Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Thoughts….

October 31, 2008

Growing up I was never allowed to participate in Halloween festivities. I am not entirely sure why except I remember my parents saying something to the effect of “satan’s holiday”. When I was younger it didn’t bother me too much because, to be honest, I was scared of the whole ghosts and goblin thing. As I grew older though – Jr High - I felt that I was missing out on something and desperately wanted to join in on what I saw as a fun time hanging out with friends, dressing up and collecting candy. I didn’t understand why other Christian families allowed their kids to participate while I was banished to the house on that evening.

In my adult years I have thought many times about my view of Halloween. My husband’s mother always made him elaborate costumes and sent him out the door in search of untold amounts of candy. And now that I have kids of my own, I am expected to be the authority of such subjects so that I can pass on a Godly heritage to my offspring – a job that I take very seriously.

When we were in the states we always attended a Halloween alternative on October 31st. Kids dressed up and spent the evening throwing balls at tin cans, jumping on trampolines, and bowling down empty plastic coke bottles in the Family Life Center of the Baptist Church. The prize for “trying your best” was….candy. We joined right along with the other Christian moms and dads who were “taking a stand against the evils of Halloween”. Deep in my heart I wondered if it was enough. Sure we never saw miniature Freddy Kuegers or satans at the church party but kids did dress up as Spidermans and witches – both aren’t very godly characters. Instead of going door-to-door the kids went from game station to game station collecting candy. And instead of calling it a Halloween party is was cleverly known as a Fall Festival.
Halloween hasn’t reached Paraguay (yet) and for that I am thankful. For the past three years I have actually forgotten about the holiday until sometime early November when I checked the calendar to find the date for Thanksgiving. This year, however I have thought about it more. Perhaps because next year we will be back in the US with all the tomb stone lawn decorations and the witches perched at the grocery store or perhaps because I am seeing my friends’ children dress-up and attending Halloween parties…I mean, Fall Festivals through the wonderful world of bogs and Facebook. My kids don’t even know that America celebrates a holiday the end of October. They are not missing out on anything by living in rural Paraguay. Dressing-up? My kids are constantly donning costumes from their dress-up box, attending dress-up birthday parties, and using their imaginations to pretend to be someone they are not. Candy? Well, we do have plenty of candy on this side of the equator that is for sure – just look at the kids’ teeth that live around here.

As I read articles for and against the celebrating of Halloween I found some interesting things. I had never known the deeply disturbing and evil roots of the holiday which included a bonfire of human sacrifices to the gods ensuring the sun to rise again in the summer during Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) at the end of summer (Nov. 1), a Celtic festival. Samhain was a time when the division between the two worlds became very thin, when hostile supernatural forces were active and ghosts and spirits were free to wander as they wished. During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, the side lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere sometimes violently, in their affairs (Celtic Mythology, p. 127). Halloween is a festival of the dead, and represents the "end and the beginning of the witch’s year. It marks the beginning of the death and destruction associated with winter. At this time the power of the underworld is unleashed, and spirits are supposedly freed to roam about the earth; it is considered the best time to contact spirits" (Halloween and Satanism, P. Phillips and J.H. Robie, 1987, p. 146).

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…witchcraft…these who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Galatians 5:19-21

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 18:10-13

Many early American settlers came from Ireland, Scotland and England, and they brought various beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. German immigrants brought a vivid witchcraft lore, and Haitian and African peoples brought their native voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft. By the end of the 1800's, the United States had developed a variety of regional Halloween customs. The Christian church established a new holiday, All Saints' Day, also called All Hallows'. Hallow means saint, or one who is holy. The evening before All Hallows' was known as All Hallows' Eve, or as it came to be abbreviated, All Hallow e'en. This name was eventually shortened to Halloween.(Encyclopedia) Instead of trying to abolish the pagan Halloween customs, people tried to introduce ideas which reflected a more Christian world-view. Halloween has since become a confusing mixture of traditions and practices from pagan cultures and Christian tradition. (

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

Are the symbols of the Halloween season evil (or rooted in evil practices) - witches, monsters, ogres, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, devils and demons? As a believer I am called to:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Ephesians 5:11

Are believers compromising when celebrating Halloween even though our American culture and other Christians say it is ok?

For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" 2 Corinthians 6:14,15

Halloween is a time for innocent kids to dress up and have their pictures taken to be hung on a wall or placed in a photo album for the next generation to see and laugh. Who couldn’t resist giving candy to pudgy- fingered toddlers and angelic-faced princesses when asked “Trick or Treat”? Halloween holds fun memories of decorating pumpkins with silly faces and watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Halloween is also a time of increased activities of vandalism and disregard for the property of others, reports police officials everywhere. During Halloween you must now beware of poisoned candy and fruits booby-trapped with razor blades and needles. Such threats are so real that many hospitals offer free X-rays of Halloween treats in order to prevent children from being harmed. Halloween is a time when parents have to shield their children’s eyes from blood and gore and devilish monsters who appear on billboards, TV and at their doorstep. Those who oppose Christ are known to organize on Halloween to observe satanic rituals, to cast spells, to oppose churches and families, to perform sacrilegious acts, and to even offer blood sacrifices. Who but Satan could inspire such monstrous actions? (

Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20

Is there an alternative? I can choose to glorify light and life instead of evil and darkness. I can promote giving rather than receiving and building up the church instead of acts of vandalism. I can celebrate God’s might instead of supernatural powers. Since All Saints' Day on November 1st is a Christian holy day I could honor the Christian saints by reading stories of their tremendous faith to my kids throughout the month.

My verdict? After all I have read, let’s just say that it isn’t looking good for Halloween - whatever form it may take.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

The kids making Halloween cookies last two weeks ago which very well may have started me thinking about the whole idea of Halloween...thus the blog entry above....


Abbie said...

Wow- you did quite the research! I had never heard of the Samhain traditions! Yikes! All I knew about was the All Hallow's Eve. I feel the same way you do about now about being looked to as the expert on things like this. My whole life I have gone back and forth about this (and somethings about Christmas, too...) and have never firmly picked where I stand. It's a different ball game now. Either way, I know I'm going to be very straight forward with Luke and explain everything very clearly- something that was never done for me. My mom always hated Halloween but we always got to dress up anyway and I was never sure what to make of that. It's so different now that I'm a mom, but it probably shouldn't be.

paraguayalyssa said...

Wow, Amy. Thanks for writing this one. It's funny- I've never been super anti-Halloween. We always trick-or-treated, growing up, and I never thought much about it. But just this year, my 3rd graders were really into it and kept asking me about it. For the first time, I found myself extremely turned off by the whole thing. I kept avoiding the conversations when the kids would ask and say things like, "No- we don't like that holiday because God says not to pay attention to ghosts and things." I felt embarrassed/ ashamed that these kids were so enamored by OUR holiday, just because it was from the US (and involves candy and witches). Anyway- this is where it gets tricky to draw the line between Christ and culture. And I totally hear you with the whole harvest party thing. Aren't we still celebrating the day, just whitewashing it to make it prettier? I don't know... I have a few years to decide :) But like you said, at this point it doesn't look good for Halloween!