Halloween is one of those days, one of those things, that Christians have a hard time coming to terms with. It is like whether to shop at a store that supports a cause that is evil or fundamentally opposed to the message of Christianity—what do you do?
When I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends whether Christians should celebrate Halloween, I got varied responses. One person indicated that they didn’t celebrate it because it is all about death and Jesus was all about life. Another had indicated that they didn’t think it was a problem since the holiday essentially boils down to getting dressed up and going trick-or-treating for most Americans. When asking my friend Google this question, he (she?) was kind enough to pull up a plethora of blogs and articles ranging from "Who cares?" to "Sure … if you want to put your kid in danger of hell." (These are my summaries of others’ thoughts.)
Before I answer, I should give you some history. There’s two sides to Halloween: the name and the practices. The practices find their origins in a Celtic holiday called Samhain. Celebrated as the end to their harvest season, they believed the boundary between the living and the dead dissolved and that evil spirits caused trouble for the living. The story goes that the living escaped this trouble by disguising themselves as evil spirits—you know, the whole blending in technique … works every time. The name is actually Christian in nature—it means All Hallows Eve, which is All Saint’s Day—a day set aside to honor saints past. But it is undeniable that Halloween has pagan, if not satanic, roots.
So the question becomes, Should Christians celebrate a holiday that has pagan/satanic roots even if it is largely commercialized today? While I understand why many would not want to, I think the answer to this question should be yes! Allow me to explain why:
Halloween Provides a Unique Opportunity for Community
How many days out of the year create the same opportunities that Halloween does? Not only are kids knocking on your door every two minutes, but families are getting together, having fun and building community. Opportunities like that don’t come around all the time (a couple times a year, maybe). Ask yourself this: What good is being done by excluding yourself from community with your neighbors?
Celebrating Halloween Gives Evil Less Power, Not More
Think about it: If Satan can’t get you to worship him, what would he be willing to settle for What cripples people? Fear, maybe? If he can convince you to stay inside and lock the doors guess what you won’t be doing—loving people, serving your neighbors and living like you believe that “greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NASB). Celebrating, on the other hand, turns Satan’s mission on its head. To conquer evil, do good. To conquer sadness, laugh. To conquer death, live.
To conquer Satan, celebrate. Love. Serve. Pray. Give. In doing so, you’re-proclaiming the victory of Christ.
Halloween Today Is Different From Halloween a Long Time Ago
True, Halloween, at one point in time, involved all kinds of things that can legitimately be considered evil and to participate in those activities would be a participation in evil. But unless you are part of a minority group of neo-pagans or wiccans (i.e. unless you are not a Christian), your participation in Halloween won’t come close to participation in those activities. It is one thing to be against legitimately evil practices, and it is quite another to be against practices that aren’t really all that evil (putting on a costume and having fun) because some people, at some point in time, believed things far different from what we believe today.
The bottom line is this: Halloween has no power that you refuse to give it. It is evil to the extent that you buy into the beliefs behind it. If you don’t buy those beliefs, then there’s no harm in throwing on a costume and having fun. In fact, that may be the very thing God is asking you to do.
Have you asked Him?
Ken Eastburn is a pastor at The Well, a community of house churches in the Southern California area.