Halloween is often considered as a Catholic holiday, but within Catholicism there are different views of it, and there are differing views in other groups.
Here is the view of one Catholic writer endorsing Halloween:
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).
While the above author claims that anti-Catholic sentiments are perhaps the reason for objections to Halloween, it should be noted that more recently other Catholic leaders have condemned it, while Protestant supporters, like some of those at Christianity Today endorse its observance and attempt to profit commercially from it (for specific see the article American’s Expected to Spend Nearly $7 Billion on Halloween, CT Wants its Share).
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, including Catholic ones, know this.
All theological scholars realize that the apostolic church did not observe Halloween or anything resembling it.
Notice also the following scripture:
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 their absolute best, Halloween customs are futile, came from the way of the Gentiles, and detract from the emphasis to worship the true God. Those in the Church of God have always realized this. And many in the Church of Rome are getting some understanding of that.
LCG Evangelist Richard Ames posted the following commentary today:
By Richard F. Ames | Wednesday, October 31, 2012Is it “fun” to play at evil? Should we follow our neighbors, like proverbial lemmings, off the dangerous cliff of pagan practices? Most of society has accepted the lie that Halloween is “innocent fun” and eagerly train their children to take pleasure in symbols of pagan, and even Satanic, evil. Read more
Halloween is not a holiday that the earliest Christians observed. It should not be observed by modern Christians either.
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Genuine Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a verdadeira igreja do deus? Tambien Español: ¿Que es fiel: La Iglesia Católica Romana o la Iglesia verdadera de Dios? Auch: Deutsch: Welches ist treu: Die römisch-katholische Kirche oder die Kirche Gottes Original?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?