufficient and authoritative for all of life. Therefore, as Christians we should carefully examine the origins, symbols, and message of Halloween from a Biblical perspective.
In this post, we’ll begin by exploring the origin and meaning of Halloween. Next, we’ll outline how a Christian should Biblically think regarding Halloween. Last, we’ll describe the holiday christians should really be celebrating.
Where Did Halloween Come From?
Halloween’s sinister origins have been well-documented by both secular and Christian sources.
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
The Encyclopedia of Religion states,
On this occasion, it was believed that a gathering of supernatural forces occurred as during no other period of the year. The eve and day of Samhain were characterized as a time when the barriers between the human and supernatural worlds were broken. Otherworldly entities, such as the souls of the dead, were able to visit earthly inhabitants, and humans could take the opportunity to penetrate the domains of the gods and supernatural creatures.
Fiery tributes and sacrifices of animals, crops, and possibly human beings were made to appease supernatural powers who controlled the fertility of the land … Samhain acknowledged the entire spectrum of nonhuman forces that roamed the earth during the period (pp. 176-177).
Eventually, the Catholic Church adopted Halloween as “All Hallows Eve,” thus “Christianizing” the Holiday. In the 1800s, this Celebration came to America, where it evolved to its modern state.
Today, as one of the top three days for Satanists, Halloween is to many Satanists what Christmas or Resurrection Day is to Christians. Indeed Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, once remarked, “I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.”
John Ramirez, a former Satanist and animal sacrificer, who once called himself “Lucifer’s son” and “a general to the kingdom of darkness,” strongly believes that Halloween is Satanic, dark, and evil, regardless of how one participates in it. He has these strong words to say,
We are quick on our feet to rush and honor the devil in so many ways. We see no harm in Halloween, because we think it is fun. We paint our faces, we wear our innocent costumes, we dress up our doorways—even churches dress up their entryways for Halloween with pumpkins. These actions are like giving the devil license, saying, “Here’s my church. You can have it.”
We think because we are not performing any demonic rituals or human sacrifices that we are on safe ground, but did you know that as soon as you dress up, whether you color yourself or put on a costume, the enemy owns you? Because by doing so, you have turned over your legal rights, and you have dedicated yourself and your kids to celebrating the devil’s holiday. You have just made a pact with the enemy, and you are already sacrificing your children spiritually by dressing them up and changing their identity.
Ramirez believes that Christians who celebrate Halloween could be opening themselves up to demonic activity, even if those same Christians are unaware of Halloween’s dark side.
What Does God’s Word Say Regarding Halloween’s Message?
Christ told His disciples, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” I Thessalonians 5:22 warns Christians, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Celtic origin and modern celebration by Satanists aside, the mascots of Halloween include zombies, skeletons, spiders, death, and darkness. In contrast, the Bible celebrates life, light, truth, and freedom in Christ. As you read the following verses, ask yourself, what message is being proclaimed through Halloween? Does this message most glorify Christ or glorify Satan?
Darkness vs. Light
John 3:19-21 says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Ephesians 5:11 commands,” And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Does the message of Halloween most celebrate darkness or light?
Life vs. Death
“The thief cometh not but for to kill, and to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Does Halloween’s message most celebrate life or death?
What Should Christians Should Do on October 31?
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wurtenburg Germany, sparking a wave of reformation across Europe. For his stand, he was persecuted and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church.
Though by no means a perfect man, Luther’s commitment to understand and obey God’s Word is one every Christian should emulate.
Before Emperor Charles V, Luther boldly proclaimed, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe…. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Reformation Day, October 31, should be a day for American Christians to bow before Christ the King and His Word in a spirit of humility, revival, and brokenness. It must be a day in which we evaluate every area of our lives by God’s perfect, holy, and eternal Word.
With broken Daniel, may we cry out to God,
“O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments” (Daniel 9:3-5).
May we then claim His promise that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
While Satanists pay homage to the Prince of darkness, may we humbly kneel before the King of Kings and Lord of lords, recognizing that He who has died for us is worthy alone of our sincere worship, heartfelt service, and faithful obedience.
Question: How can we use Halloween as an opportunity to draw closer to God, proclaim His gospel, and denounce the Prince of darkness?