Is it okay for Christians to celebrate Halloween?
A story: Once upon a time at a family reunion, a husband and wife were in the kitchen preparing the meal. In this case, dinner was pot roast. The wife cut off both ends of the pot roast before she placed it in the pan. The husband saw this and he said, “Honey, why did you cut off the ends of the pot roast?”
The wife says, “Well, I don’t know. “That’s how my mom taught me.” So they called Mom over and they said, “Mom, why is it you cut off the ends from the pot roast?” Mom said, “Well, that’s how my mom taught me.”
So they call over Grandma. “Grandma, why do you cut off the ends of the pot roast?”
“Well, that’s how my mom taught me.”
Finally, they call over Great-Grandma. “Great-Grandma, why do you cut off the ends of your pot roast?”
Great-Grandma looked at them all for a second and said, “Well, I don’t know why you turkeys are doing it, but my pan was too small.”
The moral of the story: Some of the things we do, we don’t know why we do them, nor do we know the traditions that brought them to us.
It may be this way with Halloween in your home.
But should Christians really be celebrating Halloween?
Well, Halloween—you know, it used to be one of my favorite holidays.
There was Christmas, and then there was Halloween.
Back in my 20’s (my lost years), my roommate and I would completely deck out the house we were renting. As you walked into the house, you’d be hit with strobe lights, and—in order to even get in the house—you had to navigate a maze of black plastic walls. Then the big reveal: all of the light bulbs would be changed to red. There was monster mash music (or rave music.) There’d be lots of drinking. We would decorate the whole house in skulls and demonic imagery, spiders, bats, cobwebs and bloody corpse pieces all over the place. (Not real corpse pieces obviously; the plastic or rubber kind.)
A truly morbid scene.
We would do this every Halloween. There was one Halloween where I even dressed up as Satan himself. I wore myself a suit, put on white contacts, pasted horns to my head and I slicked back my hair. That was my costume that year.
Suffice it to say I was out of touch with the Lord during that season, for sure.
Years later, after starting a family of my own, that was the thing to do. Once the kids got to a certain age, we’d dress them up just as cute as could be and we’d walk them down the street. We would send them to strangers’ front doors to hold out their little buckets or bags and say, “Trick-or-treat,” in their cute little voices. Then they’d run back and they show you what was in the bag and you’d go to the next house.
As a matter of fact, it went on this way in our home for years, even after I came to Christ.
But slowly over time, I began to get convicted on the whole topic of Halloween.
Eventually, I started to boycott Halloween. I just said, “You know what? Spiritual reasons; I’m not going to do this anymore.” But I hadn’t really done the research. I wasn’t strong enough in my opinion to say, “No family, we shouldn’t be doing this.” In those moments, I was being relativistic, saying, “Well, it’s not right for me, but if you really want to do it, and if you want to take the kids…”
You see, I didn’t want to steal Halloween from my wife and I wasn’t rooted enough in truth to point the way back to it. So, I just weakly subscribed to the truth and I let them do Halloween for a couple more years.
After some time, my oldest daughter was reading a John Ramirez book, “Armed and Dangerous.” In that book, he talks briefly about Halloween. Now, if you know who John Ramirez is, you know he is an ex-Satanist who now is on mission for the kingdom; so he knows more than most about how the other side operates.
When my daughter brought his material to me and pointed it out, that’s when we had a family talk. My wife wasn’t there at this one, but I sat the kids down and I said, “Listen, this has been on my heart for a while. You know daddy hasn’t been participating in Halloween. Your sister brought this to me. I want to take your temperature. Are you okay with coming out of Halloween? Because that’s what I would want for this family. It’s not spiritually healthy.” The kids were okay with it. The older two were pretty much grown out of it by then anyways; they were early teens. The younger two were like, “Oh, okay. Well, if everybody else is out, we can be out too.”
But we still had to bring mama along, so we ended up pulling together a presentation for her, slides and all. We practiced that presentation and when we pitched it to her…well, I’ll tell you how she responded at the end of this article.
Let’s get into what does Halloween really look like? Should Christians be celebrating Halloween? Many Christians celebrate holidays without actually knowing their origins. For sure, there are at least a couple major holidays that Christians participate in that had pagan origins (think Christmas and Easter), but Halloween’s a little bit different.
You can’t dive into the origins of Halloween without tripping across the Druids.
The Origin and History of Halloween
Several hundred years before Christ, places like England, Scotland, Ireland and France were populated by a people group called Celts. The high priests of the Celts were called Druids. These lands and people were eventually conquered by the Romans. As a result, much of the Celtic history we have comes from either Roman or Greek writings, however we have some Irish documents as well. Greek and Roman writings about the Druids tend to focus more on the human sacrifice element. The Irish writing tends to leave that part out largely, but talks more about the magic and the sorcery that the Druids were able to command. It gives them credit with being able to command the storms and cast spells over people.
November 1st was the Celtic new year, which made October 31st the very end of the year. The last day of the year was celebrated by these Druids with human sacrifice and a festival given to honor and worship not only their sun god, but their lord of the dead, Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”.) They believed the sinful souls of the deceased were in torment until Samhain was satisfied with the living’s sacrifices. Then and only then, could these restless souls be released from their torment. More on this when we talk about trick-or-treat.
By 47 AD, Rome had fully conquered the Druids in England and outlawed their human sacrifices. Well, that drove many Druids underground. We know too, that there are Druids still today. People claim Druid lineage and they are still having sacrifices. In fact, to this day, Stonehenge—a major site of Druid worship—continues to host Druid ceremonies.
Irish records talk about how these Catholic monks grew in their fascination with these powerful Druids and over a very short amount of time, these Druids became prominent figures within these monasteries. It was Pope Gregory the Great who decided to incorporate the Druid holiday into the church. He made the proclamation: “They are no longer to sacrifice the beasts to the devil, but they may kill them for food to the praise of God and give thanks to the giver of all gifts for His bounty.” It was Pope Gregory III who thought it was a good idea to move this church festival from the October 31st to November 1st, calling it All-Hallows or All Saints Day. Finally, it was Pope Gregory IV who made the church observance universal. The term All-Hallows’ Eve is where we get the term Halloween.
Now the founding fathers of America realized this was a very pagan holiday so when they came over to North America, they refused this holiday. Halloween wasn’t a big event in the United States until around the 1900’s. In the 1840’s, there was a horrible potato famine and many Catholic Irish came over to escape the famine, bringing Halloween with them.
Let’s talk about a couple customs from Halloween.
Halloween Ritual: Trick-or-Treat
Today, there’s a modern custom we in America recognize well, where you go from door-to-door and say, “Trick or treat!” as an invitation to give a treat or try to play a trick. This custom of going door-to-door and asking strangers for candy and food or treats came from the Druids.
On October 31st, the last night of the year, the Celtic people thought (as they were taught by the Druids) that the lost and condemned souls would wander the earth, waiting for Samhain to pass final judgment over them. These roaming spirits were thought to collect around the houses of the living and so these feasts and banquets would be conducted in order to appease them. Through the threats and conditioning of the Druids, the townspeople believed these spirits were evil spirits that would do them harm unless Samhain put a stop to it or unless Samhain was pleased with their sacrifices.
In the 1970’s and ’80’s, there was a rash of “accidents” where several children were hurt or killed eating Halloween candy. Candy was found with razor blades in it, or needles, or poison. Today, people think these were just stories as it’s been a couple of decades since, but we have the testimonies of ex-Satan worshippers who’ve come forward to say, “Nope, this is actually a real thing. There are curses being spoken over the candy. When there’s a child that dies from some sort of poisoning of the candy, that’s considered to be a sacrifice offered up to Satan.” Satanists across the world, still to this day, conduct sacrifices—and sometimes those sacrifices are human.
Halloween Ritual: Bobbing for Apples
A second tradition that has pagan roots is bobbing for apples. The Romans worshipped a goddess of the harvest, Pomona, and it’s said the bobbing for apples and the handing out of nuts (I don’t think I’ve never received nuts for Halloween) were both games played to acknowledge Pomona’s bounty.
Next, we’re going to talk about some of the popular symbols of Halloween.
Halloween Symbol #1: Skeletons and Ghosts
Now, because the Celt’s belief that the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest on October 31st, we see a lot of death imagery in Halloween. We see skulls, and skeletons, and ghosts. This is also why we see so much of this imagery in Day of the Dead celebrations. We also see graveyards, and haunted houses, and other things that speak of the other world, the ether and human mortality.
Yet in Leviticus 19:31, the Lord warns us not to be communing with the dead. And frankly, we were never made for death; death happened through the Fall. Until that point, there was no death, no disease, no decay.
So why are we celebrating death again?
Halloween Symbol #2: Bats
Now, there’s nothing wrong with these creatures. They’re innocent little flying rodents. However, their involvement in Halloween comes from the large sacrificial fires the Druids would set. As the insects would be drawn by the light, the bats would be drawn to the light as well. This is why we have bats as part of our current Halloween imagery.
Halloween Symbol #3: Witches and Warlocks
In the Middle Ages, all across Europe, witchcraft was associated with devil worship and evil. During the witch hunts all across Europe and America in America’s early years, thousands of women were killed—most of them probably innocently—by the fear of witchcraft.
We know that there’s two sources of spiritual power in this world: God and Satan; that’s it. So, if you’re Christian and your hanging little witches on your doors, or you’re dressing up as a witch for Halloween, or—let’s mention Harry Potter here: If you and your family are feasting on Harry Potter books and movies, you’re actually feeding on stuff the Bible says is not life-producing. God says, no—it’s absolute rebellion. You have to wonder, why are you feeding on it? It’s unholy. It’s rebellion, and it should die in your home, if you claim Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Halloween Symbol #4: Jack o’ Lanterns
Believe it or not, the original Jack o’ Lantern wasn’t a pumpkin; it was a turnip. According to Irish folklore, some poor soul named Jack made a bad deal with the devil and was cursed to spend the rest of eternity wandering between heaven and hell on earth. He was given a glowing ember to light his way. So Jack carved out a lantern from a turnip and put the ember in that. That’s how he became known as Jack of the Lantern or—for short—Jack o’ Lantern.
On All-Hallows’ Eve, folks in Ireland and Scotland—in order to ward off evil spirits and Stingy Jack—would carve evil or dark snarling faces into their turnips, light little candles in them and place them outside in order to scare away any evil spirits that were threatening them. Well, when there was this European exodus over to the United States, these folks came and they discovered that pumpkins make even better Jack o’ Lanterns.
It’s the Jack o’ Lantern or the pumpkin that gives us the orange color that we have around Halloween. We have the orange of the pumpkin and then we have black to represent the darkness or evil [or whatever gloom you want to insert in here.]
Halloween Symbol #5: Spiders
Spiders have this seemingly-supernatural ability to create beautiful webs, and that’s earned them a place in folklore all around the planet. That, plus their need to feed on other things–it kind of repulses us, right? There’s a dissociation we experience when it comes to spiders due, frankly, to the way in which they kill their prey.
Often, if things have been left abandoned for a long time, they’re overrun with spiderwebs and cobwebs, whereby they become a symbol of decay, aging, and things that have been long left neglected.
Halloween Symbol #6: Black Cats
The connection between black cats and evil and witchcraft goes way back. In medieval Europe, there was a common fear that the devil could turn himself into a black cat. In fact, during the witch hunt era, oftentimes black cats were found with the witches. Since these cats are well concealed in darkness, they were often considered to be familiars to the witches—demon aids that helped with the witches’ spells.
Of course, we know that the color black is commonly associated with mystery, or death, or evil. These saintly creatures were often maligned with the bad reputation of being evil.
Common Argument: If we Christianize Halloween, that makes it okay, right?
There may be some folks who are disagreeing with this whole lesson on Halloween. They’re saying, “You know Matthew, it’s okay: We let our little Timmy or Janie dress up as Noah or Mary. That makes Halloween okay, right?”
Even if you’re dressing your little children up as angels, you’re still participating in this holiday. As I’ve pointed out, the roots of this holiday are not good. You have to determine whether or not you’re willing to do what’s right before God’s eyes, or what’s right before the world’s eyes.
Near the end of our time with Halloween, my family–in one of its last throes–went to a local church to see what trunk or treat was all about. Well, first off it wasn’t in the parking lot. It was in the basement of the church (United Methodist, I believe.) This church had no discernment at all. For this event, they invited in local community vendors. These vendors had booths and decorated them with little Styrofoam gravestones and black tinsel and orange paper pumpkins–the works. Then the vendors themselves dressed in costume, mostly sorcerers and witches. They handed out their business cards with the candy. So the kids went back and forth between vendors who were using the event as a marketing opportunity.
There were witches, and ghouls, and monsters, and people dressed up as zombies, all through the basement of this church.
Participation is Approval
If you’re dressing up, if you’re handing out candy, if you’re participating in the Halloween school play, if you’re doing the trunk or treats—you’re participating in the holiday. You can’t stand on the side of a parade and not be considered part of the parade; you are part of the event.
Remember that reference I made to John Ramirez earlier in this talk? Well, in his book, he talks about how the late church of Satan founder, Anton LaVey was quoted saying, “I love the fact that Christian parents allow their children to worship the devil one night a year.”
Satanists and witches consider Halloween a high holy day. It is a day dedicated to death, evil, changed identities and darkness. Animal and human sacrifices, sexual abuse, beatings, etc. that are founded on worshiping gods/goddesses (fallen angels and demons) increase during this holiday. There are more than a few testimonies by ex-witches confirming that Halloween candy, trick-or-treaters, churches and neighborhoods can have curses leveled at them.
This is a reality; a spiritual reality.
Yeah, we’re totally done celebrating Halloween. When we made our pitch to my wife? She was nonchalant about the whole thing. She was like, “Why’d you go through all this work? We can be done.”
That’s how that turned out. We’ve been avoiding this holiday ever since.
Alternatives to Halloween
So, we’re done with Halloween. What do you do if you’re not going to participate in Halloween? As a family, we have two plans for any given Halloween:
- We turn off all the upstairs lights, get some movies and popcorn and go down into our basement, or
- We go to another family’s house—another family who isn’t celebrating Halloween either—and we hang out with them.
We’re Done with Halloween
Okay, in closing, yes, there are other holidays that have pagan origins, but Halloween has nothing redeeming about it; Halloween started evil and it is still evil today.
What you have to decide is what are you going to feed on? What are you going to feed your family on? Are you going to feed them on unrighteousness, unholiness? Or you’re going to feed them righteousness and holiness? Are you going to feed them life or are you going to feed them death? Are you going to feed them on violence or are you going to feed them on peace? In all that we do, we are to give glory to God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may know God’s good and perfect will.”
Okay, that’s it for this lesson. I hope you found this informational and helpful. I hope there’s conviction for sure. I hope that you join my family outside the boundaries of Halloween in a complete rejection and ban of this wicked holiday.
Good article, absolutely agree with the admonition to refrain from participation, in fact, we as the people of Christ should not do anything that acknowledges this to be a holiday, that is, holy day.
As being born again in 1976 from that religion, I did see a couple of items that need a bit of further information – –
Costumes – these too have roots in evil practices. When the Catholic church condemned the practice of the celebration to Samhain, with severe consequences for doing so, the Druids began attending the festival in disguises – so they would not be recognized if seen going to or coming from the celebrations. Today, costumes are not part of the rituals of halloween … but their use began as and so today represents the rebellion against Christianity’s condemnation of celebrating the god of darkness.
#3 – Decorating home/personal property with symbols, decorative figures of witches, etc, this actually marks you and your home as a place where demons are welcome and when actual witches know that a Christian home is so decorated, they are gleeful that Christians are promoting not the day only but the very practice of their beliefs and religion!
#4 – Jack O’Lanterns were signals to those gathering “offerings” for the celebration that this family had already given. Thus, it represents that offerings to the devil (Samhain) have been given by this family.
#6 – Black cats. While you did mention this, the issue of “thought of as being familiars to the witches …” is far more serious and takes a bit more explanation. In fact, while God is certainly not opposed to black cats the animals, God does condemn the practice of having/using familiar spirit in at least 9 passages of Scripture, here are just two:
Isaiah 19:3 (KJV)
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.
Leviticus 20:6-7 (KJV)
And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
Again, this is not a criticism of your article just to bring into a bit sharper focus of why Christians have no business participating in this celebration day of evil.
Dr. Timothy! Thank you for the additional color! Hugely appreciated!
Thank you sir for this addition.
As one of those people who loves to vociferously and doggedly spar (not argue, not fight, but figure things out together to ensure that they work, align, function and are beneficial for godliness), I would challenge the notion that if we go digging on Halloween, its history, its intent and its purpose, we have to go digging on everything that we currently embrace as upstanding 21st Century North American Christians as well. You nod to this in your article, but I wonder if you nodded far enough? Or the fact that if we do that, we’ll have pretty much nothing left short of Baptism and Communion. And maybe you’d agree with that. But Easter? Yeah. Do some digging on that, bro. You won’t like what you find. Christmas? Same. Did you know that the concept of stringing tinsel and ornaments on Christmas trees is a hold back to the Norse concept of appeasing Yolopukki? Yeah. Totally about human sacrifice. Eviscerate a young male virgin strapped to a tree and then string his organs and entrails across branches to appease Yolopukki and hopefully keep him from eating everyone in the village. And yet, here most of us are, stringing tinsels (i.e. entrails) and hanging ornaments (i.e. organs) on the branches of the trees in our homes every December and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I’m sure you’re also aware that Jesus wasn’t born in December (we celebrate something then to overlap with Winter Solstice), that the whole concept of “Santa Claus” is a hold over from Odin, that a Yule log is a pagan nod to Thor, that gift-giving didn’t start with the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ-child like we like to think, that pretty much everything, regardless of how we might try to sanitize it, about “Christmas” as we know it is actually a mélange of pagan, occult, directly satanic practices, or early attempts to make Christianity somehow palatable to the world. If we wanted to truly avoid all of that, we probably wouldn’t celebrate Christmas, or, honestly, Easter the way that we do, when do, how we do, or why we do. We have MADE those things celebrations that point to Jesus. There’s nothing inherently about Jesus in their origins, despite what people think. As a result, whether or not we celebrate Halloween can’t be about its origins either. It can’t be about whether something is “pure” or whether it has been co-opted by our culture. Nothing is and everything has been. It CAN be about what we MAKE it to mean. History, society and certainly my Enemy don’t get to tell me what something means to me. Only my God does. My Enemy can tell me that the Cross is a symbol of Shame and Defeat, but then we wear it around our necks a symbols of Victory and the Triumph of Life over Death. My Enemy can say that Halloween is “his day” and that there is no way to redeem it. I like the tact better of saying, “Look. My God is not somehow less Lord on Halloween than any other day of the year. You celebrate what you want. I’m going to celebrate that my God is King and Lord over anything that you say that you’re celebrating, including anything demonic, dark or satanic. You think that somehow Satan ‘has sway’ on this day? Pssh… my God’s authority doesn’t work that way. He’s King on that day just the same. You want to celebrate dark powers and fear? Fine. I’m going to celebrate the abundance of God, the anticipation of Resurrection, the preparation for Advent and the fact that we have overcome anything and everything dark by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our Testimony. My God can Heal and Redeem anything. I’m handing you candy in the Name of Jesus. Happy Halloween!” For me as a modern Christian, therefore, Halloween is as much about defiance as anything else. My culture thinks Christians should go run and hide on this one day. I laugh at that and extend hospitality, warmth, generosity, blessing and Life. My God don’t run from nuthin’. Neither do i.
What I would recommend! – If you haven’t read Frank Viola’s book Pagan Christianity, I’d highly recommend it as I think you would resonate with it in much the same way that I do/did. As I’ve said above, the truth is, there is very (VERY) little in our current evangelical Christendom that passes the purity test in any regard, no matter how Biblical or rooted in holy tradition that it may seem to be. Pastors? Nope. It’s not Biblical the way that we have them, celebrate them or use them. In fact, the very idea of Clergy is probably antithetical to how God designed His people to operate, and is a version of hierarchical power that has less to do with submitting to authority (like we all like to think) and more to do with the centralization of Control and Power that minimizes the priesthood of all believers and cuts off the concept of Spiritual Gifts for all believers at the knees. Church Buildings? Nope. Roman hold-over designed to centralize power. Christmas (as stated)? Nope. Never intended nor designed to be what it is. Ordination? Nope. Man-made construct designed to centralize power for the purposes of the administration of an empire and its desire to leverage religious power as an authentication for political might. Pretty much the same thing that you note here about Halloween. And that’s true of most things that we celebrate at some level, whether built on the world, a system of the world, or even more directly on our Enemy, regardless of how “Christ-centered” something is supposedly supposed to be. In fact, most of the things that we think are somehow staples or non-negotiables for how we practice or express our Christianity short of Communion (which, even that should actually be a full meal if we want to be “Biblical”) and Baptism (which absolutely should be full body immersion if we are going to be both Biblically and historically accurate) are actually just things we’ve allowed, syncretized, absorbed or propagated without knowing why, where or how we have come to do so. But that doesn’t mean that we jettison everything. There’s really no way that we could. And, in my opinion (which I know you would probably not agree with here), my God can Redeem anything. No exceptions. So bring me your pagan, satanic rituals. My Father can reinfuse them with new meaning, new opportunity and new energy and then I’ll happily use them to proclaim Light and Life to a dark and dying world, even while throwing the opportunity in its face as an act of defiant Love. As a follower of Jesus, I get to be part of that. Even with Halloween.
Thank you for the history lesson on Christmas tinsel and more. Sweet goodness. That’s awful. I find those pagan expressions a potential image for the reprobate state of the pre-Flood earth and again for the tribes who inhabited Canaan before Israel brought their judgment. Yes, I nodded at these other holidays but, just as you mentioned—and I believe this is the KEY DIFFERENCE—those holidays have been appropriated by Christianity (though still somewhat muddled by Santa and egg-laying rabbits.) Halloween has not and has nothing redeeming about it for Christianity.
I’ve heard of the book but blanche at the idea of one more thing to read at the present as I’m in the mad dash to finalize my third and final internship toward ordination. Thank you for the recommendation though! I’ve raised it on my “to read” list!
You were right to call out the “Satanists claim it a holy day so we should avoid it” argument; I know it’s weak. I use it as an illustration for the reader to say, “If the enemy loves this holiday, why would we?”
I totally get your point about taking a bolder approach and fully agree. At the family level, and considering our unequally-yoked dynamics, removing ourselves from the holiday was the next best step. I think the bold approach however wouldn’t look like an adoption of Halloween but a standing apart from it and offering something different; offering contrast. Otherwise, we’re just joining in with the world’s parade and “bringing the love of Christ” by handing out candy just like the atheist a couple doors over. In that moment, the love of Christ looks no different, burns no brighter, leads no one closer to God. To that end, I would think a church response might look like 1) dedicated congregational prayer, worship and fasting, 2) a family movie night for the congregation (after they’ve been led through a teaching on Halloween, of course) or 3) an evangelistic outreach to hand out tracts, prayer walk and pray for folks on Halloween night.
Okay, so there’s my spar back to you. I appreciate the dialog on this!
I usually find that when people enjoy still partaking in worldy celebrations they make all kinds of excuses and remain purposefully ambiguous about what the bible says in order to justify still being part of celebrations of evil such as Halloween. The bible is quite clear on this. We are to have no part in these activities. No part.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
“And give no opportunity to the devil.”
I used to celebrate halloween here in Ireland with my nephew and go out trick or treating with him and visit all the neighbours. Ever since I gained the holy spirit I now feel as though celebrating the holiday is completely out of touch with the idea of following and obeying christ. Christ did warn us against having anything to do with demons ‘You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.’ So Thank you very much for providing this article because it is good to see some fellow christians taking a stand against this evil celebration of Satan and his demons. As we enter into the last days it is clear that anything the world celebrates as good usually isn’t. Its the same with Christmas. I will no longer celebrate Halloween or have anything to do with it.
Great revelation Matthew. I love this article. Saving it.