Is Halloween just a bit of harmless fun?

A time for the children to dress up, enjoy some party games, and maybe ‘trick or treat’ a few neighbours.  Should we over-react?  After all, no-one believes in witches or ghosts today, and no-one gets hurt!

Is this true, or is Halloween something much more sinister, which Christians and their families should avoid completely?

So we have posed and answered some questions about Halloween.

Where does Halloween come from?

The festival on October 31st goes back a long way, back to our Celtic ancestors and it was originally known as the ‘Festival of the Dead’.

The Celtic people had only two seasons in their calendar, summer and winter, and ‘Samhain’ (‘summer’s end’) was celebrated on October 31st.

Being sun worshippers this was an important festival marking the end of the summer sun and the beginning of the winter darkness.  They believed that the sun god had protected them against evil spirits, ghosts and the like, through the summer time, but no such protection could be expected through the winter.

During winter the ghosts of the dead, and evil spirits would be free to exert their foul mischief and disturb the natural order of life.

What happened in olden days on 31st October?

Two pagan acts of sorcery were performed.

  • First, fires were lit to give energy to the dying sun.  Bonfires outside, large fires in the grates inside homes and the ‘lantern heads’ (lights inside turnips or pumpkins) were all thought to frighten away evil spirits, and to rekindle the ‘dying’ sun.
  • Secondly, food and even human sacrifices were left outside homes for the spirits to take.  This was to appease them and hopefully to prevent them influencing peoples homes and lives with their evil ‘tricks’.  The modern practice of ‘trick-or-treating’ when children dress up as ghosts and ghouls and demand gifts of sweets in exchange for not ‘tricking’ you, is rooted in this pagan rite.

This was also the time of year for divination about health, death and marriage.  October 31st was the only day of the year when the Devil’s help was actually sought on these issues.  Probably again to appease him.

It is not surprising that modern day practitioners of occult arts choose Halloween as the high point in their yearly calendar.

Why is it called Halloween?

The word ‘hallow’ means ‘holy’ or ‘honour as holy’.  Halloween means ‘The Holy Evening’.

In the ninth century, the Church foolishly swapped its ‘Hallow Tide’ festival (All Saints Day and All Souls Day), when it remembered faithful men and women of God who had given their lives in the service of Jesus Christ, from May 13th and 14th to November 1st and 2nd.

This was an unsuccessful attempt to ‘Christianize’ the pagan festival Samhain.  October 31st therefore became the evening before Hallow Tide and became Hallow Evening.

Sadly, we are now left with an annual festival which has lost any Christian content, which has reverted to its pagan roots, but ludicrously is still called ‘The Holy Evening’.

What should our attitude to Halloween be?

We live in a society where interest is ever increasing in the occult, in witchcraft and pagan practices.  People are constantly being introduced to such things in a ‘fun’ way (as in Halloween children’s parties, without discerning the darker side of what they are doing).

As a Christian the Bible is uncompromising in its condemnation of such things.  Click and read what the Bible says –

Deuteronomy 18:10-13 says:

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, 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.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD;  because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

Other verses to read:

2 Chronicles 33:6                    Isaiah 47:8-15

In a casual approach to Halloween, we could teach our children that witchcraft, sorcery and evil spirits are just things to be turned into light-hearted fun.

What can we do as Christians?

As Christians we believe there is an evil spirit realm which is very real, and is the ‘real’ battle-ground for every Christian.  Because of Jesus Christ, Christians do not have to ‘appease’ evil spirits, we have authority over them.

Let us ‘teach our children well’, steering them well away from all witchcraft, sorcery and paganism, and into the loving arms of our Saviour Jesus.

If you don’t agree with Halloween then don’t encourage it.  Why not put a notice on your front door on the October 31st saying –

‘No Trick or Treat – Thank You’