I love fall. In fact, it is my favorite time of the year. There is a crispness in the air. The leaves turn a myriad of beautiful colors and the mums are in full bloom. It is a time to hunker down after a long, hot, hurried summer and just enjoy the crisp days and cool evenings by the fire before the holidays are upon us and the hustle and bustle overcomes us once again. As a child I especially liked Halloween. When I grew up we dressed as witches, ghost and ghouls. No princesses or “Lady Gaga”, as scary as that may be. Halloween involved trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, making popcorn balls and caramel apples. It was all harmless fun. Or was it?
Most people have come to treat Halloween as they do Christmas, or any other holiday our society has successfully commercialized. It is just another Holiday to celebrate, decorate, and commemorate. But do we really know what Halloween, or any other holiday for that matter, really means anymore? Do we really know what we are celebrating? The facts themselves can be quite scary.
The tradition of Halloween comes from a progression and combination of the Catholic tradition of All Saints’ day, which was a day of observance and reverence to the saints, and the ancient Celtic pagan tradition known as Samhain (pronounced sow-en), which held the belief that the dead mingled among the living causing trouble, possessing people, ruining crops and searching for passage to the afterlife. This was a time that the living and the dead were most closely connected and occurred on the eve of their new year which was celebrated on November 1.
The Catholic celebration of All Saints’ day was originally observed on May 13th. In the eight century, Pope Gregory III moved the observance to November 1st, it is believed, to correspond with the tradition of Samhain. It was a common practice of the Catholic church at the time to incorporate non Christian activities into the church as a way of attracting new believers into the faith. Once the date was changed, the church began to incorporate many of the traditions and rituals of Samhain into their own celebrations. Despite the uneasiness of the church, they continued to incorporate many of the supernatural traditions making the occasion a remarkable combination of Christian and pagan beliefs. By the end of the 10th century, the church tried to give these traditions a little more direction by establishing All Souls’ Day, an occasion to recognize all Christian dead by praying for those in purgatory. Through failed attempts to separate the pagan rituals the Catholic church categorized the spirits as those of the devil, which is where much of our imagery of evil, witches and demons come from.
Therefore, like the festivals of Samhain, All Saints’ day, and All Souls’ day, Halloween is the celebration of the dead and has become a conglomeration of all types of supernatural practices incorporating occult activity. Many may argue that these traditions are so far removed from our current culture that they no longer have relevance or effect on us as Christians. But is that true? Let’s look at what the bible says.
We are very clearly told in 3 John 1:11, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” and Romans 12:9 which instructs us that, ” Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Now I know it feels good to get dressed up, get together with friends and celebrate what seems to be harmless fun. I have many fond memories myself of many Halloweens past. But I grew up in a non-practicing Christian home. My parents, like so many others, did what many parents are doing today by simply burying their heads in the sand. But is that an excuse? Matthew 18:6 tells us that, “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Does that mean I believe my mother should be drowned in the depths of the sea? Of course not. But it does give us a glimpse of the responsibility given to us as parents. These children do not belong to us. They are God’s children and I do not believe He would approve of us allowing His children to participate in what we call harmless fun when it incorporates evil or occult activities. We cannot pretend that we don’t know. God has given us His holy scriptures but just because we choose not to read it does not make it no so. Hosea 4:6 warns that God’s people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Therefore, as parents let’s remember to “train a child in the way he should go,” Proverbs 22:6.
Further, we are warned throughout both the Old and New Testament to avoid evil. Satan is known as the great deceiver. He is cunning and crafty and we must always be on our guard to turn from his evil ways. The Devil will use any opportunity regardless of how harmless you think it may be to enter into your life and wreak havoc. Everyday life has enough difficulties without inviting the antics of Satan or his evil ways into your life. This earth is Satan’s playground and we must “keep oneself from being polluted by the world” as we are told in James 1:27. Sometimes that means we may have to give up practices and activities that the world sees as harmless. Or even celebrations we once participated in ourselves out of ignorance. But once you open the word and read God’s will for your life, you no longer have an excuse. Therefore, as we draw close to yet another Halloween think about not only your responsibility as a parent but as a child of Christ yourself.
Perhaps this Halloween you should dress your little one’s in the amour of God.
Director of Women’s Ministry