The popularity of Halloween is growing at a ferocious rate. It is now one of the UK’s biggest holidays. If you walk into any supermarket you can’t help but notice how much money is being spent on everything Halloween related.
What is it that makes October 31 so popular? Maybe it’s the mystery, the sweets or perhaps the excitement of getting dressed up and buying a new costume.
Whatever the attraction it looks as though Halloween and everything that goes along with it is here to stay. But what does the bible say about it? Is Halloween wrong or evil? Are there any clues in the Bible as to whether a Christian should celebrate Halloween?
What does the Bible say about Halloween?
First of all, understand that Halloween is mostly a western custom and has no direct reference in the Bible. However, there are Biblical principles that directly relate to the celebration of Halloween. Perhaps the best way to investigate Halloween is to look at its history and its meaning.
What does Halloween mean?
The word Halloween literally means the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saint’s Day, celebrated on November 1. Halloween is also the shortened name of Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Evening and All Saint’s Eve which is celebrated on October 31. The origin and meaning of Halloween is derived from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. More recently we think of Halloween as a night filled with sweets, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, ghosts and death.
A brief history of Halloween
The origin of Halloween as we know it, began over 1900 years ago here in Britain, Ireland, and Northern France. It was a Celtic celebration of the new year, called Samhain which occurred on November 1. The Celtic druids revered it as the biggest holiday of the year and emphasized that day as the time when the souls of the dead supposedly could mingle with the living.
Samhain remained popular until Christian missionaries arrived in the area. As the population began to convert to Christianity the holiday began to lose its popularity. However, instead of eradicating pagan practices such as “Halloween” or Samhain, the church instead used these holidays with a Christian twist to bring paganism and Christianity together, making it easier for local populations to convert to the state religion.
Another tradition is the druidic belief that during the night of November 1, demons, witches, and evil spirits freely roamed the earth with joy to greet the arrival of “their season” – the long nights and early dark of the winter months. The demons had their fun with poor mortals that night, frightening, harming, and even playing all kinds of mean tricks on them. The only way, it seemed, for scared humans to escape the persecution of the demons was to offer them things they liked, especially fancy foods and sweets. Or, in order to escape the fury of these horrible creatures, a human could disguise himself as one of them and join in their roaming. In this way they would recognize the human as a demon or witch and the human would not be bothered that night.
Originally trick-or-treating began as “souling,” when children would go door-to-door on Halloween, with soul cakes, singing and saying prayers for the dead. Over the course of history Halloween’s visible practices have changed with the culture of the day, but the purpose of honouring the dead, veiled in fun and festivities, has remained the same. The question remains, is celebrating Halloween bad or unbiblical?
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
Right now I’m pretty sure most Christians would already have some warning bells going off. Start considering Halloween and what it represents and then see how it clashes with scripture.
Here are some points to consider.
- Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” .. How does Halloween fit with this? Is it uplifting, pure, of good report, praiseworthy or lovely?
- What does the Bible say about witchcraft, witches, wizards, mediums and sorcery? Leviticus 20:27 says “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.“
- Deuteronomy 18:9-13 says “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.” It’s very clear that these things are “an abomination unto the Lord“.
- If we move forward to a little more New Testament scripture it says in Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” The text isn’t only telling us to have no association with any type of dark activity but also to expose the darkness to those around us.
- Finally think about what we are called to be as Christians. Matthew 5:14 says “You are the light of the world“. We’ve come out of the darkness and into the light. Why would we ever want to go back into it?
As you think about Halloween, its history and what it stands for, would it be best to spend time dwelling upon its themes or to shed light upon what lies below the surface of the Halloween celebration? God is calling humanity to follow Him and “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
One member of the Community Baptist Church congregation when they were little use to have Hallelujah parties instead of a Halloween event on October 31, and I think that would be a great idea. We need to celebrate the Saviour not Satan and look to The Light rather than the darkness.