On the way to drop the kids off at church for a Harvest Party tonight, my daughter’s friend said something about the roots of Halloween being pagan, and that’s why many Christians don’t celebrate. After talking to the kids about that statement and how true/not true it is, I was reminded of this:
This link is a pdf of Mars Hill Church‘s October newsletter from a few years back. There’s a great article on Halloween by Pastor James Harleman. He explains that everything we’ve been told about the satanic origins of the holiday isn’t necessarily true. Not that he finds much good about Halloween in general, either, but as Christians we should be making our decision regarding whether to celebrate or not as informed people, not just because we’ve heard “this-and-that” from “so-and-so”.
“One of the most interesting anecdotes I found in researching the history of Halloween is that the one activity many churches do engage in at replacement events like church “Harvest Festivals” is perhaps the one most easily linked to paganism. Bobbing or “Ducking” for apples was actually a divination ritual related to love and fertility.”
“As Christmas and Easter have overrun and co-opted various trappings, however, there is for Christians a clear, central focus on Jesus’ incarnation. Halloween may not be inherently evil, but it also has no central, specific focus on the Lord we love. Whether we see Halloween as pagan practices, Catholic traditions, or good old American, candy-coated commercialism, none of these offers great inspiration
At Mars Hill Church, we don’t believe in the deities worshipped by the Celts or the rituals used to appease or
summon them. We do, however, recognize that there are evil spirits that confuse and lead people astray from relationship with the one true God. We recognize that the Bible calls all Christians “saints” and don’t believe in the Catholic extra-biblical concepts of sainthood or purgatory. Many of the ideas and rituals that have contributed to the Halloween mish-mash aren’t congruent with our beliefs. However, setting aside times to remember or honor those we love that have passed away (hopefully to be with our Savior Jesus) is
not a bad idea. On a less somber level, wearing Spider-man costumes, making funny faces on vegetables, and engaging in neighborhood activities where one can both give and receive hospitality is not something we oppose. Fictional fantasy tales of monsters and elves – even scary ones – are not wholly inappropriate either, whether punctuated on this particular weekend or sprinkled throughout the year in classic tales from authors including Tolkien and Lewis.
We regard Halloween as a second-hand issue and ask that every Christian examine their response to the modern-day Halloween celebration in our culture.”
“For those who have shunned Halloween because they were simply told it was evil, or for those who have participated and never bothered to weigh its appropriateness, your pastors would encourage the employment of godly wisdom, discernment, and a sense of our shared mission as Christians. Our abstinence
or participation in regard to Halloween should not be derived from fear, misinformation, or pressure but rather from a sincere love of Jesus; every response to our culture and its festivals is a way to point to the God we love and serve.
Lastly, for parents, don’t forget that gluttony is a sin. Careful not to force your kids to learn the hard way: lying on an altar of plastic wrap and tin-foil, holding their bulbous stomachs. If you participate in Halloween, it might be the perfect time to introduce the concept of moderation.”
The Halloween article is on page 14, and there’s also more great reading if you’ve got the time.