Trick or Treat! Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
It’s literally impossible to avoid Halloween these days. In a few days, everyone from Donald Trump to Pennywise the Clown will be knocking on our doors looking for candy. There will be parties and movies and fright nights in the woods, and haunted houses. The celebration seems to have expanded from a single day to an entire month.
According to the National Retail Federation, almost 70% of Americans will be celebrating Halloween this year. It is second only to Christmas as a commercial holiday. A quarter of all of the candy sold this year will be sold this season. And adults across the country will be eating that same candy for months. Americans will spend over 8 billion dollars during this Halloween season. That’s billion with a B!
Where did Halloween come from? It seems that the celebration actually began with the Christian church. As early as the 4th century, according to church historian John Chrysostom, the church celebrated a festival in honor of martyred saints. It was called All Saints Day and originally held in May. The day before All Saints Day was called All Hallows(Holy) Day and eventually morphed into All Hallow E’en and eventually Halloween. Pope Gregory 4 shifted the original All Saints Day to November 1 to combat the popularity of the pagan Samhain Festival, and the rest is history.
So now the issue is, should Christians celebrate a pagan festival, or at least a festival with pagan origins. It’s no question that Halloween is circled on the calendar of the occult community. During the Halloween season:
- There will be countless attempts to contact the dead.
- More spells will be cast than at any other time of the year.
- Animal shelters will refuse to offer black cats for adoption for fear they will be used in a bloody sacrifice.
It is the pagan high and holy day. Nothing else comes close.
What about Christmas and Easter? Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 and there were no eggs and bunnies at Calvary. Both of these celebrations have pagan origins, but Christians have chosen to infuse them with spiritual meaning. Of course, Halloween is worse. Not only is the origin bad, but the object of the celebration is worse. But if you’re going to use pagan origins as your argument against Halloween, at least be consistent.
And don’t stop with Halloween and Christmas and Easter. If you’re having problems with pagan origins, you’ll have problems with the names of weekdays and months, church steeples, clergy robes, wedding bands, and even flowers at funerals. And don’t forget about those pagan symbols on our currency, or money. Just saying.
It’s a matter of conscious – What does the Bible say about celebrating Halloween? Nothing specifically, but a lot in principle. Leviticus 20:27 and Deuteronomy 18:9-13 are among a number of passages that warn Christians about the danger of flirting with the occult. But many Christians quickly respond that they are not celebrating the Kingdom of darkness, and that they are not impacted or impressed by the history. Halloween seems to fall under the banner of disputable matters, Romans 14. Matters that good Christians can disagree on.
It reminds me of Paul’s response in I Corinthians 8 to Jewish Christians who were upset because Gentile Christians were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (Sounds kind of Halloweenish to me.) It was causing such a stir in the church that Paul’s eventual advice to the members was to stop it. It wasn’t worth the trouble.
But not before he counseled the Jewish Christians that they were immature and super sensitive. “Weak’ is the word he used. The idol, he reminded them, was nothing but a piece of stone. No matter what the original idol worshippers intended, that idol is “nothing”, he says. He makes the point that if your conscious is bothered because of the origin and history of the meat, then it’s wrong for you to eat it. But if another Christian has none of those issues with the meat, he’s free to eat it. The issues were Christian liberty and Christian unity.
Don’t celebrate like a pagan. As I said earlier, Halloween is a high and “holy” day for the occult community. Each year around this time I receive one article after another from former witches and warlocks who caution Christians not to be naïve about the spiritual and physical dangers of Halloween. The Devil is real and so are his followers. Christians partying as demons and vampires are out of place any time of the year. Christians celebrating inappropriately or to excess are wrong any time of the year. Christians entertaining themselves with occult books, and motion pictures, and television series are playing with fire any time of the year. It is absolutely wrong to celebrate Halloween as a pagan tribute to the kingdom of darkness.
Take the day back! Halloween actually has its roots in the church. It began with good intentions, always a bit questionable to me, but the Devil absolutely defiled it. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, Expose Them.” One of the most powerful reasons for Christians to celebrate on Halloween is to expose the tricks of the Devil.
Halloween with all of its baggage is a great teachable moment. It’s an opportunity to expose the Devil and his devices. So instead of screaming at the dark this Halloween, turn on the light. How?
- Sponsor a Harvest Festival. Have a Halloween replacement celebration at your home or local church. Make sure that there are plenty of “treats” that will make the kids forget what they might be getting at a stranger’s door. Some churches encourage the kids to come to these events as Bible characters and they have contests for the best custom. But a word of caution here. Don’t be cheesy. Get the kids involved in the planning. A cheesy, thrown together program is worse that no program at all. Better to just have the kids over for pizza.
- Have a brief but inspiring message. In an age-appropriate way, teach the kids that there is literally a Great Controversy raging between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Teach the kids that life with Christ is a life of power over darkness. I John 4:4. Bring in a speaker who can connect with the kids or go to the Christian bookstore and choose from a number of powerful videos and resources for just that purpose.
- Create a space for creative Christian fun. This isn’t rocket science. This isn’t brain surgery. Many Christian kids are already disappointed that they are missing one on the most enjoyable days on their school calendar. They already feel a bit awkward explaining why they don’t celebrate Halloween like their classmates. That’s understandable. But it seems inexcusable for a local church to make a challenging holiday even worse by not scheduling some good clean Christian fun.
Halloween will always be a hot topic with Christians. It’s one of those issues that will never be settled, but it’s too important an issue not to discuss. I think the answer is this. Don’t celebrate Halloween, but celebrate on Halloween. What do you think?