Most historians trace the origin of Halloween back to the ancient and enduring Christian tradition of celebrating the lives of Christian martyrs on the anniversaries of their deaths. When Pope Boniface IV reconsecrated the Pantheon in Rome on May 13, 609 AD, renaming it the “Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs,” he established that anniversary as a day of celebratory remembrance for all of the Church’s martyrs. Pope Gregory III later changed the date of remembrance to November 1 when he dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to “all saints.” November 1 became All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallow’s Day. The night before became All Hallow’s Eve (“Halloween” being a colloquial contraction of that phrase). While Halloween began as a localized celebration, Pope Gregory IV extended its observance to all of Christendom in the 9th Century AD. As Christianity spread throughout the world, pagan holidays were either Christianized or forgotten. Samhain was absorbed into Halloween. Costumes and gifts and bobbing for apples were preserved, incorporated into the new holiday. They remain a celebrated part of Halloween to this day, many centuries later. The celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection was supplanted in the popular culture by the Easter bunny. Trick-or-treating eclipsed pious regard for Christian martyrs.
The Bible doesn’t speak directly about Halloween, but some biblical principles apply. One things is clear -- all pagan practices are to be avoided. Witchcraft, occult practices, sorcery, etc. are strictly forbidding in the Bible (Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 16, 19). It is obvious that a small child dressing up as a princess or a cowboy isn’t involving themselves with witchcraft, so what is a biblical stance on Halloween?
Parents, the decision is up to you. If you decide Halloween is something fun for your children, make sure they are kept far away from the evil aspects of Halloween. When believers participate in anything (even Halloween), their attitudes, dress, and behavior should glorify Christ (Philippians 1:27)
As Halloween approaches and before we know
The moon will be casting its golden glow.
The air will be crisp with much cooler days
The leaves full of color to brighten the way.
The fields are all full and ready to glean,
Children laugh at the pumpkins they’ve seen!
Apples are ready to pick from the trees
Then cider will promptly be made from these.
The Lord looks down on our fun Fall days
And watches about as we go on our way.
The harvest is ripe in the fields of the soul
Make sure “to glorify Him” is our goal!
Witches and monsters we close our eyes to
But Lord, open our eyes to those who need You!
Send the workers far out in the fields
Glean from their work what You’d have them yield.
Halloween time can be fun -- it’s a treat!
But do things that honor God on the streets.
Hand out tracts with your goodies this year
You never know what seeds will fall near!
A seed that will sprout and soon grow to be
Lord, another ripe harvest for Thee!
Give us words and deeds on this night
That give others peace, not fear and fright. ©Lucy Cain 8/06
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