“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)
October is a great month. Fall begins to show just how crisp of a season it can be, the World Series provides a crowning end to our national pastime, and Halloween forces most of us to the grocery store for a last-minute purchase of candy for the kids.
It’s no secret that many churches frown upon Halloween. In fact, several churches sponsor parties of their own on Halloween in an effort to lure kids away from the traditions that Halloween embraces. Why? It all seems like such harmless fun.
Although Halloween has come to be thought of as a night of fun, superstitious spells and eerie games that people take only half seriously, it origins are quite the opposite. Halloween practices began more than 2,500 years ago with the Festival of Samhain, otherwise known as the Festival of Death.
Many of the Halloween customs that we now characterize as harmless came from a pagan order of priests called Druids. The Druids would dress up in dark robes (costumes) and go from house to house to collect food for their dead spirits (treats). If you did not have what they wanted, your household could be cursed or, even worse, a loved one would be taken for a human sacrifice (trick). They even carried lanterns with them, made from hollowed-out turnips or gourds with an oil lamp inside and the face of the evil spirit that guides them carved into it. This evil spirit was named Jock (or Jack). That’s right. Yesterday’s Jock of the Lantern is today’s jack-o’-lantern.
Interestingly, Halloween has it roots in the Catholic church as well. In the eighth century, the pope, in an attempt to get the people to abandon the Festival of Samhain, and all of the occult practices that went with it, established All Saints Day on Nov. 1. All Saints Day came to be called All Hallows since it was a day to worship all the hallowed ones. Since the Festival of Death occurred the evening before, it came to be called All Hallows Evening, later Hallows E’en, and finally, Halloween.
Obviously, Halloween has an evil origin, which is why most churches probably frown upon it. After all the Apostle Paul, who preached the Gospel to those who celebrated the Festival of Death, tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Avoid every kind of evil.”
The Bible tells us specifically to avoid the very practices that Halloween promotes. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lordyour God will drive out those nations before you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
The real irony of Halloween is that we spend the other 364 days of the year communicating the importance of Christian values to our children. Then on Halloween, we encourage them to wear a mask and teach them a basic lesson in blackmail as they exclaim, “Trick or Treat!” It doesn’t make the sense that I once thought it did.
I’m not against Halloween, but I am against the evil that it masks. If you don’t believe me, then look in the newspaper or listen to the evening news on Nov. 1. You’ll hear all about it. Is it any wonder what Paul was talking about when he said:“You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (Galatians 4:10-11)