Are Halloween celebrations a treat—or a trick—for Christians?
Question: Is there any connection between Christianity and the October 31 celebration of Halloween?
Answer: Halloween is anything but a Christian holiday, despite periodic efforts to adopt and transform its practice. Sometime after 601ad, following a letter written by Pope Gregory I to a bishop in England, efforts were made to "Christianize" pagan festivals such as the Celtic Samhain, a festival steeped with fear of wandering spirits, demons and fairies (Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, p. 288-290). Throughout medieval times, this festival, held on or around the beginning of November, was considered a time when supernatural divination and communion with the dead, and even the devil, was most possible and acceptable (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 5. "Halloween." p. 646).
The Bible, however, nowhere countenances the adoption or "Christianization" of practices that were clearly labeled as abominations. God frowned on His people taking the practices and beliefs of pagan peoples as their own (Deuteronomy 12:30-31). Instead, His admonitions against witchcraft and divination are quite pointed (Deuteronomy 18:10; 1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 17:17; 21:6; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 18:23).
The Bible also contains clear indication that worshiping, venerating or otherwise seeking the aid of the dead goes against the instructions of God Almighty (Deuteronomy 14:1; Isaiah 8:19), and superstitions born out of the fear of wandering spirits or departed souls are illogical assumptions that are refuted by the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Christ taught of a coming resurrection (Matthew 22:31-33) and the apostles likened the state of death to sleep, wherefrom people cannot be contacted before their resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6, 12-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Any edict or letter "consecrating" pagan sites and holy days was a tactic devised to accumulate converts and power to a different religion than the one Jesus taught—not an inspired or approved practice according to the God of the Bible. It has been the opinion of some professing Christians throughout history that converts might not be expected to give up all of their non-Christian celebrations at once, and so a means must be devised to "gradually" convince them to let go of their customs (Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I. "A Copy of the Letter Which Pope Gregory Sent to the Abbot Mellitus, Then Going Into Britain." Chapter 30). However, this "tactic" was and has continued to be a dismal failure: "The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong... the practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises." (Santino, Jack. "The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows," loc. gov). As an example of the "blind leading the blind," this was to be expected (Luke 6:39).
But what if you say you do not believe in the real spiritual overtones long associated with Halloween, and just want to use it as an excuse for a theme for a party or a night of fun? Consider that Christians are to live "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4), using Scripture as the guide to what is acceptable to their Savior
Scripture shows us that Christ and His disciples admonished converts to "cast off" their old ways and "walk in newness of life" (Matthew 9:16-17; Luke 9:62; Romans 6:4; 13:11-13; 2 Corinthians 6:16-17). Though most of the European world went the way of mixing pre-Christian traditions with the watered-down words of Christ, no faithful member of Christ's "little flock" would have accepted practices absorbed from pagan sources. The same should hold true today.