At the present time, Americans reckon Christmas is the foremost important holiday, whereas Halloween ranks second. According to conservative estimation in 2007, Americans spent more than $5 billion on costumes, decorations and props celebrating Halloween. In terms of spending, Halloween is the 6th ranked annual holiday. As to Canadians, Halloween is also an important holiday. For the celebration of Halloween, Canadians spent 1.1 billion dollars in 2005.
Great Britain, the place of origin of Halloween, within five short years from 2001 to 2006, the spending of this festival has already increased 10 times, reaching 120 million pounds. Except Christmas and Easter, Halloween is the third holiday that makes supermarkets profit. Just before Halloween, supermarkets of large and small will be filled up with pumpkins, costumes, witches hats and the like commodities. Also, more countries around the world participate in celebrating Halloween. For example, a few decades ago, this festival is unfamiliar to the people in Mexico and Caribbean; it is getting more popular nowadays.
From the surface of things, Halloween gives merchants unending opportunities to make money and provides a joyous festival to the children; however, there is a 20% increase in nuisance crime around this time of the year in United Kingdom. “Trick or Treat” is a children’s Halloween practice of asking for treats from door to door under threat of playing tricks on those who decline. When house owners refused to give money or gifts, many older youths threw eggs at their residences. Many houses and cars were damaged, some people were being treated violently or being threatened; the victims filed complaints to the police as a result.
So what kind of festival is Halloween?
The Meaning of Halloween
The people who practiced witchcraft in the old days, called October 31 as “Samhain”, whereas people call “Halloween” nowadays, meaning “All Hallows Eve” or “The Eve of All Saints’ Day” or “Hallow’s e’en”.
The Origin of Halloween
The New Year’s Day of Celts
The Celts belong to a linguistic group who speak Indo-European languages. They celebrated their New Year’s Day on November 1 by offering humans and animals to Saman (the Lord of the dead) and the Sun god. November 1 is New Year’s Day to ancient and modern wizards, that they regard it as a great day.
The Celts practiced caste system and druids were their sage or priests. It is believed that Halloween is originated from the Druids, that they reckon Saman, the Lord of the Dead, released the dead to roam by opening the gates of death that night, thus the priests lit great fires to ward off all these dead spirits. These pagan priests also offered animal sacrifices to their gods; moreover, there is ample evidence to suggest among the commodities sacrificed were human beings.
The ancient Celts regarded Halloween was the last evening of the year and reckoned that it was also an evening to consider about the future. The Celts asserted that the dead spirits revisited their earthly homes on that night. After the Romans conquered Britain, they added to Halloween elements of the Roman harvest festival held on November 1 in tribute of Pomona, goddess of the fruits of trees.
Catholicism and Halloween
In The 7th Century
In the very beginning, the Roman Catholics celebrated All Saints Day in May. In A.D. 608, for the sake of pleasing the newly conquered pagans, the Roman emperor allowed them to combine and celebrate Samhain and Halloween together. Rome’s Pantheon was converted into a church building, celebrating the death of departed saints, and in the same place, pagans devoted to their Lord of the Dead on Halloween.
In The 8th Century
In the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as the feast of departed saints, and as a result, people called October 31 as the eve of all Hallows Day, or simply Halloween.
North America and Halloween
In the Colonial days, Americans were already familiar with Halloween. Not until in 1840s, Irish brought their Halloween customs to America. By the middle of twentieth century, Halloween had already become mostly a children’s holiday. In the past ten years, it has become as a highly commercialised and national holiday.
“Trick or Treat”
The ancients believed the departed dead souls would roam around on October 31, and they would return to their former homes, gathering around the fire for warmth. As their family members prepared offerings of food and drink as “the treat” for these dead spirits, they would come to receive it. The ancients regarded demons, homoglobins, and witches on broomstick, would haunt the night with acts of mischief (the Trick). Nowadays children who go around knocking doors, asking for candies, are in fact a symbol of the dead souls roaming around for food. As for the masquerading with demonic masks and clothes, as means to scare people, is actually the representation of the evil spirits tricking the living people.
On the evening of October 31, ancient Druids offered animal, crop and occasionally human sacrifices to the sun god Muck Olla, and to Samhain, the god of death. During the ritual they wore costumes made of animal heads and skins as ways to frighten evil spirits away. At the present time, perhaps people do not really know these significances, but these customs are superstitious in nature and truly linked with the pagan religion.
Based on a legend, the ancient Druids used turnips to ward off evil spirits, and North Americans replaced the turnip by the pumpkin at the present time.
Satanism and Witchcraft
Witchcraft is called Wicca (wise ones), the old religion, woman spirit, goddess worship, the craft. Witches or wizards are also called Druids, the Gaelic word for wiseman or sorcerer. The term witch is generic, referring to both men and women.
Since the early 1970s, a resurgence of Witchcraft appeared around the world, and New York City became the Mecca of witches. The spokesmen of “the Covenant of the Goddess” talked about the rapid growth of their organisation. It grew from 20,000 in 1986 to 350,000 in 1993. There are covens (13 witches assembling together) everywhere in America nowadays, and their names are even listed in many city telephone directories. In large and small bookstores in North America, we can find books on how to practice witchcraft, and the offering of courses on witchcraft at the University of Alabama, New York University and some other schools as well. Moreover, self-claimed witches are interviewed in radio and television alike, and articles in large circulation are published in daily newspapers, offering tips on how to cast curses or spells.
Witchcraft is comprised of two strains, that is, black and white witchcraft. White witchcraft is originated from the Celts; they are the last group of immigrants to England. Broadly speaking, the Celts are the Irish, the Welsh, the Gaelic and the Breton nowadays. Furthermore, white witchcraft is originated from Dianic and other pagan fertility beliefs. Black witchcraft involves devil worship; they are sexually perverted in nature, and human sacrifices are offered in their worship rites.
Traditionally, covens of witches were made up of 13 members of both sexes. These men and women gathered together to preserve and pass on the knowledge and rituals gained by centuries of practice. They were called Wicca or Wicce, from the Anglo-Saxon root word meaning “to bend or shape”. As they could shape the subtle forces of nature to their will, they were called the teachers, healers and midwives in their community. Although they had leaders, they did not have hierarchy and governing body. They gathered to exchange information and spells in the old days.
Two influential wizards appeared in the last century in the Western World. The first one was Aleister Crowley. He was called “the wickedest man in the world,” a magician and a charlatan. He himself preferred the name “the Great Beast”. He practiced a selection of magic which he called sexual magic. For the quest of evil power, he offered human and animal sacrifices in his orgies. The other person was Anton La Vey. He founded the Church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966. Almost two decades ago, it was sold over 250,000 copies.
Someone pointed out Satanism became active again in 1960s owing to a film called “Rosemary’s Baby” which was a box office smash at that time.
Charles Manson imitated Anton La Vey’s way of devil worship and occultism, and also murdered the film star Sharon Tate.
The author of “Escape from Witchcraft” spoke of two female Satanists who wrote to her about their initiation ritual. The Satanists had to go to a graveyard in the dead of night, walking across a manmade cross and denouncing any belief in Christ. Subsequently, they had to drink the blood of animals that had been skinned alive.
Through black magical powers, witches are able to bring upon others oppression, disease, harassment, and even death. And by means of white magic, people could be healed and protected, the harvest of crops could be improved; many missionaries could even witness about these supernatural encounters. In a nutshell, we should pay attention to the beliefs, the rising and the advancing of witchcraft.
Harry Potter and Witchcraft
Harry Potter is the main character of the world-renowned fantasised fiction, which was created by the author J. K. Rowling. In 1994, she was still a single mom who relied on welfare for her living; since the first publication of “Harry Potter” in 1997, she transformed into a well-loved author by millions of readers. The whole series of “Harry Potter” consists of 7 books, which has been translated into more than 60 different languages. In 2007, its sales reach 400 million. Henceforth, Rowling became one of the billionaires in the world.
Although the content of “Harry Potter” is just fiction, the witchcraft that is described in the book is real. There was evidence that Rowling infused this content into the book after thorough investigation of the witchcraft. According to some survey, 12% of the teenagers became interested in witchcraft practices after reading “Harry Potter”. This phenomenon should not be ignored by the adults. As a conclusion, it’s an undeniable fact that “Harry Potter” indirectly as well as directly promotes the development of witchcraft!
Halloween And the Festival of the Witches
The calendar of witches has been widely adopted by Satanism, and some of it has been changed. The eight major festivals were collectively known as “sabbats”. During “sabbats”, the witches gathered together to celebrate and show their allegiance to the Devil by casting spells, plotting evil, feasting, drinking, and dancing and having orgiastic sex. While comparing different sources, the dates varied a bit. Nowadays the witches meet monthly in covens, when the moon is full. A coven is made up of six males called warlocks, six females, and a high priest or a priestess. During these meetings, they cast spells for the benefit (white magic) or for the harm (black magic) of others. Among these eight festivals per year, the most significant one is the Halloween.
February 1 or 2
“Candlemas”, also known as “Oimelc”, is a cleansing festival in winter, as well as a time to celebrate the coming of spring. This festival is related to the goddess “Brigit”, she is a goddess of fertility, learning and healing.
It is about the time of vernal equinox, the duration of day and night is the same at that time, and the length of daytime will gradually increase.
April 30 or May 1
“Bethane” or “Walpurgis Night” is about the same time as crop growing. The “Celts” offer sacrifice at the time. This is a fertility festival. This festival is associated with “Belenus”, which is the Celtic god of fire.
June 21 or 22
“St. John’s Eve” or “St. John’s wort”, that is “summer solstice”, is the day with the longest daylight of the whole year.
July 31 or August 1
“Lammas” of “Lughnasadh”, is the festival of the first fruits. Those who practice witchcraft believe the festival of Lugnasad is presided over by the god “Lugh”.
September 21 or 23
“Michaelmas”, that is the autumnal equinox or fall equinox. The duration of day and night is the same at that time, and the length of daylight will gradually decrease.
Halloween (Samhain) marks the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new of the witches. It is related to winter because this represents destruction and death. Compare with the other 7 festivals, the “Wiccans” (witches) consider “Samhain” as the most important festival. During this time, the door of Hades is opened, and the spirits of the death could wander freely throughout the earth. It is considered as the best time to connect with these spirits. The myth describes the male god “Dagda” and the female goddess “Morrigan” have intercourse on this day and through their act brings well-being to their tribe and ensures their fertility. All the communal activities, meetings and sacrifices happened during this time.
Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. It was celebrated as “Yule” in ancient days. In the Roman Catholic calendar, during the spring season, they replace spring equinox by “Easter” and “Walpurgis Night”. In summertime, “St. John’s Eve” and “Lammas” are replaced by “The Assumption” and “Purification Sunday”. In fall/autumn, “Samhain” is replaced by “Halloween”. In winter, Christmas is used to replaced “Yule” and “Candlemas”.
The Proper Responses of Non-believers
In general, people have the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness. The Bible reveals that God is the source of righteousness, integrity and light; on the other hand, Satan is the source of faults, evil and darkness.
Owing to his disobedience to God’s Word, Satan and all rebellious angels became the fallen angels; since he is the head of all evil spirits, Satan is called “prince of demons” (Matt. 9:34), “prince of the powers of the air” and “prince of darkness” (Eph. 6:12). In the New Testament, Satan or the devil is also known as “the tempter” (Matt. 4:3), “who leads the whole world astray” (Rev. 12:9), “the murderer”, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The scariest is that Satan knows the weakness of human beings and lures them with materials, lusts, wealth, power, status and deceiving beliefs; so that man will be drowned under the sea of evilness and ultimately buried with Satan, became Satan’s “booty” and “grave goods” (1 Peter 5:8; Revelations 20:10).
It’s the fact that all human beings were overcome by sin and bound by “the prince of this world”, God knows this by heart. Since God knows that humankind is powerless over sins and its consequences, thus He prepares the only salvation for humankind: through the birth, work, sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, so that human beings will know that He is God’s one and only Son as well as Saviour of the world (John 1:18; 3:16). This is the purpose of the first coming of Jesus Christ, and also the reason for the celebration of Christmas worldwide.
The “Must-knows” of Christians
Detested by the LORD
“You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:31) God reminds His people through Moses that sacrificing human being to false gods is abominable in the eyes of God. “Samhain” is the precursor of Halloween, during which the pagans offer human sacrifices to their false gods, this is extremely hateful by God.
Forbid Sorcery and Witchcraft
“Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.” “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”(Lev. 19:26; 31)
God strongly forbids believers practicing psychic and witchcraft, the Halloween “TREAT” is an action of offering sacrifice to the evil spirits. The children of God should not be related to any of these evil customs and practices, lest they be defiled.
Uproot the Evil Power
“Do not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)
In the Old Testament times, the Israelites did not let the sorcerers live. This does not mean that the believers should kill all who practice witchcraft and sorcery. However, we should try to get rid of these evil practices in our communities peacefully. The pity is, North American churches are backsliding and lose their spiritual influences, in turn, they are poisoned by the perverted thoughts of the cults and the occults.
Do Not Imitate the Gentiles
“They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.” (2 Kings 17:17) God made it very clear to His people that they should not imitate the sacrificial ceremonies of the Gentiles.
The Way to National Revival
“Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD.” (2 Kings 23:24)
King Josiah led the people on the way of revival by demolishing all evil customs and acts that were hated by God. The North American churches become more and more worldly; this pierces and breaks the heart of God. The North Americans consider Halloween as an important festive event; they are willing to spend money and energy to celebrate it. An evil festival to begin with turns out to be embraced and rejoiced by many! May the Lord have mercy on us; open the eyes of the church leaders, so that they could lead the congregation onto the way of revival.
Connect with Evil Spirits Is Penalised
“Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)
When Saul was really desperate, he did not turn to God for help, instead, he sought help from a medium, which enraged the Lord and cost Saul’s kingship. Brothers and sisters, don’t we fear the punishment from God?
One of the Acts of the Sinful Nature
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)
The Apostle Paul lists the acts of living by the Spirit and those by the sinful nature, and one of the behaviour of the sinful nature is practicing witchcraft. Those who practice witchcraft are mostly for personal benefits, and this is one of the sinful desires. During Halloween, the children go all over the place to ask for candies, and the old and young folks alike play tricks on everybody in order to feel good. This reflects our sinful nature. All Christians’ descendants, please do not follow and imitate.
Avoid Evil Things
“Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) Paul reminds believers to avoid all evil; this is the basic life principle of Christians. The origin of Halloween are both superstitious and evil, as children of God, we should not celebrate with the crowd!
The Responses of Christians
Although the origin of Halloween is evil, Christians could grab this opportunity and outreach to our community, including children and family.
For example, during the Children Sunday Worship prior to the Halloween, we could explain to the children about the origin of Halloween and the real meaning of gospel, at the same time, encourage the children to invite their non-believing friends to our gospel events. This act will not only give the “unchurched” kids a chance to listen to the gospel, but also allow the Christian minors to learn to care about their friends and classmates.
In addition, the church could organise “Family Carnival” on the night of Halloween and invite Christian and non-Christian families to attend, as a way to let the parents communicate and bond with their kids, and also to outreach to our community.
Even if the church has not organised any activities, we could take the initiative to evangelise to our friends and neighbours. To Christians, giving out candies does not mean we are celebrating Halloween. On the other hand, we could prepare mini gospel packages and give away candies and gospel tracts or pamphlets at the same time.
If it’s possible, the whole church could have some outreach preparation before Halloween, distributing invitation cards for the family carnival and other gospel literatures in our neighbourhood. As Paul’s exhortation to us, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:23) May all Christians joint force together in this evil occasion and turn the tables on Halloween in order to win more souls for the Lord and advance the gospel in unity!