Celebrating Halloween as a Christian

Fall is a beautiful time of year, with leaves changing colors and a nice crisp tang to the air. While Christmas is still quite a ways off, you’re probably at least considering who will be on your list for the year, but frantic holiday shopping has not yet set in. Yet, in the midst of changing seasons, fun with friends, and long walks outdoors, every October you’re likely to get into an extended conversation with at least one person at church around a controversial topic: should we be celebrating Halloween? There really is no right or wrong answer, so let’s explore both sides of the debate.

History of Halloween

Halloween as a holiday has its roots in European traditions, with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was a festival that included wearing costumes and dancing around lighted bonfires. However, it was Pope Gregory III who designated November 1 as All Saints Day in the eighth century, bringing together the pagan and Christian times by incorporating some of the same practices found in the older Samhain rituals. This time was also the end of the harvest, and the beginning of the long, cold winter that brought death — hence, the early focus on skeletons, the color black and skulls that continues today.

All Hallows Eve, eventually renamed Halloween, was thought to be a time when both the living and the dead roamed the earth. This activity eventually transitioned to the jack-o-lanterns, candy and costumes that are the current Halloween traditions for many Americans.

Christians Bring Light to Halloween

Scripture was used to bring light to the darkness of this formerly-pagan holiday, with Christians finding plenty of ammunition against this dark practice in the Bible. Deuteronomy 18:10-13 is particularly applicable:

There shall not be found among you anyone…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.

However, All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain continued to mesh over hundreds of years, with trick-or-treaters in the forms of roving bands of young people — not children — would go from house to house requesting food and drink for their ongoing parties. This practice was followed by many homeowners to avoid the potential of drunken “tricks”. While this has changed in modern society to children dressing up in all manner of costumes and perusing their neighborhoods in a search for candy, many Christians feel that this holiday is inappropriate for families to celebrate.

Is Avoiding Halloween the Answer?

The answer is: it depends. This purely personal question is asked by millions of Christians each year, and is discussed extensively within churches throughout our fair country. While some individuals believe that Halloween is a time of wickedness and the promotion of witchcraft and deviltry, others tend to look at it more as a celebration of saints and the harvest.

Still others are ambivalent about the history of the day and simply enjoy spending time with family and friends in ways that are perhaps more innocent than the fake blood-filled haunted houses and scary costumes that many adopt. It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid Halloween, but how you celebrate today can take on a variety of forms.

Alternative Activities

If you decide to celebrate Halloween with your family and friends, there are any number of alternate activities that you can participate in that provide an opportunity for fellowship without the negativity. Consider dressing up in wholesome family costumes and visiting a trunk-or-treat at an area church, or going to a pumpkin patch for a day of fun outdoor activity with pumpkin picking, corn mazes and lots of fresh air.

Host a hayride with your neighbors, ending with a toasty bonfire that involves gooey treats and plenty of good conversation or a chili cook-off to keep you warm in the chilly winds of fall. Or make it a family game night instead, where you take time to simply enjoy each other’s company without the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Every kid loves cookies, so why not get together some neighborhood kids or friends and have a cookie decorating party? This is a great opportunity for laughter, fun and fellowship together.

Regardless of whether you believe that those who celebrate Halloween are continuing to follow a pagan religion or simply lack the knowledge of the origins of the season, you can make a decision to celebrate the start of fall in a way that works for your family.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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