Should Christians Participate in Halloween
Should Christians Participatein Halloween?
by John-Paul Ignatius, Legion of St. Michael
© 1999 Order of the Legion of St. Michael
Evoking Intense Emotions
Halloween always evokes intense emotions whenever someone begins to caution people about this so-called holiday. One reason for this is that most of us have fond memories of Halloween as a child and thus we resist the idea of depriving our own children of that fun.
Another reason is that our culture generally resists any restraint in having fun and parties. Halloween is a fun party. How dare anyone be a party-pooper? St. Paul, however, warns the Galatians (5:19-22) against the party spirit that involves unchristian behavior and that may cost one’s soul:
Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
This does not mean we cannot have parties. We can. But when parties lead us to unchristian behavior, to mimic demons and criminals and ghouls—a Culture of Death—instead of Christ and a Culture of Life, then we have stepped over the line.
Parties for children are usually benign, except for culture of death costumes and games. Parties for teenagers oftentimes include occultic games and mischievous behavior of harassing people, vandalism, and other rowdiness. Each year several instances are reported of teenagers going way over the line and seriously injuring or killing someone.
Parties for adults often tend to dabble in the occult too, and to drunkenness, and carousing, couples paring off for sex, and even orgies or other immoral conduct.
Obviously not all teens or adults do these things, and individual parties may involve improper behavior to varying degrees, but Halloween has certainly become a time where this behavior is encouraged and even facilitated. The holiday is one of inhibition similar to the immoral and party-spirit nature of another party of unchristian behavior—Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Fond memories or no, fun or not, Halloween has some real dark aspects to it and some definite unchristian aspects intrinsically and inherently.
In this essay, we'll explore a little about the origins of Halloween, but more importantly will discuss the negative aspects of today's practice of the holiday.
We will also offer solutions to how to make the holiday into a day of positive learning of Christian principles for the children and to make the day a day of Christian witness.
Satan’s Scheme of Ridicule
Although our discussion of the holiday of Halloween is one of truth concerning the day and is essentially positive, our remarks shall be viciously attacked by many, even by otherwise orthodox Catholics. This is a curious phenomenon.
Why does this subject so inflame the emotions to the point that people will virtually lose control over themselves in the devil’s ridiculing laughter, taunts, name-calling, and even calumny toward anyone whom signal caution at this holiday of Halloween? It is more than the two reasons offered at the beginning of this essay. It goes much deeper.
The flavor of the ridicule one receives when writing an essay like this one can only be characterized as demonic. Ridicule and taunting are particular favorite methods of attack of demons. Ridicule goes to the heart of every person. We all have feelings of wanting acceptance or at least respect and dignity. Ridicule attempts to tear all three into shreds. Ridicule tells the person that they are not accepted, not respected, and not worthy of being treated with simple dignity. For many people, such treatment is enough to cause them to back off. That is Satan’s plan. That is what he wants, it is what he is after. Satan wants us to back off from telling the truth. Ridicule is one of his favorites and one of his most successful ways to convince us to sit down and shut up.
Satan uses this technique in many situations, but why so intensely when it comes to Halloween?
In show business one measures the success of the act by the length and intensity of the applause or laughter. The louder and lengthier the applause the more we know the audience liked the performance; the louder and lengthier the laughter the more we know the audience liked the comedic routine.
In a backhanded way, we may use such a measure in doing God’s work and in preaching and promoting the truth. The more intense the attacks the more on the mark we know we are. The more intense the attacks the more we know that Satan doesn't like what we are doing.
In World War II a bomber pilot cliché was: You know you are over the target when you get the flak.
That is never truer than in the business of preaching the truth of God. We know we are over the target, have hit a nerve, when we get attacked. The more sensitive the nerve, the greater the attack. When that attack goes into an intense barrel-roll of ridicule we know that we are treading on things that Satan really doesn't want us to mess with.
We see this illustrated on topics like Halloween.
In recent discussions on a computer bulletin message board I announced that I would be working on this essay giving reasons why Christians should not participate in Halloween per usual.
As expected a flurry of messages attacking the idea began to be posted. Nearly all of these posts presumed what the essay would say and thus attacked what they thought the thesis would be even though the essay had not yet been written, let alone published.
Then posts began appearing that were personally attacking and ridiculing even suggesting I am in league with the devil.
Here are a few excerpts:
If Halloween is the best the devil can do, we are all home free. I personally think Halloween is about as occult as a Snickers bar, but lately it serves as another big rallying cry for the funnymentalists of the world. (This is a standard tactic of obfuscation—to attempt to trivialize the issue as if the issue had no importance. Satan and his images and schemes thrive when people operate with this delusion).
If this is the most important issue a ministry can find to focus its energies on, it is time to find a new profession—especially at 3am. (Sadly, this remark was in response to asking people to join our ministry in prayer at 3am on Halloween to pray for people who are caught up in evil and for their victims. This person apparently believes that such prayers are unimportant—a sentiment that is truly demonically inspired).
Try saying these words: It is only a movie. Or: It is just kids dressed up in costumes. (I explained that it's just...... is the favorite language of Satan for it justifies almost anything—It is just a joke, it is just a costume, it is just a game, it is just a CD, it is just a party, etc)
Why stop there? Why not Christianize literature, too? (similar to the previous response, this is an attempt to trivialize the thesis by offering an exaggeration, a straw man, which is ridiculous in hopes that the thesis will be seen as ridiculous.
These sorts of tactics that we see above are tactics used by people who have no argument and little imagination to intelligently debate, thus they can only offer petty remarks and exaggerations and straw men in hope of obfuscating the issue.
Then we begin to see the biting ridicule that is expected when stepping too close to the devil’s nerve.
Carving a pumpkin with the kids is celebrating the Culture of Death? Handing out sweets to costumed babies is celebrating the Culture of Death? Do you have a primary care physician? Talk to her about this one, okay? (Another example of trying to trivialize the issue. This is also an example of selective reporting. The author attempts to avoid the valid criticism of Halloween by ignoring all aspects of the issue except the most benign—handing out sweet to kids. Satan loves this technique—under the guise of innocent fun, he can slip in the greatest poison).
Oh goodie. I for one will be counting the days. Please don't delay. (referring to the upcoming publication of this essay).
Go buy a bottle and drink till you become conscious. (Referring to my mentioning the party spirit that St. Paul lists as a sin of the flesh).
Oh, dear, now I am faced with a dilemma. Do I maintain my membership long enough to benefit from such guidance? Probably not, but I might maintain it long enough to benefit from the endorphins which will be released when I start laughing hysterically while reading such silliness. (in response to my announcement of the posting of the essay).
No less than three or four times I have been accused of being in league with Satan for daring to criticize Halloween. Here are a few excerpts:
Sounds like you're on friendly terms with this guy. (this was in response to my talking about Satan’s schemes).
How do you know what Satan loves unless...unless you're him. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. (this was in response to my identifying some of the responses of my opponents as the very rationalizing that Satan loves to see).
From your previous posts and this one I am getting the hint that you talk to Satan on a regular basis, otherwise you would not have so much knowledge of his thinking pattern. (also in response to my identifying Satan’s schemes)
Finally when trivialization, straw men, and biting ridicule do not work to win the argument, next come the personal libels and calumnies in order to try to discredit the author of the message. The obfuscating tactic here is if the thesis cannot be destroyed then try to destroy the author’s credibility. This is done through calumny, rash judgment, innuendo, detraction, and defamation. In this way the public will hopefully not accept his thesis. Below is one example of a libel against me suggesting that I am impersonating clergy:
…rightwing, reactionary, ultra conservative whackos impersonating clergy
These are rather mild examples. More vicious examples will be forthcoming after publication of the essay to be sure. We will begin to see more hatred, and name-calling, calumny and outright defamation of character all in the effort to discredit the essay, by falsely discrediting the author. This is to be expected. Such tactics are Satan’s way of doing things which unfortunately involves using the weakness of men to facilitate his accusations and bile.
This is an issue Satan does not like to have discussed. That is why he inspires these poor souls to do his bidding by ridiculing and attacking people who would dare stand up for the truth about Halloween or the truth on any subject Satan doesn't like.
Here we see the motivation. As long as Satan can get us to think that celebrating the Culture of Death is trivial, unimportant, just for fun, he can continue to inundate our imaginations with evil and negative images. As long as we allow those negative images to come into our imaginations the devil will have access to manipulating us.
Every sin begins with a thought. The battle is for the mind, the imagination.
In the days when Father Knows Best was the image on TV, the greatest problem in our schools was cutting class, running in the hallways, and chewing gum. In today’s world where sex and violence in its most intense forms are daily fare on TV and movies we have children committing rape, murder, and even human sacrifice. The biggest problems in our schools are guns, drugs, and violence of the first order. Is there a connection? Yes.
If we allow violence and negative and immoral images into our imaginations, it will serve to influence us to act out on that imagination. EVERY sin begins with imagination.
This is why St. Paul in Philippians 4:8 said:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Halloween comes from the name All Hallow e'en which means All Hallows Eve (the eve of the Feast of All Saints on November 1).
The practices of the celebration are pre-Christian in date and have no direct connection with any Christian tradition, yet many people think the practices to be delightful and earthy and should be enjoyed by all.
The Bible on the other hand warns us to not imitate worldly pleasures. There are many stories that are in the Old Testament where God tells his people to not imitate the pagan practices that were around them. He even tells Israel to destroy every man, woman, and child of the pagan nations in the land God gave them so that the pagan culture and practices would not contaminate the faith.
The People failed to do this usually. As a result, of course, the ideas of the pagan culture and religious practices were allowed to live on and as God warned, such practices contaminated the nation of Israel.
Some might say, well, Halloween practices are not taken seriously, it's just fun.
Let's think about that a minute. What if we were to take some lemonade and offer it at a party? Lemonade is fun. Now what if we were to take just a little bitsy drop of sewer water or medical waste and drop it in the lemonade bowl? It is only a little drop; surely we can still have fun and drink the lemonade?
Or perhaps we should not be concerned if some group celebrates Hitler Day and dresses up like Nazis Storm Troopers and SS men and goes around asking for candy from door-to-door. It’s just a fun festival. It’s just a costume. Would people appreciate a little Black Sambo costume? We used to have that in the old days. No, the politically correct will be sure to hoot and holler at anything they find objectionable, but never complain about the occultic, demonic and culture of death aspects.
God warns us over and over and over again in both the Old and New Testaments to not allow ourselves to be contaminated by pagan ideas or any other ideas that are foreign to Christianity. God even tells us that if a fellow Christian becomes immoral, or begins to preach untruths, and refuses to repent, we are to shun him—have nothing to do with him(cf. 2 Thess 3:6, 14; Titus 3:9-10). The company we keep WILL have an affect on us, God is telling us. Stay away from people, ideas, practices, that do not lead us to God, that are not excellent in their image of virtue and holiness, as St. Paul tells us. In Philippians 4:8 quoted above.
So what of Halloween?
There are several explanations to the origins of Halloween. Modern, so-called Druids and pagans resist much of the history they consider negative, but that is to be expected.
Many of the practices are borrowed or similar to ancient Celtic and Druid practices. What we know as Halloween was a festival in honor of Samhain (pronounced sow'en) which was the Druid Lord of Death. This was a seasonal holiday marking the beginning of the winter season of cold, darkness, death and decay in nature.
This festival also marked the belief that the Lord of Death would allow the souls of the dead to return to their homes at night. The Celts believed that on this night evil souls could be released from their animal prisons and allowed to go to heaven. The souls gained their release through the gifts and sacrifices of the people. Those sacrifices may even include human sacrifice.
A common practice was to take male criminals and lock them in wicker cages shaped like animals and burn them. At the time of the Roman conquest, even the pagan Romans found this practice abhorrent and suppressed it.
On Halloween, the Celts would extinguish their hearth fires and the Druids would build large sacred bonfires. From these fires the people would re-ignite their hearth fires from the New Year's fire. (November 1st was considered New Year's). The new fires, it was believed, would rejuvenate the sun and ward off evil spirits.
Trick or Treat:
One source of the trick or treat aspect of Halloween seems to come from the belief that on this night evil spirits, demons, and witches would roam the countryside to greet their season of winter darkness.
These spirits would be mischievous and threatening, scaring, and playing tricks on people. Today we have Mischief Night in which kids seemed to be encouraged to perform vandalism and other crimes or mischief.
The Celts believed that the only way to ward off these mischievous spirits was to bribe them with treats or to pass oneself off as one of them by dressing up and acting like them.
I remember one Halloween while driving through town I saw several children yelling and screaming at me, jumping out at my car from the darkness in an attempt to scare me as I drove my car down the street, sometimes nearly getting hit. Some children also threw rocks or dirt at my car. These same children were well behaved all during the rest of the year, but on this night of Halloween they behaved differently.
Modern day pagans deny that the Druids had such a belief in this trick or treat or human sacrifice ritual. More honest druids of today will at least admit that there was one offshoot of the ancient pagans who did do these sorts of practices.
These practices pretty much survive to this day in costume and play-acting although the spiritual and demonic beliefs and motivations may have faded.
In the United States Halloween was not widely observed until 1840 when the potato famine in Ireland caused many to migrate to the United States.
One reason we should be concerned about dressing up in honor of the Lord of Death is that this practice is contrary to Christianity. The Bible repeatedly tells us to not imitate the pagans. But in addition, in modern times the current day pagans and Satanists have tried to recapture the practices of the Lord of Death. Depending on the group, this may involve nothing more than pagan worship of the seasonal changes of nature to an ever increasing occultic belief leading to the extreme end of Satanism. Do we wish to encourage this, even innocently?
In any event, the pagan practices of worship, whether the relatively benign nature worship or full-blown Satanism, the god of their worship is NOT the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is the false god of Satan (no matter how benign the form).
Do we, as Christians, wish to participate in the images of beliefs that honor and serve the Lord of Death? even if we are just doing it for fun and not out of belief? Why?
LIGHTEN UP, CHILL, IT JUST KIDS HAVING FUN...
Let us go back to this excuse that was discussed at the beginning of this essay, the excuse that some people think that anything is allowed as long as it is in the name of fun. It is prudent to repeat St. Paul concerning this party-spirit:
Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery,enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirt, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.
Halloween is a night in which being mischievous, being loud and carousing, getting drunk and partying are all apart of the culture of the day—and this is apart from the occultic symbols and images which are on their face non-Christian and more, an affront to Christianity.
But even for the little innocent kids who know nothing of all this negativity—what are we teaching them?
Well, children observe what we approve or don't approve of. If we approve of the negative images the kids will see what those images represent and may think that it is okay to be this naughty, to indulge in these sins of the flesh, when they are older. The 10—13 year olds who were throwing things at my car and trying to scare me by nearly running out in front of my car got the idea from somewhere! Where did they get the idea that Halloween included such behavior?
In addition, the whole concept of Trick or Treat, even the words, are contrary to Christianity. Although we may not think about what it means, take a look at what this phrase is saying: Unless you give me a treat, I will take revenge on you and trick you in some way. Real Christian attitude?
Take note, even if we personally do not have this attitude, or even think of the phrase in this way, the phrase IS STILL a phrase that encourages that attitude subtlety. Even Liberals will admit the subconscious effect of words when it comes to word they don't like.
Even without the revenge element, it is a practice of gimmie, gimmie, gimmie. This too is not Christian.
So what are we to do? Boycott the holiday? or Christianize the holiday....claim the day for Christ.
The Church in the Celtic regions did try to bring Christ to this pagan holiday. Children would go around begging for food, but also asking people for prayer requests. The food the children would get was donuts. This is how donuts were invented. They were called soul cakes. The donut is a circle of baked bread made by the hole cut out in the middle. This circle represents eternity with no beginning and no end. The pretzel is another original Halloween treat that represented the Trinity.
Gee, what a great concept! Why can't we today do what the Catholic Children in the middle ages did. Have our children go door to door and when they receive their candy have the kids ask if there is any one the people would like them to pray for.
This teaches the children altruism (giving) instead of just taking (the candy) and teaches that within the context of honoring God and loving our neighbor enough to pray for them. Can we still have fun if we were to do this?
As for the Culture of Death that our Holy Father the Pope has condemned—represented in Halloween with the costumes of axe murderers, skeletons, ghosts, and demons—how can we counter this anti-Christian image with a positive, life affirming and Christian one?
Well, instead of costumes consistent with the occult or the Culture of Death, what about costumes of joy, such as a clown, or of positive fantasy, such as a princess, or better yet, what about dressing like one of the saints?
When kids come to the door for candy, how about giving them a little card with a Scripture verse on it in addition to the candy? How about decorating the house with life-affirming decorations instead of the traditional culture of death symbols of Halloween?
Can we still have fun and turn this holiday into something Christian and life-affirming? Sure, if we have the guts. Only those people who are cowards to stand up for the faith could possibly object to these suggestions.
Boycotting is not necessary, let's just make the holiday Christian with positive life-affirming images and with generous and giving attitudes of God's love.
Make the day an opportunity for witnessing to the Glory of our Lord.