Should Christians celebrate or skip Halloween?
By D. Clay Perkins
Saturday, October 28, 2017
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” — John 17:15-16 (The Bible, New International Version)
This column may not be popular. But if you wish to be popular or liked, please take my advice and do not write, or speak your opinion in public, or in private for that matter. Halloween is one of the oldest and most popular holidays we have in our pluralistic society. Cultural pluralism is part of America’s greatness. We have overarching values historically based on Judeo-Christian ethos while we openly accept smaller groups within our society who have different, and even opposing, views. So we must respect a variety of views in our country, even on the holidays we celebrate.
No other holiday is like Halloween, which stands in opposition to Christian values. Most people accept that Halloween has its roots from Celtic harvest festivals. In that culture, the new year was Nov. 1, the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. It was a time of darkness, referred to often as the Festival of Samhain. There were lots of traditions, legends and folklore, but two stand out. This was a season when the “spirit” world was perceived to be most active. The dead walked among the living, so one tradition was to dress as a spirit in order to blend among the living so that the living would not be harmed by the evil spirits. The second tradition was to give out treats, so as to find favor among “spirits” and “fairies.” As this rich cultural event spread from culture to culture, and as Christianity expanded, many think that believers have “Christianized” the holiday. Others believe the holiday should be avoided at all costs.
Certainly parts of the holiday are concerning. Clearly the Bible warns that our struggle is against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12.) So why would we celebrate ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. Indeed, the Bible warns about merging evil practices with good. (2 Corinthians 6:17; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21.) So one should not be surprised when believers, in good conscience, struggle with this popularly celebrated holiday.
“All Saints Day,” which is celebrated in some churches on Nov. 1 stands in contrast. Although not as popular as Halloween, it is a day to honor all the saints — all those who have attained heaven. So the day before is often called “All Hallows’ Eve” or Halloween. Christian churches abound in holding events like “fall festivals” and “trunk or treats,” seeking to provide an alternative. Indeed, many who celebrate Halloween are not participating in evil. They are celebrating life, not death, and family and fun, not evil. Their celebrations have no pagan or occult rituals at all. In fact, many do not know the history or the various roots behind the things we see on Halloween. That, in and of itself, is troubling when one lives such a thoughtless life, for what we do — and do not do — matters.
So what is a true believer to do with the second-most popular holiday in America?
For me, and maybe not for you, I find my answer in Jesus’ prayer for us. We are to be “in the world” while at the same time “not be of it.” ( John 17:15-16.) Jesus did not pray for God to remove us from the world, but he prayed we would not fall to the evil in the world.
So celebrate. Enjoy life in an abundant way. (John 10:10.) Look for ways to be in the world with healthy choices. Avoid giving homage to evil. Evil is real. Evil is the opposite of good. And try not to eat too much candy. A little dark chocolate is good for the body.
D. Clay Perkins is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City.