It's that time of year again when not only are nights getting colder and darker, but so too the atmosphere in many churches and Christian homes. The debate begins at the first sign of the autumn leaves and abruptly comes to a halt on November 1st – after all, Halloween comes to its demise for another year.
By now, you've heard the many origins of this ambiguous holiday from The Catholic Church's claim of it being derived from All Hollow's Eve (the day to commemorate those martyred for their faith), to the many Evangelicals and some pagans who believe it a version of Samhain that was created to allow pagans to continue practicing paganism under the guise of a Christian cover. Most Neo-pagans celebrate Samhain, which falls near the date of Halloween and is considered an in-between time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and the Celtic New Year is celebrated.
Research reveals a lot of speculation when it comes to the actual practices of Halloween. Some say it's rooted in the immigration of the Irish who brought much of their folklore back to the states such as Jack-o-Lanterns, which may have originated in the form of a turnip. They believed by carving frightening faces on them, it would ward off the evil spirits that passed between worlds on Samhain night.
If one had to go out, they would wear masks so that they wouldn't be recognized by the spirits and instead would be mistaken for fellow spirits. It is also thought that deceased loved ones could return and freely dine with their long lost family during this one night of the year. Trick-or-treating can be traced back in bits and pieces to the Middle Ages, when children beggars knocked on the door for Soul Cakes in exchange for prayers.
Black cats were said to be witches' familiars and some were actually thought to be witches incarnate. Why a black cat? Who knows, a witches familiar is not limited to cats, neither to the color black.
What about more modern day fears such as what witches actually do on this night? We hear the horror stories of witches who take seasonal jobs in candy factories to recite hexes over the candy to the unsuspecting masses and those who poison apples or put razor blades in cookies and then hand them out for trick-o-treat.
We are preached the alarming fear that places babies and animals on altars and claims of sacrifices to a god called Sam-hain that any true witch has never heard of except in Christian tracts and flyers. It's gotten so horrible that some Christians de-friend one another on Facebook or stop attending a church because they hold a Harvest Festival, all because they've become steeped in superstition. Some even declare Halloween as "Satan's Day" as though he somehow owns homage to a day devoted to his cause.
I'd be foolish to deny that some mischief takes place on Halloween, or the night before known as mischief night. Teens take to the streets and play pranks that continue to escalate because of the lack of adult supervision and the morals of our society. Some costumes seem to be a statement of today's morbid fascinations; even children's costumes are picking up on the trend.
Undeniably there are those who are inherently evil and who choose to invoke darkness to engage in what most would consider unethical behaviors. It seems these depraved few often send Christians fearfully running behind closed doors in an attempt to ward off all demonic influences. But this fearfulness does not come from God for He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (See 2 Timothy 1:7). We as Christians should know who we are in Jesus and walk in His authority.
The question really becomes, why are you putting your faith in folklore, fables and superstitions? Is the veil between the worlds as the pagans say, really thinnest this time of year? Is there something about this one particular day that sets it aside as evil? Rather than subjecting yourself to fear of the unknown, why not look to the Word of God? We can see that the dead have no access to go to and from this world to the next in Luke 16:26 so why buy into the deception of a night in which spirits roam? I don't see any mention in scripture of a day designated to Satan, but rather every day is the Lords' day. Jack-o-lanterns aren't mentioned in scripture either but we do know any image we carve of another god is taboo. That doesn't make the pumpkin evil unless of course we begin to worship the cat we carved in it.
Witches Samhain may overlap with some of the same stereotypical and colorful decorations however its practices are considered serious and sacred. The Samhain ritual does not consist of trick–or-treating by either going door to door or passing out hexed candy. Rather it is a time when the gateway between worlds is said to be open thus allowing communication with loved ones who've passed on and divination is said at its best. It is within these practices that we find these warnings in scripture. Luke 16:26 explains how the dead do not have access to the living and vice versa, 1Samuel 15:23 warns against practicing divination and Exodus 20:2-3 forbids the worship of other gods.
So… while many Christians are learning, adhering and standing on Halloween urban legends and historical folklore as their truth and the motive to their seasonal madness… What does the Bible say about these superstitions? (See 1 Kings 18:20-40) Elijah went to great lengths to show the foolishness of superstitious beliefs by challenging the priests of Baal to a showdown. When their god failed to act, our God did… proving the foolishness of superstition to the Israelites.
May Jesus be our example of love, living out our faith daily and having a heart to restore the lost. Once October 31st has past, many Christians breathe a sigh of relief and take off their spiritual armor believing they are "out of the woods" from the "occult" holiday for another year. Not so quick…. as while you are silently sleeping, the true day that marks Samhain creeps in without your notice. You see, Samhain is not a fixed date on the calendar and changes from year to year.
This is why we are to follow Jesus daily, not superstition.