“When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Deuteronomy 18:9-11
Halloween comes from a Celtic term which means "All Hallow's Eve". Halloween is the day before All Saint's (Hallow's) Day, a Christian holiday celebrated by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. In 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV affirmed a day for honoring of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day. Sometime after 731 AD, Pope Gregory III expanded the celebration to all Saints (both known and unknown) as well as the Christian Martyrs. But, as in many things, time and compromise has a tendency to corrupt even good things.
The celebration took a long time to take hold in America, because of its Protestant roots, but after the Irish potato famine and the subsequent migration of Irish Catholics to America the celebration started becoming widespread. In the 1800s the celebration was about community and neighbors coming together for parties and fellowships to prepare for All Saint’s Day when they would commemorate Christian Saints and the fallen Christian Martyrs. In the 1900s the celebration of Halloween started becoming very secular and old practices of the Celtic Druids started permeating the once hollowed celebration. This came from the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), in which people tried to scare away evil spirits, tried to predict the future and tried to trick the spirits by dressing up in costumes, usually dressing up like wild or domestic animals. They lit bonfires and burned crops and sacrificed animals to their gods. The Catholic Church blended this festival with All Saint’s Day to make the transition from the Celtic pantheon of gods to the one true God easier for the Celts. Unfortunately, this practice of blending festivals, feasts and celebrations often leads to compromise which direct people down wrong paths.
Today, Halloween is plagued with violence, vandalism, witches, monsters, scary costumes, the occult and candy – what a combination. Our verses for today tell us to not allow sacrifices of our children (e.g., abortion), fortune telling, witchcraft and other occult practices. Halloween started out with good intentions, but through compromise, rejection of common sense and scripture, it has become an American celebration of the occult and candy. Fortunately, many Christian churches have inadvertently begun getting back to the old 1800 century spirit of community, through trunk or treat gatherings and Halloween parties. We need to continue this trend and celebrate Christian community and fellowship, and the next day, on All Saint’s Day we should pause to remember the fallen Christian martyrs.
Halloween is okay, if we can bring it back around to being the Christian festival that it was intended to be, with sweat fellowship in Christian communities and then remembering Christian Martyrs. Many have died for our faith in the distant past and recent past and they will not be the last. Have a safe and blessed Halloween and All Saint’s Day!