| In the last few decades, as our land has
purposefully distanced itself from the God of Christianity to embrace a more
multi-cultural, politically-correct type of spirituality, Halloween has become the second
largest holiday of the calendar year. It generates a tremendous amount of business
in the United States today--to the tune of two and a half billion dollars, to be more or
less exact. Last year Americans spent over a billion dollars on costumes and 950 million
on candy. The greeting card industry is raking in a whopping fifty million dollars a year,
outstripping Mother's Day, Father's Day, and every other holiday except Christmas. More
people purchase beer on Halloween than on St. Patrick's Day. This so-called holiday has
become serious business.
following message was first released in tract form in 1980 and hundreds of thousands have
been distributed over the years. We and our sister ministries get requests from many
corners of the globe--some just for a copy or two, as a concerned mother tries to make an
intelligent decision for her own family; and some, like David Wilkerson's Times Square
Church, purchase in much larger quantities. Truthfully, it's the most popular
message I've ever preached or written, and each year many more people are introduced to
it. Enjoy it and be challenged and changed.
Kim Harrington, October 1999
is an ancient
holiday and has been observed in many parts of the world for centuries. It is part of a
three-day religious festival long associated with departed spirits, fairies, and
witchcraft. Today, of course, few people place any real stock in the spiritual
implications of the day. It is a time for pranks and foolishness, a day for the
children to have a good time; it is totally innocent and harmless... or is it?
What we'd like to do in this little article is trace the
origins, examine the Scriptures, and find out just how innocent Halloween is or isn't,
especially from an evangelical Christian point of view; for the believer owes it to
himself and to God to carefully examine all the implications of such a day before
carelessly partaking in it.
Halloween is an abbreviated form of Hallow Even, the
eve of Allhallows or All Saints' Day. These are followed by All Souls' Day, or the Day of
the Dead. In many predominantly Catholic countries these three days are a very important
religious observance. It is possible to trace them much farther back than their adoption
by the Roman church, however.
The Ancient Druids
The Druids were Celtic priests that lived in the British Isles
and practiced their dark arts as early as the Third Century BC. November first, and the
evening preceding it, was quite a big day for them--it was their New Year celebration, and
it went under the title of Samhain (pronounce it sow-en). The sun god (Lugh) was
given thanks for the harvest, and there was a ritualistic mourning of the coming shorter
days of the winter months. It was also one of the four times in the year that bonfires
were lit on the hills in honor of Bel, the Biblical Baal.
Most notable, however, were the beliefs and practices
concerning Samhain himself, the Lord of the Dead. The Celts believed that on October 31st
Samhain gathered up all the souls of those who had died in the past year, who had since
been confined in animal bodies. In order to appease him, and release the departed souls
that they might enter Druid heaven, horses and humans were sacrificed by burning them in
wicker cages. (In later European customs, black cats replaced the horses and humans.)
These animal sacrifices continued after the Christianization
of the Britain and Ireland. Pope Gregory the Great instructed Augustine, the first
Archbishop of Canterbury, to allow them to continue to observe the day, but to do it
"in honor of the saints and sacred relics."
It wasn't for another 250 years that the feast of Samhain was
officially fixed by Pope Gregory IV as All Saints' Day, a day dedicated to all those
saints and martyrs that didn't have a day in their honor already. That this particular day
was already associated in the popular mind with departed spirits was thought to be
advantageous, and also very much in keeping with the Roman church's policy of
incorporating pagan folk ideas into the framework of the church, in an effort to gradually
swallow them up in Christianity.
By the Eleventh Century another feast day to the dead was
added. All Souls' Day, a time of intercession for departed sinners -- especially those who
had died in the last year (sound familiar?) -- became fixed at November second. The Day of
the Dead, as it is known in many countries, was by no means a new idea. Almost all
primitive religions and cults believe that on certain days the spirits of the dead return
to their former habitations. The ancient Egyptian legends surrounding Osiris and Isis are
but one example of this. This day, in both pagan and Catholic traditions, has long been
associated with special hymns and parades for the departed, the preparation of meals for
them, and various other observances designed both to honor and placate them.
Outside of the church, Halloween continued on in the old
tradition. Soon, not only the dead wandered about on the eve of All Saints' Day; but
goblins, fairies, demons, and Satan himself were joining them. It became a night to mock
God and His Kingdom, to hold "black masses," and engage in all manner of foul
things -- like desecrating a church with human waste, and other forms of vandalism.
"Innocent" Practices Today
Many of the customs surrounding Halloween today are not as
innocent as they seem to be, but can be directly linked to its dark past. The roasting of
nuts and bobbing for apples are old divination and fortune-telling practices. The common
"jack-o-lantern" has been associated with the spirits of dead murderers and
other evil men, although stories about its origins are many and varied. In all likelihood,
it is a sort of spirit house, probably representing the imprisoned souls of the dead
awaiting the coming of Samhain on Halloween. Even our modern practice of giving treats and
candy to children dressed as ghosts and witches is a kind of peace offering -- lest they
should vandalize our property and play "tricks" on us. It can also be traced
back to the Lord of the Dead, and the sacrifices offered to appease him and his malevolent
Halloween was not particularly popular in America until the
late Nineteenth Century. The early fathers of our country, mostly devout Christians,
abhorred the whole idea, including the two religious days to the dead which were regarded
as unscriptural and morbid. But with the massive influx of Irishmen following the infamous
potato famine of the 1850s, the various observances soon caught on here, as well.
In the last two decades, although it is not officially
recognized, Halloween has become the second most popular holiday on the American calendar,
after Christmas. A whopping two a half billion dollars are now spent annually on costumes,
greeting cards, and candy. More beer is sold than on St. Patrick's Day, and more cards are
sent than on Mother's Day. As our nation carefully distances itself from the God of the
Bible, the pagan gods of our past are quietly slipping back into their old places. Among
Irish-Americans (of whom the author is descended), there is a revival of Samhain bonfires
and ceili dances, and even a new interest in the religion of the Druids.
Among Satanists, witches and many other occult practitioners,
Halloween is still serious business. It is one of four Witches' Sabbats in the
year, which fall on the same days as the old bonfires to Baal: Candlemas (Imbolg),
February 2; May Day (Beltane), May 1; Lammas (Lughnasa), August 1; and
Halloween (Samhain). On these days, thousands of followers in the United States and
elsewhere gather for hexing ceremonies, casting spells, sex and fertility rites (sometimes
with a nude woman as an altar), and even various animal sacrifices. Dogs and cats that
turn up missing on Halloween may very well have been sacrificed to Satan or some other
pagan deity. In many of these meetings the devil is worshipped, Christ is mocked, and God
is declared to be dead. No doubt because of these ceremonies and the resultant increase of
demonic activity, there is a sharp rise in the crime statistics at this time of year.
The Christian and Halloween
The Bible condemns all such activities as abominations -- one
of the strongest words in the vocabulary of God. He is not dead, and He will not be
There shall not be found among you any one that... useth
divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a
consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these
things are an abomination unto the Lord...
Idolatry, witchcraft...they which do such things shall not
inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and
murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their
part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Of course, Christians who observe this holiday are not truly
taking it seriously. We may be imitating the old rites and rituals, but it's all done in
good humor and means absolutely nothing. At any rate, the true Christian knows that there
is only one God -- we certainly won't be burning any bonfires to Baal or Samhain. But do
the demons know that?
The Apostle Paul seems to be addressing just such a situation
in First Corinthians. The believers at Corinth didn't worship idols, but they did have an
association with the idolatrous practices of the day -- they bought meat that had been
ceremoniously offered to the old gods of wood and stone. Paul told them...
What say I then? that the idol or that which is offered in
sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice,
they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship
with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be
partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
I Corinthians 10:19-21
You see, they knew that idols were nothing -- and they
certainly had no intention of engaging in idolatry themselves --so they felt they could,
with a clean conscience, partake of that food. But some things are so spiritually
defiling that even an innocent association with them can contaminate you, attract demons,
and seriously compromise your Christianity.
Halloween, I believe, is just such a case. I'm not suggesting
that we get fearful and superstitious and start looking for demons under every bed. What I
am saying is this: how can a God-fearing Christian have anything whatsoever to do with a
day that is so obviously and totally dedicated to the devil? We should be decidedly
separated and sanctified from such an unholy practice, that we may show forth
the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, (Rom. 12:2).
Knowing what we know about the history of Halloween -- and
I've just briefly touched on it here -- how could we possibly dress our children up as
devils, witches and incredible hulks, and send them out "trick or treating?" Can
you see the hypocrisy in that? What must the Lord think when he looks down and sees little
innocents walking around in the trappings of idolatry and witchcraft, making a game out of
that which has sent untold thousands to Christ-less graves? What do the devils think--do
they look upon the hearts, as the Lord does -- or are they more than willing to exploit
anyone who, knowingly or unknowingly, wanders on to their spiritual turf?
Early in my ministry as a pastor, we used to have a Halloween
party for the children instead of sending them out on the streets. They would dress up as
Biblical characters instead of bogy-men, there would be plenty of candy, and they at least
wouldn't feel as though they were missing out on the fun their little neighbors were
having. We reasoned that we were now observing Halloween "as unto the Lord" --
we were taking some kind of stand, and yet pleasing the children. Actually, we were
committing the same awful compromise that Gregory and the church had done years ago --
making holy an unholy day so that no one, Christian or pagan, would be offended. In
addition, our children were dressing up as Queen Esther, Solomon, and other departed
saints -- we were beginning to have our own little All Saints' Day! It sobered us to see
how easily history could repeat itself, even on so small a scale.
We will have no more Halloween parties, or praise bonfires, or
any other special activities on this holiday, unless it be a prayer-meeting to engage the
forces of darkness in battle. Our children don't feel cheated when their parents tell them
it's the devil's holiday and we Christians just don't observe it. We don't let them lie,
cheat and steal, either; there are certain television shows they don't watch; and we will
encourage them to avoid drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity when they're a little older -- all
without feeling cheated. A parent doesn't have to feel guilty about keeping a child out of
Christmas and Easter have been defiled by pagan traditions
down though the years, too, but the true Christian can still worship God with a pure
spirit on these occasions. Halloween, however, is without any redeeming quality at all. It
is, and always has been, a day associated with dark superstitions and all that is evil and
ungodly. I think Paul's instruction to the Thessalonians is an appropriate way to conclude
Prove all things: hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I Thessalonians 5:21,22
Copyright © 1998
Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.