We can’t talk about fear in the month of October and not mention Halloween. As a Jamaican, Halloween is not a holiday that we celebrate; at least, it didn’t used to be. My first exposure to the concept of Halloween was the movie. Michael Myers was scary in a white mask as he hunted his sister with a huge butcher’s knife. From that moment, fear was the word that my mind associated with Halloween.
In my twenties, I started reading Nora Roberts and the whole Halloween thing came up again. Only this time it was tied to witches – “good ones” and bad ones. Throw in a bunch of movies like Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown and Twitches, and the whole idea gets twisted again. What’s the deal with Halloween? Is it more than just a “fear factor”?
When I became a Christian, I knew I had to put away the idea of witches and magic being good. I understood that Satan has power and that he sometimes gives people the means to access it. But what do we do about Halloween? Is it just a harmless holiday where children dress up and get treats? Or is there something more sinister? What do we have to fear about Halloween?
I’ll tell you what I’ve found out and let you decide.
To understand the holiday that we know as Halloween, we have to travel across the seas to Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France to a time about 2000 years ago. For the Celts, the year began on November 1. This day marked the beginning of winter, a period of time when many of their people died (maybe because of the harsh weather).
The Celts believed that on the night before the new year (October 31), the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was blurred. Because it was, the ghosts of the dead could return to earth. There was ‘something’ about the 31st of October that made it possible for the Celtics priests (the Druids) to tell the future, so they claimed.
The people built huge, sacred bonfires where they offered crops and animals as burnt sacrifices to their gods.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, consisting of animal heads and skins. They attempted to tell each others fortunes.
For a more in-depth history you can read this article.
The origin of this particular Halloween favorite is cloudy and there are many versions of the story. All of them reference a character named Jack and interactions he had with the devil. One popular version was that Jack was drinking with the devil in a bar. He did not have enough to pay the bill so he convinced Satan to turn himself into a coin that he could use to pay the bill.
Satan did, but instead of paying the bartender, Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a crucifix. Because of the cross, Satan was trapped. Prior to releasing him, Jack convinced Satan not to take his soul to hell. They had a few other interactions until eventually Jack died.
God denied him entry to heaven
but because of the deal he had made with Satan he could not go to hell. Satan
supposedly gave him one ember from the hellfire so that he had light to “see his
way as he wandered the earth”.
Jack stuck the ember in a turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since. You can read the full version of this account on History.com.
Trick or treat seems to be a mash-up of two medieval practices: souling for treats and guising.
Souling: On All Saints Day – the day of all saints known and obscure – soul cakes would be put out with glasses of wine for the dead. Children would go around singing songs for the dead in exchange for these cakes.
Guising: In Scotland and Ireland, young people dressed in costumes and accepted offerings as they went door-to-door. They would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform another sort of “trick” in exchange for a treat.
I know a lot of persons are going to say that Halloween is a harmless holiday. Are they right? What I do know is that God is real and the Bible is His inspired word. Since that’s the case, Satan is real. He rebelled against God and deceived a third of the angels in heaven. They were all cast to this earth (Revelation 12:7-12).
God warned His people not to follow the practices of the heathens. This included divination and necromancy.
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
For all who do these
things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of
these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before
you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your
God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers
and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed
such for you (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).”
If God says we shouldn't do something, we shouldn't do it.
Satan can make himself appear to be anything including an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We should be very careful messing around with things of a spiritual nature. God warned His people against divination and the occult for a reason. And these seemingly harmless rituals that we practice have a deeper meaning than we realize. The last thing we want to do is give Satan an opportunity to have a foothold in our lives. At least, I don’t want that? Do you?
Challenge: Examine your feelings about Halloween. Ask God to reveal His view on the matter.