THE TRUTH ABOUT HALLOWEEN Every year in the month of October, most Christian have to face the question of Halloween, whether or not to participate in its celebrations. The following is an article reprinted from New Wine Magazine (October 1984). Not only is the history of Halloween explained, but five scriptural steps are given to help discover your convictions regarding Halloween.


The celebrations of what we know as Halloween dates back to before the time of Christ. In the Celtic countries of Britain, Germany, and France, the Druids, the priests and teachers of the Celts, set aside October 31st, to honor Samhain, the Lord of the Dead. At this time of the year, the crops were harvested and it was a time of general decay. The day honoring Samhain highlighted the gloom and cold of the coming season.

The Celts believed that Samhain assembled all the souls of the dead on October 31st, the eve of the Celtic New Year, freeing them to return to their homes where their families were to entertain them. If they didn't find an acceptable welcome, the spirits would cast spells or cause other problems for the living - thus the first form of trick-or-treat. So to prepare for the arrival of these spirits, the Druids built huge bonfires, sacrificing animals, crops and even humans. The fires were also used for divinations, as they studied the remains of the sacrificed animals.

During this ritual, many people wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. When the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined the festival to Samhain with their own festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees, making apples and nuts an important part of the ritual.

As time passed, despite the prevalence of Christianity, this pagan rite continued. The Irish, for example, held parades to honor Muck Olla, on of their gods. At the head of the parade marched a leader wearing a white robe and an animal head. Those following him asked for food to help celebrate the October 31st festival, punishing farmers who refused to cooperate-another form of trick-or-treat. Bonfires raged throughout Wales, Scotland, England and the rest of Europe on October 31st.

To counter this growing pagan rite, in the year 834, Pope Boniface IV moved the church feast of All Saints" Day (also know as All Hallow" Day) from May to November 1st. Naturally, October 31st was called All Hallows" Evening - eventually abbreviated to Halloween. In medieval times, satanic witches took Halloween as an opportunity to mock the saints of the church commemorated on All Saints" Day. The witches supposedly flew on broomsticks and were accompanied by black cats (also believed to be a type of witch). In later years, the poor in England went door-to-door for food on November 2nd. All Souls" Day. Beggars received "soulcakes" in return for their promise to pray for the dead of that household.

In America, Halloween celebrations were banned because of the strong religious convictions of the early settlers. However, in early 1800's as more immigrants of Celtic origin arrived, Halloween celebrations were instituted, complete with bonfires and death-related symbolism, as well as door-to-door trick-or-treating.

Despite the contemporary decline in trick-or-treating because of the dangers, such as poisoned candy, Halloween lives on. School parties, the media and peer pressure all serve to make Halloween a fun and necessary time in children's eyes. Christian parents face extreme difficulty in deciding what their family should do about the annual celebration. But considering Halloween's origins, it should not be difficult to establish a scriptural position on the holiday. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 states:

"When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord." (NAS)

As Christians, seek to make a firm decision regarding participation in Halloween. It is important to keep in mind that believers are called to:

  1. BE SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD. "For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries." (1Pet. 4:3 NAS)

  2. BE TRANSFORMED. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom. 12:2 NAS)

  3. BE OBEDIENT AND HOLY. "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in your behavior." (1Pet. 1:14-15 NAS)

  4. BE 'GOD PLEASERS'. "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4 NAS)

  5. BE LEADERS. "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them." (Eph. 5:11 NAS)
    Answering questions about distributing candy on Halloween or allowing children to trick-or-treat is something each individual Christian must do for himself. But as we look at the roots of Halloween and what the Bible says, we now have the firm foundation we need to base our decisions upon.

SUMMARY You discern the truth as you consider the background of Halloween and the need for every believer in Jesus to take a stand in regard to righteousness. Please examine before the Lord how you stand on this issue and boldly live by your convictions.

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