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The following history on the Orgin of Halloween has been taken from the article entitled: "Halloween: Hallowed or Harmful?", from www.cbn.com.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the Celts, inhabitants of Britain and Ireland, observed a festival on October 31.
Unlike modern-day Halloween, theirs was no children's holiday.
The Celts and their priests, the Druids, celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the eve of the Celtic New Year, which began on November 1.
The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed ahead. The Celts believed the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail.
The Celts believed that during Samhain the veil separating the living from the dead was at its thinnest. They believed that on the evening of October 31, evil spirits and the souls of the dead passed through the barrier and entered the world of the living. Departed family members would revisit their earthly homes. The thought was frightening -- and exciting!
The Celts believed these spirits and dead souls could torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed. But this was also an opportunity to commune with the spirits -- and divine the future. The Devil, the lord of darkness, was ordinarily feared, but during Samhain, his power would be called on to foretell the future.
Trick or Treat
The Druids were charged with appeasing the goblins and preventing harm to the people. Huge Samhain bonfires were lit to guide the way of the spirits. Various sacrifices -- including human -- were performed to assure a good year. Several ancient authors commented on the gory religious rites of the Druids.
It is believed that, like many pagan cultures around the world, the Celts left out food for the spirits, hoping that a "treat" would prevent an evil "trick."
Centuries later, descendants of the Celts continued to observe the Samhain festival by dressing as evil spirits. They roamed from house to house demanding food in exchange for the "spirits" leaving the home unharmed. They carved demon faces in hollowed-out turnips and lighted them with candles.
That night they also practiced many customs designed to divine the future. Young people roasted nuts in Samhain fires to see which would crack first -- and tell them who they would marry. The person who retrieved an apple with his mouth from a tub of water assured himself of a lucky year. Obviously some of these customs (like "apple-bobbing") have remained with us, strictly as amusement.
All Hallow's Eve
When Christianity began to spread through Europe in the third and fourth centuries, the pagan temples were torn down. But pagan worship never completely disappeared. The festival of Samhain remained a primary pagan festival.
Belief in spirits may have waned, but many of the old Samhain traditions continued to be practiced -- especially by the children. Primarily in Ireland, children dressed as spirits went from house to house demanding a treat. If they received none, they performed an unwelcomed trick. They were play-acting the part of evil spirits that had to be appeased, just as in the old Samhain festival the people believe they really did have to appease spirits.
In the 700s AD the Church decided to combat this festival by replacing it with a celebration of the Lord of life. Instead of honoring evil spirits and the souls of the dead, the church chose to recognize the saints -- or hallowed ones -- who had lived godly lives. The Church seemed to be saying, "All right, if you must have a day to celebrate the dead, then celebrate those who died and are now with the Lord."
So November 1 came to be called All Saints' Day, also called All Hallows' Day. The evening before was called All Hallows' Evening. From that we get the modern name of Halloween.
But pagan customs continued. And with the growth of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, additional symbols became associated with Halloween -- black cats, witches, bats, and skulls.
Halloween in America
Irish immigrants in the mid-1800s brought to America the Halloween customs we're familiar with -- costumes, trick-or-treat, carved Jack-o-lanterns, etc. (The Jack-o-lantern is simply an American version of the hollowed-out turnip, mentioned earlier. The pumpkin did not grow in Ireland and Britain.) Unfortunately, they also brought "tricks" with them -- which often involved breaking windows and over-turning sheds and outhouses.
Even though the practice of actually performing a trick if no treat is given has faded, the custom of children going "trick-or-treating" has become an established American tradition. Only in recent years have parents hesitated to send their children into the streets because of the increased danger of accidents, poisoned food, and menacing strangers.
Nonetheless, despite the dangers associated with trick-or-treating, Halloween is celebrated more than ever. In fact, the night is the second most popular party night of the year (after December 31) for "baby-boomer" adults. Many adults look at it as the one night of the year they can dress up and act foolish.
But while children and adults innocently imitate ancient Celtic customs, darker practices persist. Witches and Satanists still consider Halloween to be one of the strongest times during the year to cast a spell. On Halloween most witchcraft practitioners participate in a ritual called "drawing down the moon." In this the chief witch of the coven (group of witches) becomes, they believe, a channel for the moon goddess. During this ritual the participants, both male and female, are 'sky-clad" -- that is , naked.
Stonehenge, the mysterious ancient stone formation in England, is often the site for bizarre gatherings of occultists, some of who believe they are modern-day Druids. (Many people believe that Stonehenge was a Druid religious site.) And evidence persists that some Satanist and voodoo groups offer sacrifices -- usually animals, but, possibly, human babies.
The Biblical Response to Halloween
Witches and Satanists are, of course, a small minority. Few people who celebrate Halloween these days ever think about the darkness that underlies most Halloween practices.
A beaming child dressed in a black pointed hat and matching gown -- with a wart carefully drawn on her nose and a trick-or-treat bag held tightly in her hand -- is hardly thinking of death or the spirits of departed relatives. Nor should she be.
She's thinking of candy and fun. She's glowing because of her delight in her special costume. And she's anticipating the adventure of her house-to-house pilgrimage.
Merchants also look forward to October 31. The sale of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods make Halloween one of the major retail seasons of the year.
Surely, no one can deny children or adults all the Halloween fun simply because of its unsavory history. Can there really be anything wrong with this lighthearted revelry?
Does the Bible have anything to say about celebrating Halloween?
In Corinth, meat that had been sacrificed to idols was sold in the market. People who bought it then ate it in honor of that particular pagan god. Speaking of his freedom to eat food that a pagan had dedicated to an idol, the apostle Paul said, "Everything is permissible" (I Corinthians 10:23). After all, he didn't believe the pagan gods really existed.
If we apply Paul's statement to the celebration of Halloween, then one could argue that Christians can dress in ghostly costumes and practice the traditions that have been passed down from the ancient Celts. After all, the supernatural powers they tried to appease don't have power over those who belong to Christ.
The Bible says that Jesus destroyed the power of death when He went to the cross. By Jesus' death and resurrection, anyone who gives his or her life to Jesus doesn't need to fear evil.
But Paul didn't stop with a statement of his freedom. He said, "'Everything is permissible' -- but not everything is beneficial."
It is in this light that Christians need to examine how to observe Halloween.Three Reasons to Examine How You Celebrate Halloween
1. What may not hurt you may hurt others.
Paul said that it wouldn't harm a Christian to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. After all, the pagan gods that the meat had been sacrificed to weren't real gods. In the same light, he probably would say that Christians are not prohibited from dressing in costumes and going trick-or-treating or attending Halloween parties. After all, "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one" (I Corinthians 8:4).
But Paul went on to say that by doing what the believer was free in the Lord to do, the believer may be distressing another believer who doesn't realize he has this freedom. "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak" (I Corinthians 8:9). The weak ones would be those who still had problems with the idea of eating the food sacrificed to idols.
During Halloween, little children in particular are the weak ones. On TV, in movies, in school, and with their playmates, many children today are exposed to occult influences. We may be opening our children to these influences if we approve of these things in Halloween fun. We adults may be fully aware that we are only spoofing witches and ghosts, but the young many not be so sure.
If we have given our lives to Jesus Christ, then our eternal destiny is safe in the hands of Almighty God. But that's not true of most of the people around us.
There is a valid reason for most people to fear a "lord of death" -- even if they don't take him seriously on Halloween. We who have found life in Jesus should be careful that our freedom doesn't keep others from finding that same eternal life.
2. Some permissible things may hinder your Christian growth.
The Bible encourages us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
This one night of the year, most eyes are not fixed on Jesus but on a darker image. The Christian's "race of faith" leads him to eternal life, to a joy that has no shadow. Should we really be focusing on the devil, witches and other dark beings, even for one night?
3. God says, "Don't imitate evil!".
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who...practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium, or spiritist or who consults the dead? (Deuteronomy 18:9-11).
If our children dress as witches and sorcerers, if we hang cardboard ghosts in our windows, if we entertain with tales of ghouls and haunted houses -- what are we doing but imitating that which is evil? We need to make it clear as Christians that witches and evil spirits are not funny and are not harmless, even if the people in witch costumes are only play-acting.
Are There Alternatives?
Is it recorded anywhere in Biblical history, in all the known records of God's dealings with His people, that He ever ONCE said, "It's OK, I know you just want to be like those nations around you.
Did God ever say: When you go into these pagan lands, it's OK if you adopt "some" of the heathen customs. I won't mind at all if you participate in festivals to other gods; in fact, feel free to work these customs right in along with those that I, the Lord your God, have given you. Just be sure to change the names & it'll be just fine with Me!
Did God ever ONCE say to His people: I won't be offended at all if you pollute my sanctuary with these practices. As long as you're just "having some good old-fashioned fun" I won't see it as sacrilegious. But please, just don't wear anything of a sexually offensive nature.
Where is it written: Hey, I'm a good God, I can go with the flow. Afterall, times change don't they!
No where in the entire history of God's dealings with man, no where in recorded Biblical history, not once is it ever HINTED that the nature or character of God could tolerate, much less condone such compromise.
In Deuteronomy, Chapter 18 vs. 9 it states clearly that God's people are to shun any association (direct or otherwise) with heathen (pagan) practices: "When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations (evil practices) of those nations."
Does God change? Does He "flex" to "go with the flow" simply because times, our attitudes or perspective change?
NO, God's character and His nature has never changed. In fact, in the Book of Malachi, Chapter 3 vs.6a He says: "I am the Lord, I change not;" (In the second part of the same verse 6b, God shows that His unchanging nature is to our benefit: "therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.")
God has ALWAYS required that any people who claim to be His, who are called by His name, MUST separate themselves from all that is evil, even from the very appearance of evil. In the Book of First Thessalonians, Chapter 5 verse 22 it states: "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
How long will we insist upon testing His patience and probing His limitless Mercy with our rebelliousness through compromise?
It is quite apparant that as the early church spread into pagan lands, converts began to incorporate "traditions" from various festivals in honor of heathen gods into the "Holy Days" of the church. New names were given by the church to establish new holidays with Christian emphasis, yet many of the traditions and even the dates themselves remained intact.
This is not, nor has it ever been God's best for His people. We are called to be "in the world but not of the world", we are called to "shine" in the darkness, we are to be separate, to be recognizably different, "holy" ie. set apart to God.
What separates you from the rest of the secular or non-Christian world in your celebration of this Satanic Sabbath, commonly known as Halloween? Is it your "Christian Perspective" of Halloween that is supposed to make it acceptable in the sight of God?
Are the Druidic traditions (which, by your conduct, you honor) and all of Halloween's satanic symbolism somehow magically rendered meaningless before God, simply because you view it differently? Is it somehow "santified" or hallowed because your church concurrently celebrates it as or on a "Holy" Day?
Celebrating "All Souls' Day" and/or attending a religious service on "All Saints' Day does NOT make a Halloween celebration or any of its traditions any less of an abomination before the Lord, quite the contrary, according to His word, it becomes an even greater stench to His nostrils.
Maybe you attend a "Christian" church which has an "I Love Jesus" or "Fall Festival" costume party instead, complete with smiling pumpkins, cute curly wiskered black kittens, -where only "good" angels and "friendly" ghosts, fairy princesses and ballerina's are allowed; and children exchange gifts and/or receive candy "treats".
If any of the pagan traditions associated with Halloween are allowed to be represented in any form, "Christian" children will learn that its OK for God's people to be "a little bit like" the nations round about them, that God doesn't REALLY mean EXACTLY what He says in His word.
Our children will learn that compromise of our principals, and worse, compromise in the things of God, is OK, because of the approval of these "traditions" by parents, and teachers, -by those in positions of Christian "authority" and pastorial leadership.
Conjuring up so called "alternatives" such as a "Christian" Fall or Harvest Festival - celebrations or even a I Love Jesus Party, or a Bible Character's Night on Halloween only serves to teach our children the fine art of compromise.
Because of the silent stamp of approval, sanctioned by compromised Christianity, our children learn that God doesn't really intend for us to be different, holy and set apart. Like the secular world around us, our children will come to believe that compromise, like sin, depends only upon what you call it, how you look at it, that is, solely upon your "perspective". But Does it?