When it comes to Halloween, Christians need to lighten up

From my experience, Halloween is anathema among some Christians.  They see it as a celebration of evil and Satan.

Given some of the origins of Halloween, and the early American version of the event, I think I understand why they think this way. But I think some believers in Jesus Christ need to have more of an open mind.  A look at a little history of Halloween might be helpful in giving these folks some context and not being so harsh in their opinions.

As I noted above, these Christians have something of a gripe. Halloween got off to a gloomy start.

The ancient Celts (of Ireland) celebrated a day called Samhain on the night of October 31. Their belief system included a concept that one half of the year was dark and the other light.

These people believed that spirits returned to earth at this time to cause trouble. Thus, their priests, the Druids, built bonfires where sacrifices were offered to placate them.

The whole idea of witches originated in  the Middle Ages, when nervous religous leaders begin to think of eccentric female folk healers with home brewed potions as malevolent. The broom, the black cat and the cauldron all came from this time, straight from these ladies’ hearths.

When America was settled,  the natives and the immigrants combined some ideas in colonial times that weren’t so positive either.  Ghost stories and trouble making abounded during harvest time,

As America was flooded with immigrants, especially the Irish, new traditions concerning Halloween were added to the concoction developed by earlier Americans.  The Irish helped to make the day popular.

As the Depression hit in the 1930s, the problem with Halloween pranks grew out of control. Perhaps it was the anger at the times, but youths didn’t just soap windows. They did things like burn down buildings.

It was at this time that community leaders and local governments decided to do something about the problem. They attempted to make Halloween a community event.

It took a couple of decades, but by the 1950s American’s leaders had succeeded.  It became a school and home event.  In fact, I recall Halloween being something of a neighhorhood fun time when I was a kid in the early 1960s. 

Indeed, trick or treating is only approximately 70 years old. It was instituted as a cheap way for the community to share Halloween.

Believers in Christ who scoff at Halloween should consider who helped to perpetuate the event. In  the 800s Pope Boniface, in an attempt  to apparently coopt the night of the dead, created All Saint’s Day on November 1. This was followed by All Soul’s Day on November 2. Finally, the three days were combined and  the whole period called Hallowmas. (Hmm. Sounds like the name of another popular Christian celebration. More on that later.)

In the Middle Ages, beggar children used to go door-to-door and offer to pray dead souls out of Purgatory. In exchange they were given raisin cakes, called “s0ul cakes.” It is thought the Church instituted this practice to again appropriate a heathen practice, leaving food for the dead.

Today churches and other community institutions have their own Halloween celebrations.  They don’t celebrate witches, devils, and ghosts. They use it to provide some fun for their kids, and again “take back” Halloween.

Given the history and the context, I think some Christians need to lighten up. What is the big deal over harmless trick or treating or wearing a costume? How is anyone hurt by this, especially when the good is emphasized through it and people have fun.

If we follow the logic of some believers, we would totally dispense with the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, and Easter egg hunts. These practices also have origins in pagan beliefs.  I don’t hear the outcry from Christians over these symbols like I do with Halloween, although there is of course some.

Christians  have to stop looking for a devil behind every rock and try to let people enjoy some harmless fun during the autumn.

Source: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween and  a documentary from the History Channel on the subject

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “When it comes to Halloween, Christians need to lighten up

  1. Pam Fruit

    It’s wonderful that in our world today we are able to have our own opinion and voice it. To ponder a while what others give out. In this holiday, I disagree with you. I believe that Satan giggles everytime a Christian follows along with the sungod worshiping events slyly carried over to this day. There’s nothing in Halloween which is Christlike and it’s a subtle way to guide people to follow sungod practices. Blessings to you and yours, Pam

    • I wonder if Satan laughs every time we put up a Christmas tree or go along with the Santa Claus myth, or have an Easter egg hunt.

      • Pam Fruit

        Hey I agree. Satan probably does laugh at them, too. Ed and I years ago stopped those
        things. The tree, Santa, easter bunny stuff. Gone! Don’t miss ’em either. 🙂

        I believe we can be a good witness of our relationship with the Holy One if we start taking out those adopted festivals which don’t honor Him.

  2. Tina Sanders

    I have so many thoughts on this subject, I’m thinking of writing a paper on why Christians should creatively acknowledge Halloween. But here, I will be brief.

    When the Puritans came to the original colonies, the only holidays they celebrated were the Sabbath and fast days, and maybe one more. Christmas was considered a papist/pagan holiday, not to be celebrated.

    On a theological note, when it’s said that Halloween is the devil’s day, it makes it sound like God is only in control 364 days of the year, but not on this one. It also says a lot about how we see ourselves as Christians. It’s as if we see ourselves as perfected this side of heaven, and that to indulge in trick or treating and the wearing of costumes would somehow pollute us. If that’s the case, there’s a lot more wrong with us than how we’re handling Halloween!

    The last thing is that I think Christians miss out on a creative way of communicating the gospel artistically by participating in the wearing of costumes and trick or treating. I think it would be great not to exactly ‘celebrate’ Halloween, but to acknowledge it by wearing costumes that reflect who we are as people, and even people marred by sin. What a great way to then ‘spike the ball’ at Christmas and celebrate Jesus coming in the flesh (God in costume) and then celebrate His reconciling us in his body of flesh by his death at Easter.

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