Let’s do the history first:
Halloween has its origins in a celebration called All Saints Day. This was a day set aside to honor martyrs who had died for Christianity, much the same way we celebrate Memorial Day in this country. Like many religious holidays, the early Christian church also honored the days surrounding the official holiday (Good Friday, Christmas Eve, etc.). The day before All Saints Day was referred to as Hallows Day.
The problem with many misused term is that we don’t know the true definition of certain words. The word hallow means to honor as holy or sacred. Hallows Day was set aside to prepare everything and make it sacred for the next day.
As Christianity moved across Europe, it began to face opposition by Pagan rituals. The people that were won for Christ were feeling as if they had forsaken their origins and now had nothing to replace their former celebrations. To appease the new converts, Christian Monks went across these lands and began to record the Pagan stories from which their special days originated. In a feeble effort to counteract the Pagan rituals, they offered alternatives to the non-Christian celebrations by “Christianizing” the stories that surrounded the Pagan, mostly Celtic, holidays.
In a Hail Mary effort to offer something to the newcomers and keep them focused and secured in the faith, All Saints Day was moved to compete with a day called Sam Hain, a day where the spirits of the dead were thought to walk the earth. The day was actually a part of a three day celebration of the harvest (from which the carving of pumpkins comes). Sam Hain was simply the only day in which people did incantations and celebrations to appease the spirits of the dead. All Saints Day was moved to the same day.
Well, that didn’t set too well with the Celtics so they decided “Why don’t we celebrate everything that is considered sacred, including our stuff ?” Celtics felt as if the homage to the dead was as sacred as the Saints. Therefore they called the day “All Hallows Eve”. Long story short, the moving of All Saints Day caused it to lose fervor and it fizzled out while All Hallows Eve was translated by Western culture into Halloween and thrived.
I will sum this post up by saying that this is another example of the church kowtowing to the world and its standards. All Saints Day didn’t’ need to be moved, but someone thought that Christianity needed to be more appealing. The thought of having a king was more appealing to the Children of God at one time and you see how that turned out, right?
We need not have celebrations that offer an “alternative” to worldly celebrations, especially in the case of Halloween. It was never ours in the first place, we had a day set aside and didn’t need to step on someone’s toes. Our churches in the modern day offer “Hallelujah Night” and say it offers the children an “alternative” to what secular children are doing. We don’t need that.
Christianity stands on its own merits. I hope we are not allowing social pressure to make us conjure up celebrations that are not needed and do not edify Christ or combat the goings-on of the enemy. This is perhaps better summed up in a recent episode of “Mind, Body and Soul” on which, I guest hosted with Annette Harris. (see “Cribbs On Radio” elsewhere on this site)
Keep in mind, this is also the day that those who claim to be vampires, drink blood and those who say they are witches cast spells. Many, like these, practice the occult make sacrifices and participate in elaborate demonic rituals. Is that what Christianity wants to compete with?
Like so many other things, we have decided to offer a substitution for something that did not need it. We have to stop offering Christian alternatives to things that we should have no partaking in, anyway. The risk of offending followers and having them defect or rebel against us in the congregation has overtaken the risk of offending God in the modern church.
I have nothing against any celebration that a church or organization holds on this day, even the ones that encourage costumes, candy and trick-or-treat. I am not against holding services for the children or for adults. What I am against is the idea that we needed a celebration to sit alongside a secular holiday. Meanwhile, while we debate, this Pagan holiday brings in about 8.5 billion dollars a year.
Plainly stated: there should be no need to offer a safe Halloween celebration. None of it is Scriptural (not even “All Saints Day”) so there is really no need for it. If we need to do something, we should go back to our roots and have a Fall Fellowship that is held on a different day altogether and has no resemblance to Halloween. When we stop trying to be cosmopolitan and skirt around the world, we will finally win the world.