During the 7th Century, under the reign of Pope Boniface IV, Christianity had spread to the British Isles. The Pope, wanting to abolish the pagan celebration of the dead, declared May 13 the annual day to honor martyrs and saints. Enter All Saints Day. Two centuries later, Pope Greg III moved the day of celebration to November 1. Thus the night before it was called All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve.
Regarding trick-or-treat, this tradition goes back to the origins of Samhain. Plates of fruits and nuts were set out to appeal to the kindness of the dead spirits that were wandering their lands. They feared unless they set out the best they had to offer, the destruction of their household, flocks and fields would unfold by the hand of the deceased.
This tradition on Halloween transpired in England and Europe of “soulling.” Here beggars went door to door in search of sweet currant bread in exchange for prayers for the dead. If there was no treat, the beggars could make mischief without penalty.
What about the pumpkin? In Ireland, instead of the pumpkin, it was the beet or turnip. They were carved and became the lanterns of the dead and were made to look evil to scare away evil spirits. These were carried by the druids as they went door to door. Any home that didn't offer the food of their choice was cursed as they left.
The tradition of masquerading as demons, witches, ghosts, of painting their faces with ash and soot and such was born out of fear. The superstitious people thought that if they blended in with the wicked spirits, they would go unnoticed and be left alone. The people also believed that witches transformed themselves into black cats. Black cats were also associated with reincarnation and were thought to be able to predict the future. Here is why black cats are associated with Halloween.
This Jack-O-Lantern was symbolically the sign of a damned soul.
The danger of Halloween is that it is full of divination and the occult. Witches consider this the both the end and the beginning of their year. Winter brings death. In the occult, it is known to be the best day of the year to practice necromancy, the conjuring of the dead. It is also the perfect day for holding seances and casting spells.
Maybe you are aware that there is a modern trend to go back to ancient religions or to revive pagan celebrations. Generally, witches practice this as they worship nature and the Norse gods, the Greek gods and the Celtic gods. They remain the central theme on Halloween.
During Halloween, the people conjured the dead to learn of their coming fortune for the winter, too. It was a time of fortune-telling. It also was a day of cleansing. The pagans used the day of Samhain to purge their homes. They would slaughter or sacrifice the weak animals and even humans that wouldn’t survive through the winter and waste their precious resources.
Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
Two verses come to mind:
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." [Romans 12:2]
"For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" [2 Corinthians 6:14, 15]
Is it too much to ask that Christian parents consider refraining from any type of celebrations on this day? Is it too hard to teach children to pray instead? And even fast? Could the church hold a harvest day well ahead of Halloween instead?
Would kids in the church benefit by learning that a walk with the Lord is not a battle of flesh and blood but against the power, principalities and spirits of this day?
Or am I just being legalistic?
Written by Jori Sams