Trick or Treat?

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. I love the cool, fresh air scented with the spicy aroma of fallen leaves. I love the “crunch, crunch, crunch” sound of dried leaves underfoot. I love the mellow, golden sunlight. And of course, I love the wonderful riot of colour that paints the trees.

There is one aspect of of autumn that I intensely dislike, and that is the North American tradition of observing Hallowe’en. To be brutally honest, I don’t understand how anybody who calls themselves a Christian can have anything, at all, to do with it. I am sorry if I offend anybody with my opinion on this subject – that is not my intent. I just feel very passionate about how we, as Christians, live out a Godly life as examples to a fallen world.

Perhaps you are like my son, who now having a child of his own, has said that he is going to take his daughter out for Hallowe’en, no matter what anybody (probably meaning me) might think, because, after all, it is just a day to dress up in fun costumes and get some goodies!

Is that really all it is? Is that the TRUTH? Let’s have a quick look at the origins of this particular “celebration”. I have compiled a short Hallowe’en FAQ.

1. Peoples of ancient Gaelic Ireland celebrated the Festival of Samhain, the beginning of winter and darkness, from sunset on October 31 st to sunset on November 1st.

2.  According to Irish mythology, Samhain was a time when the doorways to the Otherworld opened, allowing the spirits and the dead to come into our world. It was essentially a festival for the dead.

3. . In ancient Ireland, Samhain was associated with the god Crom Cruach to whom sacrifices were made by smashing the skulls of first-born children against a stone idol. (lovely)

4. Ritualistic fires were lit at night and used for divination (fortune telling), and the smoke was believed to have held cleansing and protective qualities.

5. Costumes began to be worn, either to disguise and protect oneself from the spirits of the dead who were said to wander that night, or to represent spirits of winter and darkness who would demand a tribute to protect people.

6. “Trick or treat”  originated from the above practice of dressing up and going from home to home and demanding payment such as food, or a curse or “trick” would be placed upon that home.

7. Jack’o’lanterns seem to originate from a folktale about a man named Jack who tricked the Devil, and as punishment the Devil forced Jack to forever wander the world of the undead, using a lamp carved from turnip to guide his way. Historically, carved turnips were used to represent evil spirits, either to scare them away or to scare other people. People used jack’o’lanterns to keep away the dead, evil spirits and vampires.

There seems to be a difference of opinion (isn’t there always) on how the Festival of Samhain became what we now call “Halloween”. But many sources suggest that the Christian church, as ruled by Rome at the time, wanted to shift the focus of those who had been converted from paganism, from observing pagan festivals to celebrating Christian ones. Thus the Pope moved the observance of “All Hallowed Day” or “All Saint’s Day” to November 1st. This was a day to remember and honour the Christian dead, especially Christian martyrs. Thus, the evening before,, which was October 31 st, the pagan festival of Samhain, became known as “All Halloweds Eve” and eventually “Halloween”.

No matter which of the wide variety of historical and informational sources you look at, Halloween has its origins in paganism and the worship of other gods. The themes of those rituals all seem to deal with darkness, death, fear, evil spirits and superstition. I have to ask, why would anybody want to celebrate those kinds of things???

And as a Christian, God tells us many times and very clearly that we are not to have any other gods before him (He calls this “whoring after other gods”!), we are not to worship idols, and we are to avoid the appearance of evil at all times. So how can Christians observe Halloween??? I just don’t understand it.

Exo 20:3-5 You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them.

Exo 34:15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice to their gods, and call you, and you eat of his sacrifice;

Deu 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, an observer of clouds, or a fortune-teller, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or one who calls to the dead. For all that do these things are an abomination to Jehovah.

1Th 5:22 Abstain from every appearance of evil. 

As for my son’s comment that it is just a day to dress up and have fun – I must ask – REALLY?? I mean, look at what people are dressing up as – every evil under the sun covered in every kind of blood and gore imaginable. FUN??? As for the treats, how harmless is that when the police have to warn parents every year to check their children’s candies etc. because there are sick people out there who put harmful things such as razor blades, pins, drugs and poison into the “treats”. Harmless fun???

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it.

I recently read a comment, which I paraphrase here: “Christians observing Halloween makes as much sense as Jewish people dressing up as Hitler and celebrating the Holocaust”. I kinda agree.

 1Co 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of a table of demons.

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?

2Co 6:17,18 Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 

BTW- in case you think I used biased Christian resource material to get my information for this post, I used Wikipedia along with other online resource material, all of which were secular.