Should you celebrate Halloween as a Christian? I have taken almost every position on what to do with Halloween. I respect good brothers and sisters who want nothing to do with the day. I have taught the position of Halloween as initiated by the evil spirits and Celtic traditions. I have stood on the extreme position and prevented my family from participating in any way (on many occasions). I have used copious Scriptures to “prove” my position. I don’t disrespect someone for taking that position.
I’ve also seen many families watch their children leave the faith and church and wonder why. In my 43 years of being a Christian and 26 years of pastoring, I’ve seen many approaches to this day. I would not want to say a family who takes a strict position against the day is wrong in any way, OR that their children left the faith because of their strictness. However, in some cases, I do believe it was a symptomatic condition in the family that the children rejected the faith and did not want the family hypocrisy. I do believe some families missed opportunities to disciple discernment. I would call people to context.
The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Eve, which was the day before the Catholic Church celebrated their saints. The history of the day goes back to Celtic innovations and many others, including some who adapted occult practices, as has happened with Christmas and Resurrection Sunday. There are traditions of Halloween in almost all free countries. Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their celebrations in the 1800s to the United States and other western nations as well as Australia and New Zealand. However, the evening has created great division between Christians and pagans, but also between Christians.
In one sense, it was founded as a celebration at the end of the harvest season of Samhain used by pagans to take stock of supplies for winter. It was considered as the boundary when the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped creating havoc on crops. The spirit world would open allowing free movement between the “living and dead world.”
The festival often included fires to attract insects, which attracted bats. Costumes were often worn to mimic evil spirits. The “trick or treat” was considered a humorous way to threaten a trick on the home-owner if no treat was given, but today it is more a way of just giving children a treat for dressing up in costumes for fun. Unfortunately, in some areas of Europe the “trick” has allegedly been a problem.
In some states the night is called “Beggars Night,” as a means of supplying needs for those not well off. That concept allegedly happened when immigrants came to the United States in the late 1700s during the Irish potato famine. In many cities around the United States, children were rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Television helped spread its celebration in the 1940s on Ozzie and Harriet and Walt Disney. It is recorded that UNICEF conducted a national campaign in which children raised funds while trick-or-treating. The begging concept has diminished, but the children’s frolicking and expectations for the treat has not.
Should you celebrate Halloween as a Christian? It may be a matter of conscience that you would not, or you may choose to celebrate it as a means to get to know your neighbors and let the children have some fun. Regardless of how you choose, disciple your children to understand the holiness of God and the wickedness of evil spirits along with the original “trick-or-treat” model of revenge on the homeowner who does not participate.
On the one hand, many Christians condemn Halloween, because of the association with paganism and evil spirits. There is no question on association. There are also pagan practices for Christmas and Resurrection Sunday, which many people call Easter (Easter is a derivation from the name of the goddess Oester). For example, the Christmas tree was an ancient fertility symbol, but has become a representation of Christmas and place where gifts are placed. Are Christians paying homage to the ancient fertility cult by using a Christmas tree? Consequently, some Christians do not celebrate any holiday in order to avoid any connotation or appearance of evil. As Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 record, I would support them and not want to cause them to stumble.
On the other hand, the associations can be a focus on evil and substitutions can be made for godly practices. For centuries, Christmas and Easter have been celebrated by the majority of Christians as a way to commemorate the birth and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, families may celebrate the harvest God has provided in pumpkins for pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins (wow, does that ever sound great!) It can be a time or pause between gathering in the crops to celebrate with the family as a fall festival between the beginning of school and Christmas break. It could be something where the youth carve pumpkins on what the Apostle Paul looked like as several make pumpkin pie and dry the seeds for later consumption. Harvest decorations mark the change of seasons in anticipation of the blustery and fun associated with coming snow sledding and ice skating. Consider making pumpkin cookies with a Noah’s Ark theme and teach the children about preparation (either for the time on the Ark, or the difficult winter ahead, or some other weather-related crisis). Children love to learn while they are making food!
The real reason for celebrating on October 31 is for Reformation Day. You’ll have to read that post tomorrow, for this one is stretching you enough. Here’s the context you should consider. Read 1 Cor. 10:23-33,
23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me2, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness.” 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake1; for “the earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness.” 29 “Conscience, ” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor. 10:23-33 NKJ)
Paul addressed meat that was sacrificed to idols. This was meat sold in the meat market and the question around town was, “Should a Christian eat the meat?” Paul wrote in verse 25, “25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake.” Paul said it was okay to eat the meat (that may have been associated with the idolatrous worship), without “asking questions for conscience sake.”
Then Paul warns in verses 28-29, that if a person makes it known that it is idolatrous meat, then don’t eat, not because of your conscience, but because of the other person’s conscience. In other words, whether you eat the meat or not, it will not affect you. But it may affect the other person who does not understand the freedom the Christian has in Christ.
It is no different with Halloween (or Christmas or Resurrection Sunday). Even though there are pagan origins associated with it, because of your freedom in Christ, you, or rather your children can dress up in wholesome, fun and friendly costumes and go door-to-door and have fun. However, if you are not comfortable with it, then do not do it. Yet, also do not let a brother use his critical spirit to prevent you from having a fun time with your discipled children in biblical discernment. However, do not go up to the brother’s door and ring it on that day. Let me summarize.
Should you celebrate Halloween as a Christian? I don’t see any problem with a child wearing a friendly costume and having some fun receiving some candy. It might help some self-absorbed child grow out of his “shyness.” I do believe you cross the line by wearing any costume that is related to a witch, demon, death-like resemblance or something similar. I believe it ought to be an opportunity to disciple children to learn discernment. Too many people want to live in a “black and white” world. We don’t live in that. We have all sorts of grays that must be learned and discerned. Our world has not been evangelized, because people have not learned discernment (Heb. 5:12-14).