If you’re like me, this is the time of year in which you are faced with the “haunting” task of deciding what to do with your children on October 31. The “trick” is to make some “monstrous” decisions as to whether or not you will “treat” your children to the newest and most talked about costumes at Wal-Mart, choose the right candy that the neighborhood kids will praise for weeks after it’s over and determine which party you will let your teenager attend.
But have you ever really stopped to think about what this night is really about? Where did Halloween actually begin? Why do we dress up in costumes? What is the whole “trick or treating” for candy all about? For Christians, is Halloween just innocent fun, or are we celebrating what could actually be an occult holiday?
Back to the beginning
First we need to go back to the origins of Halloween over 2000 years ago where it began with the Celts in what is now England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern France. These pagan Celts worshipped their god named Samhain, who they believed was the lord of the dead. At certain times of the year, the Celts believed that evil spirits would lurk about at night, spirits who were souls of the dead and could rise from the grave to haunt those who were still living. They believed that these evil spirits would play tricks on humans and cause supernatural spells. So the people would wear grotesque masks and dance around the bonfires to confuse the spirits. The “good” spirits were given food as a “treat” to make them feel welcome and at home.
In addition to this, the word “Halloween” got it’s origin in ad 835 when Pope Gregory IV designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day (the term hallow refers to saints). The night before November 1, October 31, was known as All Hallows’ Evening. How did we get the term Halloween? Look at the name “All Hallows’ Evening.” If we drop the word “all,” the “s” on Hallows’, and the “v” and “ing” on evening, the result spells Halloween.
Long before the church gave this name to the evening before All Saints’ Day, a celebration in remembrance of saints and martyred saints, it had been celebrated in various ways in many places around the world.
Coming to America
But when and how did this strange and cultic ritual make its way to America? In early American history Halloween was not practiced. It was not widely observed until the 20th century when thousands of Irishmen migrated here and brought the Halloween customs with them.
Although Halloween as commonly practiced today is a seemingly innocent time for most people, it is a very serious observance for witches, neo-pagans and other occultists.
Many Satanic groups also consider Halloween as a special night. This is in part because Halloween became the only day of the year in which it was believed that the devil could be invoked for help in finding out about future marriages, health, deaths and what would happen in the new year, according to The Facts on Halloween by John Ankerberg.
The word “occult” comes from the Latin word “occultist,” which means things that are hidden, secret and mysterious. Occult practices were being committed even back in Old Testament times. Divination, witchcraft, human sacrifices, sorcery and mediums were all common among the pagans of Moses’ day. And God had very strict instructions for children of God not to have anything to do with these occult practices. In fact, God calls them detestable and considers anyone who practices such things detestable (Deuteronomy 18:10-20).
So, why would God forbid such things? The answer is that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. He did that on the cross. And He Knows that if we even “dabble” into spiritual things that are outside of His word, we leave our lives and our testimonies vulnerable to the dangerous works of the devil . . . where he can rob, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)
So what are parents to do?
Is it really just innocent family fun? I believe the answer lies in what the Holy Spirit does within your heart.
Knowing the history of Halloween and the spirit of fear that is associated with Halloween, there are some important decisions that you can make as parents to protect your children from any negative influences of the potentially dangerous holiday but still be able to make a great difference on this night.
First, you can do away with any Halloween festivities altogether, or perhaps get involved in a local church family alternative like a Fall Festival such as the one at Christ the Rock in Cooper City.
Second, if your child is going to dress up or participate in any way, dress him or her up in a costume that doesn’t promote fear, violence or anything that is ungodly or unnatural.
Third, take advantage of the opportunity by providing the neighborhood children with the message of the gospel by giving the trick or treaters Halloween-themed Gospel tracts with their candy. This is a great way to do your part in presenting the Good News of Jesus. My wife and I have been giving the kids these great tracts for years. What other night are you going to have children knocking on your door for two straight hours? You can purchase these Halloween themed tracts at any Christian book store.
One year, my family decided to get to know our neighbors and we pulled the grill out to the front curb and gave everyone free hotdogs along with the Gospel message. What a fun night that was meeting our neighbors.
In the midst of the crowds
And let me share one last thought as you consider your family plans for Halloween. This thought may be difficult for some Christian parents to swallow, but from what I see in all of the Gospel accounts, every time there were great gatherings of people Jesus was in the midst of them. He was always in the crowd ministering to the hurting, reaching out to the children and even confronting the demon possessed. Instead of locking himself in the house and turning out the lights, Jesus engaged with the crowds, displaying the love of God and teaching people about the message of the Kingdom of God.
Whatever decision you make to protect your children, let me encourage you to continually share God’s word with them and educate them about the origins of Halloween when they are at an appropriate age. I believe that when your children learn God’s truth verses Satan’s lies, they are going to have a positive outlook on changing their Halloween habits. I understand that it is my job to protect my children from the negative influence of Halloween, but I do believe that if Jesus were to return to this world on October 31, He would want to walk through my neighborhood and minister to families.
Pastor Brody Howell is the founder of Core Solutions for Family Life. He consults and teaches in churches and schools with strategies to impact youth and families. He is also an area advisor for First Priority of South Florida. Brody can be reached at [email protected].