Halloween is a stressful time of year for most Holy Bible believers, because there are constant debates amongst Christians about whether or not we should participate in the Secular world’s popular holiday, which is impossible to ignore. Everywhere you go, throughout the month of October, you are most likely confronted with something having to do with Halloween. You can’t turn on your TV, or go on social media, without being bombarded by pumpkins, ghosts, or scary movies. So, most Christians that I know have simply adopted the attitude, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
I have always strongly disagreed with that stance of surrender. For many years, I believed that “If you can’t beat ‘em, IGNORE ‘EM”. Now, while that may have worked for me in my personal life, I realized that I wasn’t doing anything to lighten the darkness around me by ignoring it. As of this year, I now believe that “If you can’t beat ‘em, INFLUENCE ‘EM.”
Before I get into how I believe we Christians can participate in the annual Secular festivities, and bring God’s light into the otherwise dark celebration, I want to examine the history of what we know today as “Halloween”. First off, it was not always known by that name, but was actually a Christian-themed holiday. Dating as far back as the 7th century, Halloween was originally known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or the “Eve of All Saints’”. Yes, believe it or not, the American celebration of “evil” and “scary” things was once a celebration of Christian Saints.
All Saints’ Day, celebrated in the western world on November 1st, was known as “All Hallows’ Day”, as the word “Hallow” means “Holy”. So “Hallow-een” literally means “HOLY EVENING”. I wonder how many in the secular world are aware of that? It’s sad that many “in-name only” Christians of this nation today live anything BUT HOLY on Halloween. The Secular world has been trying to paganize Christmas and “Easter” for years. If we don’t fight to keep Christ at the center of these Holy celebrations, then they could be altogether transformed in the near future, just like Halloween was.
Christian traditions associated with “All Saints’ Eve” were activities remembering saints of the early Church, lighting candles on graves of the deceased, and eating “sweets” while abstaining from eating meat. Many of today’s secular Halloween traditions are believed to have stemmed from ancient Pagan festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival of Samhain.
During Samhain, there were parties, games like apple-bobbing, bonfires (sometimes involving human sacrifices), crossdressing, masked or painted faces, and feasting. Tales of the festivities suggest that ALCOHOL, and the drunkenness that followed, was an integral part of the celebration. According to Irish mythology, Samhain was a time when the doorways to the “otherworld” were opened, allowing supernatural beings and souls of the dead to come into our world. Samhain was known as “a festival for the dead”.
Do you recognize the similarities between Samhain and today’s version of Halloween? Today’s Halloween activities include “trick-or-treating”, dressing up in costumes (sometimes crossdressing), carving pumpkins, games like apple-bobbing, bonfires, watching horror films, visiting haunted houses or taking haunted hayrides, and adult parties filled with drunkenness and debauchery. While some of these things, (with the exception of crossdressing, horror films, drunkenness and debauchery) can be innocent fun activities for children and adults alike, the dark roots of the modern Halloween celebration are obvious.
So, did the masks and painted faces of the Samhain festival lead to the tradition of costume-wearing in today’s Halloween? Were there costumes worn for “All Saints’ Eve”? The answer to both these questions is yes, while obviously the symbolism behind the costume-wearing couldn’t be more polar opposite. From at least the 16th century, Pagan festivals on October 31st, such as Samhain, included “mumming” and “guising”.
These activities involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. It is also recorded that many young people wore the masks and painted their faces black to commit mischief. Superstitious people would often impersonate the souls of the dead, and received offerings “on their behalf”. It was believed that by impersonating the dead or evil spirits, you were protecting yourself from them.
On the flipside, as far back as the 15th century, Christians wore costumes on “All Saints’ Eve” while “souling”. This involved groups of poor people going door-to-door, collecting soul-cakes, as representatives of the deceased, or in return for saying prayers for them. A 19th century writer said the custom “consisted of parties of children, dressed up in fantastic costume, who went round to the farm houses and cottages, signing a song, and begging for cakes, apples, money, or anything that the goodwives would give them”.
The “soulers” asked for “mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake”. The practice was mentioned by William Shakespeare in his play “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”. Throughout the coming centuries, Christians would continue the costume-practice by dressing as saints, Biblical figures, and Church reformers. “Trick-or-treating”, which Christians can equate with “souling” of the “All Saints Eve” activities, got its modern name in the 1930s.
Costuming became popular in the U.S. in the early 20th century. The first mass-produced “Halloween costumes” appeared in stores in the 1930s, just as “trick-or-treating” was becoming popular in America. Modern-day Halloween is obviously not as “innocent” as it was in the 1930s. It has become primarily associated with dark and evil things.
Satanists and Occultists celebrate a “Samhain”-like holiday, while the rest of the secular world becomes enamored with the dead, blood, gore, horror films, and a season of darkness. So, as I’m sure Christians have heard their own versions of how Halloween came to be, and thus get in heated debates over whether or not we believers should have anything to do with the secular holiday, I’m hoping this article has been insightful.
Now to the question that every believer asks this time of year… can, or should, a Christian participate in Halloween?? There are obviously solid arguments for and against doing so. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I was once firmly against it. My number one reason for that was “it’s not Biblical”, and that the Church created it, not our God. So, since it was not a Biblical Feast, such as Passover, Trumpets or Tabernacles, and not a Day set aside to honor our Lord like Christmas or Easter, I ignored the festivities altogether.
I would turn out my front-porch light, wouldn’t put out candy for the kids, didn’t dress up, and would stay inside on the night of October 31st. In my mind, I thought this was the best thing that a believer could do in today’s day and age. This year though, I thought about it all differently. While I in no way “celebrate” Halloween as a “holiday”, even under the title of “All Saint’s Eve” (because it’s not Biblical), I still don’t think that we Christians should remove our influence from the annual event.
I changed my stance on this debate because we believers are called to be a LIGHT in the darkness of this world. In the one season of the year when the secular society around us is obsessed with darkness, the dead, and God forbid things of the devil, we cannot go into hiding. We cannot put our lamp of God’s Truth and of the Gospel under a bushel. This is the time of year when we need to be engaged and put our Faith on full display for the lost world to see.
My friends, the Benham Brothers, have a great way of describing the message that I’m trying to convey. They say that Christians should be the “chocolate chips in the cookie dough of the world”. We are not of the world, that is why Jesus chose us out of the world. So, while we are IN the world, we are NOT to “blend in” with the secular world, but rather, like a chocolate chip in cookie dough – STAND OUT.
That is what I suggest all Christians should do if you participate in Halloween. For the first time in a decade, I’m going to dress up on the job this Halloween. We are serving a lot of kids, and so I’m doing it for them, otherwise I would not be donning a costume. If you must know, I’m dressing up as the “Duck Commander” patriarch, Phil Roberston, to make the kids “Happy, happy, happy”. I don’t have kids, and if I wasn’t working at a job that is catering to kids, I wouldn’t be dressing up.
So, if you have kids, or you are working someplace with little ones, I don’t think God will fault you in any way for dressing up to bring them joy. While, as a Christian, I do not believe we (or your children) should be dressing up as devils, demons, zombies, monsters, ghosts, or anything pertaining to darkness. Also, no boys or men should be CROSSDRESSING! We need to be set apart, and stand out as light in the dark that surrounds us.
Dress up as something or someone that a lost soul will associate with a Christian, whether it be Biblical figures, angels, or even well known Christians like the “Duck Dynasty” fam. We believers can participate in Halloween, without CELEBRATING it. Also, Halloween is a great opportunity to reach lost souls, and their children who may have never heard the Name of JESUS. This year, I will be leaving out a bowl of candy for the kids, but I’m going to tape each piece of candy to a pocket Bible! You can also do this with Gospel tracts, or small Christian children’s books.
I know for a fact that most dollar stores have pocket New Testament Holy Bibles and Bible-learning books for kids. I won’t be, but if you carve pumpkins with your kids, carve something with a Biblical meaning. Maybe a Cross, a Star of David for Israel, a Biblical verse like JOHN 3:16, or a phrase like “GLORY TO GOD”. Besides these things, I don’t believe Christians should be engaging in the other popular Halloween activities because the secular parties are filled with debauchery, the haunted houses glorify blood and gore, and Halloween bonfires have dark and demonic symbolism associated with them.
I hope this article has helped to settle some internal, and even external, debates that some of you have been having about Halloween. I truly believe that the answer to the age-old debate in Christendom is that we believers should INFILTRATE what has long been known as a dark secular holiday, and illuminate the darkness thereof with the Light of GOD. If we don’t do something, October 31st will never be known as a “Holy Eve” ever again.
“JESUS said, You are the LIGHT of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light UNTO ALL that are in the house. Let your light SO SHINE before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
“For so hath the Lord commanded US, saying, I have set you to be a LIGHT of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” – Acts 13:47
“May you be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and PERVERSE nation, among whom you SHINE AS LIGHTS in the world.” – Philippians 2:15
“JESUS said, Go you into ALL the world, and PREACH the gospel to EVERY creature.” – Mark 16:15
“JESUS said, If YOU were of the WORLD, the world would love his own: but because you are NOT OF the world, but I have chosen you OUT OF the world, therefore the world hates YOU.” – John 15:19
“The god of THIS world (Satan) has BLINDED the minds of them which believe not, lest the LIGHT of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should SHINE unto them.” – 2nd Corinthians 4:4
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the LAST DAYS some shall depart from the Faith, giving HEED to seducing spirits, and doctrines of DEMONS.” – 1st Timothy 4:1
“May they (secular world) recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are TAKEN CAPTIVE by him at his will.” – 2nd Timothy 2:26
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the DARKNESS of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Where have you come from? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro IN THE EARTH, and from walking up and down IN IT.” – Job 1:7
“DO NOT give place to the devil.” – Ephesians 4:27
“JESUS said, This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved DARKNESS rather than light, because their deeds were EVIL.” – John 3:19
“You are all the children of LIGHT, and the children of the day: we are NOT of the night, nor of DARKNESS.” – 1st Thessalonians 5:5
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but NOW are you light in the Lord: WALK AS children of light.” – Ephesians 5:8
“COME OUT from among them (secular world), and be you SEPARATE, saith the Lord…” – 2nd Corinthians 6:17
“And the LIGHT shines in the darkness.” – John 1:5
“OPEN their eyes, and turn them from DARKNESS to light, and from the power of SATAN unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by Faith that is in CHRIST.” – Acts 26:18