Should a Christian Celebrate Halloween?

     In our society today we celebrate many holidays St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day etc. However, everyone know that the three major Holidays are Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving (or New Year’s depending on who you’d ask.) I don’t really hear Christians debating on whether we should celebrate a certain holiday…unless it’s Halloween. As per usual, I’d like to give you my background on this topic and then give you the conclusion I reached.

      I find it curious how many Christian writers have written about this topic. It seems all can agree on the origins/history of Halloween, but when it comes to application of Biblical principles everyone is all over the place. Upon much thought, research, and discussion of this topic I hope I can help shed some light on this topic.

My Background

      Growing up in a strict Baptist home you can only imagine that I barely knew what Halloween was. Seriously, we never celebrated it. Our yard got covered in toilet paper a few times for lack of participation, but we never got a knock on the door. My family would turn off the lights and we’d have a movie night downstairs. On a hand full of occasions, we had a Harvest Party at our house or others and us kids would dress up, but even that faded after a couple of years. Essentially, we were taught as children that Halloween was an evil holiday that glorified Satan. Especially because it’s history was so abhorrent and evil. So all through life we never really engaged in the holiday. Now as an adult man, I almost always forget that Halloween is even a holiday until the décor comes out and I’m like “Oh yeah, that candy holiday is coming!” Then I buy Count Chocula and Candy Corn like it’s going out of style. So naturally, I didn’t even think about writing an article on this topic seeing as it was never really a thing in my life. Luckily for me I have smart friends and one of them mentioned I should write on this topic. So here goes nothing.

Dealing with Pagan Roots

     The history of Halloween has become pretty mainstream, but on the principle of being thorough I’ll give a brief explanation. If you want further information there’s plenty readily available. Traditionally, Halloween is Celtic in origin. It dealt with many pagan ritualistic practices and beliefs. They would celebrate the end of summer, change of the earth, and the annual ‘death’ of nature. Ultimately, during this time they would worship Samhain, the Lord of Death. They believed that during this time the veil between the living and the dead was the weakest and dead souls and evil spirits would walk among the living. Most of this took place in what is Britain and France today.

     Many Christians use the pagan roots of Halloween as their main reason for not celebrating it. However, this seems really foolish when you consider the fact that both Easter and Christmas have intense pagan roots as well. Christmas, was called Saturnalia, and during its winter festivities, courts were closed, and all crime was legal during that time. (The Purge: Roman Edition.) There’s a lot more to Easter and Christmas orginis, but ultimately, they have pagan roots. Look it up, makes for an interesting read.

     It is for this reason I also know Christians who don’t celebrate any of those holidays either. However, I believe it’s important not to focus on what something used to be and instead focus on what it is today. Reason for this is that things change over time: we mature as people, music has evolved, culture shifts, church styles change, and eventually become something very separate from what they once were. Nowadays, these holidays are extremely different than that of their roots! We can’t change the past so I see no point on dwelling on the past. I feel those who focus on the pagan roots of these holidays are forgetting that almost everything in our world today has pagan, evil, or questionable roots. For example, look into the history of any country that is established today. (USA, Great Britain, Germany, etc.) every country has things in its past that are very against the teachings of God. If Christians can’t celebrate a holiday due to its history, how can a Christian live in or support a country with such evil in its past? Well, most would say something like, “We can’t change that.” Or, “We’re not like that anymore as a country.” And they are absolutely right! Same thing with a holiday. You can’t change what it was, but we can appreciate it for what it is now.

Halloween and the Christian

     The history of Halloween is something that can easily be discarded since it’s not celebrated the same way, but can a Christian celebrate something that’s so focused on death? Witches? Ghouls? Zombies? Well…this is where the topic became complicated for me. Let me explain my reasoning.

     Kids dressing as these creatures is a complicated topic. If a parent has done their job their children should understand what is evil and what is not even at a young age. As a child I loved Star Wars. I knew Darth Vader was evil, but I loved to pretend to be the ‘bad guy’ while my friends were Jedi trying to defeat me. I understood as a boy what was good and what wasn’t. It didn’t stop me from wanting to act like the bad guy while playing with friends. (Hey, someone had to be the antagonist) It's important to note that there is a difference between fantasy and reality.

      On the flip side, I wouldn’t be comfortable letting my very little children around those things because it can be terrifying to a toddler or young child to see half the decorations on people’s properties, in the stores, or even the costumes that others wear. The issue with this is that today it’s unavoidable. I can’t keep my children inside for an entire month and avoid going to the store or walking down the street just to keep them away from something that might be scary. This is simply unrealistic. Plus, it’s important not to coddle our children. As a parent though, we are to protect them. Hence why I’d be cautious with my younger children on how much they are exposed to it. Basically: keep it age appropriate and use discernment with your child.

     The other issue though is all the focus on death, darkness, and evil things. This isn’t really arguable seeing as everywhere you go with Halloween are skulls, fake grave stones, evil creatures etc. The Bible often times uses death in a way to describe unrighteousness (sin, punishment, hell etc.) Although children often times know the difference between good and evil would it be wise to avoid a holiday that focuses on this so much? Afterall the Bible says this:

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We are to be the light of the world, and the Bible does tell us to separate ourselves from the sinful nature of the world.

2 Cor. 6:17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you...

     This verse can be applied in a wide variety of ways. But what it’s ultimately focusing on is telling us to separate ourselves form the world’s sinful nature. Yes, there are things in Halloween that can focus on evil/sin, but I do believe there are innocent parts of Halloween as well. Some Christians I know celebrate Halloween by dressing their children up and going to only friend’s and family’s houses. Others I know have people over for a Harvest Party. They have games, food, costumes etc. So there are innocent ways to celebrate it ourselves.

     And before anyone reading this says “What about the appearance of evil?” Well, I already wrote about that in a separate article. The context of the verse would barely apply here if at all seeing as it means “Abstain from understanding/knowing evil.” If you simply teach your children the difference between right and wrong this should bring them to the point of not knowing or understanding evil, but knowing and understanding righteousness.

     It’s also important to note that all these different creatures that people dress as are fake. They’re just as fictional as Darth Vader, Superman, etc. So don’t get too wrapped up in that. My biggest concern would be for young children that can’t tell the difference and could easily become terrified.

Individual Soul Liberty: The Perfect Application

     Honestly, I can see both sides that Christians apply here. If a Christian doesn’t want to celebrate it because of all the focus on death and other things: that’s fine. No one should violate their own conscience. If a Christian doesn’t see anything wrong with it because they discern the difference between good and evil or real and fake and can celebrate it innocently then more power to them.

In the Bible there is a part that describes a situation like this perfectly.

1 Cor. 8:4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”

1 Cor. 8:8-9 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

1 Cor. 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

1 Cor. 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

     Basically the short story is this: the people in Corinth, before selling meat to the populace were offering the meat to the idols. This caused issue in the church and there were two schools of thought from Christians on how to handle this:

Group 1: If it’s offered to idols I want nothing to do with it. I worship only one God so I’m not going to eat any meat offered to these fake gods.

Group 2: If it’s offered to idols first, why should I care? The idols are fake and I don’t worship them. I just want to eat some steak.

     A few things I want to focus on in this passage. Paul refers to those against eating the meat as the ‘weaker brother’ and those who would eat of the meat as ‘having knowledge.’ I find this curious, because Paul goes on to explain that eating/not eating the meat doesn’t bring us any closer to Christ. However, because those who are weaker would be offended we shouldn’t engage in it lest we offend.

     Couple of things to consider here: Today’s culture is very different than the Romans. Whenever I mention this passage to church members today every single person I’ve ever talked to has said something like, “I don’t see why that was even an issue in that church, the idols weren’t real.” I have honestly never met anyone who says, “I wouldn’t eat the meat.” This is because cultures today have developed differently and have gained much more knowledge than back then. Also, because Western culture is very “individualistic” in mindset. Meaning that you’re only responsible for yourself. This obviously helps in such matter. You’re not responsible for what other people do with that meat/holiday only what you do with it. Hence why this type of issue isn’t as big in Western Cultures as it might be in others. Because we view mankind as responsible for themselves.

     Granted, I’m not ignorant on this topic. I understand that there will always be someone who is offended. However, there are those who’d be offended if you avoided the holiday and others would be offended if you celebrated it. (talk about a rock and a hard place.) So, ultimately be aware of the weaker brothers around you. Careful not to offend and approach all of it with love and decency. Ultimately, I feel there is always a balance between the two.

Finding the Balance

     Here’s my thing, we are to be a light in the dark. This holiday is the only one where people come to our doorsteps by the herds. This could easily be used as an outreach tool and to not use it as such seems to be a wasted opportunity.

John 1:4-5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

     I personally believe it’s not so cut and dry where to say “Don’t celebrate it at all! It’s evil!” It is my understanding that such a claim is ignorant at best and not taking into accounts all angles of reality. The fact that most of it is done with innocent heart and most people understand what’s evil and what’s good. However, I personally don’t feel comfortable saying “Yeah, go ahead and celebrate it fully!” Due to the dark nature of some things. Like many things, I believe there is an easy balance.

     Celebrate it by going door to door in a trusted neighborhood. Dress your children innocently and in a fun way! Nothing wrong with a little dress up. Maybe have a party at your house and invite all the families that come to your door to your church. Use it as an outreach. Maybe have a costume harvest party at your church. This would actually be awesome! Halloween is the 2nd largest holiday in the USA. You can have games, costumes, prizes, and build relationships/outreach just by doing this. Obviously, keeping the party innocent as well. Nothing scary or edgy. Just fun.

     Besides a few people in a few circles this particular subject is very rare. A large minority have issue with Christians celebrating Halloween in a wise manner. Honestly though, this subject comes down to individual soul liberty. If someone chooses to engage in it: that’s fine. If someone chooses not to: that’s fine. No Christian ought to be looking down or being offended by what another Christian chooses to do with this holiday. To do so is judgmental at best. A Christian shouldn’t violate their own conscience either. Personally, I would like to use this holiday as a fun outreach opportunity to have fellowship with believers, time to get to know other people, and hopefully see souls saved and people grow.

     Christian, just prayerfully consider what God would have you do. Such a holiday is unavoidable to be around. It’s so engrained in our culture that avoiding it might make you appear as a judgmental snob. (careful not to offend…) However, participating in it might force you to be viewed negatively by a weaker brother. So ultimately, use wisdom and discretion! Who would it affect most in your life? What would God have you to do? And remember this: do not take an offense on what another Christian chooses to do with this holiday. God gives liberty to all and if someone chooses to participate or not, that is there choice. I pray my thoughts were clear on this matter and that a balance can be found amongst Christians. Praying for you all, God bless.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

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