Halloween is definitely in the air-everywhere you look there are costumes, candy, and decorations on display. But, if you’re a Christian, you’ve probably got mixed feelings about the holiday and might not be sure if you should even be celebrating it. Should you dress up for Halloween? Is it OK to go to that big Halloween party? Is celebrating a fun holiday that all your friends celebrate glorifying evil in some way?
Historically, Halloween was a Celtic New Year celebration, called Samhain, dating back 2,000 years ago. October 31 was the end of their harvest and the last day of the year. They believed that on the last day of the year, the world of the living and the world of the dead came together and the dead could cause a little trouble for their families, their property, and their crops. In an effort to minimize the damage, the Celts would make animal sacrifices to their gods on Halloween.
Obviously the worship of Celtic gods and blurring the worlds between the living and the dead are things that don’t really fit into the Christian faith. But your friends won’t be doing any of that at their parties, and if they do, you have some really strange friends. In answering the question of whether or not you should participate in Halloween, you have to consider the modern celebration of it and your own intentions.
There is nothing wrong with wearing costumes, carving jack-o-lanterns, and eating candy with friends. Those can just be seen as modern-day, fun fall traditions, not reminders of a Celtic festival of Samhain, simply because these acts no longer have any historical or religious meaning. They are American traditions, just like cooking out on the fourth of July or eating those candy hearts on Valentine’s Day.
Christians’ enjoyment of Halloween should be tempered by an idea Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians. Here he discusses not wanting to cause brothers weaker in the faith to stumble in regard to eating meat sacrificed to idols. As a Christian, Paul knows the religious implications of eating this meat are meaningless, since the sacrifices themselves were meaningless. But Paul says: “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
This doesn’t practically mean if another Christian is offended by your celebration of Halloween, you should stop. But it does mean you need to respect his or her views, to not talk about it around them if they don’t want to hear it, and to be open to questioning about why you think it is OK. Don’t argue with them and try to change their minds.
Halloween is a fun day that is often taken way too seriously by religious — and legalistic — people. It is doubtful that God is offended if people celebrated this modern-day candy fest. But we need to be sensitive to those who don’t share those beliefs. It’s all a part of loving and serving others and encouraging them on their own spiritual journey.