Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?



Halloween may seem like a fun holiday where kids get to dress up and enjoy a ton of free candy, and we all get an excuse to have creative fun with family and friends. There is a lot more to the holiday than this, though. Should Christians join in the celebration of Halloween? In order to answer this question it is important to know what Halloween really is and where it came from.


What is Halloween?

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a holiday celebrated annually on October, 31, the night before All Saints’ Day. It has ancient Celtic (or Druid) origins, specifically to the festival of Samhain (“sow-win”). The Samhain Festival celebrated the start of Winter and the bringing in of the herds, and it was believed that with the herds came the dead to visit their homes. It was a massive celebration filled with bonfires, costumes, games and “fortune telling”. Festival celebrants believed that during the festival the spirit and physical worlds could essentially intermingle, allowing the living to interact with the dead. They eventually began to leave gifts for entities they believed would visit from the spirit world, such as fairies and ghosts, and dressed up as monsters and animals to disguise themselves and prevent kidnapping by these spirits. The Samhain Festival eventually evolved further and included more creative additions such as jack-o-lanterns.


When a majority of the Celtic territories were conquered by the Roman Empire in 53 A.D., the Romans merged the Feralia Festival, a similar festival where the Romans honored their dead, and another day dedicated to Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, with the Samhain Festival. In 609 A.D., both the Catholic church and the Western church established holidays to honor Christian Martyrs. Later, in what may have been an attempt by the Christian churches to replace the original Samhain, All Souls’ Day was made for Christians to honor their dead.


The church did not do away with the original traditions when they created All Souls’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day, but instead embraced them for their purposes. All Hallows’ Eve, the evening prior to All Saints’ Day, was then designated as a holy, or hallowed, eve by the church. This is where the name Halloween stems from. During the Reformation All Saints’ Day ceased to be celebrated by Protestants, and eventually Halloween became a secular holiday.


As a secular holiday, Halloween has become known for things like costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, pranks, and parties. We associate black cats, pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls with the holiday, and many families have a blast carving jack-o-lanterns and decking themselves or their kids out in creative costumes. It is widely known as well for being a scary holiday with haunted houses, horror movies, and lots of darkness.


Halloween certainly has some mixed history, which even includes church participation, both historically and to this day as churches host events such as trunk-or-treats. Does this make it okay for Christians to celebrate?


What does the Bible say:

As with all things, we must look to the Word of God. As we look to scripture there are some lines that God has clearly drawn in regards to the occult and their practices and we need to always be mindful of the warnings that God gives us; warnings are in place for our safety.


There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 NASB

Strong's H7081 - qecem - divination, witchcraft

Strong's H6049 - `anan - (Poel) to practise soothsaying, conjure

  • to observe times, practice soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury or witchcraft

  • soothsayer, enchanter, sorceress, diviner, fortuneteller, barbarian, Meonenim (participle)

Strong's H5172 - nachash - to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortune telling, take as an omen

  • to practice divination

  • to observe the signs or omens

Strong's H3784 - kashaph - (Piel) to practice witchcraft or sorcery, use witchcraft

  • sorcerer, sorceress (participle)

Strong's H3049 - yidd?`oniy - a knower, one who has a familiar spirit

  • a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer (meton)


Divination, or the act of “foretelling future events, or discovering things secret by the aid of superior being, or other than human means.” as stated by the Smith’s Bible Dictionary is specifically defined and Easton’s Bible Dictionary points that every type and degree of this superstition was explicitly forbidden by the law of Moses.

You shall not permit a sorceress to live. Exodus 22:18 ESV

Strong's H3784 - kashaph - (Piel) to practice witchcraft or sorcery, use witchcraft


‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. Leviticus 19:26 NASB

Strong's H5172 - nachash - to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortune telling, take as an omen

  • to practice divination

  • to observe the signs or omens

Strong's H6049 - `anan - (Poel) to practise soothsaying, conjure

  • to observe times, practice soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury or witchcraft

  • soothsayer, enchanter, sorceress, diviner, fortuneteller, barbarian, Meonenim (participle)


“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:31 ESV

Strong's H178 - 'owb - necromancer

  • necromancer, one who evokes the dead

  • ghost, spirit of a dead one

  • practice of necromancy

Strong's H3049 - yidd?`oniy - a knower, one who has a familiar spirit

  • a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer (meton)


There is a clear line that God has drawn in the sand: we do not practice the occult - matters regarding the action or influence of the supernatural. We are not to participate in their practices as they are of the world, but we are not of the world as we have been reborn in Christ Jesus. The New Testament continues these warnings:


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24 ESV

Strong's G5331 - pharmakeia - sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it


Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, Ephesians 5:7-13 ESV


But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8 ESV

Strong's G5333 - pharmakos - pertaining to magical arts


There is clearly an aspect of Halloween that is not permissible by God’s commands, which He has clearly laid out in scripture.


Modern Day Halloween:

With its dark history, it’s no wonder the debate over should Christians participate in Halloween has been ongoing. While those dark pasts still linger, and should be watched for, many in the culture today no longer associate the holiday with its roots. The holiday has taken on a new dynamic in the past few decades. Today, the holiday focuses on children dressing up in all kinds of costumes, and sugar overdoses from all the candy.


Schools have adapted to a Fall Festival where all the fun aspects of Halloween are in place: lots of candy, costumes, and games. Students are encouraged to dress up like their favorite animal or superhero. Activities like bobbing for apples no longer show worship to a Greek goddess; they are simply for fun.


With the changing of traditions, churches have an open door to interact with the world in a neutral way that has the potential to reach thousands. Churches around the country are taking that advanage and using “trunk-or-treating” and other such events as a way to get in touch with people that typically wouldn’t be on church grounds.


And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 ESV

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV

We have an opportunity, as the body of Christ, to use Halloween as a stepping stone and an extended hand to those that are outside the Body of Christ. We are to remember that while we are not to be aligned to the world, we are still involved in it and we have been told to spread the gospel to everyone.


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16 ESV

Participation in Halloween, no matter the degree, needs to be taken seriously. There will be those who are convicted to refrain from participation completely, and that is okay. There will also be those who will enjoy the fun side of Halloween, and that is also okay. What is important is that we do not cause those around us to fall into the dark side that lurks in the shadows of the holiday.


To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 ESV

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. Romans 14:13-14 ESV


“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

Conclusion

Whether you are pro-Halloween or not, the most important thing to remember is that as members of the Body of Christ we need to be respectful and informed about the choices we make. What may be a difficult challenge for one may be easily overcome by another. As Paul reminds us, the most important thing is to not cause those around to stumble with sin. Halloween can be used to honor God if done right, but can also easily be used for the opposite purpose which is where the danger zone lies in wait. As with anything, we as Christians are called to test all things according to the Word of God; use scripture as a filter for everything, obey God’s boundaries and instructions for you, and respect that God will give each person boundaries and instructions.


It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. Romans 14:21 ESV

So, should Christians celebrate Halloween? Bring it to God, do your research, and obey whatever God leads you to. What God tells you may differ from what he tells someone else, as we all have our own struggles and stumbling blocks, but remember to honor God in all you do. Make God your focus and priority, and do all that you do for the glory of God and furtherance of His love and Truth.


'Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.' Colossians 3:23-25 ESV

'We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. ' 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 ESV


Sources:

https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

https://www.history.com/news/history-of-the-jack-o-lantern-irish-origins

https://www.history.com/topics/religion/wicca

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-rome/ancient-rome

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomona_(mythology)

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Halloween

https://www.learnreligions.com/should-christians-celebrate-halloween-700763

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5333&t=ESV

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H7081&t=ESV

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6049&t=ESV

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3784&t=ESV

https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/dictionary/viewtopic.cfm?topic=BT0001191

https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/dictionary/viewtopic.cfm?topic=ET0001047

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H178&t=ESV

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3049&t=ESV

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occult

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5331&t=ESV


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