Halloween Festivities: Should Christians Participate?

In a few days, children will be out in droves, donned in various saintly and ghastly costumes, in eager anticipation, to fill their little bags full of sweets. Trick or Treat? is what kids will be saying, between ages 5 years old to 55 years old, as they dart from house to house this Hallows Eve as they enjoy the evening with their children.

Many parents are concerned, not only in the Church participating in such pagan or Satanic holidays, but also about the safety and welfare of children in today’s climate – based on past criminal activities committed by adult predators on children during Halloween – many churches and schools have decided to have what has been called “Harvest Fest” inviting neighborhood kids to a safe environment on church grounds, as a tool to encourage non-church families to attend their church or school property, to enjoy an evening of fun and entertainment. 

Halloween is a tradition dating back to 800 B.C., by the Celtic people as their New Year, known as Samhain (sowen). Samhain, translated “end of summer” occurred around the end of October. The Celts believed that this magical time opened up a sort of connection to the dead—those souls that had passed through . . . the shift from life to death. They believed the world of the living was closest to the world of the dead . . . and that the spirits of the dead traveled again among the living. Historians say the Celts would dress up in ghoulish outfits and parade out of town to lead the wandering spirits away, says Tom Harris.

According to the American heritage dictionary—Halloween is defined as ‘The eve of all saint’s day’, falling on October 31 and celebrated by children who go in costume from door to door begging for treats or playing pranks. Christians have from the earliest days honored their virtuous dead. With thousands of canonized saints, Pope Boniface IV officially established All Saints’ Day (May 13th) in the seventh century to honor all the saints at one time. In order for the Catholic Church to win Celtic converts, as the Church’s missionary efforts increased in Europe and Asia Minor, they would many times incorporate non-Christian traditions. This posed some problems for the Catholic Church. Hence, All Saint’s Day, originally observed on May 13, was moved to November 1, in the eighth century by Pope Gregory III. Celts were fascinated by familiar dead spirits returning to the world of the living, which of course, has no place in Christianity. Due to the fact that the Catholic Church’ could not completely get rid of the supernatural elements of the Samhain traditions, the Church began characterizing the spirits as evil forces associated with the devil. Since the 1800’s, when Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their Halloween festivities to North America, the holiday has evolved a good deal.

There are a number of Christians in this country today that would agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s earlier position and feel that by participating in Halloween we are glorifying the darkness—the domain of Satan. Small extremist groups of Witches and Satanist, wishing to use Halloween as a means to recruit new converts has also contributed to the many fears. It should be noted, however, that witchcraft practitioners, known as “Wiccans” get upset around Halloween because they feel misrepresented by a small number of Christian spokespersons and the news media. Most modern practitioners of the “Wiccan” religion are based on a connection to nature and the universe, not to dark forces and evil spells as the popular idea of a witch suggest. So, I understand the concern of many Christians regarding this Holiday. For some it carries uncomfortable satanic connotations—images they do not want their children exposed to. Many Christians have instead opted to conduct Halloween festivals and parties at schools and churches, without the evil component. I’m not going to attempt to challenge or change their position. On the contrary, I welcome such an approach.

Therefore, everyone that is convicted not to participate in this years Halloween celebration shouldn’t, but nor should they condemn those who do. If Halloween is enjoyed as an evening of entertainment only, a participation that does not promote Satanism—nor is it a sinful act. Modern traditions of Halloween, evolving over the centuries, do not have the same religious connotations as during Celtic and Medieval times. In my opinion, Halloween into its present-day form is a harmless event that most children and/or adults participate in for an evening of fun, and free candy. My children have participated in Halloween as long as I can remember. However, I have never allowed my children to dress in demonic or evil costumes. But biblical characters, cartoon and superhero characters can be a nice innocent way to enjoy this Holiday. This year my daughter will be going door-to-door as and Angel. I believe we should use all opportunities to bring light to the darkness—not hide from it. So, depending on your personal convictions, allow you and your children to enjoy yourselves this Hallows Eve.