Several years ago I wrote a piece on the origins of Halloween and why we have chosen not to celebrate it. Here’s the article in its entirety.
WHY NOT HALLOWEEN?
Several years ago we made the decision not to participate in Halloween activities, including “Halloween alternatives” such as “Harvest Festivals” or “Jungle Jamboree”, which area churches have promoted in the past. I have often been asked, “Why?” And I’ve explained that it is because Halloween promotes those things that, as Christians, we consider evil or satanic. But I’ve never explained the how, historically, Halloween has evolved into the “devil’s holiday.” I think it is time to do so.
The holiday can be traced back more than 2000 years to the Celts, a society which primarily occupied Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, and the Brittany region of northern France, but also dwelled in parts of Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. The Celts were “polytheistic”—that is they worshiped a number of gods of nature and also their ancestors. Such worshippers are called “pagans”. One of two major holidays observed by the Celts was celebrated on November 1 which marked the beginning of winter and which, the Celts believed, that Saman, the god of the dead ruled, and the end of the season of rule by Baal, the god of the sun. So Halloween began as a pagan holiday.
On the eve of October 31st the Celts believed that the gates separating the living and the dead were opened allowing evil spirits and the souls of the previous year’s dead to return to the earth to harm crops and animals, and trouble families by stealing babies. People would dress up as “spirits” to fool wandering spirits into mistaking them as their own and leave them alone, or to lead the demonic spirits to the edge of town; they would leave gifts of the finest food outside their homes to appease the evil spirits and to nourish the souls of their departed relatives. People would dress up as “spirits” to fool wandering spirits into mistaking them as their own and leave them alone, or to lead the demonic spirits to the edge of town; they would leave gifts of the finest food outside their homes to appease the evil spirits and to nourish the souls of their departed relatives. It was the night when Saman judged lost souls- sinning souls were sentenced to 12 months of afterlife as a lowly animal, good souls were sentenced to 12 months of afterlife as humans; gifts of food and gifts were given to him to cause him to allow their deceased ancestors a brief visit.
It was also believed to be a time when the spirits could be contacted to foretell the future. The priests of the Celts, the Druids, were responsible for this communion between the dead and the living. Bonfires were lit outside of towns to draw evil spirits to their warmth and away from the dwellings of the Celts. Huge bonfires were lit on high hills to renew the sun-god, and on these bonfires sacrifices of crated animals (horses and cats) and humans (criminals) were made. The Druids divined the future by observing the movements of the entrails of the sacrifices as they died. They continued this rite for centuries.
The Romans conquered Britain just before the birth of Christ, and brought to the area their own holiday on November 1—the “Festival of Pomona”. Pomona was the roman goddess of orchards and harvest. She fell in love with Vertumnus, the “god of the turning year”, and together they influenced the harvest. The Romans would lay out gifts of apples and nuts to thank Pomona for a bountiful harvest. Over time the practices of the Celtic holiday merged with those of the Festival of Pomona. Apples and nuts and romance became part of Halloween customs along with the original concept of a night devoted to the dead with ghoulish parades, divination, fire and spirit magic.
Christianity spread across the Roman empire in the third and fourth centuries, but it did not put an end to the pagan holidays, including Halloween. Emperor Constantine ruled Christianity to be the official religion of Rome, and pagans were absorbed into the church without real conversion. And, as a result, they blended the pagan holidays, including Halloween, into the Christian customs. The celebration of Halloween was especially prominent in Ireland, where children would These would act out the Celtic tradition of appeasement of evil spirits by dressing-up as “spirits” and going house to house demanding a “treat”; if they were refused they would perform a “trick” of punishment.
The Catholic Church, faced with such a situation, set about to assimilate pagan rites into the Church using a version of the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” philosophy. In A.D. 601 Pope Gregory I decreed that pagan temples should no longer be destroyed but be converted to places to worship God and that pagan celebrations should be supplanted by religious festivals to God. A special holiday to celebrate the Virgin Mary and the martyrs was established in 1610, and celebrated on May 13. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III moved it to November 1 as an alternative celebration to the pagan holiday of Halloween. Then, in A.D. 835, Pope Gregory IV expanded the celebration to include all saints. But the end result was a blending of the pagan Halloween holiday and the Catholic All Saints Day.
In spite of efforts to make Halloween “acceptable” to Christians doctrine, the holiday has evolved into an even greater abomination. Among most children and adults it is still regarded as innocent, though mysterious, fun. Sales of costumes, masks and other Halloween “stuff” is at an all-time high. There has recently been a strong resurgence of interest in Halloween among adults, who see it as an opportunity to dress in costume and become childlike and carefree for one day in the year. And while the symbols of the dead are actually misunderstood by these revelers, they embrace the sanitized traditions associated with the holiday.
But Halloween’s original purpose is also observed by Satanic cults, witch covens and Neo-pagans. Witches regard it as one of the eight great festivals of paganism, and witches and Satanists hold that Halloween is the most powerful day of the year on which to cast a spell. The Back Mass of Satanic worship is held on October 31st. On Halloween most practitioners of witchcraft engage in the “drawing down the moon” ceremony in which the chief witch of the coven becomes a “channel” (actually becomes possessed) of the moon goddess. The participants of the ceremony, both men and women, are “sky-clad”, meaning, naked. On Halloween animal sacrifices are openly offered in semi-pagan parts of the world like the Philippines and South America, and there is evidence that Neo-pagans in America are increasingly embracing the old ways; animal and, it is said, human sacrifices are made by Satanic and voodoo groups on Halloween. Fires, a symbol of pagan Halloween, are at an all-time high on Halloween in America.
Today’s extreme Halloween popularity has been partly fueled by retailers. They call it America’s “second-biggest consumptive holiday, right behind Christmas”, orchestrated by modern marketing. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, who quotes Ad Age, this Halloween will account for $170 million in advertising for products as diverse as McDonald’s, Coors, FTD, Oreos, greeting cards, make-up, costumes, masks and decorations. It’s one of the three or four biggest snack food days of the year with product manufacturers packaging special versions of their products (like orange filled Oreos) especially for Halloween.
Halloween is the third biggest party of the year, preceded only by Super Bowl Sunday, and New Year’s Day. Approximately $800 million worth of candy will be purchased this year (1996) for Halloween. It’s the single biggest day for costume sales, the 2nd biggest for party paper goods and plastic accessories and for home decorating. The magazine, Selling Halloween, boasts that marketing has been, “taking a season that really didn’t have a lot of product, and creating lines of product that will get the consumer into the store”. Halloween has become big business and will continue to be promoted without any moral considerations for as long as consumers will buy.
Ultimately, though, Halloween remains popular because of only one reason–it is the date when Satan receives glory from a vast horde of mankind, knowingly or unknowingly. The Bible says that there is only one true God (ISA 45:5,6), and that any worship not given to God is given to demons (1Co 10:20). The Scriptures also teach that the desire to be exalted, “to be like God” was what caused the leader of the demons, Satan, to be cast out of heaven (ISA 14:14). Worship is what Satan tried to tempt Jesus Christ to give him while Jesus wandered for 40 days in the Judean desert after His baptism (MAT 4:9; LUK 4:7). Prophecy indicates that until the very end of time he will still be working to deceive mankind into worshipping him (REV 13:4). At that time there will be great demonic activity, and sorcery among mankind (REV 9:21). The revival of the black arts and witchcraft seem to indicate that we are reaching the end times. If that is so, Satan will fight even harder to win mankind for himself before the end.
We can expect to see the fascination with the occult, sorcery; witchcraft and other Satanic activities continue to gain popularity. Halloween, that ancient occultist holy day, will grow ever more important until it eclipses every other holiday, including Christmas, as Satan seeks to exalt himself on this earth.
So what is our response to the pagan, satanic holiday known as Halloween? Do not observe it. If you participate in Halloween you become a part of a pagan celebration. The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, in 1CO 10:20 “… the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” Halloween originated as a pagan worship festival. The basic elements of spiritism and witchcraft have remained the same throughout it’s history. Paul went on to say, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons” (1CO 10:21). Christians belong to God and partake of God; they are holy unto God. To involve themselves in Halloween or any other pagan worship is to partake of idolatry. Again Paul wrote in Ephesians, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (EPH 5:11). He could not have used stronger language: have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness. We are not to celebrate with idolaters and demon worshipers: we are to let the light of God’s holiness shine on such practices and expose them for what they are.
Some may say that Halloween is OK because the pagan elements have been taken out of it. To that a reply may be made that paganism has not been taken out of it: our Halloween is very similar to the original. All of the original symbols of Samhain, Pomona, and the Middle Ages are still employed in our Halloween celebration. It is still listed as one of witchcraft’s great festivals. It is still the night on which the Satanic Black Mass is held and sacrifices are made. Witches still practice black and the co-called white magic on this night (God recognizes all magic as evil). In Deuteronomy God said, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (DEU 18:10,11); yet, Halloween was and is an instrument of mediums and witches.
But there is more to this issue than just the celebration itself. Jesus said, speaking to those who opposed God, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (JOH 8:44). Paul wrote in EPH 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Not only is Halloween pagan, it is a vehicle that exalts the spiritual forces of evil. We must not allow ourselves to be tricked into honoring these evil forces in any way.
All these things can also be said about books, movies and videos that commemorate cultic or demonic activities such as witchcraft or pagan celebrations. The Harry Potter series is such an example. The Bible speaks very clearly about such things and, as Christians, we should not only avoid them, but make every effort to help others understand their inherent evil.
I do not condemn those who chose to participate in, or allow their children to participate in Halloween (or read Harry Potter books or watch the movies.) But I believe that, once we understand the reality of paganism, satanism and how these things “sneak in” to our lives through the ignorance of the truth, we should avoid them altogether. They not only do not glorify God, they glorify the devil. And that, dear ones, is something we should strive to never do.