This post last updated on July 5th, 2023
Christians and Halloween cross paths every October. Some people jump in with both feet, while others lock the door and turn their lights off. So, how should Christians respond to Halloween?
Driving around any American city during the weeks leading up to Halloween can be a very interesting thing. You’ll see innocent cartoon characters dressed as pumpkins and witches, giant painted spiders in huge synthetic webs, and trash bag ghosts dancing around trees.
And you will usually find that one house, you know the one, transformed into hellish displays of demonic horror. Except “that one house” is becoming more and more common. Finding the simple lawn-turned-graveyard is becoming more and more difficult. Morbid scenes from some of the most perverse horror films have long replaced Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin (affiliate link).
And sometimes these days it’s an entire neighborhood make-over into Hollywood horror movie scenes.
Naturally, that bothers some people, while others are completely and disturbingly entertained by it. Meanwhile, your children are expected to walk through this mess and ask for free candy, while the remaining 364 days in the year you probably discourage evil, shield their eyes from horror, and teach them to never, ever take candy from a stranger. Are you good with this?
Earliest Traditions of Halloween
Parentalia was a 9 day feast honoring ancestors with the intent of appeasing the restless spirits of the dead. Parentalia formally took place in February, but it was observed at the individual family level throughout the year.
Pomona was the Roman goddess of orchards and fruit trees and so the holiday included nuts and apples. Later, Celtic celebrations and our own Halloween traditions of apple cider and bobbing for apples originate from this ancient Roman day.
Ancient lore also says that Pomona shut herself in an orchard and refused to allow men inside, so Vertumnus, the Roman god of seasons, disguised himself to gain access to the orchard so he could see Pomona.
Modern Halloween Roots
Typically though, our modern Halloween finds its roots among the Gaelic nations as the holiday Samhain (pronounced saw-win). Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Autumn.
Because the Romans had conquered many of the Celtic people groups by 43 A.D., most people believe that elements of the Roman holiday of Pomona were combined with the Celtic Samhain festival.
According to Gaelic tradition, Samhain was a time for the Aos Si (ees-shee), or faerie spirits of former gods and the spirits of the dead. During Samhain, these spirits would occupy the countryside looking for a human body to inhabit.
Which brings us to…
Divination and the Origin of Trick or Treat
People would leave offerings of food, drink, or crops to the Aos Si and would set an empty place at the dinner table. This was for the expected visitation of dead relatives that once lived in their homes while they were alive.
Following this meal, people would have a full night of festivities with games and bonfires. This is when they would use divination to try to interpret one’s future and apply cleansing and protective powers over their lives.
Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian by Dean Sherman (YWAM) is one of the most instructive, eye-opening, and easy to understand books I’ve ever read on the unseen realm and spiritual warfare. I do not want any Christian to be unaware of the spiritual reality of the world we live in and strongly recommend this book to all Christians. (affiliate link)
The practice of dressing up in disguise and going from house to house asking for food began around the 16th century among the Celtic people.
The disguised people would recite poems or sing songs in exchange for food. Their costumes were to trick others into thinking they were the Aos Si who had come to receive their offering in exchange for good luck.
Christian Origins of Halloween
Ironically, Christianity has been crossing paths with Halloween in it’s various forms for centuries. There’s a ton of people who can’t agree whether All Hallows Evening began as a Christianized version of Samhain, or if it was completely separate from the beginning.
What we do know is that modern-day Halloween has a lot in common with it’s predecessors. Costumes, trick-or-treating, bonfires, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, and horror attractions to name a few.
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
You would think we would find an easy, clear-cut answer to this question. It’s common for believers to wrestle with it, and it does get a bit confusing when so many Christians and churches play along with Halloween.
So is that a complete green light for the Christian to celebrate this holiday? You’ll have to make that decision for yourself, but consider all of the ingredients before you do. Learn from people who have experienced the other side of things, like Chelsea who knew witchcraft from a very young age.
No matter how much we try to commercialize, force innocence, or make light of the holiday, Halloween has its origins firmly rooted in the occult. Halloween continues to carry an intense satanic tradition of divination, death, and pagan gods.
For the Christian, these things are off limits. The Bible teaches that we are to “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Trying to answer the question should Christians celebrate Halloween is difficult. Some say we should totally abstain from Halloween, lock our doors and keep our lights off. Others say Christians should counter the evil of the holiday by hosting the best get-togethers in town.
It becomes a matter of the heart and a question of motives, and you have to answer that for yourself.
Christians and Halloween
It’s perfectly normal if you’re saddened or even disgusted by the blatantly evil displays of Halloween.
As I stated, no one can tell you what choice to make. However, for the Christian, according to Scripture, we should not participate in anything evil, in any form. That includes Halloween.
The difficulty is being fair to modern society and understanding that most people have no clue about the pagan origins behind Halloween. Although, the evil is front and center, absolutely undeniable.
Therefore, we cannot give an easy pass on the evil of the holiday, for the Christian. You and I both know full well that evil is celebrated on Halloween, and all year long by the entertainment industry. Ignorance of the facts about Halloween can’t change the truth, and your personal responsibility is to learn, understand, and apply the truth of God.
Many churches and Christians have adopted ways to celebrate Halloween and they call it outreach. While I believe the intent and the motive is usually right, the result is often condoning by participation, and that can lead to compromise.
I don’t disagree that Halloween could be an opportunity for outreach, but is it the best way to represent Christ on an evil holiday? I’m all in on outreach, believe me. Reaching the lost with the good news of our God who loves them is my life’s work. But so is shepherding the flock of Jesus.
I’m wondering if Halloween isn’t a better opportunity to disciple followers of Jesus with inreach rather than dressing our church in costumes and participating with the unbelieving world. That’s not meant to ditch an opportunity for outreach, it’s a suggestion to live a sanctified life, being set apart from the darkness that creeps into our lives and our church.
Personally, I despise everything about Halloween. Realistically though, we’re in a world that is blind to the truth and makes light of evil.
How do we navigate that? Scripture is clear and should be our guide…
Abstain from every form of evil.1 Thessalonians 5:22
What are your thoughts? Do you celebrate Halloween, and why or why not?
This post was originally published in October 2015, and updated September 13, 2022.