Halloween:  Deeds of Darkness--by Kimberly B. Southall
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The observance of Halloween is a practice of darkness and is therefore unacceptable to God. Yes, that statement will raise a lot of eyebrows and alienate some readers. But the real question is: Is it true? Does God object to Halloween? To find the truth, we will compare the origins and practices of Halloween with the Bible.

Samhain, Ghosts, and Fortune Telling. Long before Christ's birth, the ancient Celts held an annual festival on October 31. The festival was called Samhain, in honor of their lord of the dead, a Druid deity, who later became known as "the grim reaper." This festival marked the eve of their new year, which began on November 1. It was believed that Samhain called forth spirits (ghosts) to revisit their earthly homes. Believing this was the time to appease the supernatural powers which controlled the processes of nature, these pagan worshipers made offerings of food and drink, performed rituals, and sacrificed animals and humans in huge fires atop "sacred" hilltops in an attempt to ward off these spirits. They believed it was the best time for divinations concerning the future, including marriage, luck, health, and death. They invoked the help of their false god for these purposes.

After Christ's death, Christianity spread throughout Europe and many Celts were converted. Catholic priests tried to replace the Celtic holidays with "Christian" ones. Around 610 A.D., they created a new holiday in May, All Hallows' Day (now All Saints' Day) to honor martyred saints. In the 800s A.D., All Hallow's Day was moved to November 1 to replace Samhain. The night before was called All Hallows' Eve. This eventually was shortened to the word "Halloween."

Bonfires, Skeletons, Costumes, Masks, and Orange & Black. The huge fires atop the "sacred" hilltops in which the Druids sacrificed animals and humans derived their name from the skeletons of those who died in them. The words "bone" and "fire" formed the word "bonfire." The orange flames lit up the black night, thus the "official" colors of Halloween. As these pagan worshipers danced around and jumped through the fire, they wore disguises of animal-head masks and animal-skin costumes. The head of each household was given live embers to start a new fire on his hearth which would last until the next autumn. It was believed this fire would protect their homes from danger throughout the year.

Jack-o'-Lanterns. Jack-o'-lanterns were originally carved from large turnips. The Celts carried these carved lanterns through their villages in an attempt to ward off evil spirits. Later, Irish folklore resulted in a tale explaining the use of "jack-o'-lanterns": Jack, who was too bad to get into heaven but wasn't permitted into hell because of a deal he had made with the devil, supposedly wanders the earth holding a carved turnip with a glowing coal from hell as his guide. This is "Jack's lantern."

Bobbing For Apples. Romans honored the dead with a festival called Feralia in late October. It honored Pomona, their goddess of fruit trees who was often pictured wearing a crown of apples. During this festival, they ran races and played games to honor the "Apple Queen" and used omens such as apple parings thrown over the shoulder or nuts burned in the fire in order to predict the future concerning their marital prospects. When the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined local Samhain customs with their own pagan harvest festival. Bobbing for apples was derived from this blended pagan celebration.

Witches and Black Cats. From the 1500s through the 1700s, during the witch hunts in Europe, it was thought witches and warlocks flew threw the air to a meeting with the devil (who had by then replaced Samhain, lord of the dead) on Halloween. Some thought elves, fairies, and witches turned into black cats.

Vampires and Bats. Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), also known as Count Dracula, was a 15th century prince of Wallachia. Because of his murderous cruelty, he became the representative type of vampires traditionally observed at Halloween-time. According to legend, vampires are reanimated corpses which drink human blood, thus also transforming their victims into living corpses. Vampires also allegedly take on the form of bat-like demons.

There is an additional connection between bats and Halloween. Because of the bat's ability to hunt its prey in the dark, the animal has gotten the reputation of having occultic power. The bat has characteristics of both a bird (a symbol of the soul in the occult) and of a demon (dweller in darkness). During medieval times, it was believed that the devil often turned himself into a bat.

Trick-or-Treat. Late in the 19th century, Irish people went from house to house asking for food and money on Halloween. They played tricks upon and destroyed property of those who didn't comply. "Little people" or fairies received the blame for this destruction. This was the root of "trick or treat."

Full Moon and Occult Practices. The full moon, for occultists, is a time to perform certain rituals. There are certain "un-holy" days, times, or seasons when witches, Satanists, and others who do the devil's bidding do their work for the devil. Every full moon is believed by the occult to be a time of extra power. Solar solstices and equinoxes are celebrated as high, un-holy days as well as a day in February (near spring), April (near summer), August (near harvest), and the highest un-holy day of the occultic calendar, October 31 (near winter).

Violence. As if the origins of Samhain and Halloween weren't violent enough, can anyone deny the violent and gory practices which have become part and parcel of the modern celebration of Halloween? Think about all of the filthy, disgusting horror movies, the haunted houses, not to mention the need to examine and x-ray children's candy lest it contain poison, needles, or razor blades. Who drives late on Halloween night without the fear of their car having eggs or rocks thrown at it? The list could go on and on.

What Does The Bible Say? Even though the Bible doesn't specifically mention Halloween by name, it makes it very clear that the origins and practices of Halloween are detestable to God. All of the above-mentioned practices are evil and full of darkness. Many of them--including idolatry, fortune telling, sacrificing humans, witchcraft, and drinking blood--are explicitly forbidden in the Bible. The Old Testament is full of warnings in these regards. (For further study see Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:12-14; Leviticus 19:26, 31; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 2 Kings 17:16-17; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; 2 Chronicles 28:3-4; 2 Chronicles 33:1-6; Isaiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:2; Ezekiel 20:31.)

The New Testament has quite a bit to say about Christians and darkness. Jesus Himself said, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness," (John 12:46 NIV) and "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 NIV) That's pretty clear, isn't it? Jesus came so that we wouldn't have to stay in darkness and if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness. But the Bible says even more about Christians and darkness. We are told that those who love darkness instead of light do so because their deeds are evil (John 3:19-21). We are warned to put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, rather than gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Romans 13:12-14). We are reminded that light cannot have fellowship with darkness, and Christians are to come out and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). We are instructed to live as children of light, find out what pleases the Lord, and to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but to expose them (Ephesians 5:6-21). We are reminded that we were called out of darkness into His wonderful light, told to abstain from sinful desires which war against our souls, and told to live such good lives among the pagans that they will see our good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:9-12). And the Bible makes it clear that if we claim to be Christians but still walk in the darkness, we are lying (1 John 1:6).

From the above origins of Halloween, it is obvious that most of the traditions are derived from sacrifices to idols or false gods. The apostle Paul specifically warned Christians that such sacrifices are offered to demons and that we are not to participate (1 Corinthians 10:18-22). Paul also equated these practices with "turning back" (Galatians 4:8-11). The Bible specifically commands us to avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Some, who simply don't want to let go of worldly ways, might argue that God's grace will cover them even if they choose to disobey and continue in the path of darkness. But this is not so. The Bible clearly teaches that the grace of God teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-14). Scripture reminds us that God gave us a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

Yes, others will ridicule us if we stand firm with God in this matter. But we are to arm ourselves with the same attitude as Christ and live our earthly lives for the will of God instead of for evil human desires, even when the pagans think it is strange and heap abuse on us (1 Peter 4:1-6). Scripture teaches us to focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), live as He did (1 John 2:6), and run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). Samhain (Halloween) was celebrated long before the birth of Jesus Christ, and yet it is clear that He never celebrated it. If we wish to faithfully follow Jesus, we can do no differently.

Copyright © 2000 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.

References used include:
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, © 1994, 1995 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, © 1999-2000 Britannica.com, Inc.
Halloween, by Dennis Brindell Fradin, © 1990 by Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation
Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000, © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation
Oxford Paperback Encyclopedia, © 1998 Oxford University Press
The Encyclopedia Americana International Edition, © 1996 Grolier Incorporated
A Christian Perspective on Halloween, © 1996 by The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., http://www.cbn.org/cbn/teach/hal2.html
The Dark Side of Halloween, by David L. Brown, Th.M., © 1990, http://www.execpc.com/%7Edlbrown/logos/halloween.html
The History of Halloween and the Word of God, compiled by Rob Hurt, http://www.flash.net/~seekhim/halween.htm#1