Every year, we get some questions related to Halloween, and if Christian’s should celebrate the holiday.
Is it permissible?
Is it forbidden?
Is it permissible, but wise to avoid?
What is a biblical perspective, and how should Christian’s think about this?
Well, depending on what you mean by “celebrate Halloween,” the answer is rather simple. Before we give the answer, let us give a little bit of history because we think it will help clarify the answer.
So where did Halloween come from, and why is it a Holiday?
The sources vary. So depending who you talk to, they may disagree. Let us give you the general (or popular) consensus.
Recent Western History
First of all, Halloween is a contracted word. It’s a contraction from the phrase, “Hollow’s Eve.” Hollows Eve is called Hollow’s Eve, because it comes right before something known as All Saint’s Day.
So when you hallow something, it is to make/or regard something as holy. All Saint’s Day is a day in which saints or holy people are remembered and celebrated for their faithfulness. Often, this includes great people of faith in Church history, especially martyrs. So, Halloween (or Hallows Eve) is simply the day before this religious observance of remembering faithful saints.
Furthermore, Halloween actually kicks off a 3-day celebration (Oct. 31st-Nov. 2nd)-- something known as “Allhallowtide.” This includes: Hallows Eve, All Saint’s Day, and then, the third-- All Soul’s Day.
All Soul’s Day is a Catholic day in which the faithful departed are commemorated.
It’s a day to remember the “faithful baptized” --- that is, those who are currently in purgatory, and working off the debt of their “lesser guilt.”
So that’s essentially the more recent Western History. It does have its roots in Christianity, specifically, Roman Catholicism. So it does have overt religious associations.
Now, just based on that alone, that’s enough for us to say that Halloween (and the entire 3-day festival) is not only mystical, but wicked.
In fact, what the RCC means by “remembering the holy,” is to pray for people in purgatory. Catholic doctrine states, that ““the prayers of the faithful on earth will help cleanse these souls in order to fit them for the vision of God in heaven, and the day is dedicated to prayer and remembrance.” (Britannica).
So we would reject this because it is unbiblical, and overtly wicked.
Purgatory is heretical. The idea of praying for a dead person to become purified is heretical All of it diminished the atoning work of Jesus Christ; and specifically, because it’s a system based on merits that were earned by “Saints” within the Catholic tradition and system.
All of this is wicked and sinful.
In other cultures, Halloween is associated with something called “The Day of the Dead.”
This is something most prominent in Mexico, specifically in the central and southern regions of Mexico—and it is now regarded as a public holiday.
It is a major celebration in which family and friends gather to pray for those who have died. This prayer helps these dead loved ones on their spiritual journey.
In Mexican culture, death is simply viewed as a natural part of the human cycle, and so praying for the dead is helping them in this next part of their cycle.
The day is not viewed as a time of sadness or mourning, but as a day of celebration in which these dead loved ones actually awaken from the dead, and celebrate with them.
This was a practice that, historically, took place at the beginning of the summer.
But when the Spanish colonized in the 16th century, the celebration gradually became associated with Oct. 31-Nov.2 to coincide with Allhallowtide (those 3 days we just discussed from the Rom Cath. Tradition).
So, obviously it is a very wicked practice as well. It dabbles in the occult, and is very mystical. It is evil, and no true Christian can partake in such activity. Again, this is very popular in Mexico, and in many ways has become interwoven with Roman Catholic practice in Mexico.
Now, when you trace the holiday back even further, it seems to have its ultimate roots in something known as the festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was something among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland.
This took place on Nov. 1st, which also started their new year and winter.
During the Samhain festival, it was believed that the souls of those who had died, returned to visit their homes.
As a result, “People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires for the winter and to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in those ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day. The period was also thought to be favourable for divination on matters such as marriage, health, and death.” (Britannica).
So, obviously, this is where the tradition of masks and costumes came from.
They weren't so much meant to scare, as much as, they were meant to hide and disguise themselves from being harassed by those who had died.
What’s also interesting, is “At [this festival of] Samhain, the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind, and the gods played many tricks on their mortal worshippers; it was a time fraught with danger, charged with fear, and full of supernatural episodes. Sacrifices and propitiations of every kind were thought to be vital, for without them the Celts believed they could not prevail over the perils of the season or counteract the activities of the deities.” (Brittanica).
So, likely, this is where the whole tradition of playing tricks/pranks on people during Halloween came from. They were simply mimicking what the gods did to mortal men, or so they thought.
So that’s just a very basic history. Some may quibble on details, but this is the general consensus. Obviously, none of these practices are things that true Christians should be involved with, spend time celebrating, or even remembering. It deals with issues of the occult, divination, and mysticism.
It contains terrible theology of the soul, the afterlife, the dead, prayer, the extent of the atonement, the Gospel, and so on. It has more recent developments in Roman Catholicism, which are very false. So, we would say that if this is what a Chriistan is trying to engage in, it is very wrong.
If this is what a person means by “celebrating halloween,” then the answer is unbelievably simple. The answer is no. We do not approve, nor condone. It is overtly anti-biblical, and such practices are forbidden over and over again in the Scriptures.
So what about trick-or-treating, Halloween parties, carving pumpkins, and innocent tricks, as we have come to know them in our culture? (Are these things permissible, or wise?)
Well the question, here, is whether or not it is possible to engage in these activities and completely disconnect them from their historical origins. Depending on your answer to that question, that will determine if you can/should engage in them. It is our opinion, that yes, you can.
So, Christians are accused all the time of “baptizing pagan ideals.” That is, they want to engage in something, so they just “Christianize” it. On that principle, some will abstain because they think it’s just a loophole. However, if that is the case, then you ought not engage in just about any holiday.
In fact, both Christmas and Easter have either origins in very pagan traditions.
Just trace back the history of the Christmas tree (which has its roots in the pagan tree worshipers of Europe: or the history of Easter (which goes back to Ishtar, the goddess of fertility-- which is why we hide Easter eggs).
If your reasons for abstaining from trick-or-treating is based upon an argument of origins (or because of something’s history) that’s fine, but then you’ll have to abandon Christmas and Easter as well-- if you’re going to be consistent.
Because both of those holidays have essentially been “baptized” by Christians.
We now associate Christmas with Jesus’ birthday; and Easter with Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you are going to be consistent, you should never exchange a Christmas present again. You should never bite into a chocolate Easter bunny again.
So can we dissociate present practice from historical origins? Well, again, we think so.
In fact, the principal, here, is that something's origins cannot determine its present moralit