“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.”
1 Corinthians 8:8
Can Christians Enjoy God Through Halloween?
A brief historical introduction to Halloween:
Halloween’s origins date back two thousand years to the Celtic New Year festival of “Samhain” (pronounced sow-in) named after their god of the dead. (If it’s been a while since World History class, the Celts occupied England, Ireland and northern France.) Samhain was also one of the four high days (sabbats) of witchcraft or, more accurately, Wicca.
On the night before the November 1 new year, Celts believed that Samhain and the dead would roam the earth causing all kinds of trouble. So the Celtic priests, Druids, would demand that all light be extinguished on Halloween night and sacrifices be made to prevent trouble.
To avoid “tricks,” the villagers would bake up “treats” to appease the dead. They would also dress up in ghoulish costumes and parade to the outskirts of town hoping the departed souls would follow them out of town.
After sacrifices, villagers would carry the fire, thought to be sacred, back to their homes in carved out vegetable shells.
In the eighth century Pope Gregory II moved the church festival honoring martyrs of “All Saints” to November 1 as a Christian alternative to the Celtic New Year celebrations. “All Hallow’s Eve” or “Halloween” means the “evening of holy persons” and was to be used in spiritual preparation for All Saints Day.
How should a Christian respond to a holiday that has obvious pagan origins?
We must get the question right before we can answer. The question is not, “What are the origins of Halloween,” the question is rather, “What does our surrounding culture believe about Halloween today?” Most people who celebrate Halloween today do not worship the dead or even use Halloween to prepare to honor the saints on November 1. The purpose of Halloween today is largely to have fun as people pretend, eat candy, and attend festivals and haunted houses. I don’t understand why Christians would not be able to participate in a cultural event? Since people around us are not worshiping any deity through these festivities, then why can’t we participate? I could understand Christians abstaining if people around them were worshiping false gods through these festivities; however, this is largely not the case. The origin is irrelevant if it is not intact in the festivities. Thus, I believe it is possible to enjoy Halloween for the glory of God.
Not convinced yet? Well, listen to what the apostle Paul says,
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Cor. 8:4-6).
An idol is nothing. Just because someone on earth may worship “nothing” on Halloween through dressing up, carving jack-o-lanterns, and trick or treating, it does not mean that Christians are forbidden to do the same things for different reasons and meanings on the same day. Is dressing up wrong only on Halloween? Is going door to door asking for candy wrong only on Oct. 31? I believe we have freedom in Christ to do what we want that does not violate the Scriptures or our consciences. Scripturally speaking, it is not sinful for Christians to play pretend, go door to door for candy, and attend fun festivals on any day in God’s world. We must not participate in immorality; but, these things in and of themselves are not immoral. And a cultural holiday does not make them immoral either. Now, we don’t want to communicate to pagans that we are participating in worshiping their god(s), but I know of no one worshiping pagan gods through Halloween festivities. So, until I know (1 Cor. 10:25, 27-30), I am free in Christ to do what I want on Halloween that does not violate Scripture.
Thus, I believe if you are against participating in Halloween, then you must be against what takes place on Halloween as well. If your children cannot play pretend, receive presents, or attend carnivals on Halloween, then they cannot any other time during the year either. You cannot live as if Oct. 31 belongs to the Druids or the Devil unless you know of Druids or Devil-worshipers near you; for, there is no God but our God… and He owns all days.
Nevertheless, if your conscience will not allow you to enjoy the festivities of Halloween as a cultural holiday, submit to your conscience. But, be careful about judging others based on your conscience. Your conscience governs no one but yourself and your young children. God has freed Christians from the commandments of men. Your conscience does not own me, and my conscience does not own you. Christ owns both of us. We must submit to Him; we must submit to Scripture and hold others accountable to Scripture. We must submit to our consciences as well, while holding no one else accountable to our consciences.
In conclusion, can Christians enjoy God through Halloween? We obviously cannot enjoy God by worshiping false gods or by participating in a pagan holiday, but if we’re merely participating in a cultural holiday and we’re not violating Scripture or our consciences, we are free in Christ to enjoy God through Halloween. Remember, abstaining from Halloween festivities does not bring you near to God; we are no better if we abstain, and no worse if we participate (1 Cor. 8:8).
What do you think?