Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

This debate seems to come up every year, and some seem to be very passionate about it. Should Christians participate in Halloween?
Abolitionists cite Halloween’s pagan origins, and its preoccupation with witchcraft as reasons why Christians should not participate.
Advocates of the holiday claim that whatever Halloween’s origins were, they are irrelevant (or aren’t as bad as people say). How could a kid dressing up as Superman and receiving candy be wrong? What is so satanic about a child putting on a costume and receiving a Baby Ruth candy bar, or perhaps some Starbursts, or maybe—if you’re lucky—one of those coconut-filled Almond Joy bars which make your mouth want shrivel up and die the moment you take a bite? This is all just innocent fun.
Personally, I have never liked Halloween. I have never been a fan of dressing up. I remember in public school, we would have a Halloween party/parade where we would all walk around the school in our costumes for all of the parents to see us. In fourth grade, I had made up my mind not to go Trick-Or-Treating, and so had no costume.
It was rather awkward walking around, single-file, the only non-costumed-kid among a crowd of princesses and Grim Reapers. Peer pressure working it’s unholy magic, I was beginning to doubt whether or not I had made the right choice when one of my classmates asked me if my costume was meant to be the “Kid-Next-Door”. “Yeah, that’s what it is,” I agreed, feeling a bit better about my decision not to wear a costume. People will just think I’m the kid next door! Whatever that means…
Speaking of awkward, I can only think of few more awkward things I’ve experienced than being an Elementary school kid and having to hand-out candy to high schoolers. They were always the loudest ones coming up to the door, traveling in their packs, but they would always get quiet for some reason when I handed them the candy. Perhaps they sensed the awkwardness too.
I don’t know what it was. The whole Halloween thing always seemed bizarre to me, even from a young age.
Asking strangers for candy? I thought taking candy from strangers was bad? But it’s not if you have a costume on? On top of that, I wasn’t a candy-obsessed kid. Halloween seemed like too much of a hassle for my introverted self just to get some candy that may or may not be any good. Plus, we always had candy left over from what we handed out, and it was always better than any of the candy I got from strangers. Why not just sit at home and munch on the good stuff while everyone else runs around in silly costumes just to end up with disgusting Almond Joys? My young peers thought I was missing out when I thought I was capitalizing. 
But that was just me. Perhaps you have fond memories of Halloween (or maybe you still Trick-Or-Treat?). My younger siblings don’t seem to share my outlook on Halloween.
Every year, I propose we start a new tradition. I have come up with several very good ideas (in my opinion) but I’m always outvoted.   I think my best proposal was a tradition which started with the placing of an empty bowl out on the front step, along with a sign that says, “take one.”
Perhaps this was my emotionally scarred Halloween childhood coming out. I remember several times trudging up to a house as a boy, carrying the weight of my costume and Almond-Joy-laden, pumpkin-shaped bucket of candy, only to find an empty candy bowl with a sign stating “take one.” Obviously, somebody had taken more than one. At that age, it was hard for me to imagine such fiends existed. What kind of kid would take all the candy when the sign clearly said take one? ONE!
Well, in my proposal, this new generation was going to have to pay for the sins of their older siblings.
But, this is Halloween after all. What is more frightening to a kid on Halloween than an empty bowl of candy? Don’t judge me. I think I was being very loyal to the Halloween theme with my proposal.
 –
In addition to this empty bowl with a sign politely instructing to only take one piece, we would turn all of the lights off in our house, and play hide-and-seek in the dark, with flashlights. To the outside world, they would just see a dark house with spooky beams of light flashing this way and that way. Very festive I thought.
Alas, it seems SOME people (whom I love) are stuck in their ways and prefer to stick to tradition. We never got to try out my amendment to the Halloween holiday.
My sentiments aside, is Halloween something Christians should participate in?
– 

According to History.com, Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. Just what is Samhain?

“Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was bridge to the world of the dead.” – History.com

Religioustolerance.org, which seems like a very trustworthy site, says that modern-day Samhain is, “the day when many Wiccans believe that their God dies, later to be reborn.” In other words, Easter for witches.
Further supporting this Easter for witches claim, is Wicca.com. Apparently, “Samhain” can be pronounced 3 different ways, which is clearly a reference to the Holy Trinity!
Just kidding, although there are 3 different pronunciations for “Samhain”.
Samhain seems pretty…not so good. You can read more about it for yourself if you wish, but according to wiccans, it’s basically a time where the laws of space and time temporarily stop working, and our world and the underworld connect, making it easy to talk to dead ancestors, because they travel through our world. Also according to wicca.com, Samhain is a time to, “study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort.”
I am not sure what that means, but it seems rather dark.
What I find very fascinating about both Religioustolerance.com and wicca.com is that they are both defining everything in terms of Christianity, and both are very critical and demeaning of Christianity. I find that very strange, considering they both claim to be “tolerant,” and that their worldview is correct. They spend an awful lot of time trying to make Christianity look bad, and don’t touch on any other religions. Seems rather insecure to me.
Anyway, dead people getting some exercise, that’s Samhain. How did we get Halloween? Well, we can thank the Catholic church for that–partially. History.com (which was once my beloved History Channel) has a nice short video summing up the origins of Halloween.
To paraphrase the video, the Catholic church decided to take this pagan holiday and turn it into a Christian holiday, “All Saints Day,” which became, “All Hallows Eve,” which became, “Halloween.” Many of the traditions associated with Samhain were retained, like wearing creepy masks and putting out food, both of which were done concerning the spirits which were supposedly roaming the land.
The masks were to blend in with all the spirits. You don’t want to be “that guy” who is the only one living at the party, you know? And of course, body-less spirits get hungry, so you have to put out food so they can fill their non-stomachs. Yes, the food would still be there in the morning…but that’s probably only because the spirits didn’t have any teeth to chow down with.
Well, how in the world did we get Trick-Or-Treating? Well, our candy-collecting ritual came from the medieval Halloween tradition of “Guising”. In Guising, young people would dress up in costumes, and accept food, wine, and money in exchange for singing, reciting poetry, or telling jokes. Irish and Scottish immigrants revived these old traditions in America, and at first they mostly involved pranks, but eventually it turned into the family-friendly Halloween we know today.
Gosh, kids have it easy today. They get candy just for ringing a doorbell. Maybe we should make them tell us a joke or sing a song before we just give them free candy. Make them earn it! That’s the American way!
So, what does all of this history tell us? Should Christians celebrate Halloween? I think the answer isn’t so simple. What does it mean to celebrate Halloween? Obviously, we don’t want to participate in Samhain, but is there a difference between that wiccan holiday and Halloween?
According to wicca.com, gourds, apples, black cats, and jack-O-lanterns are all symbols of Samhain.
Okay, well, we can’t participate in Samhain, so we need to get rid of gourds (shouldn’t be too hard…gourds are pretty gross), apples (that’s what Adam and Eve ate in the garden that caused the fall, right?), black cats (who even likes cats anyway?), and we get rid of lamps made out of pumpkins. No problem; we got electricity.
Well, apparently beef, pork, poultry, and nuts are all foods of Samhain as well…and mint and nutmeg are the “incense of Samhain”. Not to mention orange, black, white, silver, and gold are the colors of Samhain.
Umm…we can’t get rid of all of that. Okay, so maybe we can keep the harvest food and colors, but we definitely shouldn’t take part in believing in an underworld or the presence of spirits traveling among us, or believe in false gods, right? I agree! But who actually believes or celebrates these things on Halloween?
Make sure your kids don’t catch on fire this Halloween.
True, there are some who do treat Halloween this way (like witches of Wicca), but for the vast majority of America, it’s just a family-friendly time for fun. Now, you could argue we have a warped sense of fun, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. I told my story about how I don’t like Halloween. However, to claim that participating in Trick-Or-Treating is advocating or proliferating Satanism or witchcraft…seems a bit of stretch to me. I think Halloween and/or Trick-Or-Treating can be made to promote these things, but it doesn’t have to.
When I was a kid, I didn’t know anything about Halloween’s history. Most kids don’t, and it’s a fun time for them. I think it’s good to have something special to look forward to as a kid. But does that fun thing to look forward to have to be Halloween? Or could we as Christians do something different? Personally, I would rather do something different, but, in and of itself, I can’t say Christians should not participate in Trick-Or-Treating. Is Trick-Or-Treating the same as celebrating Halloween though? I don’t think it’s the same, but I guess it just depends on your definitions.
All of that being said, I think it’s important to keep in mind that Halloween does have pagan roots, and there is an obsession with darkness, death, and witchcraft which goes along with it. I don’t think these are healthy things to encourage, or dwell on as Christians (Philippians 4:8).
“But Christmas was once a pagan holiday too!” the pro-Halloween people are always quick to quip when you mention Halloween’s pagan origins.
I guess this is supposed to be arguing that if you like Christmas, then you can’t have any problems with Halloween. I think this is a fair argument since Christmas also adopted a lot of pagan traditions, including the fact that December 25th was considered to be the birthday of Mithras, the Roman sun god. The problem with this pro-Halloween argument is that it doesn’t work on people who don’t particularly like Christmas either (like myself).
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WHAT? Did I just say that? Yes I did, but I suppose that’s another blog post.
I think the real concerns with Halloween can be found at a more practical level.
Is it good to allow your children to eat so much sugar which weakens their immune systems at a time of the year when the weather is getting colder, further weakening their immune systems?
Do you really need to buy all of those Halloween decorations? Are fake spider webs really a wise investment of your money?
There are many more little issues here and there that we could all find against Halloween, whether it be the increasingly immodest costumes or teenagers running around pulling pranks or dying at haunted houses; However, these are not really problems with Halloween itself, but issues with our culture and society as a whole (or in the case of the death, the result of an unknown health condition).
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I sense still haven’t given a real solid answer to the question in the title of the article, so I now feel obligated to give something concrete.
I don’t like Halloween. I see myself as increasingly becoming the “regard every day alike” kind of person (Romans 14:5). I did not use to be this way, but it holds more appeal to me now. That being said, in the very same verse in Romans, Paul also states that it’s okay to treat one day as more sacred than another.
The question is, when we as Christians participate in Halloween, what are we celebrating? What are we treating as sacred? “Holiday” means, “holy day.” I know Catholics who, for them, Halloween is still “All Saints Day,” and I assume they are celebrating…all the saints. But what do non-Catholic Christians celebrate?
Candy?
Consumerism?
Paganism?
American culture?
I don’t see anything in Halloween that we as Christians could find to make a holiday out of, unless we wanted to completely make up something new. Indeed, I think it would be better if we as Christians did not do Trick-Or-Treating, and did something else instead.
However, I don’t see any inherent reason why it would be wrong for Christians to dress up in an appropriate costume if they wish, and get some free candy and have a good time as a family and community. I think Trick-Or-Treating can be a good thing. I think it’s possible to go Trick-Or-Treating, and leave all the other Halloweenish stuff behind.
I do not think Christians should participate in the dark, morbid-side of Halloween, or make light of witches or witchcraft, as these are clearly wrong and sinful (Philippians 4:8, Galatians 5:19-21, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Leviticus 19:31). Satan is the great deceiver, and he dwells in the darkness and deception of the occult.
I also don’t think it’s appropriate to sneak kids tracts instead of candy. I don’t think Trick-Or-Treating is the time or place for that, since it comes off as rather pathetic trick, and isn’t liable to make people more willing to die to themselves and accept Christ. Yes, I suppose “Trick-Or-Tracting” is keeping with the theme of Halloween as well, but not everyone has such a good sense of humor.
But, I could be wrong. Personally, I don’t like Halloween or holidays in general, but that’s just me. I do think special events can be good and fun, though.
Hopefully you found this article helpful. Now if you excuse me, I have to go prepare myself to face one of my biggest phobias: doorbells.
You laugh? Many people have this phobia. I learned this from my job as a door-to-door salesman. I would ring the doorbell and everyone would run in terror. I will be thinking of them as I attempt to survive this Halloween night, reassuring myself that I am not alone. Yes, Halloween is a scary holiday.
Yes, I high-lighted this article in orange instead of the usual red. Very clever and festive of myself, I think. Feel free to give me praise. 

7 Comments

  1. I think that Halloween (and Christmas, as well as other holidays that Christians observe and celebrate) is a product of syncretism which is not Biblical and is, more or less, forbidden in the Scripture – “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.” Deuteronomy 12:30

    There may be aspects of Halloween that are not inherently evil but when the origin is that of idolatry and pagan worship, I don't think it's something in which Christians should be participating. “Reclaiming” or “Christianizing” pagan practices is not a Biblical principle! I find it ironic that so many Christians will observe holidays that are originated in heathen idolatry and yet will not obverse the the Biblical festivals that were given by our Heavenly Father ???

    Just my two cents 🙂

  2. I see my keyboard went funny on me – that would be “and yet will not observe the Biblical festivals … ” :p

  3. I enjoyed this article! hit the nail on the head for me personally with all my experiences of the “holiday” while growing up. I never took the time to evaluate and come to any conclusions like you had/have but instead I went along with it all. Feeling out of place-peer pressure for sure.
    Raising our girls we figured they dressed up all the time in play time and got treats and candy for various reasons so that was a good reason for us not to go to another extra expense (key word here) and avoided Holloween. They seemed fine with that and do to this day.
    I wonder if you do write a Christmas article, is there room for a mention of music, carols, and related songs? Being that you are a musician. I would like to hear what you have to say about that. My unsaved heart was opened during a Christmas season, hearing Silent Night in a different way than ever before. I think for many people the music is special and brings back fond memories, or gives them something to look forward in doing (caroling, choirs, etc) thanks in advance if you do consider writing about this part of that Holiday.
    Keep at it! I look forward to your blog posts every week!
    Blessings to you, Mrs Boyer, Mom of the Singers

  4. You make some good points; however, we also have to be careful not to commit the genetic fallacy of condemning something just because of its origin.

    For example, the cross originated as a symbol for the ultimate punishment in ancient Rome, reserved only for the worst criminals. Should therefore not have any cross symbols in our churches? Why would we want to celebrate something that was intended only for terrible criminals? Obviously, now the cross is a symbol of Christ's sacrifice for us.

    Also, our modern day church is infested with unbiblical traditions which are pagan in origin. One example is our sermons. You won't find any pastors preaching sermons in the Bible (though we do have examples of Paul and the other disciples preaching). Sermons actually were a Roman practice that Christians adopted.

    So if we are going to rule something out just because of it's Pagan roots…do we have to remove everything that had a Pagan origin? Or just some things? If only some things, what is the criteria for determining what we get rid of and what we keep, and why?

    So I think it's not quite so simple, or black and white.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. Yeah, we just went along with Halloween as a family at first as well. It's just an ingrained tradition. You don't think about it. We've moved away from it since, though.

    My problems with Christmas have more to do with the commercial monster it has become. I don't have a problem with the Christ-centered Christmas carols. If I do end up writing a post, I will touch on the music. 🙂

    I also recognize that it is nice to have something exciting to look-forward to, something special that is different from the every-day. But I guess for me, the materialism and stress that often seems to accompany Christmas, has caused me to lose much of my appreciation of the holiday. But perhaps that's my problem, and not Christmas itself. I like the idea of Christmas, but often the disconnect between what Christmas is supposed to be and what it is leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I do enjoy Christmas mornings with my family.

    Thanks for the comment and the encouragement!

  6. Hi Reagan!
    Long time no comment! Haha! I am greatly appreciating the couple of posts I have been reading lately regarding this strange holiday, and I must say I do like your sense of humor in this one particularly. Clever as alway!

    But that is not why I am commenting: you did hint about what most people would call, “the most wonderful time of the year”, saying you don't find it to be all that wonderful. This struck me as very odd until I read your reply to my Mom, and it began to make a little more sense to me why you would dislike the Christmas season. I am with you 100% regarding the commercialization of Christmas. Even though people cover it up with that nice little tag line, “give a gift of love this Holiday” it still doesn't appear to be all that sincere. Granted there are many confused people out there, Christians too unfortunately, who don't fully understand why/what they are celebrating, and I do believe the majority of our culture has accepted the wrong reason to celebrate this most holy time of year. Indeed, we are so far gone from our Christian roots! People believe it is just a time to feel good about how much they decide to give to others, rather than remembering that it was not we ourselves who gave first, but our Creator God, who sent His beloved Son to live a lowly life, and be our ransom to save us from the darkness of our sins.

    I hope you do present us with a post on this topic! And please do mention something about the music that is used!

    In Christ alone,

    Jessica
    The eldest sister & singer

  7. Hi, Jessica! Good to hear from you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    Right, Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year, but over time, all of the decorations and hustle and bustle and materialism has caused me to lose some of my appreciation for the Holiday. We have Thanksgiving where we're supposed to be thankful to God for all the good things He has done…and then the very next day we run each other over to buy stuff we don't need because it's on sale…although I guess that does help the economy…

    And like you point out, our mainstream secular culture has taken over Christmas and so it has no real significant meaning anymore other than we should try to be nicer than normal and give things to people…which…why do we have to wait until one month out of the year to care about people?

    I also don't really care much for the myth of Santa anymore. Matt Walsh wrote a really good article concerning the jolly old fellow.

    That being said, I do like the things my family does for Christmas. I don't want to sound like a cranky old scrooge. Haha!

    We'll see if I'm hit with some inspiration to write a post about Christmas once it “Tis the season.” I have yet to fully put my thoughts together about the holiday.

    As always, I appreciate the thoughts and encouragement!

    Stand fast!

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