That time of year is back again. We see gravestones on front lawns, skeletons hanging from trees, jack-o-lanterns by the windows and fake bloody corpses that look like they are about to rise from the dead all around us. We see kids having fun, dressing up in adorable character/animal costumes or even in scary ensembles, trick-or-treating and getting waaay too much candy to eat.
I asked myself:
1. Who started this holiday?
2. Where did the traditions associated with this holiday come from?
3. How can the celebration of death be fun?
4. Why do Christian parents allow their children to participate in Halloween traditions and events?
After doing some research, I came up with answers to my questions. I thought I would share some of the things that I’ve discovered.
This holiday known as Halloween, started out from an ancient pagan Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced Sah-win), which means “Summers end”. It marked the end of summer(life) and the beginning of winter(death). On this day, the Celts believed that the veil between the living and the dead was thin and that ghosts would be able to roam among the living. People would leave food on their doorsteps to appease ghosts and in order to repel them, people would light great bonfires and dress in costumes that resembled the roaming spirits.
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III, established a holiday known as All Hallows’ Day. On November 1, Catholics were to honor saints and martyrs, both known and unknown. While the Europeans accepted this holiday, it did not stop them from continuing their pagan rituals. Therefore, Samhain became known as All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows Eve then became what we call the holiday today: Halloween.
When the Puritans left Europe and came to America on the Mayflower, they also left this tradition behind. However, when the potato famine happened in the mid 19th century in Ireland, many of the Irish migrated to America bringing along the traditions of Samhain with them. Because they were far away from their home, some of the traditions changed: bonfires became jack-o-lanterns carved from gourds and demonic costumes became more kid-friendly.
Coupling Halloween usually is the tradition of trick-or-treating. How did that start?
Trick-or-treating is a modern concept of what was earlier known as “souling”. In Europe, poor families would go door to door asking to pray for the dead relatives of each home they visited. In exchange for their prayers, they would receive small cakes to eat.
Combining these traditions, Halloween is one of the most popular holidays (right under Christmas)!
So…should Christian children participate in these kinds of activities on this particular holiday?
With its demonic roots from the Celtic traditions, one cannot “Christianize” this holiday. Allowing children to participate in traditions of this holiday means that one is supporting a holiday that promotes witches and occultic pratices. It is best to make a Christian stand and NOT participate.
Are you worried your child will feel left out if they don’t participate?
Remember, once you become a Christian you become a soldier, fighting against evil. Our children are little soldiers too and they must learn to stand up for what is right even at a young age. How else will they learn to fight for Truth as they get older? The battle doesn’t start when they get older, it is going on NOW. Let us teach our children NOT to compromise even if “the other kids are doing it”.
In Proverbs 22:6 it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Teach your child how and what is the right thing to do. Explain why you do not celebrate this holiday and where it all started from in a way that they could understand. Show them that we make choices to follow Jesus every day and to do it with a joyful heart.