Hell-o-ween: A Christian Perspective

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Halloween - The name, by itself, stirs up feelings in the mind of the reader. The foremost of these thoughts would be of ghosts, goblins, Dracula, vampires, pranks, witches, malicious acts, evil, deviltry, horror-films, ouija boards, seances, and trick-or-treating. Although Halloween has been observed in it's present practice and form for a number of generations, the celebration (or holiday) of Halloween has roots that are anchored firmly in the ancient past.


To better understand our modern observance of Halloween, it is necessary to know the history of this holiday and the elements of influence that have formed it. A number of diverse groups, traditions, holidays, festivals, celebrations, and superstitions cornerstone Halloween's history -- with the most prominent as follows...

Celts/Druids - The evening of October 31st and the first of November were considered by the Celtics to be the transition from summer into the darkness of winter (-- symbolically: passing from the season of life to death). Celts inhabited what is now France, Germany, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Celtic pagan priests were known as Druids. (Information pertaining to the Druids comes from Greek and Roman writings dating back to at least 200 B.C.). At this time of the year, the Druids celebrated their "Fire Festival" or "Fall Solstice". October 31st was celebrated by the Druids with human sacrifices and a festival honoring their (sun) god, Samhain (lord of the dead). The day following the "Feast of Samhain", November 1st, was celebrated as the beginning of a new year (Celtic New Year). It was on this day that the people renewed their home fire from the altars of the Druidic Priests. According to the modern Satanic Bible, this was the night that the Druids believed the Lord of Death brought the souls of the evil dead to inhabit bodies of animals. (At least three variations of the name "Samhain" exist, including: Sanhain, Sawhain). By 43 A.D. (Alt. source 47 A.D.) Rome finally defeated the Druids in England and formally outlawed the human sacrifices -- but not the complete celebration or holiday.

Roman Empire/Catholicism - Pope Gregory (I) the Great was the first to make a proclamation concerning a church festival at the time of Halloween. He said of October 31st, "They are no longer to sacrifice beasts to the devil, but they may kill them for food to the praise of God, and give thanks to the giver of all gifts for His bounty." (Obviously when human sacrifices were officially banned the same ceremonies continued with animal victims). Pope Gregory III (731-741) moved the church festival of October 31st to November 1st and called it "All Hallows" or "All Saints Day". Even later, in 834 A.D., Pope Gregory IV decreed that the day was to be a universal church observance. (The best date we can find as to the first Roman/Catholic "church" observance at the time of Halloween is 608 A.D., yet with Pope Gregory the Great making the aforementioned proclamation, date unknown, it must have been at least initiated a few years earlier - Pope Gregory's term was from 590-604.)

We need to note that the ancient Romans also had a holiday on October 31st -- a festival honoring the goddess of the harvest, Pomona. With the defeat of the Druids, the ancient Roman celebration was in essence merged with the Celtic/Druidic holiday. The new holiday honored (or should I say, worshipped) the dead ("All Hallows Eve" or "The Feast of the Dead"), retaining elements of the pagan harvest festival.

With the Roman empire and the church effectively merged through the "conversion" of the Roman emperor Constantine, Roman and church policy became universal. To solidify it's hold on the public, the church tried to replace the pagan holiday with a new "Christian" holiday. It appears the church tried hard. Not only was November 1 called "All Saints Day" to honor the saints (both canonized and unrecognized), but also they later added "All Souls' Day" on November 2nd to honor the (more recent) faithful departed. (It appears that for some time "All Saints" and "All Souls" days were, and still are, celebrated separately.) Replacing existing celebrations was felt necessary to appease the populace who would have been extremely riotous to lose one of their valued (pagan) feasts (and time off from work) had they merely abolished them outright.

The practice of placing Christian celebrations on the date of other pagan holidays has influenced the modern dating of many other church holidays including Christmas and Easter. Even the word "holiday" is a historical contraction of the words "Holy Day". Unlike Christmas and Easter, Halloween's "Christian" holiday never really overcame it's pagan counterpart in popularity or practice. Halloween is the only widely celebrated modern holiday that still retains it's pagan connotation.

Some of the superstitions of Halloween actually are derived from the Catholic "All Saints Day"; which functionally merged Christian thought with pseudo pagan rites like worship of the dead. The traditional Halloween colors of orange and black come from the commemorative mass (called "Allhallowmas") that was held for the dead... The candles were made of un-bleached beeswax, which was orange in color, and the ceremonial caskets were always draped in black.

European/North American - Much tradition of the Druids and it's subsequent merger with Catholic superstition was brought to North America by Irish and Scottish immigrants. Even the name Halloween comes from the Scottish name for their observance - "hallow 'een". In those and other European countries, the people lived in fear of the night of October 31. It was considered a night when evil spirits & goblins roamed the land (with special powers) and witches flew about. The people believed it necessary to leave food offerings on their door steps to appease the evil spirits. This treat had to be left or you would be tricked by the evil spirit. These "tricks" traditionally could include such nastiness as your live stock dying, milk drying up -- or other suitable evil. This practice became the basis of our modern "trick or treat". As the text from a The Grizzwells cartoon (Oct. 29/93) so aptly portrays -- the modern meaning of Halloween is still much the same...

Grizzwell Comic

Back in Europe... Some people felt the food offering, by itself, was not enough to ward off the evil spirits. So bonfires were lit on hilltops to disperse the spirits (who thrive in darkness), others (especially in Ireland) wore masks and costumes to scare them away (and/or to give the wearer special powers). Some of these dressed up "mummers" carried a "jack-o'-lantern" with a hideous face carved in it to light their way and assist in helping to drive away the evil spirits. European All Souls Day observances may have contributed to Halloween practices also. In medieval times, English "soulers" (doing "Soul-caking") would walk the streets, singing and begging for alms. These they received in return for saying extra prayers for the dead relatives of the almsgivers. With many similarities, the still diverse Halloween practices and beliefs of numerous European nations have blended together to influence and fashion our modern observance.

Satanists - All Hallows Eve, or Samhain, is considered one of the greatest of the Satanic holidays. Actually, most Satanists would consider only their own birthday as a greater holiday (because the ultimate Satanic worship is that of self as god or goddess.) As reflected by many Satanic books, most Satanists consider this festival to require a blood sacrifice (animal or human). Although very real, the majority of modern Satanists are self styled/dabblers who usually function by themselves or in small covens. The "religious" type Satanists, as evidenced by Anton LaVey's Church of Satan in San Francisco, usually distance themselves (at least publicly) from any participation in sacrifices, although other rituals may be performed -- and the Satanic holiday still honored.

Witches/Wiccans/Pagans (Druids) - Witches, past and present, honor Halloween as one of their special holidays. There are eight holidays on their calendar know as sabbats (Four are considered greater Sabbats; including Halloween). The first yearly sabbat (or New Year) on the witches calendar is Halloween; the beginning of death (Winter). In 1992, modern Canadian witch and fortune teller Leanne Haze stated that on Halloween she would "be conjuring up the spirits of the dead...", adding that she would call up dead relatives because "the veil between earth and the other world is thinnest during Samhain." Through many branches of feminism and environmentalism the Wiccan variety of witchcraft is receiving widespread promotion and publicity. In 1992 there were an estimated 50,000 Canadians practicing the pagan Wiccan religion -- an increase of over 400% in the last decade. Across North America, around Halloween, programs hosted by practicing witches are presented to the general public (including kids), even at public libraries.

More On Modern Day - For most of our society, Halloween has become a time when evil or malicious acts and general lawlessness are expected to occur. Macabre and sinister themes, combined with the promotion of fear, best sum up all present popular practices. Statistics show that rapes, muggings, arson, vandalism, kids burned from costumes & jack o' lanterns, and vehicle - pedestrian collisions, all escalate at Halloween.

Halloween becomes the one time each year that people do their very best to look and be their very worst. Beyond individual appearance, Halloween is now second only to Christmas as the time when people spend great sums of money, effort, and time, to decorate their homes - with many competing to make their yards look like scenes from horror films and sadistic graveyards.

The movie industry has catered to this blood lust and intrigue with the supernatural, by producing many "Slasher" and occultic films. Examples include the titles and sequels of Halloween, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street. Some of these films are up to their 5th to 9th sequel... Horror sells. Halloween is when most of these films are released and according to the rental stores, when their viewing goes through the roof. Even the 1991 movie remake of the Addams Family, is popular "family" viewing, even though it includes many references to murder, necrophilia, and other equally bizarre practices. Combining horror with humor, as in the Addams Family, is Hollywood's way of getting younger viewers hooked on the supernatural and bloody themes found in the other darker films. The worst of these glorified mass murderers, like Jason, Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger, and any of Hellraisers' other demonic heroes, are the ones that many children and adults choose to dress up as. Even the so-called "light hearted" costumes include such vulgar (pyromania promoting) entities as Beavis and Butt-Head. In 1991, in Canada, a 14 year-old girl answering her door was slashed in the face by a knife wielding trick-or-treater dressed as a Ninja Turtle.

Psychics and clairvoyants, along with occult, witchcraft, and astrology publishers, all claim a definite increase in business at this time of year - many claiming it to be their busiest time of the year. People that would have nothing to do with these themes the rest of the year use the excuse of Halloween to participate "this one night."

Devil's Night - Also known as "Mischief Night", it is celebrated on the eve of Halloween (not Halloween night, but the night prior). Primarily a modern phenomena (not two decades old) common to North America, Devil's Night has become a night in some areas where the bulk of vandalism, primarily fires, take place. In one Maine, USA, community there were 133 fires set on Devil's Night 1992. Some communities have now established curfews for this night. Like the Catholic church extending All Saints Day to include an extra day, All Souls Day, it appears that Devil's Night has spontaneously been generated to extend Halloween's deviltry an extra day.

Other Halloween Traditions & Superstitions

Black Cats - Black cats, are considered by witches and Satanists to be an animal in which a "familiar (demon) spirit (helper)" can live. Ancient tradition holds that along with using broomsticks for flying (levitation), that on Halloween, the spirit in the black cat could transform it into a black horse as another means of transportation. Another tradition, in medieval Europe, held that black cats were witches in disguise. Often the cats were burned on Halloween - even after other sacrifices has been outlawed. Local SPCA's still warn owners to keep their pets (especially cats) inside on Halloween due to abnormal numbers that go missing.

Jack-O'-Lantern - The traditional European "jack-o'-lantern" was usually a large turnip or beet - now our North American pumpkin. The best known legend (Irish) concerning the "jack-o'-lantern" says it was named after a notorious man - Jack - who was well known for his insobriety. Jack entered into a pact with the devil, which Jack subsequently broke by tricking him. In due time the man died and was turned away from heaven. Due to his trickery, the devil also turned him away from hell. As Jack started to leave, consigned to wander the earth as a spirit forever, the devil threw him a live coal from the fires of hell; which Jack is said to have placed in a carved out turnip to light his way. This myth helps perpetuate many modern spiritual misconceptions. Foremost is the belief that the devil rules over hell as God rules over heaven, and that Satan has some say into who will go there. Luke 12:5, and many other passages, make it clear that God alone judges and casts into hell.

Many other modern horrors, utilized especially at Halloween, were derived from real individuals whose lives were associated with evil...

Dracula - Like many legends, this one contains some elements of fact and a lot of imagination. The Castle Dracula existed in Romania and it's occupant c.1431-1476 was a blood thirsty man named Vlad. He was also known as the Impaler as he liked impaling his dinner guests on stakes and then dining in their midst; while they screamed and died. Bram Stoker's novel and many later movies have been based on this individual; some redefining and enhancing the lore surrounding Dracula.

Frankenstein - This character, made from dead body parts, comes from a well known novel written by Mary Shelly. This lady was a known drug addict who kept her husbands heart in a box after he died from drowning. Many subsequent books and movies have been based on this character.

Vampire - A vampire is any person with a blood or flesh fetish. Because this description so aptly fits Vlad of Castle Dracula, the name Dracula has become a synonym for vampire. Many modern horror movie figures could also fit this description, ie. Jason and Freddie Krueger. With our societies appetite for horror films, where dead and dismemberment are the norm, many of our present populace could be considered modern day "armchair" vampires. Even the active participation in and popularity of modern Goth clubs and vampire societies merely reflect the growing blood-lust in society. Latest incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons , like the participatory Camarilla , have combined role-playing and vampire themes.

Werewolf - The concept of a man turning into an animal was possibly derived from the Biblical record of God's punishment on Nebuchadnezzar (II Kings 24 & 25). Today's werewolves are always portrayed as being demonically transformed -- embodying evil. Many witches and Satanists believe that they can transform themselves into animal-beings by utilizing the powers of demons. Such concepts were popular in the middle ages in Europe.

Ghosts/Haunted Houses - Disembodied spirits. All based on the idea that a man's soul can roam the earth for one purpose or another. The Bible is clear that when you die, you are either in Heaven or Hell. This leaves only demons to be doing the haunting. The contacting of, or communication with, these spiritual entities is expressly forbidden by God (1 Sam 28:6-20, Leviticus 19:31).

Flying on Broomsticks - Levitation is the belief that an individual can fly, or use an object to fly, from supernatural causes. Satanists and witches who adhere to this practice believe that spirit beings (demons) actually provide the power for this feat. The broomstick also has a phallic (sexual) connotation for witches (wiccans) who believe in sexual magic.

Bobbing for Apples - This was derived from ancient practices of divining the future. The one who successfully caught an apple between his teeth, was supposed to be able to count on having a romance with the lover of his choice (alt. concept: To have good luck). The ancient Roman celebration to their goddess Pomona included giving apples to gods - for she was said to be the Goddess of Fruits. As pagan ritual merged into later celebrations, "apple bobbing" in Wales and "Apple Night" in Ireland (where the apples are tied on strings to try and bite) were just two of the resultant variations. In Scotland many methods were employed to divine the future concerning relationships... A boy and girl burned nuts together in a fire - if they burned quietly they would be happily married. Others pulled kale or cabbage to see if the dirt stuck to the roots - if it did the future mate would be wealthy. The condition of the stalk and taste supposedly divulged such things as the physical stature and temperament of the future spouse. Back to the apple, a young woman took an apple, a candle, a knife, and a mirror into a dark room. She cut the apple into nine pieces, ate eight of them, speared the ninth on her knife and held it over her shoulder. Her future husband would come in apparition to take the apple. His face would be mirrored in the glass beside hers. Again, all forms of divining the future contrary to scriptures.

Ouija Boards & Seances - Two of the most popular "scare" activities for young people at parties. Both serve the same purpose of attempting to summon spirits to gain insight into past, present, or future events. Many new interactive "games" and "toys" are being produced utilizing the same concepts of spirit divination. Expressly forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31), these practices are extremely dangerous as they open individuals up to contact and communication with demonic entities.

Fear - Fear has perhaps the oldest roots of all the elements of Halloween. This is due to the fact that all godless fear comes from Satan - and the Devil has been in the business of promoting fear for a long time. We who trust in God live by faith and faith eliminates fear. In contrast to Satan and his tactics, God is the author of Peace, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Christian Response

Each individual has to consider the whole celebration of Halloween, based on their own Christian values. Just the main theme promotion of fear, clearly shows it's origin and driving force. Some will say that I'm being a bit extreme for speaking out against Halloween ("It's just harmless fun"), well I have no doubt that to many it is fun... the Bible never said that sin and things promoted by Satan wouldn't be fun. Actually the Bible speaks of sin as being pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25). Others will raise objections like, "well they could be doing a lot worse". But remember that all evil, from the least to the worst, is still evil; and equally wrong in God's sight. Next comes one of the greatest excuses, "the kids don't dress up as anything evil, and they're only going out to get some candy". Actually, many people (young and old) get involved in far worse, because the starting levels look harmless or taste good. Sanctioning any part of Halloween is giving your child the message that the themes, practices and promotion of Halloween are okay (so don't be surprised if they try out any of the other darker parts of Halloween when they're older) The last feeble excuses, that "every one else is doing it" and "I did it while I was young and I grew up okay" are by far the worst. More anti-biblical practices have been promoted through family tradition and peer pressure, than any other means. When all is said and done, it doesn't matter if you did something when you were young, and that it appeared to have no effects, what does matter is what the Bible has to say about it.

On a holiday that Satan has claimed for himself and for evil (and with, by far, the majority of all its themes testifying of its spiritual source), we as Christians should not show honor or reverence to Satan; by participating in or celebrating Halloween in any way. Of course, any Christian dressing up as characters that God has called an abomination in His Word (even as Satan himself) must truly break the Lord's heart.

Education - Another point of concern is the unhealthy promotion of Halloween and it's themes within the school system. It is an appalling statement on the emphasis of our society, when Christian values and teachings are no longer being allowed in many schools, yet the pagan celebration of Halloween is avidly discussed and promoted. When surveyed, many educators felt more time was spent on Halloween than on Thanksgiving or Christmas - both of which are Christian in origin or practice. One north eastern news report (Nov. 4/93) emphasized one school's "whole curriculum" approach to Halloween for grade 6 students... "In social studies, the students learned the history of gravestones... They learned about the epitaphs written on the stones, and had a chance to write their own. The children were fascinated to learn the origins of Halloween... In Science, students learned about E.S.P. (Extra Sensory Perception) and the important words, dates and people connected with it. They also has a chance to test their own mind-reading abilities. Listening to, and reading scary stories was the focus in reading, while in math, students learned compass and protractor skills by making hex signs..." Is this what you would want your children to be learning? Another news report (Oct. 29/93) shows how difficult it is for children in the public school system who don't celebrate Halloween. "a teacher asked (the boy) what he would be for Halloween, (and) he responded that he was not going to participate because he knew that it was an evil holiday. The teacher then asked his mother to squelch those types of comments." More than ever, parents need to take a stand for what is right and make a difference for good in their children's education.

Alternatives - Even as Christian observances (i.e. Christmas and Easter) have superseded the pagan celebrations of the dates on which they were placed, there is no reason why Christians cannot creatively author celebrations that in no way honor Satan. Our celebrations, and all we do, should be glorifying to God (principle of Matthew 22:37). Why should Satan get any credit for our fun? Some ideas that have been tried and work well include churches or groups having a "harvest party" (honoring God as our provider) or something along that theme. If you choose to have a costume party along Biblical themes, be careful to limit what characters; as the Bible includes many pagan and demonic personalities. Remember that taking pagan practices inside the church no more makes them Christian than a person feeling they are a Christian because they go to church.

Have a GOOD October 31st.

"Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen." (Romans 15:33)

Additional Bible References - The Bible is full of references that show God's Holiness and His requirement for all His children to be separate from the world and to be holy in thought and deed. A few examples:

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen... (Jeremiah 10:2)


Deuteronomy 18:10-14, Galatians 5:19-21,

2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Colossians 3:15-17

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and Matthew 22:37

...whatever you do,

 do all

to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31


Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries.

(c) 1992-1996, Third Edition. This electronic version does not
include all graphics which are found in the printed booklet.
Feel free to duplicate as long as the source is cited.

For a more detailed examination
of these subjects and more

Read the book: Hell-o-ween All Year Round

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