apologetics church history study

Should A Christian Observe Halloween?

Years ago someone from my old church handed me a Chick tract on the “true meaning” of Halloween; it scared me (and it scared Joe Carter—let him link to it). Mind you, I saw The Exorcist when I was eight and the Lord saved me two weeks later—even so, Chick scared me. But as I grew older I came to see that many of the things Chick said were not sound and with Halloween specifically I had to draw (sorry) my own conclusions. After all, if I was to be a husband and a father I would have to have some solid convictions to share with the family. So should a Christian observe Halloween?

History of Halloween
The Celts believed that on the eve of the New Year (Nov 1) the world was at an edge where the living and the dead could actually meet and on that night they celebrated Samhuinn (or Samhain). They wore costumes, primarily of animal skins, held bonfires and also and tried to see the future (since they thought that this is the optimal time to do that sort of thing). Eventually Rome conquered the Celts which paved the road for Christianity to come in and acquisition the holiday and dub it Halloween. Instead of the New Year they changed it to All Hallows Day, or All Saints Day; the day to honor all of the Saints. All Hallows Eve (Halloween) became a Christian holiday in which the church would honor the dead with costumes, bonfires and parades (like the Celts before them). A later practice consisted of people going door to door and requesting cakes (sounds like a treat, eh?) in exchange for prayers for the dead. Basically Halloween is a mish-mosh of a pagan holiday, early Christian practices and a whole lot of superstition.

Halloween Today

Today Halloween has been loosed from a lot of the former superstitions although the practices still stand. People still dress up in costumes and go door to door asking for a treat although they probably never request a soul-cake or promise to offer up a prayer for the dead. The holiday has become far removed from the original context and now currently exists as a day for kids to play public dress up, get free candy and perhaps make an investment in the dental industry.

Biblical Considerations

The Bible speaks openly against witchcraft, sorcery, paganism with direct prohibition to the Israelites ({{Ex 22:18}}), how the Lord perceives them ({{Deut 18:20-12}}) and their ultimate end (Rev 21:8). Throughout Kings and Chronicles, idolatry and paganism are the source of much pain for Israel but even in the midst of that, Elijah stands makes fun of the non-living pagan Gods and proves that the Lord is the Only Living God (1 Kings 18). Paul was so provoked by the idolatry in ancient Athens that he argued based on their belief system and creation that there was a Living God ({{Acts 17}}).

Early Christians had issues with paganism mixing with Christianity. Meats offered to false gods were often sold ala butcher shop format to the man on the street. The money would likely support further pagan practices and the meat definitely came out of a pagan ritual but Paul would tell believers that the meat was just meat. In fact, he was more concerned with how people perceived the meat and not who it was offered to or what the money was being used for. It was a neutral practice as far as he was concerned.

If we can make the transition back to Halloween we have a regular day that has been offered to a confused tradition and now as Christians we have to decide what to do with that day. Well, it’s just a day and each person has to be convinced of that or not. ({{Rom 14:5,6}}). The fact that it has a history shouldn’t be surprising since even our weekdays and months are labeled according to pagan names. In respect to the actual day itself, Christians have freedom. There’s nothing wrong with not dressing up either. Each person stands before the Lord on this matter having to be fully convinced in their own conscience. No one can act as your lord or judge in this issue({{Col 2:16-17}}).

Bear With the Weak

Paul tells the believers in Rome that they are to bear with the scruples of the weak in the certain issues—not using their freedom to trample on their brothers and sisters but using it instead to strengthen one another. Who are the weak? Well, they’re the ones concerned about festivals and special days and all that ({{Romans 14}}). Paul says that the stronger is to encourage the weaker ({{Romans 15}}) for conscience’s sake.

Conscience plays a key role in believers’ life. It never supersedes the Word of God but where the Bible is silent a person must be convinced in the conscience by what the Lord would want of them. Paul would argue that if a believer has those freedoms before him, he can then willingly submit to the scruples of the weaker brother to help him on his way, keeping the weaker brother from stumbling.

For the sake of those believers who don’t understand the Scriptures, the history of the day or the freedoms in Christ, Paul would have us limit our freedom. In other words, Halloween means nothing but if going trick or treating can cause your fellow believer to stumble, then its better not to go trick or treating at all. You wouldn’t want a person to be ruined because of your freedom ({{1Co 8:7-11}}). Moreso if it’s obviously on the person’s mind when they bark out “Halloween is saturated with demon practices”, then don’t do anything on it before this person. ({{1Co 10:28-31}}). Mind you, this person can be a Christian brother in your church or your own spouse!


So Halloween Day means nothing nor does going out and trick or treating mean anything. Today the day can just be a good time for the family with candy, costumes and enough public acceptances that you won’t look odd going door to door like you would if it was some time in March. If your Christian brothers and sisters near you are upset by you doing that sort of thing then it’s best to just not do it—especially parading it in front of them. By the way, this doesn’t mean you can’t have candy and gospel tracts and New Testaments for the kids coming to your door. I don’t know of many times when believers come a-knocking on my door—except for the Jehovah Witnesses. So take the day and use it as unto the Lord ({{Rom 14:5-6}}) in all respects.

One Note on Costumes

Are there any costumes that are unacceptable for a believer. Well, one can argue from this post that there are many costumes that are allowable for a Christian but may not be worn because of conscience sake from my own thinking I would suggest that costumes that the following costumes are wrong to wear in general:

  1. A costume that applaud something immoral
  2. A costume that blasphemes or defames the Name of the Lord
  3. A costume that destroys the dignity of Man (in the image of God)

Jeremy has some thoughts on costumes jumping off something that Jason highlights.Tim suggests its a bad testimony to keep the lights off and not interact with the community. Tim also blogspots other Halloween bloggin.

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