Halloween...for Americans it is a holiday that has become synonymous with "FUN". It is really just an excuse to go have a good time. Millions of children dress up in costumes and go "trick or treating". They end up bringing home lots of candy. This may be good for the dentist, but it's not good for their teeth. Children really enjoy this ghoulish holiday because they get to play the game of "make believe" for "rewards". However, Halloween has not always been a children's holiday and has its roots in pagan beliefs.
I have had many fun Halloweens when I was younger...going trick or treating, taking a date through a "haunted house", watching scary movies on television while eating popcorn balls, handing out goodies to those trick or treaters who come by the house. I used to look forward to October 31st because it was such a fun holiday. The responsibilities of adulthood and having to work to make ends meet has made this annual celebration of ghouls almost a non-event for me now.
The Bible does not say anything about Halloween. It just warns us to avoid occultic practices. The origins of Halloween go back to the ancient Celtic Druid tradition of celebrating the end of summer on November 1st. The holiday was then known as Samhain (pronounced sow-wen) which means "summers end". It was the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
According to Druidic superstition, the laws of time and space were suspended on this day. The spirits of those who died during the past year and previous years would on that day roam the earth looking for bodies to inhabit. The custom of dressing up in costumes had two objectives:
1. To make the person undesirable for a spirit to possess.
2. To mingle with the spirits so the the "evil spirit" could not tell the costumed person from one of the "evil
Samhain was the Lord of Darkness (just like Satan is known as the prince of darkness in Christianity). As the longer night hours of winter approached, Samhain would become more powerful. The legend of Count Dracula probably has some roots in Celtic belief in Samhain, the Lord of Darkness.
The practice of putting lights in the window (ala the Jack-O-Lantern) was originally intended to help the dead find their way and to keep away Samhain, the Lord of Darkness.
The Roman Catholic Church, in an effort to convert some of these "pagans" to Christianity, created a Holiday called "All Hallow's Eve" and "All Saints Day". "All Saints Day" was intended to honor all of those who had gone on to heaven. "All Hallow's Eve" which became Halloween was the night all of the dead were remembered. Naturally, when you mix in Christian tradition with Pagan tradition the result is a mixture of the two.
"All Saints Day" was actually celebrated in May until the Catholic Church decided to move it to Nov. 1st.
Why do we watch scary movies on Halloween? It is our way of remembering the dead. This is such a popular holiday because it allows us to confront our fear of death while at the same time acknowledging that
death is a part of our life. It is ironic that Halloween is not recognized as a national holiday by our government (no one gets that day off with pay) but it generates more money than any other holiday except for Christmas. Americans seem to celebrate this day more than other countries and the day has has become just an excuse for most participants to "party" and have a "good time". They couldn't care less how this is all started.
Why did the Catholic tradition of "All Saints Day" begin? In Hebrews 11:1-40 those prominent figures of the Old Testament are honored for their faith in God. From this the church got the idea of picking out a day of the year to honor those believers who had been strong in their faith in God. Thus "All Saints Day" was born.
Many Christians believe that Satanists are most active on Halloween night and many evil things are done in the name of Satan, but this is mostly unfounded rumors. You will have the petty vandalism and an increase in sexual promiscuity on this night because the alcohol and drugs flow more freely as people "party".
Should a Christian participate in Halloween? That is really up to the individuals themselves. Many churches offer fall festivals as an alternative to Halloween...people still dress up but they are encouraged to dress up like biblical characters instead of monsters. Is is sinful to give out candy to children? Is it sinful to put some joy into a child's life? Some churches offer "Hell Houses" which depict the horrors of spending an eternity in hell...this can be a much more terrifying and traumatic experience than your run-of-the-mill haunted house but offers something more than just entertainment.
Basically, Christians should remember that this holiday is a celebration of pagan beliefs and they will probably be invited to celebrate this holiday in some kind of manner. My advice is to not to be judgmental and look for ways you can honor Christ on this day...simply being kind to your fellow man always does this.