Catholics and Protestants Approve and Condemn Halloween

Halloween in Ireland

A Halloween scene in Dublin, Ireland.


Halloween was NOT one of the early festival observed by the apostolic church.  Practices associated with pagan religions were condemned by early Christians.

However, over time, this changed amongst the Catholics of Rome and its Protestant daughters.

Notice the following:

The fantasy and folklore of All Hallows
ABC TV, KTNV, Las Vegas – Oct 12, 2009 By Jack Santino
Provided by the Library of Congress

Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted them to Christianity, the Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. As religious leaders, ritual specialists, and bearers of learning, the Druids were not unlike the very missionaries and monks who were to Christianize their people and brand them evil devil worshippers.

As a result of their efforts to wipe out “pagan” holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.

In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John’s Day was set on the summer solstice.

Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. As representatives of the rival religion, Druids were considered evil worshippers of devilish or demonic gods and spirits.

Even though it 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. verfied 10/18/07).

Of course, some Catholics and Protestants do condemn Halloween.

A Protestant group recently condemned Halloween:

Church claims Halloween trick or treaters ‘side with the Devil’
Daily Mail, UK – Oct 15, 2009

For many children it is simply the time of the year to don fancy dress in the home or charming the neighbours out of a few sweets.

But a church magazine has shocked parents by warning their children would be ‘siding with the devil’ if they go trick or treating this Halloween.

The article, called Halloween Isn’t a Treat – Don’t Be Tricked, warns parents trick or treating was amounted to ‘extortion and blackmail’ and ‘condemned as criminal the rest of the year’.

Residents in the picturesque Vale of Belvoir, which straddles the Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire border, were told in the article that the evening of October 31 was simply a ‘concentration on evil’ which made ‘fun of potentially dangerous situations’.

The article appeared in the Belvoir Angel magazine, which is distributed by the Vale of Belvoir benefice, a group of nine parish churches in the area.

But it’s sparked anger in local villages, where residents described it as offensive and upsetting.

Mariel Heald, a mother-of-four who lives in Stathern, Leicestershire, said: ‘The article is so intense, saying that anyone trick or treating is Devil-worshipping. We don’t think of it that way, it’s just a bit of fun…

The article says: ‘On this evening (Halloween), normally law-abiding people damage the property of those whom they should be good neighbours.

‘In some cases, they bring fear, especially to the elderly.

‘The practice of “trick o’ treat”, which is only using extortion and blackmail to prevent vandalism, is condemned as criminal the rest of the year.

“Celebrating Halloween means we are siding along with the Devil and all his works.”…

Peter Briant, editor of the Belvoir Angel, said the article had been written by a member of a local Christian group and had been approved by a team vicar before being published.

He added: “It is a warning that it can be dangerous. It is a slippery slope. It opens doors for things. If people don’t like it, that’s their opinion.”

Earlier this year a Catholic church in Stockport, Greater Manchester, cancelled a booking by a coven of witches for a ball at its social club which was scheduled for Halloween, after ruling the event was not in keeping with the church’s ethos.

In 2007,  the Rt Rev David Gillett, Bishop of Bolton, launched a campaign to rebrand Halloween as a ‘triumph of good over evil’ after declaring the occasion had been hijacked by yobs and turned into the ‘anti-social event of the year’.

Halloween’s origins date back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the start of their new year on November 1.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.

The tradition of trick or treating crossed the Atlantic from America but is believed to have its origins in early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called ‘soul cakes’ in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The practice, which was referred to as ‘going a-souling’ was eventually taken up by children.

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

Halloween is pagan and leaders in many professing Christian churches know this.

Christians faithful to the original practices of Jesus and the Apostles do not observe Halloween.

To learn more, please read the following:

Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
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?

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