Followers of Jesus and the traditions of Halloween and Trick or Treat
As the end of October approaches, shops and supermarkets are again filled with all manner of Halloween themed products; ahead of the night in which occultic practitioners and the powers of darkness reach a frenzy. We know this for a fact because of our ministry work with people whose lives have been severely damaged by such. This time of year raises extra anxiety, fear and distress for them; it’s no fun for those who know the truth behind the colourful marketing campaigns.
“I’m glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year” Anton LaVey, Founder, Church of Satan
So, unafraid as Emmaus is to confront difficult subjects, we continue by addressing Halloween and the Trick or Treat traditions so widespread in our culture today; traditions which present challenges for many a Christian parent whose children are confronted by such at school or among peer groups.
The Bible is filled with warnings, strict warnings in fact, not to do what pagans do. Witchcraft, sorcery, worshipping idols, lying, manipulation and all manner of evil practice are an abomination to the Lord, and His children are expressly forbidden from participating in anything remotely related to it.
“There must never be anyone among you who consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead.”[i]
In the scriptures the Hebrew root word for do not carries a very strong emphasis implying; do not even dare to think about it. This is exactly what God our Father in heaven is saying to us about the occult: “do not even dare to think about engaging in it!”
According to the book Halloween—An American Holiday, some of the Celts wore ghoulish costumes so that wandering spirits would mistake them for one of their own and leave them alone. Others offered sweets to the spirits to appease them. In medieval Europe, the Catholic clergy adopted local pagan customs and had their adherents go from house-to-house wearing costumes and requesting small gifts. The Bible, on the other hand, does not permit merging false religious practices with the worship of God.[ii]
Jesus warned us that Satan comes masquerading as an angel of light. A masquerade is a pretense; to assume the appearance of something one is not, a mask that conceals what’s behind it. Halloween and the Trick or Treat traditions are marketed as harmless fun but are far from it. Encouraging or permitting children to participate in activities, which are unquestionably rooted in paganism, is a serious matter for them. It can open doors for demonic forces and teaches children that such activity is acceptable fun when normalized – in direct opposition to God’s word. Woe to those who cause a little one to sin, said Jesus in Matthew 18:6.
Halloween evolved from the early church’s attempts to Christianise the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-een) meaning summer-end. It was a festival embracing pagan rituals such as human sacrifice, shamanistic practices, fortune telling, the wearing of masks and costumes to honour the dead, and worship of pagan gods and goddesses.
According to Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia (1979 Vol 12 p 152), The Druids originated the holiday. It was a celebration of Saman, lord of the dead who was the god of evil spirits. There is some debate about this origination as the Druids were not the only, or the first spiritual pagans of Ireland.
Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and zombies: These have long been associated with the evil spirit world. The Bible clearly states that we should oppose wicked spirit forces, not celebrate with them.[iii]
The word Halloween derives from all-hallows eve or all-hallowmass, referring to all saints day, a celebration of dead saints introduced by the Catholic Pope Boniface in the 800s AD. This itself this is an erroneous doctrine by the Catholic church in seeking to replace a pagan festival celebrating death with a Christian version – Jesus came to bring us life in all its fullness!
“Trick-or-treating” is a modern tradition whose root probably lies in the early all souls day parades in England. The poor would beg for food and wealthier families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, referred to as going a-souling, was eventually taken up by children who would visit neighbours houses to request treats.
Halloween pumpkins, or jack-o’-lanterns: In medieval Britain, “supplicants moved from door to door asking for food in return for a prayer for the dead,” and they would carry “hollowed-out turnip lanterns, whose candle connoted a soul trapped in purgatory.” Others say that the lanterns were used to ward off evil spirits. During the 1800’s in North America, pumpkins replaced turnips because they were plentiful as well as easy to hollow out and carve. The beliefs behind this custom—the immortality of the soul, purgatory, and prayers for the dead—are not based on the Bible.[iv]
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?[v]
So please, this October 31st distract your children with something harmless, do something else. It will not be easy because they are surrounded by imagery and influences, they may well protest – but we are called to be a holy people set apart for God. Therefore teach them what the word of God says about such matters associated with Halloween and teach them to have nothing to do with it. We cannot do as the world does. Friendship with the world is enmity with God! Teach them this.
Emmaus Group, October 2015.
[i] Deuteronomy 18:1-12
[iii] Ephesians 6:12 – http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/origin-of-halloween/
[iv] Ezekiel 18:4 – http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/origin-of-halloween/
[v] 2 Cor 6:15