by Former Pastor Annette Miller (Children’s Ministry at Heritage Christian Center, Denver Colorado)
October is here, the leaves are changing colors, and there is a coolness is the air. Bags and bags of candy fill grocery shelves. Pumpkins are being sold in parking lots and then lugged with both hands to cars. Children are asking, “Mom, can I dress up like a Power Ranger or clown or maybe a witch? Are we going to carve a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern and put it on the front porch?” Children in costumes going from door to door shouting, “Trick or Treat,” expecting to fill their bags with candy. Houses in the neighborhood are decorated with witches on broomsticks, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins and black cats. These are the most common sights of the celebration of Halloween. They are all make believe and harmless…. Or are they?
October 31st of each year parents are faced with the dilemma of what the world calls harmless fun and their own concerns about the significance of this holiday called Halloween. Let me share with you the following history of Halloween.
Halloween, which directly stems from Irish, Scottish and British folk customs, was celebrated as the Druids autumn festival. The Druids were an order of priests who worshiped nature. This holiday was originally celebrated to honor Sambain lord of the dead, on October 31st (the end of the summer). The Druids believed that on this date, Sambain called all the wicked souls which had been condemned to live in animal bodies. He was believed to have released them in the form of spirits, ghosts, fairies, witches, and elves.
According to Druidic tradition, these souls of the dead roamed the city on Halloween night and returned to haunt the homes where they once lived. The only way the current occupants of the house could free themselves from being haunted was to lay out food and give shelter to the spirit during the night. If they did not, the spirit would cast a spell on them. This is where the phrase, “trick or treat” comes from. They would be tricked if they did not lay out a treat.
The jack-o-lantern was also a part of this belief system. The carved pumpkin symbolized a damned soul named Jack. According to the tale, Jack was not allowed into heaven or hell. So, he wandered around in the darkness with his lantern until Judgment Day. Fearful people hollowed out turnips (and later pumpkins in the United States), carved an evil face on them, and lit a candle inside to scare him and other evil spirits away.
The Druids had other outlandish beliefs which have since turned into tradition. For example, they were afraid of black cats because they believed that when a person committed evil, he would be turned into a cat. Cats were thus considered to be evil. To scare them away, the Druids decorated their homes with witches, ghosts, and the like. They also decorated with cornstalks, pumpkins, and other goods in offering of thanks and praise to their false gods.
In addition to being Halloween, October 31st was also the New Year’s Eve of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. To celebrate, they built huge bonfires on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits, and often offered their crops and animals to the evil ones as a sacrifice, sometimes they even offered themselves.
Some people believe that the only significance of Halloween was as All Hallows’ Eve, the evening before All Saint’s Day. But All Saints’ Day was originally celebrated by the Catholic Church in May. About AD 834, the Romans conquered the Celts, and moved All Saints’ Day to November 1. The celebration remained the same, except for minor additions. The Roman Harvest Festival was then held in honor of the goddess Pamona, the goddess of fruit and trees (the practice of bobbing for apples derived from this). They also wanted to honor the newly overpowered descendants of the Druids in Germany and Scandinavia. Therefore, All Saints’ Day and Halloween became unified, because of the same ties to reverencing the dead.
The word, “Hallelujah!” means an expression of praise, joy, and thanks to God.
“After this, I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven exclaiming, ‘Hallelujah (Praise the Lord)! Salvation and glory (splendor and Majesty) and power (dominion and authority) to our God.’
I heard what sounded like the shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves and like the roar of terrific and might peals of thunder, exclaiming, ‘Hallelujah (Praise the Lord). For now the Lord our God the Omnipotent (the All Ruler) reigns.” Revelation 19:1, 6
In this world of a fast paced society with advanced technology and continuous change, it may seem harmless and innocent for children to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating. If you have read the history of Halloween, you will see that his day reverences the dead, magnifies evil spirits, and offers thanks and praise to false gods.
Well, hallelujah! I can say to you today that we serve a living God whom all power and glory belongs. The Almighty God does not use deception or distraction. Satan is all trick and no treat and needs to be exposed for the true enemy that he is. We need to understand that Halloween is not a harmless day but a day that represents darkness and evil.
Let’s take this time to educate our children, neighbors and friends about the real significance of this day and instead of following the world, break tradition and step out and PRAISE AND WORSHIP THE LORD. Lift up the name of Jesus and crush the lies of the enemy.