If you are someone who really, really likes Halloween, enjoys costume parties and thinks life without candy corn, miniature Milky Ways and orange and black lollipops is not worth living, allow me to explain briefly where Halloween came from.
Believe it or not … Halloween was once a Christian event. In medieval times, on November 1st the church observed All Hallows Day, hallow, -ed being an Old English word meaning “holy.” (Think of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name ….”) In the 16th century All Hallows Day began to be known as All Saints Day, a day to honor Christians who had died and already received their eternal reward.
The night before came to be known as All Hallows’ Even – which has come down to us as Halloween. If that linguistic corruption was all that had changed, Christians today wouldn’t square off over how to, or if we even should, observe the day (and night). Unfortunately, Halloween has long since lost any connection with All Saints Day and All Hallows’ Even, and it has become just another secular party occasion. Even more unfortunately, it has taken on distinctly unhealthy overtones, with its preoccupation with death, monsters, the occult and other unbiblical themes and practices.
These things, along with carving jack-o’-lanterns, wearing scary costumes, and going house to house offering “trick or treat” options, have their roots in ancient pagan customs, specifically a Celtic festival called Samhain. Like many such pagan festivals and customs, the church moved in on their turf and seized it for its own. Unfortunately, when it did it did not cleanse the event of its ungodly and unholy vestiges. Thus we have our modern / pre-modern event we know as Halloween.
So no, I’m not going to go so far as to say you absolutely, positively cannot enjoy Halloween, wear strange outfits and go to a party, or door to door with your kids. (Or without them, if you’re a hard-core candy addict.) (The preceding sentence was brought to you by your local dentists’ association.) But I will say that if and as you do, it’s a good opportunity to thank God for his goodness to us in giving us our Christian heritage.
Pray for those who are too interested, in an unhealthy way, with the dark side of Halloween, or even inducted into some form of paganism, witchcraft, the occult, etc. Watch the movie “Luther” or “Amazing Grace.” Read CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Come worship with us (or your home church – if you don’t have one you’re hereby invited to mine) as we celebrate our Reformation heritage.
And remember: Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).