The Semi-Haunted History of Halloween
Happy Halloween! Or should we call it “All Hallow’s Eve?” Halloween today is assigned many meanings. At its worst, it is a time for heightened occult practices and outright demon worship. At its best, it is a harmless time for kids to dress up as ninjas and princesses, go meet the neighbors, and grab some candy. Whatever your personal conviction is concerning Halloween, the history is interesting and multi-faceted.
In 609 A.D., the Pantheon in Rome was rededicated to Mary and the martyrs. A feast was held on May 13 in honor thereof. In the 9th century, Pope Gregory IV changed the date of this feast to November 1, and named it “All Hallow’s Day.” This was a day in which the martyrs were remembered. On the eve of All Hallow’s Day, Christians would dress as martyrs or saints, and go door to door collecting alms for the poor. You can see the origins of our current Halloween practices going back 1200 years.
The darker side of the holiday’s history stems from how November 1 was also celebrated by Celts in their pagan worship. The Celts apparently believed that the change of seasons from Fall to Winter coincided with some sort of link between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Therefore, November 1 was a time for ancestor worship and other pagan practices that, today, Christians would certainly frown upon. Therein lies the links with the occult, demon worship, Satanism, or any other sort of superstition.
Let me offer a couple of principles to consider for Christians as we approach Halloween. 1 Corinthians 8:4 says that, “An idol is nothing at all in the world, and there is no God but one.” In a pagan world, ancient Christians could eat meat sacrificed to idols, because they knew that idols were nothing more than inanimate statues. Christians today can engage in Halloween, knowing that Halloween is nothing really and that there is only one God to fear and for whom we live.
The other principle: to not violate the conscience of your brother or sister in Christ. For those coming to Christ from the occult, the memories of oppression and fear go deep. For such as these, it is very hard to understand how a Christian could ever participate in Halloween. In the same way, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:7 –“Not all possess this knowledge. Some, through former association with idols, view the meat as defiled…” Verse 13 concludes, “Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat.” In the same way, don’t practice your freedom to celebrate Halloween in a way that makes a weaker Christian brother or sister struggle, like if they had a former association with the occult.
As for my kids and I, we are going to go meet the neighbors in a couple hours. We get to know the community in our neighborhood more on this day than all the others combined. So, let’s make the most of every opportunity, but be sensitive to the convictions of the weaker brother or sister in Christ.