What On Earth Is Halloween?
For years, Halloween has been celebrated in North America and has become one of the most decorated festival after Christmas. This is the time when one sees children dressed up in their favorite costumes going house to house collecting candies. This is the time when billions of dollars are generated by sale of decorations, costumes, masks, pumpkins and candies.
No doubt this is a fun time for some kids with their colorful and often spooky costumes, but for many it turns out to be a dangerous time and land them into the dark world of occult.
So the question is, "is this festival of Halloween as 'innocent' as it looks, or is there a 'darker' side to it?"
Halloween is a challenging time for Christians with children, I for sure fall under this category and am extremely sensitive about this fact. I believe, as parents we should get informed, before we let our kids into something, of which we ourselves are not aware of.
One of the most serious repercussion one could face is when a Halloween related activity, sucks an individual into the darker realms of the spirit world.
Let's start by exploring the roots of this festival.
Make no mistake that Halloween has a 'pagan background' and is revered as a holy day by many.
Halloween, known as 'Samhain' (pronounced as 'sow~en') was originally observed some 4,000 years ago and was considered as one the most important of the 'fire festivals' by Druids, marking the begining of Celtic 'new year'. For Celts fire was a physical symbol of divinity, holiness, truth, and beauty.
The Druids were the priestly class of Celtic people who came from Asia to settle in Europe, namely northern France and British Isles including Ireland. They were well versed in astrology, magic, sorcery and the mysterious powers of plants and animals. They worshiped nature, spirits and were drawn into occult practices. Human and animal sacrifice was the essence of Celtic worship.
We see a starking similarity between Celtics and Hindus, as far as their beliefs and practices are concerned.
Similar to Hindus, Celtic people believed in reincarnation and transmigration of soul, the philosophy which teaches, that after death a person is re-born as a snake, rat, dog, rabbit etc., all according to his 'karma' [works]. Even the most famous of all Hindu 'fire festival' of Diwali is considered synonym to Celtic festivals and is celebrated around this time of the year marking the begining of the 'Hindu New Year'.
The Celtics also believed that they can redeem the souls of all evil dead by offering gifts, prayers and sacrifices, a concept similar to the unbiblical doctrine of 'purgatory'.
Samhain was also the original festival that became "All Saints' Day" in the Catholic Church.
The first documented evidence of church celebration on November 1st, was noted during the reign of Pope Gregory III (731-741). In 835, Pope Gregory IV, ordered it's general observance. Later, "All Souls Day" was instituted in 998 at a French monastery where people started to pray for the dead every November 2nd.
Known as 'the day between years', Samhain is the begining of the winter 'half' of the year. October 30th is considered the last day of the 'old year' and November 1st is the first day of the 'new year'. For Celtic people, this is a very special day. Samhain or Halloween, which is in between years is a time of magic. This a time where there is not much difference in our world and the 'other world' (the world of the dead). It is believed that at this time the dead walk among the living and things are just perfect to know the past, the present and the future. With the belief that the spirits of the dead supposedly visiting their homes and relatives, this festival evolved into an occasion where demons, ghosts, witches, fairies and all kind of evil would lurk around mingling with the living.
On Halloween night evil spirits were supposed to play pranks on human beings, scaring them by supernaturally manifesting themselves. Because of this reason people would wear masks, so that they could counter scare these evil beings, while they danced around the fire. Huge bonfires were set on top of sacred hills to scare the evil spirits away. Another way of warding off the spirits was, to offer food and drink.
On Halloween, the Druids would burn huge effigies known as 'wicker men' on sacred hilltops. These sacrificial wooden effigies would sometimes be filled with humans, animals, criminals, prisoners of war and other sacrifices, all to be offered to the Druid deities. (A fact aptly portrayed in the 1973 British horror flick, 'The Wicker Man')
Halloween night was considered the only time when one could get help from the 'devil' in the matters concerning luck, health, death and marriage.
Halloween in Americas
The festival of Halloween was introduced by the Irish settlers in the mid 19th century. Once inducted into North America, it took a secular overtone and was celebrated and accepted by many.
The tradition of carved pumpkin was introduced by Irish immigrants who noticed that it was much easier to carve pumpkins than turnips. In Ireland the Celtics used turnips instead of pumpkins. The Jack-O'-Lantern is a demonic face and probably associated with the witches' use of a skull with a candle inside to coven meetings. The name is derived from a character in British folk tales, where Jack-O'-Lantern, was barred both from heaven and hell and was forced to roam around the earth with his lantern.
Trick or Treat and Costumes:
According to Celtic traditions, the spirits and ghosts visiting homes were greeted by people with a banquet-laden table. Thereafter, masked and costumed villagers representing the the souls of the dead would gather and take the spirits out of town.
The Halloween customs including the traditional mischief-making, was replaced by children going door to door in costumes and shouting 'trick or treat'. This practice of going door to door was followed by the druids, when they begged material for their sacred hilltop bonfires. The 'trick' or 'treat' concept was a custom where food for blessing was collected and if someone refused to donate, then he would be subjected to retaliation by evil spirits and ghosts.
What does the Bible say?
Halloween can open a whole new dimension for some and many can get entagled in the world of occult. Halloween is the day when people throw costume & theme parties and love to experiment. This is the time when innocent games can turn into serious demonic experiences. Children and adults alike can come into contact with real witches, neo-pagans, mystics, channelers, spiritists, psychics and other serious followers of occult.
Ouija board is the most common and popular game (one wouldn't dare call it a 'game' though), which kids love to try out. The board is used to contact the spirits or ghosts that are roaming around. This can have serious implications and can lead to 'demon-possession'.
William Blatty's novel 'The Exorcist' was based on a true incident involving a 14 year old boy in Mount Rainer, MD who got possessed while experimenting with a Ouija board. However, Blatty made the possessed, a 12-year-old girl in his novel.
God has WARNED us in His word, "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times [astrology], or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits [channeler/medium], or a wizard, or a necromancer [attempt to communicate with the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:" Deuterenomy 18:10-12
We have clear instructions that we should have nothing to do with the 'occult' and other related practices. God detests these things and we should reject them.
Behind every idol there is just one power and that is Devil. All pagan practices including sacrifices, rituals and celebrations has the spirit of Satan. An unbeliever's worship is directed to Satan, as Paul in his letter to Corinthians pointed out, "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils" 1 Corinthian 10:20.
What should a parent do?
We have explored that Halloween has a dark side to it and when we partake in it, we do not praise the God of the Bible but the god of this world. Why should we then, as Christians, participate in a festival that glorifies Satan?
Each and every detail about Halloween is demon oriented, the very fabric of this festival is devoted at worshipping Satan. The Word of God is clear and tells us that there is only one entity behind every cult, false religion, witchcraft, idolatory and the occult, and that is Satan (Deut 32:16,17; Psalm 106:35-40; Acts 16:16-19; 1 Cor 10:19-21; 2 Thess 2:9-10; 1 Tim 4:1), the father of all liars (John 8:44) and a super deceiver.
Many a parents try to defend their gesture of involving children into Halloween celebrations. They justify that their children understand and are smart enough not to get burnt in a Halloween related activity. But they do not understand, that by encouraging them to celebrate this festival they have already pushed them into the burning fire. It will consume them, one way or another.
The knob to the door of occult is on our side, you only have to turn it once.
Christians on Halloween day
Many Churches and families are joining together to organize alternate parties with skits and games, educating the youths about the danger of 'occult'. Many Churches are dramatizing the episode of 1 Samuel 28 between Saul and the Witch of Endor. Another alternate is to organize a prayer meeting or a Bible study group and use the occasion to glorify God's name.
Let us as Christians put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6) and resist the lure of devil. Parents, we don't have to compromise, but stand up and face the enemy.
Halloween:Trick or Treat, Video by Jeremiah Films, Inc.