Monday, October 11, 2010

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

It happens every year.  Right about this time.  Facebook is flooded with articles about the evils of Halloween and how Christian families should have no part in it.  Much of the reasoning lies in the origins of Halloween and the fact that "All Hallows Eve" is a high and holy holiday in pagan religions.  Jack-O-Lanterns were borrowed from a pagan ritual designed to scare away evil spirits.  Witches, well that's self-explanatory!  We are admonished to "avoid all appearances of evil"  as the Bible instructs.

So it is up to us to discern what the appearance of evil is.  Is it evil to dress up like Captain America and go door to door begging for candy?  I have to apply a little bit of logic to this.  I have given the issue a lot of thought over the past year.

Last year, I was introduced to some friends who do not celebrate Christmas.  My first thought was WHAT?  Why in the world would you not want to celebrate the birth of your Savior?  Well, as it turns out, my first thoughts were a bit judgmental and wrong.  The reason why someone who loves God would choose to remove Christmas celebration form their calendars is because Christmas is a holiday that has borrowed from pagan rituals.  There is not even proof that Christ was born in December!  The gift giving was taken from the Roman Holiday Saturnalia, which celebrated their gods with gift giving.  The Christmas tree has pagan roots also.  However, Christians have adapted these things as a celebration of Jesus birth.  I have heard the argument that "At least Christmas has some redeeming value because we use it to celebrate Jesus, Halloween has no redeeming value."  I have to say that logically, I cannot agree with that.  Both were holidays that were extracted from pagan culture and eventually celebrated to mean something different from their original intent.  I sincerely cannot see the difference.

So, the question now is do we attempt to remove all things that have pagan origins from our lives?  That would take a tremendous amount of study, as many of our traditions can claim some pagan roots.  Veils were used in the Bible as a means of modesty, but were also used in Roman culture to protect the bride from evil spirits.  Should we discourage the use of veils because of their possible appearance of evil?  There are many other customs that we observe that either shared origins with non-Christian cultures or came completely  from the non-Christian traditions.  Do we have the strength to search out all of these things and eliminate them?  Do we really need to?

I am going to give you my opinion here.  Just my opinion, so take it for what it is.  I believe that Paul dealt adequately with this in his teachings.  Colossians  addresses the fact that Christ's death of the cross has "disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
He goes on to say "let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."  I know that most people who oppose Halloween are very familiar with that verse as an argument.  I don't see it as much of an argument for Halloween, but an argument that we are not bound by any of these things.  The holidays he mentioned were Jewish holidays that the devout Jew was obligated to observe.  He says you no longer have any obligation to them under grace. 

So in my opinion, it is not evil to dress up like Captain America and go trick or treating.  I personally do have a problem with zombies, vampires, etc, because of what they represent.  To trick or treat, in my opinion, does not mean that you are honoring or worshiping satan.  That being said, I have the utmost respect for those who choose not to participate.  I think that if we cannot participate with a clear conscience, then we should simply avoid it.  However, I do think that we need to keep in mind that BOTH Christmas and Halloween traditions started out with ungodly origins.  Christians have adapted Christmas into a beautiful celebration that honors the birth of God on earth.  We have the grace to do that.  I can put up a Christmas tree with a clear conscience knowing that I am not worshiping false Roman gods, but rather honoring my Savior.  In the same way, I can dress my kids up like the Knights of the Round Table (our family theme this year?) and take them trick or treating and know that I am not honoring satan in the process.

I know that there are many of you out there who will disagree with me.  I have no problem with that.  The only warning: I would not want to receive an admonition from you against Halloween and get a Christmas card from you two months later standing in front of your Christmas tree.  I believe when we teach against something, it is vital to examine our own lives before we judge to remove any "planks" that might blind our vision.

James 4:12 

Once again, I welcome your comments, disagreements, and insights.


  1. You're right in all you've said. Your thoughts line up exactly w/ what Paul teaches. This is a case where it is a matter of what is in your heart & what you do w/ it. Our church has a Halloween alternative every year where our kids can dress up & get as much candy as they want. We always have soo much fun! Halloween isn't even an issue in our home. I let my kids carve pumpkins, but don't put a candle in it. We make nice faces & other decorations, but no jack o latern faces. This isn't cuz I feel I "can't". I just prefer to show some difference in how I do things as a Child of God. Good thoughts Lori!! :))

  2. We have run the whole gamut on this one. Herb and I studied the origins of halloween when we were teens--presented it to the church along with the rest of the youth group and made most of the older folks mad:)
    Anyway, we have tried in different ways to "redeem" it in the past by giving tracts, wholesome costumes, etc. Our kids wanted the candy/fun of dressing up so I began using the day for a field trip/stop at the candy factory for stuffing their bags w/candy as an alternative for trick or treating. Also the dress up part is definitely fun, but they get opportunities to dress up for historical events anyway.
    We will celebrate Reformation Day on October 31st celebrating the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg Church Door. We have chosen this option for the last few years and are satisfied with this alternative.
    As far as the comparison w/Christmas--don't think they are in the same category. I don't think a hard case can be made for christianizing the origins of Halloween vs Christmas symbols. The origin of Christmas is still Christ.

  3. The origin of Christmas is Christ. The customs that we use at Christmas are not Christ. You can find a pagan meaning for almost everything we do! Even the time of year, the trees, gift giving, it can all be traced back to the pagan holiday Saturnalia. Christians during this time tried hard to adapt some of the customs so that they would be less obvious in their celebration. Romans even decorated trees (which were idols of their gods.) Jeremiah chapter 10 talks about this custom. Now, I do not believe that my Christmas tree is an idol, and I have a hard time believing that you would either, but you have to admit that it was a custom that was "adopted" from pagan celebrations. Holly wreaths were used in Celtic times to ward off evil spirits. Mistletoe has origins in sexual impurity...the Romans decorated their trees in holly berries..I could go on and on. But you and I use these things and they mean nothing more than celebrating Jesus.

    If you and I can take these things and use them for a different meaning, then why is it so prohibited on Halloween?

  4. Hmm...

    Not bad for a Cards fan!

    I guess we'll agree to disagree agreeably!

    Christmas and Halloween are very different, Lori...


    disclaimer: i used to be pagan, very very pagan. I am now a proud follower of Christ. I get rather frustrated when people spout of the claim of "Halloween is a pagan holiday, and Christians should never celebrate it" then they rattle off their Christmas plans. Yes Halloween (samhain to pagans) is about death. When i celebrated samhain as a pagan, i was offended at the modern halloween. Why? Because it mocks something that should be joyful and honorable. Christians say we shouldn't celebrate death, but should we not celebrate every single day that Jesus went through DEATH for us?? Death is a huge part of life. samhain was the celtic new year. At that time of year, look around you, everything is dying in one way or another. The trees and plants, are losing their leaves. The animals are beginning to hibernate. The days are dying (less and less sunlight). This was the time when traditionally the farm animals were slaughtered, (for food for the winter, not for ritual)
    It was a time to honor your loved ones who have died. We took out the photo albums, nana's wedding dress, told stories about great grandpa.
    You are very right, the origin of Christmas is pagan. Easter, also comes from a pagan holiday. Eaostre, or Ostara(named for the goddess of spring) is celebrated by the pagans, as a holiday of fertility returning (symbols of easter are eggs and bunnies, sound familiar? :) )
    Groundhog day is celebrated as an "how much longer until spring?" holiday. Pagans celebrate Imbolc, on the very same day, as a "the beginnings of spring are starting" holiday.
    Mayday, where in many Christian schools they still do the maypole dance?? Yep! Pagan! Pagans celebrate Beltane, the very same day. and do the maypole dance.
    So again, thank you, for pointing out something very obvious, but most Christians refuse to acknowledge.!

  6. Grace does not give us permission to sin. Paul was talking about the Jewish feasts and celebrations, not slapping Christ's name on the way the heathens worshipped their gods. They did horrible and wicked things. I do believe the Lord cares about origins. Over and over in the Bible God tells us how to worship Him and He says, "Learn not the way of the heathen". Also, God's ways are usually opposite of the world's ways. The majority of the world celebrates Christmas. I do not believe that Christians should celebrate Halloween or Christmas. But I know many Christians believe it is OK to have a time of remembrance of the miracle of Christ's birth. I'm just not sure we should have that time of remembrance on Dec. 25th. I don't mean any harm in posting this. I just wanted to share what I believe to be true. With that said, we stopped celebrating Halloween just a few short years ago and are still working through not celebrating Christmas.


  7. Lori,
    I have too have wondered what is the difference and why do people make such a big deal about Halloween but do not see the same in other holidays and I think it is just because we do not know where our traditions come from. Just a lack of knowledge; so thank you for bringing this up. Thank you also for pointing out that Paul was talking strictly about jewish holidays when he speaks of festivals; because the holidays up for discussion are not "a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." However, I came to a different decision than you did.

    The most informative book I have read on this topic is The Two Babylons by Alexander Hyslop. I am hoping you can read it hear:
    There is a tendency to jump right to the little chapters on holidays, but if you want to see why our culture is melting down from lack of true spirituality then start at the beginning and don't give up on the read.

    The first thing to think about is what is evil. As humans we cannot decide what is evil and what is good. Jer 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Isa 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." We must go to scripture for what is right and wrong and not decide for ourselves.

    2Tim 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
    Col 2:8 "Beware lest any man spooil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the ruiments of the world, and not after Christ."

  8. The first scripture I came across that launched me into studying this is:
    Jerimiah 10:1-10 "Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and they name is great in might. Who would not fear thee,O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. Silver spread into plates is brought from TArshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men. But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his idignation." Somebody learned the way of the heathen and through the generations brought it right to us. If God has called us to be different from the world and to be a witness of Him to the world by being different-How loving is it to the unsaved of the world for us to put our focus on the babe in a manger( as miraculous as that is) when the next time any of us see Christ it will be "at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation." Thats why these festivals cannot be found shown in good light in the Bible. They do not originate there. I believe they work contrary to the gospel.
    Consider the things we are called to do as Christians: belief, repentance, baptism, Lord's supper, prayer, fasting, encouraging each other to do these things. Now constrast them with these holidays or festivals. Isn't there just a stark difference? You can definately see in the God ordained things a restraint of the flesh. Man made things are all about feeding the flesh. Have you read through the scriptures where Jesus talks and noticed that he continually calls people to see the spiritual side of things opposed to seeing life by the flesh? Consider the Lord's supper. You don't see the world jumping on that or marketing it. They can't it is too holy. Consider what God says to how we are to partake. If we are hungry, thirsty or have a problem with someone else we may not participate..if we do harm may come to us. It is a spiritual thing and our flesh will gain no satisfaction from it. It is to be a pure observance. I almost chuckle at how directly opposite we find christmas to be. There is tons of food to feast upon. All are secretly focused on the gifts they will receive and the excitement in seeing if they got the best gift for someone else. And then there is that smile most put on as they come together with family members they can't stand the rest of the days of the year- look online as the holiday time approaches for articles on how to deal with family-they are in abundance.
    1John 2:15-17 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." I think it can be seen clearly in view of this verse what is really celebrated at the winter festival.

  9. My children were a great motivation for me to study this and make a decision. I had to think what I would teach my children about Christ by celebrating these holidays. And the best thing I could figure to do was stick to what the Bible taught...otherwise i would cause confusion. Look at Cain. He thought he knew how to worship God and became a murderer. Saul thought he knew how to worship God and he lost his kingdom and more importantly God's favor and blessing. Uzziah i think it was thought he would help God out in a spiritual matter and was struck dead. Out of the fear of the Lord and a fear for my children I asked my husband if we could stop celebrating those things.
    I know that God cares about this topic we are discussing. Consider what he said to Israel in Deut 12:28-32 "Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thy self that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God; for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add there to nor diminsh from it." God is the same God now as he was then. We dont offer sacrifices anymore because the real sacrifice was paid. So if God says not to worship as other peoples worshipped gods of this world maybe we ought to look at this and not just think God doesn't care what we do.
    Two last thoughts...When I was checking out online about Halloween I saw some quote from a leader in wicca (real wiches of today) that said something to the effect that she was happy that Christians and witches could come together on the witch's holiest of nights and celebrate. I was done at that point. God calls us to be different not the same to be a witness. It is in a witches best interest that I do not celebrate with her, even though dressing up and collecting candy is not evil of itself.
    As I christmas shopped one evening I began pondering all the information against christmas I had gathered over the years and experiences I had had. And then in the next isle I heard a woman tell her son something about her not having any money and that if he wanted some certain toy he ought to get on his knees and pray to santa for it. I just couldn't believe the blasphemy! I felt sorry for them that they didn't know that there was a real king that could grant them their physical needs yes but also so much more than this world has to offer. And NO i didn't go and give them that good news! I was too busy shopping!!!! I completely believe in Grace and Liberty. but there are instructions that come with our liberty. We ought not use it to the offense of others.
    Anyone who doesn't celebrate christmas of easter is looked at as kind of odd by other Christians and that strikes me funny seeing how those things aren't in the scripture are not doctrines from Christ or his apostles. I have had wonderful conversations with people about the Lord all due to me not celebrating these festivals. Thats the practical side of obstaining from them. I guess those are most of my reasons for staying away from those festivals.

  10. Rebecca, Before I began studying this issue, I never even knew that that portion of Jeremiah existed! I do have to say that I believe that the Romans cut their trees down and fashioned them in the shape of idols specifically to worship them. The part where it says that they nailed them to the walls and they did not move tells me that they were worshiping their trees as something far different than the Christmas tree. They were actually akin to the statues of gold that others worshiped. I don't think most Christians see their Christmas trees that way. I don't think most of them have any idea why they even put up a tree (rather than tradition)

    On the other hand, I have a ceramic statue of a fish that an artist friend made for me. It doesn't bother me at all to have such a statue in my house because that is all it is--a statue. I don't worship it. It is much the same with my Christmas decorations. God gave us holly berries, evergreen trees, mistletoe, etc. and some people chose to use them for evil. That doesn't make them inherently evil, just abused or misused.

    I guess my point was made in that I believe that we should be consistent. If you really believe God prohibits anything with a possible pagan link, then get rid of it all! If you believe that He gives us the grace to participate in such things, knowing that they have no pagan meaning to us, then so be it.

    I really appreciate the time that all of you took to give such a thoughtful and thorough response.

  11. Jamie--I agree with you. Grace does not give us license to sin. I also agree that Paul wasn't talking about pagan holidays, but rather Jewish festivals. Thanks for your response--no harm done! :)

  12. Lori,
    I totally agree that things of themselves are not evil, we could turn a corner here and have a discussion about guns!!! haahahaha!! We are very tightly linked to pagans...they are human!!I don't think you have to be participating in satanic rituals to be a pagan. You are either a child of the world or a child of Christ. we can't just get rid of everything pagan the world we live in is pagan..I'm strictly speaking about borrowing from their worship and putting it in our own. If God's gracious purpose in calling us out of the world is to be a light so others will see the way, can we shine bright by mingling worldliness with Bible teachings? your call to consistancy is a righteous one. I think God would rather us be consistantly cold or consistantly hot. But I am thankful for his mercy. I'd be in a world of pain if he stripped me of all my sinfulness in one moment!!! :)
    Thank you for the interesting conversation!

  13. Way to go Lori! I heartily agree and also with what Jamie said in her comment.

    So many Christians are quick to jump on woman wearing 'pants/trousers', as they want to follow the Word to a "T", and do only what it says is acceptable, but love the whole Christmas/Easter thing, which is clearly not in the Word anywhere, and has it's roots firmly planted in pagan rituals. We cannot pick and chose what we prefer to follow, when it suits us to.

    I said recently, that if you are going to draw a line in the sand over Halloween and it's pagan origins, don't stop there... do it for all the pagan holidays. Christmas and Easter is not biblical and no matter what man-made Christian twist has been added, it is not what God has asked us to obverse at all!

    He has asked us to observe His Feast days. We (our family) don't physically set a table and celebrate Passover, but we observe the whole symbolic meaning of it, by studying it and understanding it and acknowledging it.

    Christmas has been so ingrained as a Christian holiday, when it is not, and has become a 'tradition' of man... Jesus warned about following man's tradition, and not God's traditions.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, thank you for your honesty and boldness :D


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