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Friday, 31 October 2014

"Hallowe'en" - is it an acceptable Christian celebration?

"Ghoulies and Ghosties, And Long Leggedy Beasties, And things that go Bump in the night"

I don't know the origin of that well-known phrase - but it does seem appropriate for a post for October 31st!   But the question in the heading is a serious one.   It has concerned me, for many years, that not only do many parents, who would claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus, the Christ, dress up their children, on this evening in the year, in weird and wonderful costumes and, in some cases, permit them to go out knocking on other people's doors, hoping for a reward of sweets or cash; but that even some congregations and fellowships that bear the name of the Christ, put on a special "Hallowe'en" party for their children at this time of the year!

Are they all wrong to act in this way?  Or is it perfectly acceptable - and I am just an old fuddy-duddy?

Well, let's look at the topic.  First of all, note the way in which I spell the word.  That apostrophe stands for the letter 'v', so the word is really "Halloweven" or, more fully, "Hallowed (Holy) Evening".  Now, that certainly makes it sound as if it could be a Christian festival.  Au contraire, mes amis (I am in France at the moment!).  Halloween and its practices are Romanist and Pagan in origin.  “In its strictly religious aspect, this occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas of All Saint’s Day, Nov. 1, observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Pope Gregory III (731 to 741 AD) assigned this date for celebrating of the feast when he consecrated a chapel in Saint Peter’s basilica to all the saints. Gregory IV extended the feast to the entire Roman Catholic church in 834 AD” “There is little doubt that the Roman Catholic church sought to eliminate or supplant the Druid festival of the dead by introducing the alternative observance of All Saint’s Day on Nov. 1.” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

However, the popular secular observance of Halloween, falling on the night of Oct. 31, is derived from the rights of the Druids celebrating the day of Samhain, the so called “lord of death”, when the “lord of death” called together the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year. The theme of harvest, which runs through modern Halloween celebrations, comes from both the old Druidic celebrations and the old Roman festivals in honor of Pomona, goddess of fruit, brought to Britain during the Roman occupation.  This is the reason why an apple is a traditional 'gift' to those who go around knocking on doors and demanding "trick or treat"! 

Of course, the “trick or treat” concept implies the threat of force and violence. Surely, to teach children such attitudes and concepts is completely contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, the Christ.   The very word "trick" implies "deceit".   Do we really wish to encourage our children to be deceitful?   Is there not enough of that particular commodity going around already?

Paul advised some of the early followers of Jesus to "... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." (Eph.5:11).  He told another group to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (I Thess.5:22; emphasis added).  He advised young Timothy that "... the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."  (I Tim.4:1).

Perhaps it is time for all who truly love the Lord Jesus, and who have received His salvation from sin through the shedding of His precious blood at Calvary, to take a stand on this issue.  Perhaps, next year, more congregations and fellowships will do what I know some already practice - a "Festival of Light" as an alternative to the secular Halloween activities.  Perhaps Christian parents will seek to instil the love of God into their children's hearts and minds, rather than the symbols of death that are so common at this time of year.

By the way, today is also celebrated in the Reformed (Protestant) Church - particularly the German Lutheran Church - as Reformation Day. This commemorates Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517, thus provoking a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

Now there might be a better cause to celebrate!

1 comment:

Colin Ross said...

While 'trick or treat' is more common in the western world, when asked if I participated in it in my homeland my response is "No we did not go round threatening to bully people for candy (sweets). My parents wouldn't have allowed it, then citing what I would imagine they would have said "if we can't provide you with sweets, you're not going round door to door begging for them"