Biblical Analysis of Halloween
Though Halloween has become prominent in America only
within the past two or three generations, its origins are
ancient. Halloween was originally called "Samhain" -
a pagan Celtic celebration that focused on death. The heathen
Celtic tribesmen, who lived in the British Isles, especially
Ireland, and parts of Western Europe, especially France,
believed that ghosts and other spirit-beings visited the land
of the living on Samhain Eve, October 31, so they presented
offerings to them on that night.
B. Samhain/Halloween: An Ancient Pagan Celebration
1.Samhain celebrated the Celtic New Year and marked the
transition from the Celts summer goddess to the horned god
of the winter solstice.
2.A festival of the dead-the Celts believed that the
spirits of the dead and other spirit-beings (demons) were
participants in their Samhain (Halloween) celebrations.
3. Druids-priests of the Celtic tribes who celebrated
Halloween. According to ancient Christian missionaries, human
sacrifices were part of their worship.
4. Pagan origin of familiar Halloween practices
a. Trick-or-treat-families would put out food for the
ghosts and demons so they would not harm them.
b. Jack-o-lanterns-started out as carved images of
spirit-beings. Originally, a light was put into a turnip or
potato which had an ugly face carved into it. One purpose of
the jack-o-lanterns was probably to frighten the spirits
who were thought to invade the earth on Halloween night into
going back to the world of the dead.
c. Bonfires-a look at the dictionary will reveal that the
origin of this work is "bone-fire"-referring to
large fires containing bones. Why bonfires? To help the sun
"survive" the winter; to frighten off evil spirits;
used for animals, and possibly human sacrifices.
d. Bobbing for apples-began as a technique of divination.
In some areas, this tradition continues.
e. Bizarre costumes-The Celts hid themselves in ghoulish
disguises at Halloween so that wandering spirits would mistake
them for one of their own and pass by without incident. Masked
villagers representing the souls of the dead also attempted to
trick the spirits by forming a Parade and leading them to the
f. Skeletons, skulls, and corpses-these naturally belong to
Halloween as a festival celebrating death.
g. Bats and owls-have been associated with Halloween since
ancient times; the pagan Celts believed owls were able to
communicate with the dead.
h. Goblins, demons, ghosts, ghouls-these were thought by
the ancient Celtic pagans to have special freedom to travel
about among the living at Halloween.
C. Halloween and the Christian Church
1. Strong opposition to Halloween-The ancient Christians
rejected and detested his idolatrous festival.
2. All Saints and All Souls Days as alternatives to
Halloween- To provide a Christian alternative, churches began
to celebrate the Feast of All Hallows, or All Saints, and the
Feast of All Souls at the same time of year as the pagan
holiday. Samhain picked up the name "Halloween" from
the feast of All Hallows, but it has never been a Christian
holiday. Many popular Halloween activities actually come from
paganism and demon-worship.
D. Halloween in America
1. Why do Americans celebrate Halloween?
Many parents are uncomfortable with the gruesome aspects of
Halloween, but feel reluctant to deprive their children of a
holiday that seems so much a part of American life. But
Halloween is not really an American holiday at all. The little
Pilgrim children never learned to say "Trick or
treat!" When he was a boy, George Washington never went
out hunting for candy on October 31, and Abraham Lincoln ever
dressed up as a pirate or a robber to celebrate Halloween.
This holiday was not nationally known and observed until the
middle of the 1800s, when a large wave of immigrants from
Celtic areas of Europe brought the old Halloween customs with
2. In American South, the occult practices of voodoo and
Santeria influenced common Halloween practices.
3. Changing American Halloween practices and attitudes
a. Halloween became more and more violent over the years,
until in the 1920s community leaders became very concerned
about "the Halloween problem."
b. In response to the destructiveness of Halloween pranks,
the ancient Halloween custom of trick-or-treating was
reintroduced. Halloween as we know it-a childrens
holiday-is largely a creation of the 1950s.
Many of us were raised to think of witches as mythological
characters, found only in fairy tales and cartoons. And that
was close to the truth. Until the last half of this century,
there was little interest in witchcraft in the U.S.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Some Halloween
witches are for real! In fact, Halloween is one of the most
important days of the year for witches. So before you send
your little ones off to celebrate with make-believe witches,
pause to reflect: actual witches are celebrating the same
holiday in earnest.
B. Occult Practices associated with Halloween today
1. Witchcraft- As newspaper articles from around the
country attest each October, modern witches are deeply devoted
to the celebration of Halloween. Some witches are anxious to
"reclaim" Halloween as a serious religious holiday
devoted to communion with the dead and other occult practices.
2. Satanism- Halloween is one of the Satanists two most
important "unholy days."
3. Neo-paganism- Neo-pagans, who sometimes enter occultism
through involvement in feminism or environmental activism,
often also consider Halloween one of their two highest
4. Spiritism- Serious and well-publicized attempts to
contact the dead are held each Halloween.
C. Violence and Terror
1. Violence in our communities- Violence is an annual
Halloween tradition in New York City and many other
communities across the country, as newspaper reports from
recent Halloweens indicate. Extra police patrols are needed;
students are sometimes afraid to go to school on Halloween for
fear of violence.
2. Poisoned candy, razor blades in apples, etc- "Keep
treats in the bag untilchildren get home. Cut and examine all
fruit. Throw away all unwrapped candy. Remember that some
hospitals X-ray Halloween candy free." From a Halloween
warning to parents, The New York Times.
3. Halloween-related events, such as "Mischief
Night" and "Devils Night," spread violence
and destruction across the country.
D. Secular responses to the dangers of Halloween
Special police units have been created to talk to parents
about Halloween; special pamphlets on the "dos"
and "donts" of Halloween are available at some
police stations in October.
E. Halloween is increasingly an adult holiday that
encourages youngsters to drink
Anti-drug-abuse activists have complained about the
destructive influence on children of Halloween advertising
(for alcoholic beverages, etc.) supposedly aimed at adults.
F. Halloween is a time when it is easy to introduce
children to drug abuse and other harmful practices
Police have warned that children can be especially easily
lured or swayed at Halloween, so that parents should be on the
lookout for strangers or drug dealers.
of the Occult
A. Extent of Occult beliefs among young people
In a Gallop poll of teenagers ages 13-17, twenty-nine percent
said they believed in witchcraft; twenty-two percent indicated
that they believed in ghosts; fully half of the respondents
expressed belief in ESP.
B. Growing Occult influences on children
As the supernatural has become an increasing part of teen-age
culture through movies and music, and as interest in occultism
has mushroomed among teenagers, a growing number of American
teenagers appear to be embracing the morbid, pagan rituals of
C. Halloweens cumulative influence on children
Counselor Wendell Amstutz remarks, "I know that people
will say, Its once a year, or just for a few week. As
a counselor, I know much can be and is learned in just a few
weeks. Repeated year after year, the few weeks of celebration
of Halloween can leave a significant impact."
How To Respond
- Understanding what the Bible says
Hate evil-dont delight in it. God views witchcraft and
all other occult activities as evil:
"You shall not permit a sorceress to live." Ex.
"Give no regards to mediums and familiar spirits; do
not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord
your God ." Lev 19:31
"And the person who turns after mediums and familiar
spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set my face
against that person, and cut him off from his people."
"....he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and
sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much
evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to
anger." 2 Chron 33:6
"Now the works of the flesh of evident, which are
......idolatry, sorcery, hatred.... and the like.......that
those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom
of God." Gal 5:20