Take it back. After all, it was ours to begin with.

If you’ve heard much about the pagan influences behind Halloween, you may be surprised to learn of the holiday’s Christian origins. 

Maybe you’ve heard the common explanation that it was influenced by Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival that marked a change in seasons, during which doorways between earth and the otherworld were temporarily opened. 

Halloween 212866752 l 2015aPerhaps so, but we have almost no reliable evidence of what went on during Samhain, and quite a bit of evidence that the Christian origins of the day developed independently of any pagan festivals.

The more balanced background is this:

In the 700s, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, a celebration of all saints. It had previously been in the spring (when the Eastern church still celebrates it). All Souls Day was added on Nov. 2 in the 10th century to commemorate all the faithful who have gone before us. 

Since Jewish and Christian feasts and observances have traditionally begun at sundown the night before, the observance of All Saints Day began on Oct. 31 as All Saints Eve, or Hallows (Holy) Eve.

Early celebrations of All Hallows Eve included a mockery of evil’s futile, last-gasp efforts to overcome God’s kingdom. After all, the cross and resurrection of Jesus are said to have humiliated the forces of darkness and stripped them of power (Col. 2:15). What better time to celebrate that victory than the day before honoring martyrs and the faithful departed?

A Christian Observance Gone Wrong

Over time, some of the pagan elements from Samhain seem to have blended into the observance of All Hallows Eve. But it is not at all accurate to say ‘Halloween’—literally, Hallows or ‘Holy’ Eve—has pagan origins. Pagan practices played a part in influencing and corrupting the celebration, but they did not create it

Of course, most people today tend to focus on the macabre and hardly remember the ‘holy’ that was there. But for centuries, All Hallows Eve was a Christian observance. People put on masks and costumes to mock the forces of evil that had been humiliated at the cross. It was a dramatization of Christ’s victory preceding the days of celebration for martyrs and the faithful departed. 

Today, that celebration of victory over death and evil has somehow been distorted into a celebration honoring death and evil. Somewhere in the past, non-Christians claimed the holiday for themselves, and many Christians apparently have said, “Umm . . . oh, okay. Then we’ll just stay away.”

That’s significant—and surprising. When the world influences Christmas observances, we don’t stop celebrating the Savior’s birth.

When the world waters down sacred music, we don’t stop singing.

When the world manipulates and distorts the meaning of prayer, we don’t stop praying.

But when the world corrupts All Hallows Eve and its celebration of victory over evil, many of us suddenly act as if evil has won and run from it. Interesting. 

Fear Nothing

If a Christian believes pagans, satanists, and secular interests have hijacked the holiday, then hiding from it is not the answer. The appropriate response would be to reclaim it. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean spending the night in prayer (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that). It could simply mean refusing to honor death and fear by dressing up as someone in a superhero movie rather than a horror movie, or enjoying time with friends and celebrating the ultimate and certain end of evil. 

Most people who have participated in Halloween over the years are not at all honoring death and evil. They’re just enjoying a fall festival—with some macabre themes, granted, but much of Halloween has always gone on without them. 

In other words, dressing up as Sherlock Holmes or SpongeBob SquarePants and knocking on doors for candy is hardly reminiscent of Druid rituals.

We don’t want to glorify death and darkness by any means. But we also don’t want to run from an originally Christian practice simply because pagans have tried to convince us it has pagan origins. 

When I hear some Christians talk about Halloween, I hear fear behind their words—fear of ungodly influences in their lives and the lives of their children; fear of a society that casually disregards big, eternal issues; fear of being overrun by evil, even if only for a day.

Yet nowhere in the pages of our sacred texts are we told to be afraid of anything. Fear of God, in the sense of trembling awe and respect? Yes. Fear of anything outside of God that could harm us? Never. We are told to live without fear and be anxious for nothing.

(Interesting side note: I have found that whenever Christians seem to be on the defensive in a given situation, it is usually because that situation provides a potentially fruitful opportunity to go on the offensive. For whatever reason—a humiliated adversary, for example—we are being intimidated. Resistance to our message is particularly strong in places where that message might have the greatest impact.)

Ignore the View from the Opposing Camp

Anton LaVey, founder of the church of Satan, has been quoted as saying, “I'm glad Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year.” Apparently, some people see participation in Halloween as ‘worship.’

(Another interesting side note: We tend to view people who come to church half-heartedly or out of obligation as ‘not actually worshiping.’ But if Christians with zero intention of honoring evil dress up on Halloween, they are attacked as ‘actually worshiping Satan,’ as if intent matters in one place and not the other. Just a tad inconsistent.)

Folks, I’m not really in the habit of letting satanists define what’s going on inside me. (And why would you put stock in the words of someone who worships the father of lies, anyway?) They can pretend whatever they want to pretend, but worship is a matter of the heart, and whatever happens around me on Halloween, whatever I choose to be involved in, I’m not worshiping or honoring any dark powers in this world. 

I’m laughing at them instead, celebrating Jesus’ humiliation of the powers of death and destruction. (See here and here for similar perspectives.) I’m not going to run from any manifestations of evil. I’m going straight into the midst of them to live out the victory we’ve been given.

And that’s what I’d encourage you to do—not just on Halloween but every day of the year. Follow your convictions, of course; if a holiday represents evil to you, then you have every reason not to participate. I respect that.

But I see evil represented in my world all the time, and I still participate in the world. It’s my calling. One way or another, whether on Oct. 31 or not, it’s yours too.

Salt n Light

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Edward L Rael 01.11.2019 23:15  
Yes No   Thank you for this article, now I know how I am celebrating Halloween next year, by putting a life size manger at the front of my house for all the children to see, why we celebrate as Christians.  
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Marti 30.10.2019 21:58  
Yes No   See for your records  
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Cindy Errickson 31.10.2019 10:26  
Yes No   Excellent article!!!! Thank you... this should be flying around social media!!!  
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Chris 31.10.2019 10:55  
Yes No   Thanks, Cindy! Glad you liked it.  
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