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What is the history of Halloween and All Saint's Day? Should Christians celebrate them?
Thank you so much for your honest spiritual enquiry about the history of Halloween.
There are differing opinions as to the actual origins of this holiday, but essentially the word 'Halloween' is a shortening of 'All Hallows' Evening' or 'All Hallows' Eve'. This is the day before the traditional Christian celebration of 'All Saints Day' on 1st November, which recalls the lives of saints, martyrs and other devoted Christians of the past. Halloween marked the beginning of remembering them.
Some scholars believe it was a conscious attempt to counter pre-Christian paganism, in which people believed strongly in ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences. The ancient Celtic harvest festival of Samhain (pronounced "sah-win") took place at the end of October, and the Celts believed that during this festival the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped. They believed evil spirits would come to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming evil disguises themselves. Much of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these pagan rites and superstitions.
Halloween is presented now as nothing more than harmless fun, especially for children who can dress up in costumes and go round streets demanding sweets. This is naive, because its serious 'dark' meaning persists to this day and the line between that and an 'innocent’ celebration can be very thin.
For example, Wicca, the official religion of witchcraft, embraces Halloween as one of their two most ‘sacred’ days for spirits to be active in the world. When people naively call on spirits in séances as some kind of fun, they are actually using occult methods that are claimed to work. If a spirit is manifested, it may not be innocent because according to Christian and biblical teaching there are 'evil spirits' at work in the world to deceive and destroy people's lives. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Corinthians 10:20-21)
How should Christians react?
Some Christians feel that they can take the dark side out of Halloween by allowing their children to dress in more innocent costumes to take part in the fun and the neighbourhood activity, and may even give out Christian leaflets along with candy treats, making it an opportunity to witness for Christ.
Others however, don't feel it is wise to celebrate Halloween in any way because of its pagan associations and its potential for treating demonic forces as either harmless or fictional. They may prefer to provide alternative children's parties on Halloween and in age appropriate ways gradually to explain the pagan elements in Halloween celebrations.
Alternatives may include a night of games and fun, or a fall festival party where children are encouraged to dress in a particular theme such as positive cartoon or book characters, famous historical characters, or Bible heroes. I would encourage you to contact churches in your area to determine what activities are being planned in which you could join.
UCB, one of the partners who own and operate LookingforGod, believe that giving an opportunity for the gospel is important in all circumstances and situations. For this reason, they have created a Bag of Hope, which contains booklets for both adults and children, and explains the gospel to them. These books are free (P&P applies) and can be ordered at www.ucb.co.uk/bagofhope
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Romans 12:2
- 3 John 1:11
- Philippians 4:8
*All Scripture references are taken From The New King James Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answers affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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