In 1998, CNN reported that Halloween was the second biggest holiday of the year for many businesses--a 2007 news story also seemed to confirm this, and according to an article on page D3 of the October 27, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Americans were expected to spend nearly $7,000,000,000 on Halloween in 2011. It seems that more and more adults are participating in this annual event--though there have also been more objections to it than in the past.
What is Halloween? Where did it come from? Is it a holiday that the God of the Bible approves of? Do Halloween and Christianity belong together?
Halloween is an old English word which means " hallowed evening". It is the night before the Roman Catholic holiday that they claim to have adopted from the Eastern Orthodox now called All Saints Day (which in Mexico is celebrated as "the Day of the Dead"; see also All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead). Part of the public Catholic rationale for All Saints Day is that they have so many saints they wish to honor that they decided to lump all those without a specific day into this one.
It is believed that Halloween contains many of the remnants of an autumn holiday celebrated by the Druids called Samhain (apparently pronounced "sah-van" though some say SAH win or SOW in--and apparently meaning "summers end"). There historically have been pagan figures with names that are similar to this. For example, there was a Celtic hero named Samain or Sawan who supposedly owned a magical cow. In other pagan religions, there was Samana ("the leveler") the name of an Aryan God of Death (a.k.a. Yama, Sradhadeva, Antaka, or Kritanta) according to the ancient Veda scriptures of Hinduism and Shamash was the Sun God of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Some of the idea for modern costumes came via France.
Essentially, the timing of Halloween seems to be related to certain movements of the sun. Notice the following:
Halloween is date of astronomical interest. It has to do with seasons: Halloween is a cross-quarter date, approximately midway between an equinox and a solstice. There are four cross-quarter dates throughout the year, and each is a minor holiday: Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd), May Day (May 1st), Lammas Day (Aug. 1st), and Halloween (Oct. 31st).
"Long ago, the Celts of the British Isles used cross-quarter days to mark the beginnings of seasons. Winter began with Halloween, or as they called it, Samhain," says John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory.
"Halloween marked the transition between summer and winter, light and dark -- and life and death. On that one night, according to folklore, those who had died during the previous year returned for a final visit to their former homes. People set out food and lit fires to aid them on their journey -- but remained on guard for mischief the spirits might do." (Spooky Astronomy. http://spaceweather.com/ present 10/31/07).
Notice that in Asia, versions of this day, somewhat like the Celts and the pre-Hispanic Mexicans, it is celebrated near the first of August:
Japan has its own Halloween-type celebration known as "O-bon," an old Buddhist holiday meant to honor ancestors. It takes place in mid-August or July. Graves are visited and cleaned, food offerings are made, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide spirits, and a ritualized dance called "bon-odori" takes place to welcome them. On the last day of O-bon, to guide spirits on their journey, the Japanese partake in a ceremony called "Toro nagashi," in which paper lanterns are floated down a river.
O-bon originates from the Chinese Buddhist celebration of "Ullambana," which has the same notion that during this time, spirits are able to move among us.
The Ullambana Sutra, a traditionally Indian story, is the scripture that addresses this day, with the story of Mahamaudgalyayana, a disciple of Buddha, whose mother had been reborn into a lower realm. Though interpretations of the story vary, Buddha's instructions to his student mirror modern practices of the day, which is to offer food and pray for the souls of both living and dead relatives. People also would give donations to monks.
The current celebration in Taiwan and China of the Ghost Festival pays homage to this Buddhist holiday, but includes the practices of burning money, clothes and goods, which are believed to then make it to the spirit world in full, as well as the release of paper boats and lanterns into rivers (Meaning, sanctity of Halloween is lost in translation St. Cloud Times, MN - Oct 21, 2007 http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071021/OPINION/110210041/1006/NEWS01).
Hence, the foundations of Halloween are not only Western, and certainly not of Christian origin.
Satan has successfully gotten many of his holidays endorsed by many cultures and religions of the world.
There is actually another day, somewhat like Halloween, that is observed April 30th mainly in parts of Europe. For more information on it, please see Walpurgis Night: Witches’ Sabbath?
Druids and Bone Fires
Growing up I was familiar with bonfires, and simply thought that they were warm and provided light. But later I learned that there origins were related to Halloween.
The Druids, and order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings but were changed for punishment for their evil deeds. From these Druid beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities...The custom of using leaves, pumpkins, and corn stalks as Halloween decorations comes from the Druids. The early peoples of Europe also had a festival similar to the Druid holiday...In the 700s, the Roman Catholic Church named November 1 as All Saints' Day. The old pagan customs and the Christian feast day were combined into the Halloween festival [Halloween. World Book, vol 9. Chicago, 1966: 25-26].
The origins of Halloween specifically can be traced back to the ancient Celts (who lived in what is now known as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern France) and their Druid priests. The end of October commemerated their festival of the waning year...Druids believed that during this season spirits walked, and evil held power over the souls of men. On October 31, their New Year's Eve, great bonfires were kindled, which were thought to simulate the sun to procure blessings for the entire succeeding year. The fires remained burning as a means to frighten away evil spirits. The Druids held these early Halloween celebrations in honor of Samhain, also known as Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1. There bonfires, or "bone fires", were also used in animal and human sacrifice--thus the name. The tradition of lighting a bonfire has continued to modern times (Coulter F.R. Occult Holiday--or--God's Holy Days--Which? York Publishing Company, Hollister (CA) 2006).
bonfire...late M.E. bone fire, i.e. a fire with bones for fuel (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. Gramercy Books, New York. 1989, p. 168).
Growing up, no one I knew ever mentioned that bonfires originally were bone fires.
The origin of jack-o-lanterns is somewhat amusing.
The Irish have a story that a man named Jack died who was too much of a miser to be with God and was not allowed to be with the devil since he had played practical jokes on him. Since Jack had nowhere to go, he was to walk the earth carrying a lantern until Judgment Day.
In Ireland, originally, carved turnips were used for jack-o-lanterns, though most now use pumpkins.
In Leviticus chapter 23, it lists
"The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts" (vs.2).
All Saints' Day evening (Halloween) is not a biblically enjoined feast day for Christians (it even seems to be warned against in Deut 4:15-24). Actually the Bible warns against worshipping God the way the pagans, etc. did (Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 10:2-3).
The Bible repeatedly warns against the practices of witches (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10, Galatians 5:20) and dealing with ghosts/etc. (Deuteronomy 18:11, I Chronicles 10:13).
In addition the Bible specifically teaches:
" Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: ...idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, ... drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).
This may be because it also teaches that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (I Samuel 15:23).
"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you" (Deuteronomy 18:10-14).
"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:23).
"And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone" (2 Kings 17:17-18).
The original KJV also has this statement:
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus 22:18 KJV).
Back in 1969 Anton Lavey wrote The Satanic Bible. What Does the Satanic Bible Say About Halloween? On page 96 on the 1976 version, it mentions the following
After one's own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht and Halloween (or All Hallows' Eve)...
Halloween - All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Day - falls on October 31st or November 1st. Originally, All Hallows' Eve was one of the great fire festivals of Britain at the time of the Druids. In Scotland it was associated with the time when the spirits of the dead, the demons, witches, and sorcerers were unusually active and propitious. Paradoxically, All Hallows' Eve was also the night when young people performed magical rituals to determine their future marriage partners. The youth of the villages carried on with much merry-making and sensual revelry, but the older people took great care to safeguard their homes from the evil spirits, witches, and demons who had exceptional power that night (Lavey A, Gilmore P. The Satanic Bible. Avon, September 1, 1976, p. 96--note it is on page 53 of an online version I found also).
So, yes Halloween is something that certain Satanists do celebrate (for information about birthdays, please see the article Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?).
Should Christians celebrate Halloween or let their children celebrate it?
One article at the mislabeled Christianity Today starts out with the statement, "I love Halloween" (Mendenhall D. A Halloween Solution. Christianity Today, October 31, 2005. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/novemberweb-only/13.0.html). In the past Christianity Today has sold various trinkets associated with the observance of Halloween (for 2011, it was advertising Jack-o-Lantern car magnets when I checked).
Even though it somewhat endorses it, according to Christianity Today, Halloween is clearly of pagan origin:
More than a thousand years ago Christians confronted pagan rites appeasing the lord of death and evil spirits. Halloween's unsavory beginnings preceded Christ's birth when the druids, in what is now Britain and France, observed the end of summer with sacrifices to the gods. It was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to the old pagan rites and superstitions...
Chrysostom tells us that as early as the fourth century, the Eastern church celebrated a festival in honor of all saints...Some people question the whole idea of co-opting pagan festivals and injecting them with biblical values. Did moving the celebration to November to coincide with the druidic practices of the recently conquered Scandinavians simply lay a thin Christian veneer over a pagan celebration? Have we really succeeded in co-opting Christmas and Easter, or have neopagans taken them back with Easter bunnies and reindeer? In a sense, it's always been the same debate: do we ignore a pagan romp, merge with it, attack it, or cover it up with seasonal fun?...
However we must never be superficial about it. Evil exists. It impinges on our world. Jesus, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, was never naive about evil. Some, hearing the call for celebration of the light, would reassure all with a Disneyesque church production on heaven's delights.
Unfortunately, the more gruesome aspects of Halloween observances carry a certain authenticity...
Those who feel squeamish about immature children identifying with evil should not be too lightly dismissed. Nor is it necessarily healthy for witches to be depicted as darling little black-magic miscreants, as if all evil were simply a silly folklore heritage for our enlightened contemporary amusement...(Myra H. Is Halloween a Witches Brew? Christianity Today, October 22, 1982. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/octoberweb-only/42.0.html verfied 10/18/07).
Although the above implies early Christian observance of some type of All Saints' Day, this is simply not true of the early true Christians.
Furthermore, Halloween/All Saints’ Day is NOT listed in the early observances of even the Roman of Eastern Orthodox Catholic churches as the early writings by Tertullian and Origen show (see article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?).
Additionally, three points related to John Chrysostom need to be mentioned.
The first is that a careful reading of his 74th homily (which supposedly is where he declared this observation according to The Catholic Encylopedia) shows that he discussed the deaths of prophets, but it is not clear to me that John Chrysostom declared the “Christian” observation something that resembles “All Saints’ Day.”
The second is that John Chrysostom was a hater of Jews and biblical practices (see article Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?). So even if he somehow was endorsing something, why would anyone wish to cite him for support of activities for true Christians?
And the third point, is that John Chrysostom was speaking over a century after the Greco-Roman confederation took over as the predominant claimers of Christianity (this is discussed in the article The History of Early Christianity), hence John Chrysostom was not even part of the true Church of God when he spoke.
Of course, as even Christianity Today admits, the more gruesome aspects of Halloween reflect undesirable pagan authenticity. So contrary to the leanings of Christianity Today, its own writings should be understood as admitting that Halloween should be condemned and not observed by true Christians.
How All Saints' Day actually became a universal holiday shows another type of pagan connection:
All Saints' Day...It was first celebrated on May 13, A.D. 610, as the Feast of All Holy Martyrs, when the Emperor Phocas gave the ancient Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV as a church (All Saints' Day. World Book, vol 1. Chicago, 1966: 354).
The Romans built the Pantheon as a temple in honor of all their gods. The name means of all the gods...Agrippa first built the famous Pantheon in Rome in 27 B.C. (Pantheon. World Book, vol 15. Chicago, 1966: 111).
Druid...priests worshiped some gods similar to those of the Greeks and Romans, but under different names (Druid. World Book, vol 5. Chicago, 1966: 289).
Of course, some feel that although the Druids worshiped the pagan deities under different names that is wrong, yet they accept the change of the names of the "gods" in the Pantheon to the "Catholic saints" is perfectly acceptable.
Here is a bit more on how and why the Pantheon became acceptable to the Roman Catholics:
In 607 A.D. the Roman Emperor Phocus defeated the Barbarians who were in control of Rome. The Pantheon in Rome, a pagan edifice which had been wrested from the barbarians, was given to pope Boniface IV. Originally, Emperor Hadrian built the Pantheon -- around 100 A.D. He dedicated it to the pagan goddess Cybele and to the other Roman deities. This temple became the central place in Rome where the pagans honored and commemorated their gods. With this splendid edifice now falling into the hands of professing Christians, the question was, What should be done with it?
The pagans had dedicated it to Cybele and all their gods. But the Roman bishop now CONSECRATED IT TO THE VIRGIN MARY AND ALL THE SAINTS of both sexes (see "The Mysteries of All Nations", Grant, p. 120). Thus this pagan building became "holy." No more did the pagan Romans use this edifice to pray for their dead. It was now the professing Christians who employed the Pantheon in praying for their dead.
This re-dedication of the pagan temple to Mary and others occurred in 610 A.D. Now converted into a Christian shrine, an annual festival was instituted to commemorate the event. The day chosen was May 13.
This May 13 commemoration of the dead saints was known by the name of "All Saints Day." It continued to be held in May for over two centuries -- until 834 A.D. In that year the NAME and the DATE WERE CHANGED.
Notice! "The time of celebration was altered to the FIRST OF NOVEMBER, and it was then called ALL HALLOW" -- from where we get the name Hallowe'en, ALL HALLOW merely meaning ALL HOLY, and the "een" is a contraction of evening ("Folklore", James Napier, p. 177).
Thus in 834 A.D. the Church in the Middle Ages began to celebrate Hallowe'en on the FIRST OF NOVEMBER for the first time. This was the very same day the Druids in Britain, the Norsemen in Scandinavia, and the pagan Germans among others were keeping their festival of ALL SOULS EVE, in commemoration of Saman, lord of death, and his demons (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).
Furthemore, the adoption of the Pantheon is in violation of what the even the Catholic version of the Bible teaches:
2 Destroy all the places in which the nations, that you shall possess, worshipped their gods upon high mountains, and hills, and under every shady tree: 3 Overthrow their altars, and break down their statues, burn their groves with fire, and break their idols in pieces: destroy their names out of those places. (Deuteronomy 12:2-3, Douay OT)
God said to destroy pagan places of worship; He did not say to switch them for His worship.
There is an expression that "he who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." So, with some people, no matter what you tell them about why Halloween is not a holiday for true Christians to observe, they will observe them anyway.
Also, there are certain "modern" pro-Halloween" arguments that I would like to try to address here.
Here are some excerpts from an article in Christianity Today that Halloween endorses Halloween:
On the calendar of events for the Christian college where I teach, October 31 sits in a dark square with no acknowledgment that there is anything special about the date.
"It's Satan's Holiday, Dr. Rearick," affirmed one of my students. "Didn't you know?"
Well, no, I didn't know...I have always considered Halloween a day to celebrate the imagination, to become for a short time something wonderful and strange, smelling of grease paint, to taste sweets that are permissible only once a year..."But look at the roots of Halloween," some may say. "Don't you see how evil it once was?" I do, but the operative word in that sentence is was. Samhain was once a time of fear and dread, but at one time so was Yule or Midvinterblot, as it was called in Sweden...
Christians should instead celebrate Halloween with gusto. (Rearick III, AM. Trick-or-Treat? Christianity Today, October 31, 2008. http://blog.kyria.com/giftedforleadership/2008/10/trick_or_treat.html viewed 10/17/2011)
The above argument suggests that it does not matter if Halloween was a pagan holiday, it is not one now, so it is okay. But based on what scripture? The Bible is clear that the God of the Bible did not want His people to adopt pagan customs (Jeremiah 10:2-3).
Furthermore, notice the type of costumes that many women like to dress as in the 21st century:
As everyone knows, the perennial favorite among Halloween costumes for women is "ho," followed by "sexy witch," "sexy nurse" and "Lady Gaga." http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-allen-halloween-sluts-20111030,0,6455906.story
No one can consider how "Lady Gaga" provocatively dresses to be Christian, and no true believer would ever try to follow her risqué example, or to try to directly resemble some type of harlot as many women apparently like to do now. Hence, although I have heard some claim that Halloween is no longer a pagan holiday, certainly with many dressing immodestly, no one can seriously feel that Christians are to observe it.
Holidays that encourage women to dress like harlots are not holidays that Christians should want to endorse.
Here are some comments that several anti-Church of God websites posted from former WCG-writer Keith Stump:
First, there’s no need to point out that Halloween is not found in Leviticus 23. (Duh.) Leviticus 23 is obsolete and irrelevant anyway...Yet some of Halloween’s customs do have roots in pre-Christian (“pagan”) practices...Some of Halloween’s customs can be traced to practices of the Celtic New Year, particularly among the Druids of ancient Britain.
Of course, since the Bible says that the holy days in Leviticus 23 are "'The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts" (vs. 2), obviously those that do not believe that they need to do what the Bible teaches would consider that Halloween was acceptable. It is nice that he admits that current custumes often have pagan roots--and followers of the true God are not to adopt pagan-worship practices (Deuteronomy 4:15-16).
Keith Stump also wrote:
Others who are reading this have heartwarming memories of Halloween. It’s a slice of genuine Americana...Halloween reaffirmed social bonds with friends and neighbors. These are hardly the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), unless one is a fanatic who interprets that phrase like, well, a fanatic.
Now that is an attempt to try to insult and label people who do not wish to disobey God as "fanatics." The reality is that pagans had fond memories of their holiday practices as well or they would not have continued to have their holidays. God did not say that exceptions should be made for pagan-practices that families liked (cf. Deuteronomy 4:15-16).
Keith Stump also wrote:
I have seen no evidence of children being psychologically warped or seduced into a life of witchcraft and perversion as a result of innocent Halloween activities.
I was unaware that Keith Stump is able to look at the heart (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7), though he probably feels that accepting non-biblical Protestant or similar faiths is not a problem. Pagan cultures have many "experts" like Keith Stump who come to similar conclusions about how many practices that are opposed to scripture affect their people.
Keith Stump also wrote:
Halloween is also a good time to reconsider our own views about death and the afterlife. The unbiblical doctrine of “soul sleep” would be a good place to start. The Bible clearly teaches (and centuries of experience demonstrate) that death does not interrupt self-awareness; personal identity survives death!
Jesus and others in the Bible come to a different conclusion than Keith Stump here (see Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? ). Also, most people do not use Halloween as time to consider views of their death, but instead view it as a time for a holiday of indulgence. The high prevalence of diabetes in the Western world is the direct result of consuming excessive amounts of sugars and other refined carbohydrates, which is something that modern Halloween practices do encourage.
Keith Stump also wrote:
To all COG members out there: Is your children’s Christianity so feeble as to be endangered by a plastic mask and a few candy bars? Are your children so inadequately grounded in their religion as to be tempted into a life of witchcraft by attending a costume party? Are you yourself so poorly rooted in your faith that you fear your children will ask questions to which you have no satisfactory answers?
Now, the Bible says that no unclean person will enter the Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5). I am fairly sure that the Corinthians thought that they had less feeble Christianity when they tolerated a type of fornicator in their midst. But God inspired the Apostle Paul to write:
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3)
Christians should not be "puffed up" that they have spiritual strength because they have compromised with pagan-practices.
Furthermore, Jesus warned that looking at a woman to lust after her was wrong (Matthew 5:27-28). And the Apostle Paul wrote to "flee fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:18). The Bible does not say that men should see how long they can look at or be with an immodest woman and not sin as some type of badge of the strength of their faith. The Bible warns that we are not to "give place to sin." It is NOT a sign of spiritual strength to compromise and decide to engage in pagan practices that often involve immodest costumes to engage in various lusts of the flesh.
The anti-COG types can amuse themselves with Keith Stump's pro-Halloween writings (and sadly have done so), but the reality is that those who believe that they need to live by every word of the Bible (Matthew 4:4), would do better by avoiding practices that God clearly does not endorse (and also seems to condemn).
Now why was November 1, chosen? Notice the following:
"It was a Druidical belief that on the eve of this festival Saman, lord of death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals" ("Enc. Brit.", 11th ed., v. 12, pp. 857-8). Read what this November celebration was like! It was a pagan belief that on one night of the year the souls of the dead return to their original homes, there to be entertained with food. If food and shelter were not provided, these spirits, it was believed, would cast spells and cause havoc towards those failing to fulfill their requests. "It was the night for the universal walking about of all sorts of spirits, fairies, and ghosts, all of whom had liberty on that night" ("Highland Superstitions", Alexander Macgregor, p. 44). Literal sacrifices were offered on this night to the spirits of the dead, when, so the belief went, they visited their earthly haunts and their friends.
There was a reason why November was chosen for that particular event. The Celts and other Northern people considered the beginning of November as their New Year. This was the time when the leaves were falling and a general seasonal decay was taking place everywhere. Thus it was a fitting time, so they reasoned, for the commemoration of the dead. Since the Northern nations at that time began their day in the evening, the eve leading up to November 1st was the beginning of the festival. According to the Roman calendar it was the evening October 31 -- hence, Hallowe'en -- the evening of All Hallows.
To exorcise these ghosts, that is, to free yourself from their supposed evil sway, you would have to set out food and provide shelter for them during the night. If they were satisfied with your offerings, it was believed they would leave you in peace. If not, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you. "In Wales it was firmly believed that on All Hallows Eve the spirit of a departed person was to be seen at midnight on every crossroad and every stile" ("Folklore and Folk-Stories of Wales", Marie Trevelyan, p. 254).
In Cambodia people used to chant: "O all you our ancestors, who are departed, deign to come and eat what we have prepared for you, and to bless your posterity and to make it happy" ("Notice sur le Cambodge", Paris 1875, E. Aymonièr, p. 59).
This sort of Hallowe'en festival was strenuously observed throughout the non-Christian world. Pagans would pray to their false gods to prevent "DEMONS" and "witches" from molesting them. Notice! "The Miatecs of Mexico believed that the souls of the dead came back in the twelfth month of the year, WHICH CORRESPONDED TO OUR NOVEMBER. On this day of All Souls the houses were decked out to welcome the spirits. Jars of food and drink were set on a table in the principal room, and the family went out with the torches to meet the ghosts and invite them to enter. Then, returning to the house they knelt around the table, and with their eyes bent on the ground, prayed the souls to accept the offerings" ("Adonis", Frazer, p. 244).
This, then, is the way the heathen world celebrated their Hallowe'en, their "All Souls Day". Although some aspects of the Hallowe'en festival varied with each country, the overall pattern and purpose remained the same...
When the German Frankish king Charlemagne invaded and conquered parts of Eastern Germany, he compelled the conquered German king, Wittekind, to be baptized and to accept Christianity. Having no choice and seeing his life was at stake, this heathen ruler who knew little or nothing about Christ -- was forced into this "conversion." And with him his entire people. This policy brought complex problems. These pagans, who were usually baptized EN MASSE, were still pagans at heart. Even though they became nominal Christians, they still yearned for many of their heathen practices, which they were expected to discard...
Wittekind's Germans, now professing Christians, and other conquered pagans, had a profound influence on the ecclesiastical affairs of the church in the early 800's A. D. These barbaric and uncultured people brought with them many outright pagan practices and celebrations, Hallowe'en merely being one of many. They were fervent in clinging to their past ceremonies and observed them openly -- yet supposedly converted to Christianity. What was the church to do? Excommunicate them and thus reduce her membership? This she would not do. Was she to force them into discarding their heathen practices and adopt Italian or Roman ones? This, as she had learned in past times, was not possible.
There remained only one other way. Let the recently converted pagans keep certain of their heathen festivals, such as Hallowe'en or All Souls Day -- but label it "Christian." Of course the Germans were asked not to pray to their ancient pagan gods on this day. They must now use this day to commemorate the death of the saints. To make it easy for them, the Roman Church even CHANGED HER DATE of All Saints Day from May 13 to November 1st to satisfy the growing numbers of Germanic adherents. The Church understood the yearnings the Germans and others had for their old ways (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).
What about The Day of the Dead?
In Mexico and some other places, All Saints Day is normally called the Day of the Dead. Its origins are definitely not Christian but pagan, see All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead.
Again, it is not a biblical holy day with Christian practices.
More information on the dead can be found in the following articles:
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism?
Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up? How does one explain Revelation 14:11 in light of Malachi 4:3? What happens to the incorrigibly wicked?
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, by the early Church?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God's plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead When did "All Saints Day" and the "Day of the Dead" begin?
Endorsements From Roman Catholics
According to Roman Catholic sources, Halloween is one of their holidays, even though it contains pagan elements:
It should be noted that Halloween is a Catholic holiday. Pope Gregory IV in 835 made it the universal practice in the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. All Souls' Day follows the next day as the commemoration of all of the faithful who have departed.
“All Hallows’ Even” as the evening before All Hallows’ Day — All Saints’ Day – eventually became shortened to Halloween. Hallow, as in “hallowed be thy name” in the Lord’s Prayer, is an older form of the word “holy.”
It was the Protestant Reformation that rejected the universal practice of devotion to the dead (Martin Luther dropped any references to praying for the dead from his Bible). This Catholic holiday was attacked, much like the church as a whole, for being pagan and evil. Hence I wouldn’t be surprised if this cloud of suspicion hovering over Halloween originated from the spirit of anti-Catholicism.
But Nov. 1st was the day of the Celtic Summer’s End feast of Samhain, the day when the dead returned to the earth. We have retained some of these pagan elements to Halloween, as is true of Christmas and Easter.
Why would a pope put the Catholic celebration of the dead on top of the pagans’ celebrations of the dead? Because the Catholic feasts are in continuity and fulfill the meaning of the pagan ones...
So what about the indulgence in the spooky and scary? Skeletons are spooky, but they are also very Catholic. In fact, one couldn’t find a better haunted house for a Halloween pilgrimage than the various “chapel of bones” that can be found across Europe (Killian Brian. Halloween, as autumn celebration, reminder God’s name is hallowed. Catholic Online International News. 10/31/06. http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=21818).
In the 9th century, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration of All Saints Day (Martyrs Day at the time) to Nov 1...in effect "baptizing" these ancient pagan celebrations (Warner M. Evangelizing with Halloween National Catholic Register - Oct 31, 2012 http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-warner/evangelizing-with-halloween)
The above is the opinion of a man, yet the Bible itself teaches that we should listen to the Bible above traditions and opinions of men.
Notice that Catholic scholars themselves admit that the day they call "All Saints", which begins the evening before (October 31, "All Saint's Hallowed Eve") was not observed by early Christians, but was a later addition:
ALL SAINTS. As early as the fourth century, the Greeks kept on the first Sunday after Pentecost the feast of all martyrs and saints, and we still possess a sermon of St. Chrysostom de-livered on that day. In the West, the feast was introduced by Pope Boniface the Fourth after he had dedicated, as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs, the Pantheon, which had been made over to him by the Emperor Phocas. The feast of the dedication was kept on the thirteenth of May. About 731 Gregory III. consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's Church in honour of all the saints, from which time All Saints' Day has been kept in Rome, as now, on the first of November. From about the middle of the ninth century, the feast came into general observance throughout the West. (Addis W, Arnold T. Catholic Dictionary, 6th ed. The Catholic Publication Society Co, 1887. Nihil Obstat. EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., Censor Deputatu Imprimatur. HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883. Imprimatur. John Card. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York. Feb. 14, 1884. Copyright, Lawrence Kehoe, 1884/1887. p20).
ALL SOULS Day. A solemn commemoration of, and prayer for, all the souls in Purgatory, which the Church makes on the second of November. (Ibid, p. 20)
So let's again let's look at the Bible and not the opinions of men.
Thus says the LORD: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile (Jeremiah 10:2-3).
At the absolute best, Halloween customs are futile and detract from the emphasis to worship the true God.
You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars (Exodus 23:24).
Note that not only are God's people not to worship other gods, they are not to "do according to their works" (of those who did)--like Halloween. This is also confirmed in the passages below:
...do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
29 'When Yahweh your God has annihilated the nations confronting you, whom you are going to dispossess, and when you have dispossessed them and made your home in their country, 30 beware of being entrapped into copying them, after they have been destroyed to make way for you, and do not enquire about their gods, saying, "How did these nations worship their gods? I am going to do the same too." 31 This is not the way to treat Yahweh your God. For in honour of their gods they have done everything detestable that Yahweh hates; yes, in honour of their gods, they even burn their own sons and daughters as sacrifices!' (Deuteronomy 12:29-21, New Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic version)
No true Christian would want to encourage their children to participate in pagan customs associated with Halloween.
Denouncements From Roman Catholics
Interestingly, the powerful Roman Catholic archdiocese in Mexico City condemned Halloween observance as pagan in 2007, though it is still being observed by practicing Catholics there:
Mexico's Roman Catholic church slammed Halloween as "damaging and against the faith" on Monday, as conservatives sought to stem celebration of the ghouls-and-goblins holiday and return to the country's traditional Day of the Dead.
The U.S.-style holiday has made broad inroads in Mexico, with monster costumes almost as widely sold as the marigold flowers traditionally used to decorate relatives' graves during Nov. 1-2 Day of the Dead ceremonies, when families build altars and leave food, drink and flowers for the dearly departed.
"Those who celebrate Halloween are worshipping a culture of death that is the product of a mix of pagan customs," the Archdiocese of Mexico published in an article on its Web site Monday. "The worst thing is that this celebration has been identified with neo-pagans, Satanism and occult worship."
The archdiocese urged parents not to let their children wear Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating — instead suggesting Sunday school classes to "teach them the negative things about Halloween," costume parties where children can dress up as Biblical characters, and candy bags complete with instructions to give friends a piece while telling them "God loves you."...
Pre-Hispanic cultures celebrated a similar holiday in August, but after the Spanish conquest, historians say the date was changed to Nov. 1 to coincide with the Catholic holiday...
In another article, Onesimo Herrera-Flores complained that "Halloween, for a variety of reasons, has imposed itself on other nations, displacing native customs."
Celebrating Halloween, he said, citing a church authority, is "like inviting Satan into your home." (Mexico's Catholic church slams Halloween; conservatives call for return to Day of Dead. Associated Press - Oct 29, 2007 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/29/america/LA-GEN-Mexico-Church-Halloween.php
In 2009, the Vatican itself took steps to condemn Halloween:
Vatican condemns Hallowe’en as anti-ChristianThe Vatican has condemned Hallowe’en as anti-Christian, saying it is based on a sinister and dangerous “undercurrent of occultism”.Telegraph - Oct 30, 2009
The Holy See has warned that parents should not allow their children to dress up as ghosts and ghouls on Saturday, calling Hallowe’en a pagan celebration of “terror, fear and death”.
The Roman Catholic Church has become alarmed in recent years by the spread of Hallowe’en traditions from the US to other countries around the world.
As in Britain, it is only in recent years that Italian children have dressed up in costumes, played trick or treat on their neighbours and made lanterns out of hollowed out pumpkins.
The Vatican issued the warning through its official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in an article headlined “Hallowe’en’s Dangerous Messages”.
The paper quoted a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals, who said: “Hallowe’en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian.”
Parents should “be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death,” said Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites.
Last year a newspaper controlled by the Italian bishops, Avvenire, called for a boycott of Hallowe’en, calling it a “dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre” which could encourage “pitiless [Satanic] sects without scruples”.
Earlier this week the Catholic Church in Spain also condemned the growing popularity of Halloween….
...in recent years the Catholic church has been criticising, for instance, Halloween: it views Halloween as a symbol of subtle and dangerous secular values opposed to Christian ones; and it fears competition from its growing popularity. (Franco M. Is this the Vatican's twilight? Guardian, August 5, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/aug/05/vatican-ambassadors-holy-see)
In the Philippines, Catholic schools have discouraged Halloween:
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) has called on its member schools to shun Halloween parties...“Iwasan natin ang mga ganyang Halloween party kasi hindi naman Christian holidays... (Let's avoid holding Halloween parties because Halloween is not a Christian holiday...),” CEAP president Fr. Gregg Bañaga reportedly said in a CBCP News article. The report also noted that the Catholic Church has been against the idea of glorifying evil during Halloween rites. (No more Halloween parties, Catholic schools told. GMA News, October 27, 2012. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/279915/news/nation/no-more-halloween-parties-catholic-schools-told).
It is good when religious leaders discourage those who profess Christ from observing pagan holidays with pagan practices.
Halloween is pagan and leaders in many professing Christian churches know this.
From the Worldwide Church of God
The old Worldwide Church of God clearly taught against the observation of Halloween as can be shown below:
What about you and your children? What comes to your mind when thinking about Hallowe’en? The truth of the Bible? Not at all! Instead, weird and FRIGHTENING MASKS — persons PORTRAYED AS WITCHES AND DEMONS. Pumpkins and turnips hollowed out in the shape of EERIE-LOOKING faces! Lighted candles are placed inside to help bring out the more frightful side of these carvings. Dough is baked into small figurines RESEMBLING WITCHES AND SPIDER’S WEB CAKES are baked by the dozen for this occasion. Children, dressed up in the most revolting garments, are let loose on the neighbors, trying to scare the daylights out of them. Let’s be honest. I have before me the Good Housekeeping’s Book of Entertainment, which my wife picked up from the local library. On page 168 of this much-read book, there is a section on what to do on Hallowe’en. Notice the astonishing advice given! “Halloween decorations are quite as important as the food. When planning them, remember that if the room is to be dimly lit (preferably by candle and FIRELIGHT) the decorations must be bold to be effective. Orange, black and red, THE DEVIL’S COLOURS, are the colours associated with Halloween and THIS SCHEME SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT as far as possible . . . . Have paper streamers and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, or, if you would like to have something less usual, you could make a giant SPIDER’S web with black and orange strings, or in narrow strips of crepe paper coming from the four corners of the room, complete with a LARGE SPIDER — one of the DEVIL’S FAVOURITE FOLLOWERS.” Notice where the stress lies! Read further of the black magic associated with this festival. “To decorate the walls, make large silhouettes of CATS, BATS, OWLS AND WITCHES ON BROOMSTICKS . . . . For the supper table small WITCHES WITH BROOMSTICKS can be made by using lollipops on 4-inch sticks.” Weird lanterns, witch-balls, and witches’ cauldrons are some other objects, the book suggests, which must fit into the evening somehow. How pagan can you get?
NOWHERE does the Bible command us to observe Hallowe’en. Hallowe’en and other common festivals which people observe in the Christian-professing world have NO BIBLICAL BASIS. They originated in paganism. The testimony of history stamps Hallowe’en as a HEATHEN festival. It’s built on a PAGAN FOUNDATION. Your Bible warns: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). Which is the BASIS of YOUR practice and belief? Turn to Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and read God’s condemnation of Hallowe’en! (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).
However, the new Worldwide Church of God (who now desparately wants to fit in with the world's churches), while acknowledging pagan elements of Halloween, allows its celebration. But the condemnation of such pagan practices remain in the Bible irrespective of the opinions of men. Remember the Bible teaches:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:8-9).
Certainly Halloween contains many pagan practices that Christians should realize are "strange doctrines". Therefore, irrespective of the opinions and traditions of men, true Christians still do not celebrate pagan holidays like Halloween.
We in the Continuing Church of God do not condone the celebration of pagan holidays like Halloween (nor similar days such as Walpurgis Night).
The light of scripture eliminates any ambiguity about Halloween. That is why we in the real Church of God do not observe it.
From the Mormons
Although they have declared that they will not use crosses because they teach it is "purely Catholic", members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, commonly called Mormons), most LDS will observe the Catholic holiday of Halloween.
However, there is controversy about celebrating it when it happens to be on a Sunday:
Halloween on Sunday
Halloween always causes a dilemma when it falls on a Sunday. In Utah where many parents are LDS and don't participate in certain activities on Sunday, trick-or-treating on the Sabbath is often seen as a no-no. Many LDS families bump up the holiday to Saturday night to avoid the Sabbath day conflict. This basically means many non-LDS reysidents have to follow suit or their kids will have no one to trick-or-treat with on actual Halloween. Many people won't even be handing out candy on Halloween because they already participated in "Mormon Halloween."... Sure, you could dig down to the core of Halloween to argue that it's not a good idea to celebrate a pagan holiday on the Sabbath. But the real question then is whether you should ever participate in a pagan holiday focused on the return of dead spirits. (Deseret News, Salt Lake City - Oct 14, 2010. http://www.deseretnews.com/blog/32/10010289/Just-4-Mom-Halloween-on-Sunday.html)
But since Halloween is not a biblical holy day, it makes little sense that the LDS should observe it no matter what day of the week it falls upon. Sunday, of course, is never once referred to as the Sabbath in the Bible. The Bible enjoins what we now call Saturday. Halloween is not a Holy Day endorsed by either the Old or New Testaments. Instead, aspects of it are condemned in both the Hebrew and Greek scripures. (For more on the LDS, please see the article Some Dissimilarities Between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Genuine Church of God )
At the time of the end "lawlessness will abound" (Matthew 24:12). "Now the Spirit expressly says in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:1).
Of course, the core of Halloween is a pagan holiday and should not be celebrated on any day, Sunday or otherwise.
Christians and Halloween do not belong together.
Halloween places emphasis on pagan religious practices, and participation in them is futile at best, and biblically considered to be abominable. Christians should rely on the Bible for doctrine (II Timothy 3:16), including doctrines related to the celebration of religiously related days. Halloween is clearly not a biblically sanctioned holy day and should not be observed by any who claim to believe the Bible.
Halloween is not holy time for Christians.
For more information on please read Christian's Annual Worship Calendar and Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? and All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead.
Thiel B., Ph.D. Is Halloween a Holy Time for Christians? www.cogwriter.com (c) 1998/2005/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 0509
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