Summary: Christans often think of Halloween as evil. Paul says it is not. Here is a historical, biblical and practical perspective on Halloween.
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by Scott R. Bayles, preacher
Church of Christ
This time of year is unlike any other in many respects. Every shopping center and grocery store is filled with all sorts of candy, costumes and colorful decorations. In a few short days children will parade up and down the streets disguised as their favorite characters chanting “Trick or Treat” and hold out plastic bags or molded plastic pumpkins in hopes of collecting vast amounts of candy. This will, of course, result in a stomach ache the next day.
For Christians, Halloween is perhaps the most difficult holiday with which to deal. Its darker side is so disconcerting, yet it holds a bit of charm for us as we remember our own childhood experiences with the day. A myriad of questions surround Halloween. Should we participate? Accommodate? Or vigorously denounce Halloween?
When I first researched Halloween I discovered hundreds of web-sites with articles, sermons, or editorials condemning the observance of this holiday. In fact, many Christians have taken a very strong stance in opposition to Halloween on the grounds that it supports Satan-worship and pagan gods. This places many of us, especially those with children, in an uncomfortable position. How should we, as Christians, respond to this holiday? Is it sinful and evil or just fun and games? Is it a problem or a potential opportunity? To answer such questions, it’s helpful to view Halloween from the perspective of history. So let’s begin this morning with a…
• HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF HALLOWEEN:
First, we ought to recognize that the American celebration of Halloween draws heavily from Scottish and Irish folk customs that can be directly traced to pre-Christian times and is indeed rooted in the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain (sah-ween). Although modern Halloweens can be viewed as nights of rollicking fun and eerie games, its pagan beginnings were not so innocent.
Originally, Halloween was a celebration of the Druids in honor of Samhain, whom they believed to be the Lord of the Dead, and whose festival fell on November 1st.
The Druids believed that on the eve of this festival, Samhain, the Lord of the Dead, called together the wicked souls that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals. The veil, they believed, between the present world and the spirit world, or the world beyond, was pierced, releasing demons, witches and hobgoblins en mass to harass the living.
Interestingly, they thought that the cat was sacred because they thought that cats, especially black cats, had once been human beings whose spirits were transferred into the cat as a punishment for their evil deeds—which makes you wonder why they were sacred.
There was a prevailing belief among many nations that at death the souls of good people were taken by good spirits and carried to paradise, but the souls of wicked men were left to wander in the space between the earth and the moon, or consigned to inhabit animals. Typically, the Druids believed that on this one night of the year, the eve of the Samhain festival, the spirits of the dead returned to their original homes along with other ghosts and goblins.