What image comes to mind about Halloween? Just a night of fun or a holiday devoted to spirits who oppose God? You need to know.
It looks like fun and seems harmless: jack-o'-lanterns, goblins, black cats, costumes, and children going door to door, hoping for treats from their neighbors. But have you wondered why these practices are so popular? What images come to your mind when you think of Halloween?
A satanic struggle against mankind or just a night of good clean fun? Some Christians are uneasy with the emphasis on witchcraft and demons.
Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we examine Halloween and go “Behind the Mask”
Just say the word Halloween and it conjures up all kinds of images. A time to dress up kids as monsters, and witches and encourage them to trick or treat. It’s time for adults to party. It’s not only called the scariest night of the year but also the sweetest because of all the candy.
There are interesting contrasts: Some churches throw Halloween parties, but occasionally there may be a letter to the editor speak out against it even though most clergy haven’t. Now is it hype or is there something wrong with recognizing or even celebrating Halloween? After all didn’t it begin as a religious holiday? What’s behind the mask?
Not everyone realizes where Halloween came from, and why is it so widely celebrated. Did you know that centuries before Jesus, the Celtic peoples of Western Europe celebrated November 1 as the Celtic new year - a sacred day in honor of the sun god. They also observed the previous eve as the festival of Sow’ en (Samhain), the lord of the dead.
You may not be a history buff, but let me explain. Here’s why it was a special sacred day to the ancient Celts: They believed that on the eve of Sow’ en (Samhain) the barriers between the human world and the supernatural world were broken. Ghosts and demons were able to roam the earth and even harm crops. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on that night.
Celtic priests believed that on the eve of Sow’ en (Samhain) predictions had more power and omens could be read with more clarity. Why? Because spirits were believed to hold the secrets of the afterlife and be able see the future.
Now imagine – how would an uneducated person react to this kind of belief? If you didn’t know any better, what would you do? Sacrifices of animals, crops, and possibly even human beings were given to pacify the spirits. You see, it was the time to placate the supernatural evil powers.
They also believed that sinner’s souls were trapped in the bodies of animals. Perhaps honoring Sow’ en (Samhain) would persuade him to free these trapped souls from their animal prisons.
Does that sound like something we should support? Should you participate in it? What do any of these ancient pagan rites have to do with you? Here’s where the story gets interesting.
If you were to do a simple Internet search you’d find that most of the activities of the Celtic feast have survived in modified form to this very day.
Carving Jack-o-lanterns Trivia
About 99% of pumpkins marketed domestically are used as Jack O'Lanterns at Halloween.
The Jack-O-Lantern comes from an Irish legend.
The story tells of a man (Jack) stuck between heaven and hell because he bargained with the devil. He was given a single ember to light his way through the cold, dark winter so he placed the light into a hallowed-out turnip to keep it lit longer.
But when the Irish immigrants came to America, they traded their tiny turnips for giant pumpkins.
A candle inside may keep you safe from all the spooky spirits flying around on Halloween.
The "trick-or-treat" tradition came from the idea that evil spirits played tricks and bothered the living
So the living began to disguise themselves as goblins or ghosts to escape their evil tricks.
Soon, the masquerading humans began playing the tricks instead.
Intimidating people with tricks in exchange for some kind of a treat soon followed
It morphed into children now dressing up and chanting “trick or treat” to fill their bags with candy.
Bobbing for apples (a popular means of fortune-telling).
Visiting haunted houses.
Building huge bonfires goes back to the idea to ward off evil spirits.
Witches are the mainstream image of Halloween. But where do they come from?
Folklore tells tales of witches gathering each year on Halloween.
Superstitions claimed witches cast spells on unsuspecting people.
In Mexico people build temporary home altars, adorn them with religious icons, special breads and other food for the dead. The Day of the Dead at Halloween time incorporates these similar Sow’ en rituals.
The Welsh believed that when you sneezed you blew the soul out of the body, which is where “God bless you” originated.
If someone sneezed on Halloween, it was especially dangerous because the devil could capture your soul.
Almost every Halloween tradition can be traced to ancient false religion (paganism).
Except – the commercialism. Do you know how much Americans spend on Halloween? Over $7 billion! It’s he second largest commercial holiday.
Today 86% of Americans decorate their homes for it.
Today it seems that Halloween doesn’t have much to do with religion – but is that really the case?
Did you know that modern Christianity did get involved with the ancient Sow’ en (Samhain) festival? When the Romans conquered the Celtic lands they brought with them new traditions and mingled customs. It was syncretism – a mix, blend, assimilation, ideas were mingled. Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and practices - a mixture.
Here’s the catch. Early Christians who strictly followed the Bible and the teachings of Jesus despised pagan customs. They identified them as demonic worship. The apostle Paul, wrote to Christians who had come out of false rituals said this: “…the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons”(1Cor10:20 -21 NIV)
Question: Do the traditions of Halloween seem to be more associated with light or darkness? God or Satan? Wicked or good?
Why is the world in darkness? Have you wondered why there is so much religious confusion? Why is the world so plagued with problems? Why such a mess? Is it only the result of uncontrollable circumstances—time and chance? Or perhaps simply the way things always have been and the way they always will be?
Think about it. Whether it’s broken families, broken relationships or even broken societies – they don’t just happen.
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Go online right now to beyondtoday.tv to download, read or order your free copy of “Is There Really a Devil?”
There is no doubt that confusion permeates the religious world. Even many pre-Christian religions with their pagan rites, New Age practices and superstitions are making a comeback. Have you wondered why? What is the truth? Is every belief just as good as another? People like you are searching for meaning. And it’s not found in conventional rituals and beliefs – but in your bible.
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So how did Christianity get mixed and blended with witches and goblins and spiritual darkness?
In order to help Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, many church leaders began to accept pagan customs as a means to gain new converts.
1400 years ago (In 610) Pope Boniface IV created “All Saints Day”. Do you know how he did it? He dedicated a heathen (pagan) Roman temple to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and declared a new holiday to honor martyred Christians. Here’s the blending: The prayers to all the various gods and goddesses, demons and goblins would be replaced with prayers to dead Christian saints.
What was the result? The counterfeit pagan custom of worshiping the dead did not stop. They simply put on it a new pretty dress to make it look “Christian”.
About a century later the Pope Gregory III set the date of All Saints' Day to Nov. 1. Why? Many scholars will say it was no accident: the Roman Church was still trying to absorb pagan celebrations.
This is important:
In the book: Halloween: An American Holiday, An American History the author states: “Villagers were also encouraged to masquerade on this day, not to frighten unwelcome spirits, but to honor Christian saints…churches throughout Europe and the British Isles…had processions in which parishioners dressed as saints, angels and devils. This religious masquerade resembled the pagan custom of parading ghosts…It served the new church by giving an acceptable Christian basis to the custom of dressing up on Halloween.”
Where is that in the bible?
Eventually a second celebration was established and called All Hallows’ Day or All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2. In time these two combined into the present observance on Nov. 1. The name of All Hallows' Even (Evening) for the night of Oct. 31 eventually evolved into the name Hallowe'en, or Halloween.
Does any of this matter? What should you do when it comes to Halloween?
The fundamental argument in favor of mixing ancient pagan customs and practices with the worship of God is that some churches believe it is an effective way to gradually win people over to Christ.
So some carve the name Jesus onto pumpkins or add religious phrases in the hopes of converting those who go trick-or-treating. Some Church basements are turned into carnivals featuring games, contests and candy.
But What does God say?
Now, the Bible doesn't contain an explicit statement saying, “Thou shalt not celebrate Halloween.” But, are there any passages that say it is wrong to adapt pagan customs or borrow the ways of those who worship a false god and use them to worship the true God?
You’re probably familiar with the story of the Israelites. After they escaped from Egypt and crossed the parted sea; God was going to drive out other nations as the Israelites entered the Promised Land. He told them how to handle the challenge. Here’s what God said: “they will be destroyed for you, but be careful not to be trapped by asking about their gods. Don't say, "How do these nations worship? I will do the same. Don't worship the Lord your God that way…Be sure to do everything I have commanded you. Do not add anything to it, and do not take anything away from it. (Deut.12:30-32 NCV).
God himself makes it very clear. He doesn’t accept worship that is compromised and polluted by customs used in fraudulent religion. He wants to be worshipped according to His commands, not by what humans or even some churches say is acceptable.
This is not only found in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament: The Apostle Paul taught, “How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? (2 Corinthians 6:14-16 2 Corinthians 6:14-16  Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?  And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×, NLT).
Ask: Do you really believe when kids dress up as demons, ghosts, and monsters and then go “trick or treating” that God appreciates it? Can Halloween customs be adapted to honor and worship God?
Here’s the plain truth: Halloween is a holiday that honors the “god of this world” who is Satan the Devil (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×). Don’t dismiss the demonic symbolism of Halloween as harmless fun. Your Bible reveals that evil spirits do exist and Satan the devil leads them.
Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×speaks of "the great dragon . . . that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan . . . [who] deceives the whole world." His name means adversary or enemy. Satan and the other fallen angels (demons) constantly try to keep mankind blinded, promoting the fear of death and the darkness of evil.
Don’t you be left in the dark. Behind the mask of Halloween is deceit. Don’t be taken in by it. Choose a better way—Learn the truth of God’s Word.
There’s much more to discuss on this topic. Is it possible that what you thought was the truth is not what your bible actually teaches? Does it really matter? Up next we’ll be talking with the Beyond Today panel – stay with us.