For many centuries now a festival has been celebrated. This festival (which was found primarily in the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Northern France) has, in more recent years, been weaseling its way into other nations around the world.
This festival is what’s commonly known as Halloween. It is celebrated with all sorts of different activities. It has even found its way into supposedly Christian households. But is it something we as Christians should be partaking in? Does Scripture even mention anything about Halloween or festivals like it?
Halloween is also known by numerous other names, such as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints Eve, and Samhain (which is pronounced sow-in). Halloween’s origins lie far back in the ancient past. It dates back to about 1200 B.C., making it one of the oldest festivals which is still celebrated, in world. Samhain is even mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature.
The Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year on November 1 and, like us with our New Year traditions, spent much of the night partaking in activities to ring in the new year.
To the Celtic druids it was the biggest holiday of the year. It was also the festival of the Summer’s and harvest seasons end and the beginning of the dark and gloomy part of the year.
The veil thins
They emphasized that day as the time when the barrier between the mortal and the spirit realms was at its thinnest. This was supposed to make it easier for the non-human spirits (known to the Irish as theAos Sí) and the souls of the human departed, to return. In the presence of the otherworldly spirits, they believed priests could make accurate predictions about the future.
The spirits got to have their twisted version of fun tormenting the people by harming, frightening, and playing all sorts of nasty tricks on them. It was also believed the souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fire to welcome them.
It was also believed that the mischievous spirits would cast spells upon whomever they pleased. The only ways (so it was said) for the frightened humans to escape the harassment of the spirits and get on their good side was to offer them fancy foods and sweet treats. Animals and crops were also sacrificed to bring good harvests and fertility in the next year.
Bonfires were held. At these bonfires, the people wore costumes made from animal skins and heads in hopes of fooling spirits who might want to harm them. People also attempted to read each other’s fortunes.
Over time, Halloween evolved into day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats. Jack-o-lanterns (which originally were carved turnips) were originally carved to guide lost souls home on the eve of Samhain.
Trick-or-treating began during Samhain as the custom of “souling”, when people, particularly children, would go door-to-door on Halloween with the intent on begging the rich for soul cakes. Soul cakes are a baked good which is a cross between a biscuit and a scone. The people would also sing and say prayers for the dead in exchange for the soul cakes.
Bobbing for apples—another favourite Halloween activity—was originally used in divination to predict matters of the heart and prospected marriages.
As you can see, the practices included in Halloween involve things which are strictly prohibited by the LORD in Scripture.
What Scripture says
Does the Bible sanction witchcraft, witches, and sorcery? On the contrary,it states as stated in Leviticus 20, verse 27 anyone who practiced witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery would be killed.
And also, “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you ... one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18, verses 9-13).
In Ephesians it states that we are to “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5, verse 11).
And also, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD you God, to walk in His ways, and keep His commands, decrees and laws…” (Deuteronomy 30 verses 15 and 16a).
While not speaking about Halloween directly God, through His Word, makes it explicitly clear that believers ought to have nothing to do with it or festivals like it. So, do you really think God would approve of a day dedicated to darkness and things He explicitly forbids?
And to all those who would continue on with the festival saying “That’s not what it means to me.”, it should be noted that only God’s opinion of things truly matters.
This coming Halloween season, when temptation to fit in with the culture around us is high remember Who we serve and which kingdom we are now a part of.
Katelin Staples is from Gladstone, Queensland. By day Katelin is employed as a proofreader. Katelin has a passion for discovering the deep things of God and how they affect the world around us.