History of Halloween

Many Christians think that Halloween is just an innocent holiday. We must assume that they are not educated in the history of Halloween, do not know that its practices conflicts with the Bible, do not know the wickedness that surrounds this holiday, and/or they are living a carnal life that accepts the things of this world. There are Christians who not only send their kids out for trick or treating, but actually let them dress as ghosts, witches, or other evil characters. And some send their children off to evil, horrifying haunted houses which plant fear into their children and can even open them up to the demonic. May these nuggets open your eyes to the wickedness of Halloween. In our last nugget of this series we will share alternatives to the traditional Halloween celebration.

In His Steps Ministries does not encourage legalism or living a life of do's and don't's. But God does call us to a life of holiness and we should not willingly participate in activities that are evil in nature. If we are walking in the Spirit, we will choose to not do certain things not because they are wrong, but because the spirit man within us has no desire to do them. And this is a work of the Holy Spirit. However, until He does that work in our lives, there are certain things that we should abstain from. We believe Halloween is one of them.


History of Halloween

The ancient Druids in Britain, the pagan Romans, Greeks, the Babylonians and others kept the Halloween Festival.

The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, the so called lord of the dead, whose festival fell on November 1.

It was a Druidical belief that on the eve of this festival Samhain, lord of death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals.

"In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic festival of Samhain was observed on October 31, at the end of summer. This date was also the eve of the new year in both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times and was the occasion of one of the ancient fire festivals when huge bon fires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits.... The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marraige, luck, health and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes. The pagan observances influenced the christian festival of All Hallows Eve." Ency. Brittanica Vol. IV p862.

It was a pagan belief that on one night of the year the souls of the dead return to their original homes, there to be entertained with food. If food and shelter were not provided, these evil spirits would cast spells and cause havoc toward those failing to fulfill their requests.

Literal sacrifices were offered on this night to the spirits of the dead, as they supposedly visited their earthly haunts and their friends.

"There was a prevailing belief among all nations that at death the souls of the good men were taken possession of by good spirits and carried to paradise; but the souls of the wicked men were left to wonder in the space between the earth and the moon, or consigned to the unseen world. These wandering spirits were in the habit of haunting the living...But there were means by which ghosts might be exorcised." Folklore, James Napier p11.

To exorcise these ghosts that is to free yourself from their evil sway, you would have to set out food and provide shelter for them during the night. If they were satisfied with your offerings, they would leave you in peace. If not, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you.

Pranks and mischief began to be played out to represent the mischievous behavior attributed to witches and the fairies. Trick-or-Treat came from and ancient Druid practice. One of the basic tenets in witchcraft is to control the will of another by use of fear. Even in jest, when one threatens to punish if a treat or offering is not given, they are imitating an occult practice of controlling the will of another by use of fear. Prosperity was promised to all who were generous donors, and tricks to all who refused during the Irish Druid event of trick-or-treat. The contributions demanded were in the name of Muck Olla, and early Druid deity.

Halloween and All Hallows' Eve
This is where the name Halloween comes from. In the Dark Ages, when Rome was in great power, she tried at first to stop pagan festivals. But she couldn't, and so tried to turn them into something Christian. November was the month when papalism especially prayed for the dead in purgatory. Traditionally at Halloween, papist families purchased an envelope from the priest. Inside they wrote the name of a dead relative, and it was put on the altar so that the relative would not be forgotten in November's prayers for the dead. Thus the papist All Hallows' Eve was mixed with the pagan festival of the dead. Thousands of years later it is evident that Halloween still represents wickedness. If we want to lessen its influence, we must find godly alternatives, not replace it with something else that is unbiblical. Purgatory is a false doctrine. Once a person dies, they have no more chances. We cannot pray them into heaven. We die and then there is judgment.


In our next nugget we will speak on some of the origins of specific objects/activities of Halloween: Black Cat, dressing in costumes, jack-o-lantern, trick or treat, even bonfires.


Copyright © 2002 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NASB).

Richard D’Andrea Dover
In His Steps Ministries

Previous Nuggets

To the world, you may just be somebody...but to somebody, you may be the world.
Bill Wilson, Metro Ministries