The holiday of Halloween is generally observed on the evening of October 31 throughout most of North America and in some areas of Western Europe. As it quickly approaches this year, our concern is that many families, whether through innocence or a lack of understanding, will participate in this holiday in a way that is not beneficial to them. The Bible tells us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle between good and evil; between the spiritual forces of God and Satan.
Although many view Halloween as merely a fun time to put on costumes and exchange candy, in reality this holiday has deep spiritual roots. At its core, Halloween is a celebration that focuses on the forces of darkness. It was originally a pagan festival of the dead. The festivities of Halloween are based on folk-beliefs about supernatural forces and spirits of the dead. These beliefs are often depicted through the various symbols associated with Halloween, and most of these directly relate to death in some shape or manner. Traditional Halloween decorations feature imagery associated with supernatural beings such as witches, werewolves, vampires and ghosts. They also include images which symbolize bad omens—such as black cats, bats and spiders.
The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient religious practices of the Druids (Celtic priests). The Druids were members of a pagan order spread throughout Britain, Ireland and Gaul. They generally performed ritual blood sacrifices with animals but often with humans as well. In fact, the word bonfire is derived from the words “bone” and “fire” because the Druids would pile bones of sacrificed animals or humans in a field filled with timber and set them ablaze. To the Celts, bonfires represented the sun and could be used by Druids to aid in their fight against the dark powers. They believed their sacrifices would placate the gods, thus warding off evil spirits and ensuring that the sun would return after winter.
The Celts also believed that the eve of their new year, which they called Samhain, was the supreme night of demonic jubilation. Spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside trying to return to homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers would try to appease these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. This is how the present day practice of "trick-or-treat" came into being.
Eventually Christianity began spreading rapidly throughout Europe, and rather than abolishing the pagan customs of Halloween, people tried to incorporate ideas into it which reflected a Christian worldview. This is why Halloween has evolved into such a confusing mixture of traditions from both the Christian and pagan cultures. Take the jack-o-lantern for example. A jack-o-lantern is a pumpkin carved with faces representing demons and illuminated from within. It is considered to be the “festival light” of Halloween because it was the ancient symbol of a damned soul and people believed that jack-o-lanterns could frighten away evil spirits. Other popular symbols of Halloween like bats, owls and other nocturnal animals were originally feared because people believed these creatures could communicate with the spirits of the dead. People during the Middle Ages also believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats. Whenever a black cat was spotted, people automatically assumed it was a witch in disguise.
When you take a close look at the symbols that make up Halloween, it is impossible to deny their evil nature since they primarily consist of witches, monsters, ogres, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, goblins and demons. In fact, Halloween is widely recognized as the ultimate day of celebration for Satanists. Those who oppose Christianity have been known to organize on this day to observe satanic rituals, cast spells, come against churches and families, perform sacrilegious acts and even offer blood sacrifices to Satan. In light of these facts, Believers have a responsibility to carefully consider our participation in this holiday. God’s Word encourages us to avoid participating in pagan activities and incorporating religious pagan practices in worship (see Leviticus 18:24–30 and Deuteronomy 18:9). In Ephesians, Paul warns followers of Christ to “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We need to be cautious about associating with works of darkness, because we don’t live in darkness anymore. As Believers, we now live in the light through our faith in Jesus.
Some parents don’t see a problem with allowing their children to celebrate Halloween. These parents celebrated it themselves when they were young and believe Halloween is both completely harmless and fun. Understand that God is not opposed to fun. He’s all about it, in fact, and so are we. However, Halloween is deeply rooted in evil. When we participate in Halloween, we can often send a subtle message to others that there’s no need to seriously consider the spirit realm. Even the types of costumes in which we dress our children can have an affect on our witness for Christ. Worse still, our participation can send a message to our children that witchcraft, demonic practices, Satanism and the occult are all harmless, entertaining and fun.
If you have a desire to celebrate the season, we suggest celebrating it through an event not associated with Halloween. Our participation in any kind of celebration should always emphasize the light of Christ. We must be proactive in our faith and resist all the works of the Enemy. The Bible tells you to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Here are some suggestions on steps you can take with your family:
1. Do some personal research on Halloween.
2. Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to do this Halloween.
3. Consider attending the Fall Festival at Gateway Church.
4. Start a new tradition, rooted in God and family, on Halloween.