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QUESTION: Should a Christian celebrate Halloween?

 

ANSWER:  Let’s start with some history.  Halloween is the second most financially profitable holiday in the US.  It began as a conglomeration of pagan and “Christian” celebrations. (The information quoted is compiled from The Arizona Daily Star, The Stars and Stripes, and the Encyclopedia Britannica.)

 

For pagans, this autumn holiday marks the beginning of the new year.  October 31 is the eve of the Celtic new year, Samhain (pronounced sow-wen).  Pagans believe this is the time when the veil separating the world of the living from the world of the dead is thinnest.  They believe that death must come before everything begins anew.  For pagans, winter represents death before spring’s rebirth.  Symbolic “descents” into the underworld and various rituals are used to celebrate the coming new year.  Paganism draws largely from Celtic rituals.  Pagans don’t necessarily worship the devil.  Many describe what they believe as nature worship.  It is rooted in the belief that a divine spirit inhabits every piece of nature, whether human, tree or rock.  According to “Jessica” (a pen name), president of Arizona Student Pagans at the University of Arizona, “Paganism is a very individual kind of spiritual practice, and the thing that unifies pagans is the belief that nature is divine regardless of the deity that created it…It is a community-based religion focusing a lot on connections and responsibilities to others.”

 

According to Celtic folklore, the souls of the dead are believed to revisit their homes on this day before passing through the “thin veil” separating the world of the living from the world of the dead.  If the dead spirits did not get acknowledged by finding a gift, terrible things would happen to those still living in the home. Also, the eve of the new year was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health and death.  According to Celtic tradition, it was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes. 

 

As far as I can tell the Roman Catholic “All Saints Day” began when the Catholic saints and martyrs began to outnumber the days of the year.  So a single day, an annual celebration, was established to cover all of the Catholic Church’s saints and martyrs.  The festival was instituted by Pope Boniface IV (May 13, 1709), who consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary and all Christian martyrs.  Its date was changed to November 1 when Pope Gregory III (reigned 731-741) dedicated a chapel in the basilica of St. Peter to all saints, while simultaneously attempting to “Christianize” the Vigil of Samhain.  In 835, Pope Gregory IV ordered its universal observance. The celebration originally was called “All Hallows” in English, and the night before was called “all Hallows Eve,” which became known as Halloween. The idea of “Trick or Treat” evolved from the belief that dead spirits were demanding some proof that you believe they exist, if you didn’t “prove it” you could expect a “trick.”

 

Anton LeVey, head of the worshippers of Satan and author of the Satanic Bible, speaking about Halloween, said he was “glad Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year.”

 

As you might guess, the Bible doesn’t address this holiday by name.  So the Christian is to use his God-given discernment and Scripture to determine how, if at all, they will ‘celebrate’ this holiday.  And many Gospel tracts are written specifically for trick-or-treaters.  My family has never observed it.  Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Deuteronomy 18:9-12, “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…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…”  1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

 

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