Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

This coming Saturday, American streets will be filled with children knocking on doors reciting "trick or treat". In recent years there has been a somewhat healthy debate on whether it is appropriate for Christians to observe Halloween. On the one hand there is a school of thought that points to the undeniable pagan roots and origin of the day. Those of this mindset argue that because the day originally celebrated the dead and was invented by people who did not believe in Christ, there is no room for it on a Christian calendar.

There are others who place emphasis on the children and argue that to rob them of fun and fellowship over items that are in their estimation harmless is unfair to children. While there are strong points on both sides of the debate, perhaps a look at the history of the day would help us arrive at an opinion that is just and applicable to bible believing Christians.
At the outset let me say that this blog posting is not intended to be an exhaustive essay on the subject. I am admittedly only touching on a few of the many items that are associated with the day. My purpose here is not to conclude what is right or what is wrong. As parents, it is your right and obligation to consider as much information as you can and then make a decision that is informed and compatible with your own conscious leading of the Holy Spirit.

Halloween began as the Celtic New Year over two thousand years ago by tribal communities that lived in what is now Ireland and Scotland. It began as a festival of the dead" led by Celtic priests called Druids and was referred to as "Samhain". Each year the Celtics believed that the dead returned on October 31st to haunt the living and destroy the crops of the previous planting season. As a defense, the people dressed up as wild animals to scare off the dead spirits and protect their crops.

In the year 43 BC, Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire conquered the Celtic tribes of the north and replaced their Samhain festival with their own festival which was a combination of "Feralia", the Roman observance of the dead and a festival dedicated to Pomona, the Roman goddess of trees and fruit. This renamed festival was practiced by the Celtic people until the 8th century AD when Pope Boniface IV moved the Christian "All Saints Day" from May to November.

This was done to replace the Roman pagan festival with a church sponsored and sanction holiday of its own. In Latin, All Saints Day was known as Alhallowmas. Therefore the evening before Alhallowmas came to be known as Halloween, since the "een" syllable was the Latin treatment of eve or evening.

When Irish immigrants fled Europe to escape the Potatoe Famine of 1846, they brought with them to America their Halloween practices and beliefs. By the turn of the twentieth century newspapers and church leaders encouraged families to make the holiday more community oriented and remove the more horrific and grotesque elements of the observance.

Despite the current debate that continues on the topic, today Americans spend more than 6.9 billion dollars a year on Halloween making it the second most successful commercial holiday on the calendar.

1 comment:

SoulTOUCH said...

Halloween is not only celebrated in America but most part of Europe. It's a celebration of darkness while Christianity has to do with light.

Now..."what has light got to do with darkness?"

From the history of Halloween, we'd see that it's at variance with the Christian values.....unfortunately a lot of us Christians are subtly or unknowingly drawing our kids away from the FAITH.....the values that will help them stand the test of time, especially when they eventually leave us.

We need to urgently address this or be ready to face the consequence.