Ah, it’s that time of year again when our thoughts turn towards the fall season and what it embraces. Cooler temperatures, the leaves changing colours, raking huge piles of leaves for jumping in, oh, and the corn maze…and pumpkins galore! And we can’t forget this…hot chocolate! Fall is such a beautiful season as it holds the Thanksgiving holiday and the often-dreaded Halloween holiday. It’s also the time of year when believers ask themselves the question, “should Christians celebrate Halloween?”
To answer that question, we’re going to look at the history of Halloween and then explore what the Bible says about Halloween. From there, we’ll see what Jesus would do if Halloween were celebrated in His lifetime.
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A Brief History of Halloween
If you have done any research about the history of Halloween, you would have learned about the Druids (the Celtic people of Europe and Britain), Samhain (sow-en), witches, goblins, the origin of trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, costumes, bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, divination, and all the rest. We’ll talk about some of it here.
The word Halloween derives from “Hallows Even” or “Hallows Evening” and is a contraction of the two words, Hallowe’en. Later it became Halloween. It’s also known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or “All Saints’ Eve” which is celebrated on October 31.
“All Hallows Day” or as it is also known as “All Saints’ Day”, is celebrated on November 1. This feast is in honour of the saints in heaven.
“All Souls Day” is celebrated on November 2 as they pray for the souls of the faithful departed who are resting in purgatory.
The Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-en) marked the end of the summer and harvest as they faced the beginning of a new year’s long, cold winter. The Celts, or Druids, believed that on the last night of summer (October 31), the boundaries between the living and the dead opened up allowing the ghosts of the dead to return to earth. They also believed that these disembodied spirits (demons) helped them to make predictions for the coming year.
To celebrate this event, they built huge bonfires for the sacrifices of crops and animals to the Celtic deities. During their celebrations, they wore costumes of animal heads and skins as they went around fortune telling each other’s future. It was a time when things went ‘bump in the night.’ Things that included ghosts, demons, fairies, and witches. Satanic beings were out in full force.
The Druids were very superstitious people, believing in and practicing witchcraft, the occult, divination, and they were fascinated with death. Their superstitions were ignited with the thought of the spirits of the dead returning to haunt the living.
Halloween Activities, Then and Now
The activities that are used innocently in today’s Halloween celebrations are steeped in Druidism beliefs. Trick-or-treating originally began as a way to appease the spirits by leaving a treat outside their door in the hope that the spirits wouldn’t trick them with threats. Today, children commonly wear costumes to disguise themselves while they go door-to-door innocently seeking a handout of candy from homeowners. This is called “guising” and is normally combined with trick-or-treating.
Bobbing for apples, called dunking, and another game of kneeling on the floor trying to bite a sticky donut or scone from a string, also have Druid connections. In Celtic mythology, the apples had to do with the otherworld and immortality along with the feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruit, nuts, and fertility.
Fortune-telling, gazing, telling ghost stories all lead back to the Celtic people and their superstitious beliefs.
Carving out jack-o-lanterns originated with, you guessed it, Jack. The folklore story is about Jack being denied entry into heaven and hell and the devil threw a lump of live coal from hell at Jack who put it in a hollowed-out turnip to stay warm by its heat. [See, Symbols, at Wikipedia, Halloween.] Today, pumpkins are used because they are easier to carve and candles are placed inside as decorative light.
Bonfires, divinations, haunted attractions, ghost stories, skulls and skeletons, and all the other things that people use to “decorate” or “dress up” for Halloween all have their origins back to the Druids and back to pure evil.
The Church’s Involvement
If you research this aspect, you may find results that indicate that the Roman Catholic Church instituted Halloween and that it began as a Christian holiday. [See the last paragraph in this source.] I’ll leave that up to you to decide if this is true or not.
However, it is recorded that Pope Gregory III changed the date of the “All Saints Day” from May 13 to November 1 to coincide with “All Souls Day”. Christians would prepare themselves to fast and pray on All Saints’ Day which was also known as the Vigil of All Saints, aka Night of Lights.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the connection to Halloween is acknowledged as they approve the celebration of Halloween and all that it entails today. This means they approve of the evil that Halloween is steeped in.
If you are familiar with Martin Luther’s story, you would know that he was initially part of the Roman Catholic church. However, after he did an extensive study of the Bible, he wrote out a document that would change church history. Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to All Saints Church in Wittenberg on All Hallows’ Eve, October 31. This was the birth of the Reformation away from the Roman Catholic Church when the Protestant Church was born. Many Protestant churches, including the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church still celebrate Reformation Day on October 31.
Many denominations provide alternative celebrations for Halloween such as Harvest Festivals or Trunk or Treat evenings as they provide a fun and safe environment for families who do not want to participate in trick-or-treating. We’ll talk more about this later on.
Warnings About Halloween from Former Satanists
This brief history may sound light and non-threatening but it is anything but that. The deeper you research this, the more you learn of the tentacles of evil that embodies this one day of the year.
Have you heard of John Ramirez? Here’s what he has to say, as a former satanist who was high in satan’s hierarchy, about Halloween.
This man, a former witch, also warns Christians about Halloween.
You’ll need to use wisdom as you teach your children the truth about Halloween, that it is much more than wearing costumes and trick-or-treating. No matter their age, they need to know from a Biblical standpoint why Halloween is not a night for their enjoyment. Keep in mind the Biblical truth that every day belongs to the Lord, and that He has made each day, Psalm 118:24, so use the day to glorify God in holiness and truth.
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
So, the question remains, should Christians celebrate Halloween? There are many believers who have chosen not to celebrate Halloween as it represents evil. What does the Bible say about Halloween? Does it mention it specifically by name?
There are many Bible verses about good and evil such as Deuteronomy 18:9-13 and Leviticus 20:27 that specifically mentions how the believer should respond to evil. We are not to have anything to do with evil practices, no matter if they are witchcraft, divination, sorcery, or anything else that God specifically names as evil. So, the Bible doesn’t specifically use the word “Halloween”, it does have much to say about good and evil.
Isaiah 5:20 is point on when he said ‘woe to those who call evil good and good evil.’ As a Christian believer, if we really love God, we are to abhor evil and turn away from it, Proverbs 8:13; 4:27 and Romans 12:9.
From these verses alone, I would conclude that Christians are not to be involved with Halloween because God says not to be involved with evil. We should not be trying to make the night “holy” by our attempts because evil cannot be made holy. Just like oil and water don’t mix, neither does holiness and unholiness.
This brings us to the dilemma of what can or should a Christian do on Halloween. Is there something else we can do?
Alternative Options for Halloween Such as a Light Party
Personally, I don’t like the word “alternative” for describing what Christians can do for Halloween. It reminds me of trying to Christianize an unholy day and yet, at the same time, I cannot think of a better word than that.
These past few months I have been hearing about being contemporary rather than like a stiff shirt. Contemporary in approach to reaching others means meeting them where they’re at. Not a physical location but from a spiritual or understanding point of view.
Back in the day, the WWJD term was used a lot. What Would Jesus Do was the question we asked when faced with situations we didn’t have answers for. So, what would Jesus do today about Halloween? He certainly would not decorate His home with Halloween paraphernalia or dress up in a costume representing evil to hand out candy to kids at the door. That would go against everything He stands for.
But what would He do?
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Well, I think Timberley and Andre Gray from Living Our Priorities might have found that answer. They have a light party! Yep, that’s right! They turn their garage into a place with neighbours can meet them, have a conversation, hot chocolate, prayer, and hear about Jesus. You can read why they do this and how you can also set up your own light party in their post, Why We Host a Light Party and How You Can, Too.
When I first read her post about a light party a few years ago, I must be honest to say that I resisted her reasoning for celebrating Halloween because I saw it as an attempt to Christianize an unholy day. But lately, Holy Spirit has been showing me that we need to share the gospel in contemporary ways and even though the kids don’t have the same understanding that adults do, they still need to see Christ’s love in action. As do the adults. Perhaps something you say may cause them to question their own beliefs and change their thinking about Halloween.
As I continue to think about sharing the gospel in contemporary ways, the idea of a light party is interesting. As long as the hosts do not dress up in costumes of any kind or have any of the traditional “evil-looking” Halloween symbols around, I think it would be a great idea. You may not be able to share about Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension in detail but as you are led by Holy Spirit, you can share what He is giving you that will speak to their heart. And, rest assured that if they have any follow-up questions, they know whose house to go to for answers!
Celebrate Fall and Thanksgiving Activities
To answer our main question of “should Christians celebrate Halloween”, we find the answer to “what does the Bible say about Halloween” and so now we can plan other activities that would be pleasing to God. You have the whole month of October and even November to celebrate the fall harvest and Thanksgiving. For us Canadians, our Thanksgiving Day is in October while the US celebrates it in November. So, really, stretch out the thankfulness attitude for as long as you can and make wonderful memories of this season for your children.
We’ve already talked about the light party idea, also known as ‘light the night’. Here are some other ideas to spark your imagination to implement this year.
These first two ideas are good for church activities while the others can be done anytime in the fall months.
A popular activity that churches will hold is harvest festivals. Some may call it Light the Night or something similar. Just remember not to include the traditional events that have evil meanings, ie, bobbing for apples, telling ghost stories, or eating donuts hung on strings. In the past, we used to serve pizza, play board games, tell Bible stories that the children could act out, and eat chips and popcorn. Oh, and yes, we would give the kids candy bags as they headed out for home. To be clear, they didn’t “trick-or-treat” for the candy, they simply received the bag at the door on their way out of the church.
If this was a community event, you could present a puppet play telling of the gospel message, or have “stations” where kids can peek in to see what’s behind the curtain as they learn a Bible story. The list is endless for pretty neat ideas to reach the community with God’s love and His story about Jesus.
Another popular church activity is trunk-or-treat where the car owners would park their vehicles in the church parking lot and hand out candy bags and kids’ tracts from the back of their vehicles. This isn’t a bad idea but I’ve seen many churches who have allowed their members to dress up in costumes and also decorate their vehicles. I know they are trying to appeal to the kids’ sense of fun but again, I take this back to the original meaning of wearing costumes. What would Jesus do is always a great question to ask yourself and one answer would be that He would abstain from every form of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
Another idea would be to tell the gospel message through decoration and illustration. Each car could show a piece of the gospel, ie, Christ’s death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension. Now, THAT would be a really cool way of telling God’s story!
Corn Maze and/or Pumpkin Patch
Are there farms nearby that hold annual corn maze or pumpkin patch activities for kids? If so, you may want to visit one this year. Who knows, you may even find farm animals to visit, too! One of our local farms has activities such as pedal carts, a giant jumping pillow, an indoor hay bale maze, duck race (little rubber duckies, not live ones!), tractor rides, farm animals, and many other fun things for the kiddos. Check Google to see what is available in your area.
Why not get together with your friends to set up a scavenger hunt for the kids? Or even check your local city’s listings to see if there is one planned for the fall that you may want to check out.
Bake and Take Cookies
This idea is not only for yourself but also for those who you will share your bounty of baking with. You can make pumpkin cookies or little pumpkin pies to share with your elderly neighbours or even with a family of special needs children. Use your imagination on the baking ideas and whom to bless.
If you’d love some more ideas, you can read this post about 35 Fall Thanksgiving Activities that you’ll love! Print out the checklist to see how busy you can be during the Fall season.
And, if these ideas are not enough, maybe you might find something that works for you through this post, How Christians Can be Inviting on Halloween and All Year, Too. I love the ideas that Jennifer Love has done as she opens her heart and home to others. Which ones have you done and what time of year did you do it?
Wrapping Up Should Christians Celebrate Halloween
Well, that was long but it covers the
- history of Halloween,
- it answers the question of what does the Bible say about Halloween,
- talks about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in contemporary ways,
- and it shares 5 fun ideas for Fall and Thanksgiving.
Well, I hope that something I’ve said has been helpful to you in your decision about Halloween. It’s between you and God and as you pray about this and listen to His still small voice, you will know what you need to do.
Leave a comment for me as I’d love to hear what you think about this.
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.