Halloween is an interesting holiday. While many see it simply as fun and games, there’s something about the celebration that some people find hard to accept – and with good reason. The history behind this holiday is pretty difficult to ignore.
Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Cetls of ancient Britain and Ireland. November 1st was considered the end of the summer period, the date on which the herds were returned from pasture and land tenures were renewed. It was also a time when the souls of those who had died were believed to return to visit their homes. People set bonfires on hilltops for re-lighting their hearth fires for the winter and to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in these ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day. The period was also thought to be favorable for divination on matters such as marriage, health, and death. When the Romans conquered the Celts in the 1st century AD, they added their own festivals of Feralia, commemorating the passing of the dead, and of Pomona, the goddess of the harvest.*
Of course, the stories of this day’s origins vary, but all point back to one significant point: Halloween is a holiday rooted in pagan traditions and rituals.
So what does that mean for us Christians? Is it acceptable for us to take part in this seemingly harmless bit of fun or should we avoid the thing all together? It seems to me that God is pretty serious when it comes to things like false gods, witchcraft, ect.
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.” -Deuteronomy 18:10-12
And so, I am truly convicted that it is not a good idea for Christians to participate in the usual activities of this occasion. But what should we do? Does that mean we should simply close our doors, dim our lights and pretend as though nobody is home when the trick-or-treat-ers come knocking? Certainly not!
What other time of the year do you have so many people coming to your door with the expectation of receiving something? What other time of the year are people awaiting you at their doorstep? In my opinion, Halloween is one of the greatest ministry opportunities of the year!
From the time that I was little, my family has done our rounds in the neighborhood, going from house to house, passing out gospel tracts. My dad wrote two tracts specifically tailored to the occasion and we grab a handful of each to hand out. Of course, each year we get our fair share of nasty comments or angry calls, but often we’re blessed and encouraged by the impact that we’re able to make.
So what are you doing this evening as Halloween begins? I’m not going to condemn you if you’re dressing up and filling your bag with goodies, but I do wish to get the gears of your mind in motion as you contemplate this holiday. What are some ways that you can use this occasion as an opportunity to spread the gospel? You don’t have to write your own tracts; it’s very likely that you can find a fitting tract at your local Christian book store. And you don’t even have to canvas the neighborhood, as you’ll probably have lots of lost souls standing right on your doorstep. Couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than that now, could ya?
What are your thoughts on this?
I would love to hear from you! Don’t be shy – leave your comment below!
*”Halloween.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.