Although Halloween has a bad reputation for being demonic and evil, many people today celebrate this holiday in many different countries. From children dressing up as princesses and pirates to adults giving out candy or binge-watching scary movies.
Should Christians celebrate Halloween? It depends on if celebrating Halloween bothers a believer or not. Consider for a moment what you are celebrating and what Halloween is all about. Also if participating in Halloween causes a follower of Christ to be tempted to turn back into their old ways, they should stay away from this holiday.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”Philippians 4:8
Is this holiday uplifting, lovely, praiseworthy, or of a good report? Is it based on godly themes such as the idea of peace, freedom, and salvation? Or does this holiday bring to mind feelings of fear, oppression, and bondage?
If the answer is yes to feeling fear and bondage, then no, you shouldn’t celebrate Halloween. However, if you see this event as an evening filled with opportunities to preach the gospel, or even to just hang out with friends (without spiritual warfare) then go for it.
What is Halloween?
Halloween is the evening before All Hallows Day (or All Saint’s Day) celebrated on November 1. This event 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 are derived from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. Recently, however, we think of Halloween as a night filled with candy, trick-or-treating, and ghosts.
The History of Halloween
Halloween goes back to the Celtic tribes that live in modern-day Ireland, England, and France. Two thousand years ago, this particular day was believed that the spirits of the dead would be coming to the living. People in the 18oo’s would wear costumes to pretend to be spirits so that they wouldn’t be attacked by the evil spirits.
This started from a Celtic festival held on the thirty-first of October through the first of November, to mark the beginning of winter. The wearing of costumes at Halloween came from the belief that supernatural beings, or the souls of the dead, roamed the earth at this time. From at least the 16th century, the festival and disguising which involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food.
The evening has originally been a tradition where people impersonated souls of the dead and received offerings on their behalf. Impersonating these beings, or wearing a disguise, was also believed to protect themselves from them. It is suggested that the mummers and guisers personify the old spirits of the winter, who demanded reward in exchange for good fortune.
Through the Centuries
How has Halloween evolved over time from its Celtic roots?
This century was known for Halloween as the ‘Days of the Dead.’ During this time, people would give food to the poor so that their loved ones would be sent out of purgatory. Purgatory is (in Roman Catholic doctrine) a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are making amends for their sins before going to heaven.
A celebration much like our Halloween, with bonfires and feasting on apples and nuts and harvest fruits, was part of pagan worship for centuries. The Britons celebrated in honor of their sun-god with bonfires, a tribute to the light that brought them abundant harvest. At the same time, they saluted Samhain, their “lord of death,” who was thought to gather together, at last, the souls of the year’s dead which had been consigned to the bodies of animals in punishment for their sins. The Romans celebrated the same kind of festival at this time in honor of their goddess Pomona, a patroness of fruits and gardens.
During this time, people would hold the festivals and congregate the different types of food to give out to other’s who then would recite a chant or dress up as a spirit to release their ancestor’s from purgatory. (Purgatory is the gap between death and heaven where a spirit was known to stay in until redeemed fro their sins nad wrong-doings when they were alive).
In this century, the first of November was then adopted by the Catholics. They transformed Halloween’s name from “The Days of the Dead” to “AllHollow’s Day” (All Saints’ Day). The 1800s is when Halloween became secular. People would believe that their family and friends who died went into purgatory. All Saint’s Day was the only time when someone could pray for their spirits to go to heaven.
Many Catholics said that they were a witness to seeing bad spirits roaming the streets on AllHollow’s Day. People then would dress up to disguise themselves. They believed that if they dressed up, it would trick the evil spirits and they would prevent themselves from being harmed.
In the Modern Day
In the last 800 years, Halloween has turned commercialized. America morphed this holiday from being filled with sin, violence, and death to trick-or-treat, parties, and candy.
Nowadays, Halloween is a celebration of creativity, parties, friendship, and loads of sugar. Many people throughout the world decorate their front doors and hand out candy to little children dressed up as animals, princesses, pirates, etc. Boys and girls from all different ages design and invent an outfit to be rewarded back candy, not food to have their ancestors come out of purgatory.
How Christians Should Celebrate Halloween
Any time that we are engaging in some type of modern-day event or celebration, don’t run from it immediately. Respond with grace and be creative. Try to make the situation convert into positivity.
Many churches in this century hold festivals, harvests, and trunk-or-treats to bring in the Gospel. Children dress up and go from trunk to trunk completing activities related to the Bible so they can be awarded a type of treat or prize.
Followers of Christ should have the discernment to know the difference between godlike events and unholy celebrations. There should be a good balance of both strictness with following the Bible scriptures and also not going over-board. Any holiday that a follower of Christ partakes in should be researched and analyzed for the roots of where it came from and how much it has changed into the modern-day.
Be creative. You don’t necessarily have to dress up demonically to enjoy an evening of trick-or-treating.
Here is a list of costumes you should avoid for Halloween:
- Evil Spirits
Christians are called to stand out from other people groups because they don’t fall for society’s peer-pressures. The Lord used the Israelites to stand out from other people groups, and today, he uses his followers to be different than others as well.
Really consider what you might be able to do and how you might be able to engage in that particular event, and do so with holy centeredness. Be intentional and pure if you do celebrate Halloween and don’t do anything that you believe would not demonstrate the Gospel.