The name means "hallowed evening." But is it really? Where did it come from? What is it all about? And is it really good for children?
Creepy goblins, ghosts and demons, witches on brooms, spiders and bats, dead men's bones, flickering jack-o-lanterns, black cats, eerie costumes and parties. What a weird festival this is! And an increasingly costly and dangerous one too! Each year following this strange celebration, gruesome accounts surface of the giving of booby-trapped "treats" to children: apples with concealed razor blades; candy bars with hidden needles; cookies containing ground glass; bonbons laced with harsh laxatives or spiked with poisons. This is to say nothing of the cases, reported and unreported, of muggings and molestations which occur on the eve of "All Hallows." In addition there are other incidences of bodily harm inflicted during the course of Halloween festivities, some on purpose, some accidentally: the automobile driver failing to see the child dressed in black crossing the street at night, the burns resulting from a flammable ,costume which is ignited by a candle in a jack-o-lantern. Are these instances not related to the theme and purpose of this festival? Perhaps they are, after all. At one time in rural America perhaps the "ultimate" in Halloween mischief was moving the outhouse off its foundation. There may have been an uncomfortably inconvenient change of the owner's normal routine the next morning, but it was basically not too serious. Sometimes, unfortunately, far more extensive destruction is done to private and public property by senseless vandalism. Any Of us could face the soaring costs of repairing property damaged by tricksters.
Is It Good?
The Halloween period is big business. It is one of the three top candy-selling seasons of the year. Hundreds of millions of dollars sweeten the cash register tills in exchange for hundreds of millions of pounds of confections. Greeting card companies, manufacturers and retailers of costumes, and decorations take their share of the profits too. For them it pays well to keep the Halloween "spirit" alive. But in calculating the price of Halloween, we can't stop there. We must include the added cost — impossible to calculate — that all of those refined, chemical-laden "treats" ultimately exact in dental and medical bills. Besides whatever physical harm children may suffer from Halloween, there is an as yet unmeasured damage inflicted on the child's standard of values. After all, are not children taught by Halloween to beg? Isn't it an attempt to get something for nothing? And what is "trick or treat" but extortion? "Give me something... or else!" Impressionable minds cannot fail to see how richly it pays off, and then may expect the same to continue in the days and weeks that follow. Still, every year millions of people refuse to let these negative aspects stand in the way of their Halloween fun and frolic. Children and adults alike adorn themselves with bizarre and frightening costumes and engage in a hectic night of partying, merry-making and general mayhem. But just how did these strange goings-on get started anyway?
The Origin of Halloween
It really is no secret that Halloween has been around for thousands of years. Centuries before the birth of Christ, ancient Druids performed mystical rites and ceremonies in honor of the dead on their "New Year's Eve" (October 31). History books and encyclopedias freely and openly describe this pagan origin. Even newspapers, as an item of curiosity, print articles at Halloween time explaining the pagan beginnings and their parallelism to today's customs. The point is, Halloween is pagan. Still, most people, particularly those who are parents, will justify Halloween's observance by saying, in effect, something like this: "So what? So it was started by pagans. We aren't thinking about pagan gods today. We're just having fun. And it's great for the children. Where it came from doesn't make any difference." Well, it doesn't make any difference unless... Unless you care what God says on the subject! And if you accept the teachings of Jesus Christ and true Christianity, then it does make a great deal of difference! God's Word, the Bible, as we shall see, has a great deal to say about why you should not be involved with customs such as those centering on Halloween. Let's be honest. One only has to look at Halloween costumes and decorations to see that it celebrates death, devils, witches and darkness. Christianity is the antithesis of these things! Christians are supposed to conduct themselves in a way that exemplifies light and life, not darkness and death. The diametric contradiction between these two approaches is noted by Ralph Linton in Halloween Through Twenty Centuries: "Among all the festivals which we celebrate today, few have histories stranger than that of Halloween.... it commemorates beings and rites with which the church has always been at war." He then goes on to describe Halloween festivities as customs which were "once forbidden to good Christians." Somewhere along the line, these alien pagan customs have worked their way into what the world considers as Christianity. G.W. Douglas discloses in The American Book of Days that "the mystic rites and ceremonies with which Halloween was originally observed had their origin among the Druids centuries before the dawn of the Christian era in the celebration on the eve of the festival of Samhain [the lord of the dead — Satan].... The early [medieval] Christian church adopted the eve and the day following and gave new names to them, as it did with many other Christian observance [sic]." Writer Dorothy Wood of the Wichita Beacon stated the case clearly back on October 30, 1959. She wrote: "This ancient night of revelry for the devil and his cohorts has degenerated.... It's the Christians who are to blame. For centuries, they've been grabbing off all the old heathen festivals. The midwinter feast with its greens and feasting and drinking has become Christmas. The wild spring festival has become Easter, and the worshippers of Christ boldly use the old pagan symbols of fertility-chicks and rabbits and eggs. Now they've completely taken over Halloween."
A Serious Matter
God does not look at this lightly. He does not want His people to "borrow" pagan customs (Deuteronomy 12:29-31) with their inevitable detriment to the development of spiritual character. He plainly and directly commanded through the prophet Jeremiah: "Learn not the way of the heathen..." (Jeremiah 10:2). Through Moses, God condemned as abominable all that has to do with witchcraft, necromancy (black magic), and other demonic works of darkness (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). In view of this biblical condemnation, we should want to stay as far away as possible from whatever falls into these categories. Instead, all across the land in this "Christian" nation, children — and adults — dress as witches, demons and other manifestations which honor the "lord of death" on his special night. People do not seem to realize that Satan and his demons are the enemies of God. Halloween purposefully worships Satan. "Halloween decorations," says the Good Housekeeping Book of Entertainment. "are quite as important as the food. When planning them, remember that if the room is to be dimly lit... the decorations must be bold to be effective. Orange, black and red, the devil's colours, are the colours associated with Halloween.... you could make a giant spider's web ... complete with a large spider — one of the devil's favourite followers." The apostle Paul summed up the attitude true Christians should have and should teach their children:"... For once you were darkness [in the past — before becoming Christians], but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light [not dressed as demons, witches, zombies, and other beings of darkness] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true); and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them [by letting your light shine]. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret [let alone to participate in them]" (Ephesians 5:7-12).
Very few seem to realize that Halloween and the other religious "Christian" holidays are actually counterfeits that have been subtly introduced to take the place of the holy days God instituted. (For a complete explanation of the days God ordained, read our booklet Pagan Holidays — or God's Holy Days — Which?) The holy days of God are listed in Leviticus 23. These are the days that were observed by Jesus, the apostles, and the early New Testament Church. Shortly after the death of the apostles, however, the keeping of these days was discontinued by a developing great counterfeit religious system — a system which ultimately brought in its own sacred days adapted from heathen religions. It seems, in fact, that throughout history man has continually sought to replace that which God originally gave for man's good with that which is inferior and a corruption of the truth . Halloween is a classic example of such a counterfeit. Some of the before — mentioned feast days God established (see Leviticus 23:24, 27,34) fall in the seventh month of the sacred calendar, at a period which varies slightly from year to year but centers on early October. Ancient Israel was ordered to observe these God — ordained days. But instead of keeping the feasts of God in the seventh month, King Jeroboam ordained his own feast one month later (I Kings 12:27-33). This counterfeit festival, in the middle of the eighth month, was approximately equivalent time wise to Halloween today! A provable connection? No. But the point is, God rejected the inferior substitute that was made for something He had instituted — and rejected the whole people because they had rejected Him. There is a lesson in that for us. A clergyman recently jolted the readers of a magazine well respected in mainline Protestantism, saying that Halloween is "thoroughly, utterly, totally pagan: the worship of the dead, the placating of evil spirits, the honoring of the Lord of the Dead...." But then he added, "I don't think you can simply take it away from the children without putting something in its place." What could be better — for children and adults, too — than restoring the observance of God's holy days according to His instructions? Better than Halloween, Christmas, Easter or any of the other humanly devised substitutes. During the early part of October, while commercial advertisements begin to prepare people for yet another Halloween , the members of the Worldwide Church of God observe the Feast of Tabernacles, one of God's Festivals. They enjoy themselves in good, clean fun at some of the most beautiful locations on earth, while rejoicing in light and truth, learning how to give and share — the exact opposite of the "get" mentality of death — oriented Halloween observance — and preparing themselves for the soon-coming world tomorrow. Once a person properly keeps the days God has commanded, he realizes what cheap, inferior, meaningless substitutes are the religious holidays of the world. If you haven't yet experienced them, you're really short-changing yourself and your children. You're missing something good.
What Is "Hallowed"?
God commands us to hallow His holy days — which include both weekly and annual Sabbaths (Ezekiel 20:20). In the world tomorrow all people will be taught to hallow God's Sabbaths (Ezekiel 44:24). (read our free booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?) The word "hallowed" means "regarded as holy or sacred." At the start of this article the question was asked: "What is so 'hallowed' about Halloween?" The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. But the setting of the sun at the beginning of one of God's holy and sacred Sabbaths ushers in a truly meaningful and hallowed evening.