Ex new-ager Kate Orson is concerned about Christians treating Hallowe’en as ’harmless fun’ and suggests we ignore the day completely
Before I became a Christian two years ago I celebrated Halloween without a second thought. I can remember when my daughter was three years old we encountered a Halloween parade at a theme park in Germany. She was terrified of all the spooky costumes, but after I explained to her that they were just children dressed up she decided she wanted to dress up too.
We spent my daughter’s early years in Switzerland and now live in Italy; countries that don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween, but we often hosted a Halloween party, sometimes introducing the concept to families that had never celebrated it before. It was fun to dress up, play some scary sounding songs, and bob for apples.
Halloween for me was just an excuse for a party, as it is to many in the secular world. But, as a Christian I have avoided the celebration, as I began to understand what’s really behind it.
Halloween has its roots in the celtic festival of Samhain, which marks the Celtic new year, the end of summer, and the harvest season. Samhain was the druid god of death, and the Celts believed that on the 31st October the boundary between the living and the dead blurred and spirits could return to the earth. The origin of dressing up in costumes was because it was thought that if people dressed as ghosts and demons the spirits might mistake them for one of their own and would not harm them. During the festival animals and even humans were sacrificed to appease Samhain.
It was later ’Christianised’. In A.D. 1000, the church made November 1 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead and so the evening before became All Hallow’s evening, abbreviated to ’Hallowe’en’.
Modern day Halloween seems very different to the ancient festival, so should Christians celebrate it? Do we want to be that party pooper Christian that stays away, and how should we explain it to our children and the neighbours?
I think we need to be careful of the way that Pagan traditions get secularised in the West in a way that can fool us into thinking we aren’t taking part in something spiritual. One prime example is yoga which many Christians partake in thinking that it can be just a form of exercise. Most Indian converts from Hinduism to Christianity would never continue to do yoga, as they understand that it is a spiritual practise, inseparable from its Hindu roots.
I think that there is something similar going on with Halloween. While atheists might think the festival is fun, for witches, warlocks and Satanists the 31st October is their high holiday, the most important day of the year.
Putting on a costume is opening up a doorway to have a conversation with the demonic realm. John Ramirez, an ex Satanist turned Christian has said, ‘when you dress up even as an angel or a mermaid for Halloween, “you give the devil the legal rights to change your identity.”
We can tell ourselves it’s just a bit of fantasy, and fun, but what does God think? Does God really want us to take part in a festival that has its roots in worshipping another god, (demon) that demanded human sacrifice?
As is written in Deuteronomy, ‘When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.’
Halloween may be different now, but I think that is one of its added dangers. Our modern, commercialised celebration makes the spiritual realm look fun, silly, and fictional. The world may have changed, but demons are still the same. The devil is still prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
If I was the parent of a young child I would not introduce the concept now. With children who are feeling left out, I would explain in age-appropriate terms what Halloween actually is, that it is a time for witches, warlocks and Satanists, to use for black magic, to amass more power, control and money, to make bad things happen to other human beings.
I’m not sure about the concept of ‘light parties,’ and personally would rather treat the 31st as an ordinary day, with extra time spent in prayer.
While I won’t be joining any Halloween parties, and parades, I will be on the lookout for any opportunities the Holy Spirit gives me to share the real way we ward off the enemy, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.