Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Halloween Or Not To Halloween

I remember as a little girl trying to peer through tiny holes that had been cut into a small, white sheet and tripping through our cold, dark neighborhood in hopes of filling my bag with candy. I remember keeping a watchful eye on a very, scary witch who was standing in her doorway handing out candy and hoping that we would not end up on her darkened porch. I remember hearing electronic screams throughout the neighborhood and being glad when we were finally home.

So, what’s wrong with that? It’s become part of the fabric of our American traditions. (And by the way, Halloween is also celebrated in several other countries around the world.)

But, once we surrender to Christ, I think we can sometimes forget to go back and ask ourselves, and even more importantly, the Lord, if some things we’ve become accustomed to are things that we should still be doing. We keep practicing them because we see others do them and we don’t see the harm. But now that we are The Called of God for His purposes, He has created us to be a separate people unto Him.

“You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. People don't light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

We have been called to come out of the world and its darkness and join the city of believers that casts the light of God brightly into the world. And that means casting off the things that would darken His light in our lives. And we may not even realize that some things, like Halloween, may be part of that darkness.

I’ll give you a brief overview of the origins of Halloween and some of the traditions associated with it.

Halloween’s origins began at approximately the time of the birth of Christ with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in) in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and the northern part of France. Samhain was celebrated on the night of October 31, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to play tricks on people. To appease the dead, the Druids would visit homes and the people would give them offerings of food. During the celebration of Samhain, the Celtic priests, or Druids, built huge, sacred bonfires and the Druids would disguise themselves by wearing animal-head masks and animal-skin costumes and jumping through the flames. The people from the surrounding villages would gather around the bonfires (which comes from the words “bone” and “fire”) to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to appease the Celtic deities and so that these deities would enable the priests to use divination to make predictions about the future.

In the 800’s, Christian religion had spread over this area and Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, which would honor saints and martyrs. This celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas. The night before this celebration, October 31, was known as All-hallows Eve, and eventually became known as Halloween. November 2 later became known as All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead by building bonfires, having parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils.

European immigrants began coming to America and bringing their Halloween traditions with them. The celebrations were in limited sections of America and began as parties to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, tell ghost stories and cause destruction.

Later, Halloween celebrations spread across America and people began to borrow from the old European traditions by dressing up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money. It was also believed that young women, on Halloween, could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple pairings or mirrors.

Trick-or-treating probably evolved from the Samhain traditions to those in Ireland of going door-to-door begging for soul cakes in exchange for promises of prosperity or protection against bad luck.

Carving Jack-O-Lanterns originated from a myth about a man named Stingy Jack who invited the devil to have a drink with him. Jack tricked the devil into turning himself into a coin to pay for the drinks, and then he tricked him once again before he died. God wouldn’t let Jack into heaven, and the devil was angry with Jack and wouldn’t let him into hell, so he sent Jack out with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The carving of turnips to scare away Jack began in Scotland and Ireland, and then eventually the tradition transformed into carving pumpkins here in America.
Today, of course, Halloween has become synonymous with horror films, blood, death, witches, ghosts, haunted houses and evil. Darkness.

“But,” you say, “I don’t do any of those things. We just dress up in cute costumes and walk around the neighborhood getting candy.”

I don’t want to be your Holy Spirit. But I am encouraging you to allow the Holy Spirit to be your Holy Spirit. Ask Him if this is something that is honoring and glorifying to Him or is it participating in a celebration that is glorifying His enemy?
Because the reality is, we don’t see the spiritual warfare that goes on that night, or any night for that matter. But it is a celebration that is steeped in pagan worship, in divination, and in sacrifice in order to appease demons. We may not take it seriously, but I bet the enemy of God does, and I believe he’ll use any opportunity to worm his way into the lives of people.

And yes, I know the Lord may choose to use you in a way on this night that truly is glorifying Him, and that's wonderful, too. 

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7



  2. I'm a Christian.

    I enjoyed halloween as a kid.

    I think it's alright to let kids be kids and enjoy the one day of the year to dress up goofy, or scary and have some fun.

    Just teach them about Christ, about the devil, and how Christ has conquered the devil, but that the deil can still cause harm to them.

    If we really wanted to protect our family from the influences of evol and the devil...we'd never let them walk outside!

    Great post, Dorci!


  3. Thanks, Steve. I understand what you're saying, and like I said in the post, I think it one of those things that should be taken to the Lord and then if there's conviction to not do it, we should be obedient to that. But if there is no conviction to do certain things, that's between the believer and the Lord.

    Personally, I think with the way this world is right, we have more "calling evil good" than we ever have before. And I think it can be a slippery slope to allow our kids to participate in Halloween. As they grow older they may want to do more and more things that are really in the spirit of Halloween and a lot of evil lurks in some of the things that are done in the name of that "holiday." I just didn't want to influence my boys in that and then have to watch them as teenagers unknowingly get into some dark stuff on Halloween. Living our lives out in the world every day for the Lord is a different thing. And only God knows our weaknesses, and our children's weaknesses and that's why we need to ask Him. I had enough satanic influence in my life before Christ and I don't want to give him any more time, which is why my personal conviction is to not celebrate it.

  4. I am also personally convicted not to celebrate it, but it was a struggle to keep my kids from going trick or treating. It felt like they were missing out on fun, and I have to say that more than once, I let them go out with friends. I just downplayed the "holiday" as much as possible. Would I do it now? I don't think so; it took me a while to get here though.

    Very nice article, friend.

  5. Thanks, L. :) I think one thing that helped me was that I was saved, and radically so, when my oldest son was only 6 months old and soon after that I had my second. Since I was convicted about it from the beginning I just didn't think about letting them go trick-or-treating as they got to that age. And since we never did it, and their friends were kids from church so they didn't, either, so they never asked. Now, one of them did go when he was a teenager with some friends at school to a haunted house and that was one of those things I felt I needed to let him decide on his own because he was almost grown. They never really seemed to miss it, though. They get plenty of candy the other 364 days of the year. :D And, unfortunately, so do I.


Thanks for sharing!