Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
This past week I received an email from an individual in our community asking why we as a church would celebrate a holiday like Halloween. Apparently this person had spotted our sign cruising down US 19, checked out our website, and was disturbed by the reality that our students would be coming together on October 31 for a Halloween party. So, the query came in and since I celebrate this holiday – granted, I pass on the blood drinking, Satan worship, and human sacrifices – I responded with my thoughts and decided to share them with you all.
The darker origins of this holiday are primarily rooted in a Celtic festival, called Samhain, celebrated at the end of each harvest season. Samhain – literally meaning “Summer’s End” – was a time to reflect on the prosperities of summer and prepare for the dark, colder months ahead. During this time livestock would be slaughtered for the winter, and the carcasses of the dead animals would be set a blaze in large bonfires through the Irish countryside. Though not originally the intent, Samhain became know as the time at which the door to the “otherworld” was opened, and communication with the dead could occur. Souls of loved ones were beckoned to enter this world, which obviously gave rise to occultic activity. With this insurgence of demonic activity, many people in Ireland would disguise themselves during Samhain to “trick” the evil spirits. This custom was passed down through the centuries and became the fun tradition that it is today rather than the seemingly necessary ritual of the dark ages. Unfortunately when most Christians today hear the word “Halloween” they are inclined to think of it as an apple to the apple of Samhain. This though is a misnomer and it is important that we understand as much.
The name “Halloween” is actually a Christian term coming from the 16th century and meaning “All Hallows Eve” – the day before “All Saints Day.” All Saints Day was a time set aside each year on November 1 to honor and remember those who have served, lived for, and even been martyred for Christ Jesus. Though parts of “the church” have corrupted such a day, turning it into worship of the saints, the original design for this day was to remember Christians gone before and learn from their example (as we are called to do in Hebrews 12:1).
All Hallows Eve also holds a special place in the hearts of those who celebrate the light that broke through with the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a monk we would now remember fondly on All Saints Day, nailed the 95 Thesis on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. This was a major spark to ignite the revival that swept across Europe, bringing about theological and clerical purity throughout the church and birthing the Protestant denominations of Baptist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian.
All of this being said, we celebrate a day like Halloween – though the world has corrupted it as the world has corrupted Easter and Christmas – because on it we remember the Reformation and the saints that have gone on before us, and we enjoy the holiday for what it should be, not for what the world has made it. This certainly does not mean that you have to celebrate this holiday, but if you choose to, do so with our created purpose in mind: “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Soli Deo Gloria