A Christian Response to Halloween

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A Christian Response to Halloween

28 October 2015 Hits:43179

I received this message a while ago via Facebook:

“I just got a letter from school on Friday asking all parents to provide a small bucket or similar for the kids to decorate in art class for ‘non-scary Halloween celebrations’. Oh and donate lollies too if you want.  I just get so fired up that we need to sign authorisations for our kids to do CRE but Halloween is thrust on us without any thought or consultation.  Rant over.  That is all.”

I understand and share this lady’s frustration, but it also got me thinking about Halloween and what a Christian response to this day should be.

Meaning of Halloween

Hallow is the same word for “holy” that we find in the Lord’s Prayer, and e’en is a contraction of “evening”.  The word Halloween itself is a shortened form of “All Hallows Eve,” the day before All Saints Day.

Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic tribes of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany.  On October 31, the tribes would celebrate the festival of Samhain.  During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead – including ghosts, goblins, and witches – returned to mingle with the living.  In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centrepieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards.  The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider – traditions which may sound familiar to you.

Christian Adaption

The Christian aspect of the holiday began in 835AD when Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later “all saints”) from May 13 to November 1.  The night before became known as “All Hallow’s Even” or “holy evening”.  Eventually, the name was shortened to the current Halloween.  On November 2, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether the Roman Catholic Church officially recognises them as saints or not.  It is a celebration of the “communion of saints”, which reminds us that the church is not bound by space or time (Source: “All About God”).

So it seems that Halloween shares a similar history with Christmas – both were pagan festivals that were adopted by the church for the purpose of using an established celebration to remember and share Christian truth.  Now the pagans want their celebrations back J.

Christian Response

So, how can Christians best respond to Halloween?  In short, choose not to be a wet blanket.  Jesus was often found hanging out at parties and dinners with those who were scorned by the religious people of His day – and He was criticised for it.  But He was there so He could impact the lives of others.  So instead of staying inside your house and putting a sign on the door that says “We don’t celebrate Halloween – GO AWAY!”  How about stocking up on lollies to give generously to children who knock on your door?  You could even go one step further and set up an urn in your driveway to give out free tea, coffee and cool drinks to parents and children as they walk around your street.  You’ll be amazed at the conversations that will come out of doing this.

Teaching Children

But what should we teach our children?  Personally, we don’t allow our children to dress up as witches and goblins, and we’re not comfortable with our kids going door-to-door asking for lollies.  Last year our seven-year-old, Trinity, and I bought several bags of lollies and walked around the streets handing them out to kids.  When I was taking our other two daughters to Youth at Bayside Church we pulled the car over several times to hand out lollies.  One dad asked me why we were doing this.  I told him we were on our way to church and wanted to make sure we had a chance to be generous on our way.  The look on his face was priceless.  I think we shattered his preconception of Christians!

We’ve spoken about Halloween as a family and we’re all on the same page.  I encourage you to do the same.  It’s also an opportunity to explore the Christian aspect of this day – a time to remember those who have been martyred for their faith and to pray for the 100 million-plus Christians who still face persecution, imprisonment and death in the world today.  It’s a timely reminder as this Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church.  It’s an opportunity to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who do not enjoy the freedoms we have in Australia.  So let’s bring out some positives this Halloween and not take on the spirit of Scrooge!

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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42 replies on “A Christian Response to Halloween”

Nicole Grimasays:

Although I won’t celebrate halloween. I do buy sweets and party toys to give to our grandchildren and their friends who come over every year to knock at our door. We have many kids in the neighbourhood who go door knocking but i’ve chosen to just give to my 3 grandkids and their friends only. Reason is its very expensive i spend average 50 60 dollars on treats for a dozen kids. So i limit it to just my babies and friends. Honestly i dont like the halloween decorations But i’m not a super dooper holier than thou Christian ppl need to be real Life is for living halloween or no halloween. Praise God were alive and his Grace Regards. Nicole Grima.

Helen Birchsays:

The best article I have read on a Christian’s response to Halloween. Thank you for sharing this. Has made me stop and think. How many opportunities does God give us that we miss entirely because we perceive it as evil or unholy. I am so thankful Jesus wasn’t afraid of what others thought. He just went in and changed the atmosphere.

Roger Baggaleysays:

A few years ago our pastor decided that it was time to reclaim Halloween. She re-arranged the letters to form “A new hello”. Each year our church’s children dress in angel costumes (and a few of our game adults as well). A week or so before the night we put flyers in letterboxes, then we go out and collect non-perishable foods which are then given to the needy to help them at Christmas. The response from the local community has been outstanding. And although they don’t ask, the kids usually pick up a few lollies as well. 🙂

Sarahsays:

Roger, I like that idea. Australia isn’t big on Halloween. I don’t really want to buy heaps of lollies in case it’s not a big year for visitors. Especially when trying to reduce eating of chocolates etc. Might buy some canned food for charity instead.

Matthewsays:

Do you mean the artistic representation of angels, feathery wings, whites shifts, halos etc, or the terrifying monstrosities as described in the Bible?

Michellesays:

This is such a great idea – will be raising this with my church community!!

Kieran Reddansays:

This is just another Americanism making it’s way into Australia. Christian or not, why are you celebrating this on this particular day. If you wish to celebrate this day then that’s your choice but don’t push it onto others. How long will it be before Australia becomes the next state of the US. Next we will be wanted to recognise Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.

Melissasays:

Halloween is not like thanksgiving and the 4th in America. Just so you know some Americans even believe Halloween is evil (I’m not one of those Americans) but just thought you would like to know that. The 4th is specifically about Americas independence from Britain. Thanksgiving is really about the Indians (native Americans) generosity to the pilgrims. So I don’t see other countries ever being asked to celebrate these American holidays.

Julie Macdonaldsays:

I understand that you may not wish to celebrate Halloween, but please don’t label it as American. It is celebrated in Scotland and has been for centuries before America even became an independent country. There are reasons why scary costumes are used, just as there are reasons lanterns are carried. In Scotland Guisers (the term for trick or treaters) to not merely go from door to door getting treats, but have to earn their treats by doing some sort of performance. Apples and peanuts in shells are given just as freely as sweets. Children spend several weeks perfecting their performances.

Rob Tsays:

What heresy is this.. a Church talking about common sense, surely not…

Joking apart it is great to read a realistic, practical and sensible post about this subject.

May we all be blessed on Halloween as with every other day, for our God is one of compassion and love and not gossip and judgment!

Marcia Wilkinsonsays:

Thank you so much Rob – even tho I’m not young in age I had never heard or read this explanation- definitely makes me feel less angered

Sandrasays:

I led school assembly recently on Halloween. We looked at the roots of this festival and it’s name’s links to Holy and evening . I treated it as a positive chance to face our fears and make fun of them. There’s no need to be afraid of the. dark when we have such a Light as Christ with us surely. I will have sweets ready for any who come knocking on the door that evening

rdsays:

What a beautiful idea!

Leannesays:

This is a great article. We had a great experience in our street: a couple of years ago my kids were door knocking neighbours and one of them responded with ‘what you really need is Jesus’. My son didn’t miss a beat and responded with ‘Yes, we know Jesus and he’s the best’. Last year that same neighbour came out of his house, started chatting with the parents and realised it was actually a harmless fun community activity. A good experience for all. Sometimes this is not the case when parents drive their kids into an area where they are unknown.

Rachsays:

what a great story!

Diana Chapmansays:

This article has challenged my thinking! I like it! But I still am not sure how to explain to my 5yo why people are dressing up as witches to celebrate Halloween when we are that we are celebrating Halloween as remembering those that have died for their faith? Can anyone help out with ideas?

Belindasays:

How irresponsible. No mention of the occultic roots of Halloween here. You should be warning your flock to keep away from the dark not encourage them to participate in it. Paul repeatedly warned his flock day and night with tears .
Anton LaVey, founder of the church of Satan, said how happy he is to see Christian parents let their children worship Satan one day of the year. You may consider Halloween nothing , but Satan and his forces don’t.
“For what fellowship has light with darkness?…Come out from among them and be separate”

Debsays:

What?..Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world…the name of Jesus is above all other names.. We Christians are victorious over Satan in the name of Jesus..l see this as a good balanced article..if we’re to be Christ like, then we mustnt cringe in the darkness in fear of Satan but come out into the light not to celebrate like pagan version but to celebrate it as a Holy Day.. To remember the martyrs that have gone before us.. Christmas is a pagan celebration and most people see it just as a holiday, but we Christians celebrate it as a Holyday..After reading this article, l can see the merit in celebrating it too as a Holyday without the pias ‘Holier than thou’ attitude of the ‘religious legalist.’ We can be a light for Jesus in the midst of the darkness of this world..

Diana Chapmansays:

sorry that should have read *’…dressing up as witches to celebrate Halloween, when we are celebrating Halloween as remembering…”

Margaretsays:

My understanding from the article was that dressing up as witches etc comes from the Pagon festival of Samhain and that is why we as Christians choose not to dress up like that.
It is very scary for young children to have someone come to the door dressed like that! Several of my friends children actually have nightmares because of stuff that is around at Halloween.
Hopefully this helps to explain to your daughter. I don’t celebrate Halloween, but am pleasant to children the knock on the door and give them a treat.

Mary-Claire Goldsteinsays:

As I said on my sisters facebook page, which is where I saw this, this is watered down rubbish. We are to be in the world but not of the world. We are to love our neighbour, but not live like our neighbour. All these pagan festivals, Halloween, Christmas, Easter are not biblical. We should celebrate and commemorate Jesus death, ascension and resurrection, but not the rest. Do you honestly believe that if Jesus were here, he would participate in any of these pagan festivals? If your answer is yes, you are reading a different bible.

Shanesays:

Heads up. The names of our months and days of the week are named after Roman gods. Yes, Jesus would.

Jesus even healed a pagan centurion and said his faith was greater than any he’d found in Israel.

Roman Centurions had to swear oaths to Caesar and offer the Sacramentum three times a year in which they declared Caesar “Dominus et Deus” as well as sacrificing to Roman gods like Mars…

Jesus didn’t tell him to stop and then you have Paul’s comments about eating meat sacrificed to idols. (1 Cor 8) Paul says idols simply don’t exist.

So they have no power. Same goes with superstitions.

Some people like to claim Jesus as having their beliefs but Jesus said very little with regard to paganism.

Ultimately,like the cross, holidays and symbols only have the power you give it.

Debsays:

Amen..

Melissasays:

Who is to know and say what or what not Jesus would do. None of us are Jesus so we do not know for sure. I do know that Jesus was asked to turn water into wine for a wedding celebration and he did that. Also the bible tells us he stood up for a woman who committed adultery(even though her action was wrong). This last one is an action that was something that surprised people that Jesus did back in high s day. So again my point being you never know what Jesus would have done.

dccsays:

What a load of nonsense.

lynettesays:

Christmas is celebrating Jesus birth. If he was not born then how would he have died for us or come into this world. I love Christmas. I also love celebrating my loved ones birthdays. At Christmas time we remember our baby Jesus and celebrate what God has done for us. A child is born and he is Christ our Lord. I love Christmas as for Halloween I’m not happy with people dressing up evil and I won’t participate in that but I love the idea of dressing up as angels and been more like Jesus on that day especailly. I don’t celebrate Halloween but I’m a Catholic. I best leave the souls up to Jesus and pray for souls when thay are alive. It’s just my opinion and I respect everyone’s opinion here too. God bless you. Thank you for explaining this so nicely in this article. Well explained. Thank you

Elise St. Clairsays:

Well said. THe church clearly had no idea what they are participating in or encouraging.

Lindy Combssays:

This is the first time I have ever had an opportunity to consider these viewpoints. My background: I have never celebrated anything…to the present moment…that had its origins in paganism. I have never believed God was pleased with that “pivot”…since God was never part of paganism. Duh?
Thank you for this article. It is quite obvious that you invested much time and energy in its whole process.

Alicesays:

This is a fab article thank you. I’ve always been uncomfortable with Christian kids “celebrating evil” but I let mine go to the school disco because it’s safe and supervised and a great community fundraiser. at church we have a light party because we know the darkness fear evil and death is not the end of the story, that Jesus is the light of the world and love and light are stronger than darkness and death. that’s as far as I’ve made it, anyway! thanks again for a thoughtful balanced article. I’m going to get some sweets in and worry less in future!!

Natsays:

My guide is; how would Jesus feel if I celebrated or took part in this? For example, we have a great time at Christmas celebrating his birthday, but we don’t focus on Santa. That would be kind of like having a birthday party and making a big fuss over someone who bought a birthday present, and ignoring the birthday boy. Halloween? It’s become something to celebrate witches, demons and evil. I don’t know if Jesus would be offended with my taking part, he’s a big God, but I think he might be sad. So, it’s not being a wet blanket; for me it’s choosing to honour my Saviour’s feelings. Does that mean I am rude or impolite? No. I just put a card up on my door saying, Sorry, we don’t celebrate it, please don’t knock. (And make sure to brush your teeth well tonight.)

Martin J Cowlingsays:

This is what I took from this article…..remember those who have been martyred for their faith and to pray for the 100 million plus Christians who still face persecution, imprisonment and death in the world today.

Thanks Rob

natsays:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ThoR8I4SpFU
We as christian should not engage in works of the devil. Its a day to celebrate him….lets stay true to our savior and end of story. We still love everyone and pray for them….we don’t make deals with the devil with our souls or our kids or any inocent child out there that don’t know better…we make them believe in Santa and all sorts of lies….things might appear innocent but that’s how devil enters …. He is the great deceiver…
Don’t buy into that….

Jean-Michel Heurtausays:

Rob… we take the same approach…

I’ve spoken to my 4 children over the years about the historical origins of O’Hallow’s Eve… All understand the Americanisation gripping Australian culture and None participate nor encourage this activity but all understand the pull it has within the wider community.
We don’t pass judgement but embrace these young, impressionable, lolly hungry minds by offering them a plethora of lollies with love and wisdom. If conversations are not available, we as a family, wrap lollies or place them in very small sandwich / plastic bag. We attach to the bag a simple/loving message. It might either remind/introduce them to the ‘Good News’. It might just be a simple Psalm to lay the seeds.
EVERY opportunity beckons to give but not to reject…

Lawrysays:

An informed, balanced article with a great practical idea to be relevant in a world that regards Christian’s as out of step, anti fun and unapproachable.

Neil Whitelawsays:

Thanks so much Rob, as a Christian I live for the gift of wisdom and understanding especially in the context of our Lords great commission. I confess to being ignorant and thus bigoted regarding Halloween, thus a prayer now answered. Bless you. Yes you are a wonderful example of a man who walks in His footsteps.

Martha Martinsays:

Best comment yet on the Believer’s response to Halloween. Wish all Christians would know about this.
Prayers for those Christians suffering persecution and being martyred for their faith happening right now All Souls Day would be an appropriate time to celebrate their lives those who have died in the faith preaching the Gospel.

Dawn Brownhillsays:

I use to lock my gate- even got egged once, but after reading this blog in 2015 I chilled a bit.
Being English we use to as a Church have a Guy Fawkes night instead,- not sure burning an effigy of a Catholic is any more wholesome!
I do put deliberately non scary decorations out, call it “my open garden” buy in lollies and last year ran out after 700 lollies had been given out.
Today Mum’s picking up their children come up and tell me how excited their children are.
I think it’s wonderful the church is hosting an alternative event tonight, but I hope and pray for the oppertunity to share my faith through building relationships up in the community.

Julie stokessays:

I am fully aware of the history etc of 31st Oct and enjoyed most of your article. However, I don’t agree with Rob concerning What he thinks Christians are doing on Halloween ie, being “ a wet blanket” or “locked inside thinking mean thoughts”. Please Rob assumptions get you in hot water!!! But thanks for your thoughts… lol

Graham Pockettsays:

For all the arguments for and against Halloween for Christians, I step back and ask: at what age do you teach your child to be an extortionist? What else is “trick or treat” except a demand that if you don’t give the child a “treat” you will receive a “trick” – and that “trick” could be a stone through a window, paint daubed onto a house, etc. As I said, extortion! Does that happen often? Probably not yet in Australia but I understand it is quite common in the USA – and what starts there soon comes here… As I said, “trick or treat” is, as the lawyers might say, demanding goods by menace. I, for one, will not endorse the concept of Halloween, however santitised, while “trick or treat” is part of the mix.

Greg Brownsays:

Hi Rob – appreciated your Halloween post. I’m not part of a denomination that closely follows the church calendar, & some conservative groups have not helped the cause in their attitude towards this practice. When we had kids knocking on our door I gave them a 1 minute ‘sermon’ about being thankful for the good people in their lives (the ‘saints’ – accompanying parents always seemed to appreciate this) & then sent them on their way with a bag of lollies.
Always appreciate your thoughtful comments.
Shalom,
Greg

David Vowlessays:

If you want to understand the spirit behind Halloween, just step inside Kmart or Big W and be assaulted by the vile Halloween merchandise. This stuff is not benign, it’s downright evil. It promotes witchcraft and a culture of death. Participate in it at your peril (and that of your children).

Jacqui Walshsays:

Wow, what a mix of ideas. I confess I didnt know about the historical origins of this day, so thankyou Rob. Never the less, I want to approach this thorny topic from a different point of view . My own personal experince.
Long before I became a Christian, I experinced a terifying night alone in my house in the UK . Kids knocking on my door and demanding lollies which I didnt have, then smashing eggs across my door and windows. I subsequently learnt that this was a Americism tradition that had just arrived in the UK.
I felt fearful. I felt confused and I felt angry. And like Graham Pockett, the word that came to mind was EXTORTION.
When I became a mother of three boys, I made up my mind that I did not what my kids to be part of this practice.
On the surface it seems so innocent, little children knoching on their neibours door, parents in toe, but what about the older childen frightening the elderly and vulnerable, and encouraging our children to accept lollys from strangers!!!
It goes against all my vaues and sound advise I learnt and passed on to my children. Obstaining from this practise simply means not answering my door, and pulling my curtains . I dont put up a sign, I just choose not to be in.
I think God does has a great sence of humour, but is deeply sadened to see the elderly and vulnerable, confused and fearful, and unsupervised children put at risk. Sadly you just have to go to the shops to see who really benifits from this practice:(

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