Should Christians celebrate Halloween? The answer is complex. As you and your family prepare for Halloween, continue to study, pray, and seek God’s wisdom.
Across the world, the month of October ushers in a new season of weather, pumpkin themed foods, and celebrations. Also, October means the arrival of an often-celebrated day: Halloween. While the celebration provides an outlet for costume creations and candy consumption, for many Christian families the question remains: Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
The answer: it depends.
God desires faithful obedience for you and your family. For Christians, Halloween offers the opportunity to model faithfulness and obedience in our decision-making.
At the very least, Halloween provides a conversation starter between you and your kids, or a neighbour, or even a co-worker. From there, Halloween presents an incredible opportunity to develop new relationships and share your faith. As a parent, continue to study, pray, and seek God’s wisdom on this topic. Follow the conviction of your own heart through the Holy Spirit so that, whatever your family decides, others might see Christ working through you.
As you make your decision on whether to have a celebration on Halloween, here is more information about the celebration – how it started, what it means, and what the Bible tells us that can guide our decision.
Let’s begin with exploring the history of Halloween.
History of Halloween
What comes to mind when you think of Halloween? There’s a good chance you think of an assortment of dancing skeletons and carved pumpkins. But the origins of Halloween extend all the way back to a group of Celtic pagans living in the Iron Age.
In fact, Halloween originated under the title of Samhain. This ancient festival was a three-day created by the Celts in Northern Europe. Translated in modern Irish, “Samhain” means “summer’s end.” So, the festival literally signalled the conclusion of summer and beginning of a new season. Originally, Samhain stemmed from pagan and supernatural roots, through sacrifice and offerings.
Throughout centuries, Samhain continued in mutated forms until around 609 A.D. when Pope Boniface IV declared a new celebration.
Initially, Pope Boniface IV created All Saints’ Day or “All-Hallows Day” to be celebrated before summer. All Saints’ Day focuses on celebrating martyrs and saints who sacrificed their lives for the Christian faith. Later, Pope Gregory III moved the celebration to the fall season to coincide with Samhain.
Over the years, All Saints’ Day or All-Hallows Day continued its evolution into the modern celebration of Halloween. Samhain’s sacrifices morphed into Halloween’s handing out a different kind of offering: sweets. Nevertheless, Halloween contains roots in a pagan celebration of death and rebirth. So, should Christians really celebrate Halloween?
Christians and Halloween
For many Christian communities, there are three main responses to Halloween. The rejection, acceptance, or redemption of Halloween. Approaching difficult circumstances surrounding the celebration of Halloween requires communication within your family about expectations and boundaries.
Do Christians Celebrate Halloween?
It’s safe to say Halloween is one of the most marketable and culturally popular celebrations on our calendar. Clever marketing schemes across streaming channels such as Netflix and Disney+ contribute to Halloween’s growing popularity. Additionally, spending for Halloween is predicted to cross 10 billion dollars in the U.S. for the first time ever in 2021.
Most of the debate surrounding the celebration of Halloween focuses on the celebration’s unhealthy fascination with evil. Now, are there things about Halloween that are clearly Anti-Christian? Absolutely. Is there anything inherently evil about letting your kids dress up as a cheerleader or superhero to ask for sweets from their neighbours? Not necessarily!
Reasons Why Christians Don’t Celebrate Halloween
Swirling around Halloween’s festivities and trick-or-treating are the not-so-subtle connections to problematic supernatural practices. Despite the distance from its period of origin, Halloween still remains connected to paganism.
On a general level, Halloween is a time of the year celebrated by advocates of Wicca, a network of practicing witches. As the official religion of witchcraft, Wicca believes October 31 to mark the time when the separation between the spiritual and physical realms is the thinnest. In other words, Halloween is the best time to try and interact with the supernatural realm, according to Wiccans..
Going further, some of those otherworldly connections align with Satanism. Halloween has always maintained a relationship with occultism. Additionally, Halloween’s premise includes an intentional and public display of imagery, mischief, and behaviour generally looked down upon any other time of the year.
All things considered, this leaves Christians in a difficult place. On one hand, there are elements of Halloween that are harmless and fun. While on another, Halloween contains sinister influences and promotes behaviours that present troubling realities for families of all backgrounds. So, let’s explore a few more key questions about Halloween.
Questions about Halloween
What Does Halloween Mean?
In linguistic terms, Halloween is simply a contraction of “All Hallows” and “evening.” The word itself means “Saints” evening, and it comes from the Scottish term for All Hallow’s Eve. Over time, a variety of roots and word stems morphed into the modern spelling of Halloween.
Is Halloween the Devil’s Holiday?
If we base our answer off the historical origins of Halloween, then the answer is no. However, that doesn’t exclude its overarching associations with death and paganism.
Within the context of Christianity and biblical references, Satan’s, or Lucifer’s, origin has little to do with Halloween. Yet, the relationship between the Devil and Halloween exists for a reason. The reason has developed over centuries because of the original emphasis upon death and even more sinister elements.
Is Halloween a Christian Holiday?
As mentioned earlier, Halloween contains direct roots with paganism and historical pagan practices. To most historians, it’s unclear how long the ancient celebration remained strictly a pagan holiday. However, the early church held yearly celebrations and vigils for martyrs and deceased saints.
Then, throughout the Early Middle Ages, various figures within the Catholic Church adopted influences from Samhain. Yet, it is clear to say that the modern interpretation of Halloween hardly resembles anything associated with Christianity or the Bible.
Is it a Sin to Celebrate Halloween?
For followers of Christ, our actions and behaviours are judged according to our obedience to Christ. Within the context of celebrating Halloween, this truth remains. We are defined by our actions and how closely our heart is aligned with God’s desires.
Whether it is a sin for Christians to celebrate Halloween depends on how exactly you plan to celebrate. For some families, this might require more intentionality in discussing how you plan to celebrate Halloween. For other families, these discussions might lead to a change in your plans. And that is a perfectly acceptable response.
It’s true, the Bible contains no direct references to Halloween by name. However, Scripture carefully instructs Christians against participation in pagan practices directly involving witchcraft, the occult, and the worship of other deities.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Our obedience to God requires a careful understanding of how much God cares about our choices. In deciding whether to participate in Halloween, you and your family can consider how your actions might align with God.
Dressing up in a costume and handing out candy on October 31 is not a sin. Just as it wouldn’t be a sin to do the same thing on April 1. However, how you represent Christ matters, especially on polarising days such as Halloween. Remember how you portray Jesus in your behaviours, how you interact with people and even your costume choices.
Halloween and the Bible
Even though the Bible never directly mentions Halloween, there are several biblical principles that influence a Christian’s perspective on Halloween. When thinking about whether you should celebrate Halloween, consider the following principles found in the Bible.
What Does the Bible Say about Halloween?
Since the Bible doesn’t address Halloween, many Christians liken the celebration to other moments where the Bible discusses witchcraft, sacrifice, and worldly behaviours. The Bible contains various teachings on how to behave or interact with the world’s troubling celebrations.
In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, the Lord establishes rules for the Israelites concerning a wide variety of practices. These include human sacrifice to conjuring spirits to telling fortunes and even those who practice sorcery. These verses provide clarity for what Christians should not do. Yet some might ask: how many Christians are making human sacrifices or telling fortunes on Halloween?
Well, hopefully none at all! The New Testament expands upon how Christians should approach difficult situations that can arise from things that are often connected with Halloween.
Bible Verses about Halloween
Ephesians 5:7-15 – Living in Darkness and Light
Within this section of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul discusses the negative effects of “worthless deeds of evil and darkness.” Paul compares sin and our harmful decisions to living in darkness. But there is a way to live in the light and walk in obedience with God.
When it comes to living within our modern world, our decisions and obedience to God still operate in the same way. With Halloween, what matters is how you interact with others, your decision-making, and how you represent Jesus to others.
Acts 8:9-24 – A Magician is Converted to Christianity
One of the Bible’s primary accounts involving supernatural magic follows an interaction between Simon the Magician and the early Apostles. Simon the Magician was a popular figure throughout Samaria. The local people were often amazed at his magic saying, “This man [has] the power of God that is called Great.”
One of the apostles named Phillip visited the city. After preaching and living among the Samarians for a while, dozens of men and women were baptised and converted after hearing the Gospel. And one of those men was Simon the Magician.
Following his conversion, Simon had another interaction with the Apostle Peter and John. Simon witnesses the duo lay hands on townspeople to receive the Holy Spirit. Despite his previous conversion, Simon the Magician offers money to Peter and John for the secret to their trick.
Peter quickly admonishes Simon and tells him to “Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven.” Peter corrects Simon in saying, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”
God and Magic
It’s easy to leave Simon’s story dwelling on his conversion and the Apostles’ miracles through the Holy Spirit. However, a relevant observation involving Halloween is Simon’s belief about supernatural power.
Simon wrongly believed that he could buy and bribe his way to interaction with God. Moreover, Simon thought that the Holy Spirit’s power was distributed in a consumer-based relationship. In other words, Simon tried to buy his way to God.
More than ever, Halloween reminds Christians that people are searching for answers. Part of our inherent human nature craves attention. But for Christians, we can help guide others to the true source of power and supernatural works, just as Peter did for Simon.
Acts 19:18-21 – Those Who Practice Magic Arts Believe
So, how can we mirror Peter and John’s interaction with Simon, especially on a spooky night like Halloween?
Part of the answer rests in how well you love, listen, and respect those you might not agree with. Another part of the answer can be found later in the Book of Acts.
Following a sizeable conversion of individuals who practiced magic and sorcery, Paul and his followers led a burning of magical and supernatural books done “in the sight of all.” Following the book burning, the account says that “so the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
Within Paul’s context, practicing magic arts was seen as a visible threat and limitation to the conversion of others in the area. In other words, the simple presence of deceptive behaviour prohibited the effective conversion of the entire community.
Concerning Halloween, our takeaway should not be to go out and burn down haunted houses. Not only would that cause more problems, but it also misses the core of this account in Acts.
On Halloween, just as the case with any other night of the year, the Lord values our behaviour and interactions with others, especially those that are not yet Christians. For the word of the Lord to continue to increase and prevail mightily, we need to remain faithful and obedient to God.
Can Christians Celebrate Halloween?
So, can Christians celebrate Halloween? The answer is a bit more complex than maybe you originally thought.
The Lord’ desires faithful obedience for you and your family. For Christians, Halloween offers the opportunity to model faithfulness and obedience in our decision-making. As Christians, why are we here in this world? Are we called to reach out to a world filled with dangers to represent Christ? (Spoiler: yes, we are).
Whatever your decision, make it for the glory of God! Pray for opportunities to reach out to unbelievers and strengthen current believers in a way that builds the foundation of faith in Jesus.