Halloween and Christian Tradition
What is Halloween and is it good for Christians to take part in the holiday? Halloween is celebrated by many worldwide and for a few different reasons. Certain Protestant and Evangelical groups deride the celebration as satanic and a day for the devil. Knowing a little bit more about the holiday can help us decide what to do with the practice and determine if it is good for one to take part in it.
Today we call the day “Halloween”. It is made up of two words. “Hallow”, which means holy, or honorably set apart from. “E’en” which is an old way to say “evening”. The two then put together are holy evening. It is also known today by Catholics and other such groups that hold to this religious day as “all saints eve” or “all saints day”. Catholics today use this date as a day of mass, or coming together, to venerate the saints and dead Christians who have gone before them. All ancient groups of Christianity have either a day or feast for celebrating the saints who have gone on ahead of us. Catholics, Anglicans, and other Protestants track this day throughout the historical Christian tradition. Now some hold that Halloween has solely Christian origins, while others hold that it is a type of syncretistic day that combines Christian practice with an old Celtic tradition. Think of another holiday that does something similar to help you get the point. Christmas is a helpful example of a Christian tradition, the celebration of Jesus’ Birthday, that has other traditions mixed with it (think of the good ole Christmas tree in our house).
A Continued Religious Practice
Surprisingly many Christians that deride the holiday have no idea that it holds a large candle within Christian tradition. They also have no idea that their neighbors (other Christian groups) continue to worship God on this day. This ignorance usually comes from a teaching that supposes that Catholics and other historical groups are not Christians, but more so pagan. This ignorance is also supported by a lack of knowledge of church history and a total de-valuing of historic Christian tradition. Christian tradition of venerating the saints goes back to its origin. Even before Christianity emerged, second temple Judaism showed signs of venerating, respecting the saints. One great witness to it is the apocryphal and deuterocanonical books that existed before Jesus. Considering this Christian practice can help one make a decision on what to do with this day.
A Modern Holiday
Halloween, like many holidays before it, has undergone changes. Today Halloween is about dressing up as something scary or interesting and collecting candy from neighbors. Maybe it’s about going to a party or putting up some spooky decorations. The holiday is vastly different from its origins and holds absolutely no religious connotation to the majority of secular adherents. Whether that is pagan or Christian religious connotations, there exists none of these in the minds of the secular adherent. Kind of like Jesus for the secular Christmas adherent.
Halloween today, in the form of parties, dressing up, getting candy, and spooky decorations, has no religious undertone in it whatsoever. There are many Christians who worship God by venerating the saints on this day. There are some out there who use this day for either historic pagan celebration or evil satanic celebration. The majority of secularists however do not use this day as celebrating any religious custom. Christians should not condemn the day which holds special and ancient practice within their greater tradition. Nor should they condemn the modern secular practices that go along with it. I mean, if in your neighborhood they are celebrating Halloween by cutting off the heads of chickens and attempting to conjure demons, then by all means find another neighborhood for your child to collect your candy from.