Jeremiah 10:2-5King James Version (KJV)
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain:
Many Christians celebrate Halloween. Some churches and pastors even do. I recently saw a church advertising they were having a Zombie Run. Seriously? “The Walking Dead?” In God's House?
In a spirit of full disclosure, my family and I used to celebrate Halloween and go trick-or-treating, because we didn't see the harm in it. After all, my Church and many Christians I respected did it, so I justified that it must be OK. Right? Wrong!
As I grew closer to the Lord and gained more knowledge of His Word, I began to feel convicted about Halloween. I had thoughts like:
- God is a God of life, but Halloween focuses on death. Should I celebrate a holiday where people decorate their front yards with tombstones?
- The Scriptures tell us to put away deeds of darkness (Rom.13:12) and that light has nothing in common with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). Is celebrating a dark holiday something a child of the light should be doing?
- Christians have not been given a “Spirit of Fear.” Should I participate in a holiday that has fear as its very foundation? But, here was the big one:
- Witchcraft is clearly detestable to the Lord! Look with me at: Deuteronomy 18:10-13 (KJV)
11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12 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.
13 Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.
Shouldn't something that glorifies witchcraft be detestable to me as well?"
Romans 1:32 (NASB)
and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Halloween is a sacred, high holy day for Wiccans (the official religion of witchcraft). Is this a holiday Christians should celebrate alongside Wiccans?
- Is it cute when we dress our kids like the devil (or witches, ghouls, scary characters, etc.)? Isn't it, well, demonic?
- What if my child dresses in a wholesome fireman costume?
- The Lord said in 2 Cor. 6:17, "Come out from them and be separate ... Touch no unclean thing ..." Doesn't God want His children to be set apart from the world and from sin and evil? Aren't we supposed to be peculiar people?
- "My family and friend’s think it's ridiculous that we do not allow our child to dress up for Halloween. Should their opinions matter to me more than God's? Shouldn't pleasing God be my utmost concern?
- If there is even a question in my heart and mind that it might be wrong, shouldn't that be my first clue? Why would I continue to do so with even a lingering thought that it is wrong?
- Does Halloween bring glory to God? No!
Setting aside a day to celebrate evil, darkness, witchcraft, fear, death and the demonic brings disdain to God. Period.
A Christian celebrating Halloween is like a Satan worshiper putting up a nativity scene at Christmas while singing, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" The two just don't go together. Jesus has nothing in common with Satan (2 Cor. 6:14), and neither should we.
What is Halloween, Really?
The popularity of Halloween is growing exponentially. Americans spend over $15 billion dollars annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday. By the way, they spend $400 million on their pets!
In addition, a quarter of all annual candy sales occur during the Halloween season in the United States. What is it about Halloween that makes October 31 so popular? Perhaps it's the mystery--or just the candy? Perhaps the excitement of a new costume?
Finding the answer to this question has been an interesting journey in itself. I interviewed several people and then researched what many leading Christian writers, authors and spokesmen have written about the subject. I also searched various websites such as christianitytoday.com, focusonthefamily.org, and cbn.com to read what others might be saying.
What I found was an agreement on the origins of Halloween, but a mixture of recommendations about allowing our children to participate in this super-charged media driven holiday.
Whatever the draw, Halloween 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 it 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 understand how Halloween relates to the Bible is to look at the meaning of Halloween and its history.
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, but more recently we think of Halloween as a night filled with candy, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, ghosts and death.
The History of Halloween
The origin of Halloween as we know it, began over 1900 years ago in England, 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. Bonfires were a large aspect of this holiday as well.
Samhain (sow-wain) remained popular until St. Patrick and other 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 Catholic and Anglican religion.
Another tradition is the druidic belief that during the night before 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. This is the origin of Halloween costumes.
During the Roman Empire there was the custom of eating or giving away fruit, especially apples, on Halloween. It spread to neighboring countries; to Ireland and Scotland from Britain, and to the Slavic countries from Austria. It is probably based upon a celebration of the Roman goddess Pomona, to whom gardens and orchards were dedicated. Since the annual Feast of Pomona was held on November 1, the relics of that observance became part of our Halloween celebration, for instance the familiar tradition of "dunking" for apples.
Origins of Halloween
It is very important to remember that the origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition.
The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
But what about today? Perhaps we can still learn from history. In the fourth century, Christians attempted to co-opt the holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints the day before Halloween.
This was a conscious attempt to provide an alternative and re-focus the day away from ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences.
Since that time many Christians have decided to allow their children to dress in more “innocent” costumes of pumpkins, princesses, Superman or as a cowboy. Part of this is due to the simple reality that in today’s Western culture it is nearly impossible to “avoid” Halloween.
Just before reaching a conclusion on the subject, I was struck with the thought that I ought to further my search and find out what Wicca, the official religion of witchcraft, has to say about Halloween. Perhaps they viewed the day as a simple fun and innocent neighborhood activity?
“Shock” is the only word to describe what I found. Halloween is a real, sacred day for those who follow Wicca. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them.
The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day.
There is no question in my mind that to those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
Today costumes take the place of disguises and candy has replaced fruits and other fancy foods as children go door-to-door trick-or-treating.
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 honoring the dead, veiled in fun and festivities, has remained the same. The question remains, is celebrating Halloween bad or unbiblical?
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
As a logical thinking person, consider for a moment what you are celebrating and what Halloween is all about. Is the holiday uplifting? Is Halloween pure? Is it lovely, praiseworthy, or of good report?
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.”
Is Halloween based on godly themes such as the idea of peace, freedom and salvation or does the holiday bring to mind feelings of fear, obsession and bondage?
Additionally, does the Bible sanction witchcraft, witches, and sorcery?
On the contrary, the Bible makes it clear that these practices are an abomination to the Lord.
The Bible goes on to say in Leviticus 20:27 that anyone who practiced witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery should be killed.
Deuteronomy 18:9-13 adds, "When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you ... one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.”
So after discovering this, what is a reasonable conclusion? As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries.
My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately of course) that:
- There is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10);
- Life with Christ has power over darkness (1 John 4:4); and
- Those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.
Is it wrong to celebrate Halloween?
Let’s look at what the Bible adds to this topic in Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
This text is calling us to not only have no association with any type of dark activity BUT ALSO to shed light upon this topic to those around us. As stated earlier, Halloween was not exposed by the church for what it was, but rather was incorporated into church holy days. Are Christians responding in the same way today?
As you think about Halloween—its origins 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 this holiday's celebration. God is calling humanity to follow Him and to "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
Halloween is the one day a year when neighbors come to your door expecting to receive something. So give them JESUS! Our family chose to give God the glory and the devil a black eye by reaching out to our neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ! "You are the light of the world ... let your light shine among men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16).
Too, rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.