Christians Celebrating Halloween: Right or Wrong?
By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com
The smell of pumpkin spice lattes permeates the air, cooler temperatures greet us, and an abundance of pumpkins and mums dress our porches. Fall has officially arrived, bringing a schedule of festivals, holidays, and events.
Most Christians agree that a fall or harvest festival is harmless. There's nothing wrong with celebrating the change of weather, indulging in the fruits and treats of the season, and fellowshipping with friends and family around a fire. The controversy lies in celebrating and participating in Halloween festivities as believers.
As a child, while my parents did allow me to attend parties at school, we were not allowed to dress up or trick or treat. We didn't decorate our house with cobwebs, our front yard didn't look like an abandoned graveyard, and we most certainly did not watch movies about witches, ghosts, or goblins. As a kid, I was annoyed at what I perceived as an oversensitive spiritual response to a secular holiday. As an adult and parent, I have to pause and ask, should Christians celebrate Halloween?
If you have asked a similar question, I invite you into a discussion around Halloween and encourage you to proceed with prayer as you decide what's best for you and your family.
The History of Halloween
The celebration of Halloween is probably one of the most divisive topics among Christians, with people falling all over the spectrum. Some spend hours decorating their houses, creating a spooky entrance, in hopes of a friendly fright of trick or treaters. Others find it more acceptable to participate in Halloween carnivals or festivals, dress their kids in non-threatening costumes, and freely pass out candy from their undecorate porches. Other Christians regulate their Halloween celebrations to trunk or treat the Sunday before All Hallow's Eve or only participate in events that focus on celebrating fall. Or perhaps your family takes no part in the holiday, choosing to skip over the festivities and save the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
Why such a vast range in participation in–at least at first blush–a seemingly innocent holiday? Is there deeper darkness that unfolds on Halloween night?
Educating yourself on the history of Halloween is crucial because it's at the crux of the argument against celebrating the Holiday. Originating over 2000 years ago, the Celt celebrated the Holiday, moving from summer to winter, with a festival symbolizing the transition from life to death. The celebration included sacrifices and observances of the dead, many believing that a deceased spirit could interact with living loved ones on this day.
With the rise of Christianity, the Holiday transitioned to "All Saints Day," celebrating Christian martyrs and saints. However, the pagan rituals of dressing up, wearing masks, and calling on the dead continued.
Around the mid-1880s, the Holiday was introduced to the Americas with the influx of Irish immigrants. Over time, it morphed from overly pagan rituals and secular god worship to a time of community gathering and fellowship. However, traditional Halloween practices such as trick or treating or jack-o-lanterns are rooted in anti-christian beliefs.
Trick or treating originated from the poor knocking on doors to receive a sweet treat known as "soul-cake" in exchange for prayers. They believed that when they died, their souls would rest in purgatory unless they could give financially to the church, so this exchange was the hope they could secure a place in Heaven.
Jack-o-lanterns get their name from an Irish folktale about a man, Spicy Jack, who was so wicked he convinced the Devil to release him from Hell. Unable to go to Heaven, Spicy Jack roams the earth with a turnip lantern filled with a hot ember from Hell to light his way.
One can see how the historical roots of Halloween don't align with the Christian beliefs about salvation, the afterlife, and the sole worship of Yahweh.
What Does Scripture Say?
While the Bible doesn't speak directly about the celebration of Halloween, it neither confirms nor condones the Holiday. However, it does have much to say about spiritual warfare, witchcraft, and festivals of other gods.
Here are a few verses to consider in our discussion:
Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Corinthians 10:20, "No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons."
Leviticus 19:31, "Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God."
We can ascertain from these verses that while the Bible doesn't speak directly about whether Christians should engage in Halloween or abstain, Scripture tells us to stay away from darkness. That would mean we steer clear from those who practice witchcraft or sorcery, we don't associate with mediums or those who claim to be able to communicate with the dead, and we avoid evil things.
As believers, even if we celebrate Halloween in a fun-filled way that omits the abovementioned, we must acknowledge that evil forces are all around us. We know that the Devil roams the earth and demons can enter the body of unbelievers (Mark 5, 1 Kings 18). Ephesians 6 and Daniel 10 tell us that there is a spiritual battle that wages all around us, and 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that Satan's goal is to kill, steal, and destroy.
In some circles, Halloween is a night that honors the dead, an excuse to trick or do harm to others, and demons, devils, witches, ghosts, and other dark creatures are celebrated. Scripture clearly warns us to avoid such darkness, not just on Halloween night but every day of the year.
So, Christians Celebrating Halloween: Right or Wrong?
Is there anything inherently wrong about Christians dressing up as butterflies or ninjas? No.
Is there a problem when children go around their neighborhood receiving candy? No.
Is painting a silly face on a pumpkin or bobbing for apples something we should avoid? No.
Does Halloween have pagan origins? Yes.
Are there things about Halloween that should be avoided? Yes.
Should, as Christians, we be weary about how we choose to engage in the Holiday? Yes.
Like so many other things, we need to consult Romans 14 and align how we choose (or don't) to celebrate Halloween. There's a slippery slope between legalism and Christian freedom; what is suitable for one person isn't necessarily right for another.
Suppose you feel more comfortable celebrating the Fall season in a church with a festival, trunk, or treat event; great! Or perhaps, your personal convictions steer your family clear of partaking in the holiday on any level; that's okay too! But, if your family feels it's appropriate to dress up as the Wizard of OZ, host a party with spider web cupcakes, and pass out candy to trick or treaters on Halloween, enjoy.
The choice to celebrate Halloween is yours; through prayer, ask the Lord to help you make a decision that best allows you to honor Him (Colossians 3:23). Dive into Scripture, talk with trusted Christian mentors, leaders, and friends. When you approach Halloween with the desire only to honor God, He will reward you with an answer.
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