Keeping Christ in Halloween

Steve Chilaxin When I was a kid, Halloween was one of the best nights of the year. We lived in Drumheller, Alberta then. My mom and dad were both quite into Halloween and often lent their skills to the creating of fine, sometimes elaborate costumes.  The costume I remember most vividly was worn the year I went out as a Roman Centurion. My mom, good at sewing,  made the clothing and my father had somehow constructed an impressive Centurion helmet out of a plastic Javex bottle. Dad and I crafted a sword of wood and gilded in tinfoil. Mom attached leather straps to sandals so they criss-crossed up my legs to the knees.  As far as I could tell, I had the best costume in town and more than one envious kid said as much.

In those days, it seemed like every kid and half the adults in town were out on the streets as we attempted to fill our pillow cases till they were so heavy we had to return home to empty them before going out again. The only hint of real evil that anyone concerned themselves with came from isolated incidents of pins or razor blades having been inserted into apples. And so mom would make us cut up the apples before we could eat them. Otherwise, it was just good fun.

Then over the years things started to change—with increasing incidents of tampered-with malevolent treats there came to be real safety issues. And I remember the first time I heard of a local church officially abstaining from Halloween on the grounds that it was a “real” occult festival and therefore a Christian’s duty to resist.  They, instead, opened the church basement for an alternative night for kids and called it a “Hallelujah!” party.  Oh my….

Now, it seems like Halloween has almost become a non-event in our neighbourhood with a handful of wee-ones out with mom or dad between 6 and 7 pm followed by an hour or two of teenagers who for the most part don’t need to dress up to be a worrisome site.

Too bad. I miss the good ol’ days when the town would be crawling with kids and parents greeting, laughing at each other, walking together, knocking on the doors of the elderly who might otherwise never get a visit, celebrating the community by being out in it.

So, how did we lose this?

IMG_7800It’s true that the origins of Halloween come from a dark, Celtic pagan festival called Samhain. The Celts believed there was a night every fall where the veil between the living and the dead became very thin and indeed, the souls of the dead could cross over to the land of the living.  This was frightening as it meant that besides the souls of departed loved ones, the souls of one’s enemies might also come by with evil intent.  To ward off the malevolent ones, the Celts would cut up gourds into frightening faces, and themselves would dress in costumes so as to be unrecognizable to the restless, roaming spirits.   It was a long and frighting night to be endured.

According to legend, things changed when St. Patrick came to Ireland.  He was aware of and saddened by the annual terror the Celts had to endure and so started to teach that as Christians, not only are we not afraid of the dead, but we celebrate the saints who have gone before; those who, still alive in Christ, are always near and dear to us.  Patrick started the practice of going out on Samhain with a bag full of sweet cakes and knocking on doors,  cheerfully giving them to his cowering friends and neighbors.

Somewhere in there, and I’m not sure of the dates, the practice of cheerfully going out in generous neighbourliness, instead of cowering in caged fear, became attached to the church’s celebration of All Saint’s Day. And Halloween, All Hallowed Evening, came to be celebrated on the night before the Church celebrates all the saints who, though invisible to us, continue to pray for and root for those of us who have not yet completed our journey.

Personally, it makes me sad that the Church (in part) seems to have retreated into the very fear-based isolation St. Patrick’s lively faith contradicted. So sadly ironic. And we have done this in so many areas of common life.  It seems to me that we could be out participating in the wider culture; joyfully, cheerfully, confidently handing out ‘sweets’ in the various cultural arenas: politics, arts, education, science, festivals etc.  We need not do this in the defensive, combative spirit we’ve become famous for, but with a caring neighbourliness befitting the character of the Christ whom we worship. And we need not be concerned that we will be tainted in our efforts. For we do not draw from a shallow well, but the inexhaustible Christ who gave himself entirely so that all would know that the organizing and redeeming principle of the cosmos is not self-securing fear, but self-donating love.

Happy Halloween!

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btw – the vomiting pumpkin is a creation of my weird wife who is otherwise a lovely person 🙂

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Speaking of St. Patrick, my friend Gayle Salmond wrote a song to a prayer attributed to St. Patrick called St. Patrick’s Breastplate. This particular version is called The Lorica and I recorded the the song for my album Devotion.  I thought you might like to hear it:

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THE LORICA | Gayle Salmond

Lyric adapted from St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The gift to call on the Trinity
The saving faith where I can say
Come three in one, oh one in three

Be above me as high as the noon day sun
Be below me, the rock I set my feet upon
be beside me, the wind on my left and right
be behind me, oh circle me with your truth and light

I bind unto myself today
The love of angels and seraphim
The prayers and prophecies of saints
The words and deeds of righteous men

Be above me…

God’s ear to hear me
God’s hand to guide me
God’s might to uphold me
God’s shield to hide me
Against all powers deceiving
Against my own unbelieving
Whether near or far

I bind unto myself today
The hope to rise from the dust of earth
The songs of nature giving praise
To Father, Spirit, Living Word

Be above me….

 

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The Lorica was recorded for Steve’s 2008 Cd release DEVOTION. To view, listen to tracks or purchase, click HERE…

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132 thoughts on “Keeping Christ in Halloween

  1. I think that All Saints Day came about when the church conglomerated the feast days of all the martyrs. When someone lost their life for the faith, the church would often set up a day of remembrance for that martyr, a feast by which to remember them. But there were lots of martyrs, and the calendar was getting mighty full of feast days… (“When do we get to go back to work?” “First Tuesday next month is free!”) So the church conglomerated them, and set the day for the remembrance of all those who had paid with their lives for the gospel on November 1st.

    All Hallows Eve serves the same function as Christmas Eve; a preparation for a great celebration of something God has done.

  2. I agree with your thoughts about the “good old days” when Halloween was fun and you got to visit friends and neighbors. I enjoyed dressing my girls up in costumes when they were little and before there was even a debate about whether it was right or wrong to celebrate Halloween. Being a pastor’s wife in an conservative church, there was some pressure to boycott Halloween. But I am a bit of a rebel and enjoy seeing my neighbors and their kids come to my door and have a short visit when they may not be inclined to do so any other day of the year. It is a good chance to make a connection.
    Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.

  3. Great blog, Steve – still has me thinking about where I stand on the issue…

    Too bad though halloween is filled with so much glamorizing of evil, horror, and violence.

    Btw, your wife’s carving should be enough to scare away any evil spirits! 🙂

  4. LOL! Love the vomiting pumpkin…great stuff, Nanci!!!

    Thanks for the history of Halloween. I tend to agree with you on many accounts, Steve… I grew up in a catholic home so my brothers and I did always celebrate Halloween…. the hubby, however, grew up in a strict christian home and was taught differently.

    But done right, I don’t think christians need to shy or fear away from this event… it can be a great opportunity to express fun loving involvement with our community, neighbor… an opportunity to express Christ’s love even… but, it’s sadly shun upon by the christian church so I’ve been wavering on the fence with thoughts.

    I hate how “evil” is celebrated during this month, but again, you made some great points which I totally agree with. It’s a time to shine the light, not hide it away! I always felt christianity was perhaps contradicting the message of Christ to go into the world, by seperating ourselves too much from opportunities like this to shine in the dark.

    Years back, during my short period of missionary training, one teaching that always stuck out to me was the message that when going overseas during a mission outreach, to win souls for Christ, you need to befriend the people first, get to know them and their language, work/laugh/love/cry along side them, be apart of their community, gain their trust through time, which may take up to a year or two. You can’t just bulldoze yourself into another’s life (culture) and expect souls/lives to be changed overnight (although there are exceptions), with your beliefs. Turn the volume down and the picture up.

    I think this teaching applies here, too. And during social events like this, it’s a great opportunity to laugh alongside and “know” our neighbors beyond a quick hello out to the car.

    Things are not like they used to be when we were kids… times have sadly changed, for the worst it seems, but is that because as the days grow darker we who are the light of Christ are shrinking back more, instead of involving ourselves and going into the world? Great thoughts here, Steve.. sorry for my ramblings!!

  5. Just as I was thinking about how to articulate some of this, your link to this came up on facebook. Sadly so many Christians are reactive to things in a way that has no basis in fact. Thanks for what you’ve written here…

  6. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for posting this note. My wife and I are relatively new parents and we both grew up with different parental believes. Her’s would not allow her to celebrate it, while mine would. As I’ve grown older I’ve become more aware of the spiritual realm, but I do still have a lot to figure out as to what to teach my son and future kids. Your note certainly has brought a better understanding of the day to me. Thanks Again

  7. I agree with you Steve about the way Halloween used to be — it was so much fun we looked forward to it almost like Christmas. It truly was all in good fun. Today it’s not fun anymore. I didn’t know that about St. Patrick, but I love the inference — we overcome the darkness with the light of Christ’s love AND TRUTH. Without His truth, there can be no love. The love is the “light of the world” part,; the truth is the “salt of the earth” part. Tonight we are in prayer that we be both every single day (salt and light) and move out of our comfort zones. There’s a lost world just outside the door and they need the Jesus we love and adore so much.

    God Bless You Steve as you continue to bless us.

  8. The Hallowe’en after we left a church that preached the message of fear around this holiday, I let my kids go trick or treating (like I did all my growing up years). I prayed over them before they left (still buying into that fear a bit) and sent them off with friends. I told them to look for Jesus and evidence of his presence through the night. My grade 6 son came home and said that he noticed a lot of lonely people in the houses he visited. He said “Mom, they were so happy to see us and I think that a lot of the time they’re just alone in their houses. They liked having kids come visit.” Was Jesus not ABSOLUTELY walking with him in that moment? And is Jesus not TOTALLY calling us to walk out with our neighbours on this night, love them in the midst of this night of total community? Let’s put Jesus back in Hallowe’en!!

  9. With all due respect to Steve, whose music Ihas blessed me immensely, I question whether allowing our kids to trick or treat iaccomplishes the purpose of putting Christ back into Halloween. Where I live, it is considered the highest holy day of the year for Wiccans. Just by participating in any activity, we are giving credence to their day. Just as they won’t acknowledge Christmas, but call it winter solstice, I won’t acknowledge their day in any way. It is not fear that prevents me, but taking a stand against false belief. If anyone comes up with a real way to make jesus known in this celebration, I’m all for it.

  10. Thanks so much for your well thought out and generous blog. To NEVER walk in fear of what the culture of the world is a must for those whose eyes are on the cross. Let His love flow to all. Damn the torpedos and pass the chocolate!!

  11. We’ve been doing an outreach to our neighborhood for the last six years of taking the “church to the neighborhood” on Halloween. It’s called TreatStreet and we have bouncers, carnival games, hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn. The neighbors ask us each year if we’ll be doing it again. Light dispenses the darkness.

  12. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. (1Co 10:18-21 NIV)

    Based on these verses where does Halloween fit into the life of a Christian. Does it mean that “we could be out participating in the wider culture; joyfully, cheerfully, confidently handing out ’sweets’ in the various cultural arenas: politics, arts, education, science, festivals etc. “. Not if there is an appearance of participation with pagan or demonic celebrations. Many of us, including myself, were brought up in a culture that accepted dressing up and going out and collecting candy the thing to do on October 31. Usually because of our age and lack of knowledge we were unaware of the historical basis of Halloween. As we grew older and excepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we discovered that Halloween was based “dark, Celtic pagan festival” and the gist of occasion was evil. The current Halloween has even become an occasion of cult to worship demons. What does the Bible tell us to do?

    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
    (Eph 4:22-24 NIV)

    How are we to be “caring neighborliness befitting the character of the Christ whom we worship”? The previous verses continue with:

    Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
    (Eph 4:25 NIV)

    So as Christians we called to “speak truthfully” in love even if the world sees this as being a “defensive, combative spirit we’ve become famous for”. Although the truth maybe the harder thing to do, we must always remember that:

    To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    (Joh 8:31-32 NIV)

    reply from Steve – I have no interest in turning this into a debate. My simple point was this: Halloween (All Hallowed Evening) as we know it was the “Christian” practice of confidently going out with gifts for others on the very evening the pagans were sequestered in fear. Dressing up in playful costume, visiting neighbors, giving candies and having a community fun-evening bears no resemblance to, in fact, is the opposite of, the pagan practice St. Patrick encountered. It is not “Samhain” but rather the cheerful assertion that evil simply doesn’t get it’s own day.

  13. YES! Your post absolutely nails it, Steve. Then again, the Arends also had a spewing pumpkin this year, so we were already in sync …

    Seriously, in our neighborhood, Halloween is still the biggest community night of the year and the wrong time for Christians to turn their lights off and get out of dodge. And I’ve been trying to articulate the thought that as believers we should live with open-handed confidence rather than door-bolting fear. You finally said it for me, and “weller” than I could. Thanks my friend,
    CA

  14. Our church, (Whyte Ridge Baptist) here in Winnipeg has had a “Harvest Festival” celebration on Halloween and has done it for years. Our church volunteers come dressed up in costumes–everything from the sublime to the ridiculous–The parents sip on hot chocolate while the children play games by the hour. At each game they pick up coupons that are cashed in for candies and other goodies at the end of the evening. This yeaqr over 300 came into the church and enjoyed the evening and the children hated to leave. We didn’t even try to put Christ into Halloween. Each family was given a children’s set of video games that was Christian in flavor but far from a hard sell. We just wanted the children in our community to have a a safe place to enjoy the evening.

    Alf. (Steve’s dad)

  15. Thank you so much for your thoughts and encouragement. I agree that we need to be living our faith in a way that our community can see and understand the love and grace of God come to earth. Bless you.

  16. I just wanted to share my opinion of your note on Halloween. I don’t think that Christian’s are living in fear because of Halloween; I do believe that have just decided to eliminate a holiday that comes purely from pagan origins. The Lord did ask us not to practice the ways of the pagan (holidays, etc.) Sure, halloween was fun, but we didn’t know what it was all about when we were kids. There is nothing wrong with dressing up any other time but I personally made a decision years ago (as a brand new Christian) to refrain from this holiday. I was a new believer (4 months) and the youth of our church held a haunted house. Me and another new Christian went in and realized this did not seem like it was something God would have us do. So over the years, I have veered away from it. My children are grown and do not hold my view but they have to make their own decisions. So we should respect what each one choses to do as God is our judge. As far as the fun of seeing our neighbours in the street, why not have a neighbour hood street party and hold a BBQ. I’m sure the neighbours would love it. Take Care. SS

  17. ahhh, history, yes thank you for hiliting the key points that we all do from time to time forget. I’m a Halloween stinge because I tend to get “Religious” and I need to change my outlook on all things except for what the 3 in one says. Pax works too!

  18. To those who write about “confronting pagan” errors etc., I would suggest that this is exactly what Steve and others are advocating. And this is what Christian confrontation looks like!

    How else to “confront” as a Christian but with love, joy, peace, patience … etc. so as to overwhelm the dark with unlimited light?

    Thanks for posting this Steve.

  19. Mr. Steve Bell, you wife is beautiful. Ok, I so enjoyed this message, maybe you can write a little song about ‘BARFING THE PUMPKIN.” It would be interesting if that were part of your repertoire of songs that you already sing. I hope that you are well. I would also request that you say a prayer for my nephew and wife Ryan and Michelle and their unborn baby as they were in a truck accident while headed to their parents to await the birth of their baby, which is due in two weeks time. They are currently in BC. Thank you for your prayers and your interest in the human race with your continued singing and telling of stories. From me to you:
    Gina Willman

  20. That’s the best pumpkin I’ve ever seen!!

    And a great comment on Halloween too. In our neighbourhood here in BC, Halloween is still huge. BC has a tradition of having fireworks and bonfires on Halloween and folks go crazy with decorating their homes and lawns (more than Christmas in many cases). It is great how many people are out and about. Wouldn’t it be great if all the churches in town had their doors open wide and gave out candy/hot chocolate or ran programs like Alf’s church? It would sure help present a different image of the church than the common one!

  21. Halloween is my favorite hioliday. I’m a pastor and there is no other time when I get to meet all of my neighbors at once, except when there is a crisis (like a hurricane – we live in South Florida – and I liike hurricanes for the dsame reason!)
    Thanks for the post, and I love the vbarfing pumpkin – I’m going to steal that for next year…

  22. I have very similar memories including my Methodist Church who preached oldtime “holiness” hosting Halloween parties with goblins and witches and every kind of crazy costume. It seems to me from what I remember nobody seemed to be confused by all of that. They are pretty special memories of our church enjoying each otthers company and sharing a good time in the Lord. Thanks for writing

  23. my parents would never let me use anything as “efficient” as a pillow case for collecting candy…Steve, your message is convicting and gets at the heart of what it means to be in the world yet not of it. Instead of hiding like the Celts, we are supposed to be out there creatively starting wholesome God honoring traditions. Next year, I’m going door to door with something I know all my nieghbors need or use alot: light bulbs, or hand sanitiser, postit notes…help me out if you want…nothing to break the bank, but things practicle and helpful. Stocking stuffer type items, hmmm. Anyway, you get the idea. Who knows, it could catch on.

  24. Hi Steve, we agree with you, and the pumkin is awsome! Very creative, tis the season to be sick. I’m not sick of halloween, just another awesome opportunity to share and have some fun and do weird things. God bless, hope your feeling better

  25. Cute!! Love the message about Halloween and also the photo of the barfing pumpkin..
    Get well. God Bless ..
    Catherine

  26. Great thought, Steve.
    I too grew up in a pastor’s home and had great fun on Halloween. Apart from negative history that has been attached to this day, it is also a great day to celebrate God’s reformation of the church. It was the day martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the door and started a process that called his church back to the glory of salvation by grace through faith alone. Celebrate the victory!

  27. Love it. Will be passing it around.

    When my family lived out in the boonies and the kids were very young, we didn’t go trick-or-treating because they never really asked to. So I didn’t push it. Instead we’d have a party at my sister’s with all the cousins and fun games, candy and costumes. (I’m certainly not opposed to fun and sweets!)

    But now the children are older, and ever since we’ve moved to a new neighborhood (more suburb-like), things have changed somewhat. I find that it makes a much stronger POSITIVE statement to go out on Halloween with my kids and/or throw open my doors to the other children and families of the neighborhood than it would to barricade my house and turn off all the lights and cower inside. What message would that send my kids, anyway? And to be welcoming (rather than simply “fearful”) actually makes me much more “neighbourly”, hence loving, hospitable and Christ-like. As I told my kids, greater is He that is in us anyway, so what do we have to fear? I mean, the good book *does* say “perfect love casts out fear”, after all…

  28. Thank you! My “weird” hubby & I decorate and celebrate with just these intentions on all holidays. And the response from children and their parents is so rewarding ~ their unadulterated delight and gratitude makes it so worthwhile. It is so sad to read of Balck & Orange day, of Season’s Greetings and Spring Break … why are we always stuffing good intentions down the drain? What a sad legacy for our children to be given! This article is TERRIFIC!

  29. Thanks Steve. One quick comment, I live in a small town in Alberta (our population is 25% under 15 years of age) and the Halloween tradition is still very much in full-gear. All the kids dress up for school (my husband is a VP and they do a full parade). Houses get all decorated and our house alone had well over 150 kids with parents in tow, some of whom were dressed up too. I understand the debate and the concern, but I think your points were well made. Thanks again.

  30. Steve, I too am enduring the flu. Only thing to do is rest, and drink a lit. Thank you for intoducing your lovely wife.
    I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition in Edmonton. Us kids thought we were so lucky (and superior) because the Catholic schools got the day off in honor of “All Saints”.

    Gradually that came to an end, as did “Farmers Day”

    You have a very lively Faith that you express so beautifully. Thank You

    Keep Well Steve

  31. Hi Steve, thanks for the thought provoking blog on Halloween. I grew up as a Non Christian kid who just had a lot of fun with Halloween. Today I am a father of three sons and a pastor and so at times my wife and I have really struggled because in our community of Maple Ridge many people get right into H. and decorate their yards. Some decorate them in very goulish ways, so when our kids were really young we choose alternative activites like swimming to do on that evening. In recent years however, we have let our kids go out and we use the evening to connect with our neighbours and guide our kids in learning how to, as you so well put, “redeem” our society. But at the end of the day for my boys it really is best summed up in my 11 year old’s statement, “DAD, its a night of free candy!”
    Learning – Ken

  32. I agree with your sentiments. Thank you for voicing them. I’m your age, Steve, and so many people have missed out on the community and fun we had those nights. I helped each of my 4 children make their own costumes each year, and we had such fun doing that!

  33. Regarding “Christian” occasions as opposed to pagan ones, where does it say we’re to celebrate Christmas or Easter. I don’t recall Jesus instructing us to “do this in remembrance of Me”.

  34. Let’s not confuse the innocence of past Halloweens, celebrated in community, when the scariest costume you’d see was a kid wearing a sheet to represent a ghost, with the evil and gore Halloween is today. If you want to be a testimony to your neighbours, it isn’t handing out candy on one night that’s going to do it. I’m a very visual person. Graves, skeletons, blood-dripping ghouls just don’t do it for me. I CHOOSE not to be a part of it, and quite frankly I’m amazed that Halloween’s Satanic connection is so easily forgotten, or dismissed. Sorry Steve, I love your music and your musings, but I gotta disagree with you on this one.

  35. Sorry to say this but putting Christ into anything that is demonic and glorifying of th eoccult does not make it right. Too many pagan celebrations have been “Christianized” and I find that as I grow in Christ my desire to partake in any of them wanes. Halloweén, Christmas and Easter to name a few, are all pagan celebrations with Christ thrown in for good measure. Please, for the sake of your eternal life with Christ, learn the truth behind these “holidays” and pray Christ will show you what He truly desires you to do. True Christianity has been so “watered down” and blended with pagan beliefs that I am sure Christ would not recognize the things being taught by His “Church”. May God bless you and direct you, granting you discernment and knowledge where it is required.

  36. One of the many blessing of being an Anglican is that we are aware that our God is so much bigger than many fundamentalists would believe, and that we need not live our lives in fear. We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…

    Happy All Saints Day and God bless. By the way, we do have a symphony here in the Okangagan, you know! Wish you were coming this December! Think about it for next year!

  37. Steve,

    Growing up in a Reformed home, the question wasn’t whether we could go out for Halloween – it was whether or not we should actually reward those “sinners” who came to the door with candy. The fear of tricks gave way to our providing treats.

    I was so envious of those kids in costumes, one time I dressed up in the bathroom, snuck out the window and knocked on our own door. My Mom recognized me, and simply told me to come inside. The least she could have done is reward me with a candy for my creative efforts.

    Today I view Halloween the way Paul dealt in Romans 14 with the dicy question of eating meat offered to idols. If your faith doesn’t allow it, don’t go there. Just don’t judge others who do, or flaunt your freedom to the detriment of someone who can’t see past the evil connections with this day.

    Thanks for your musing and barfing pumpkin!

    Bill

  38. Steve, I laughed & laughed at your comment about the Hallelujah party, because our church growing up as kids was a Hallelujah party church 🙂 So funny…right up there with the “Midnight Gladness” sale at our local Christian bookstore 🙂 (not to knock the store, which is run by an awesome guy whom you know 🙂
    Just thought I’d share that for what it’s worth. Great article…and nice to see a pic of your lovely wife too.
    Cheers.
    Esther G.

  39. I too wish the glamorization of the dark side of Halloween was not so drastic. People do tent to get carried away. It is just as disappointing as the commercialization of Christmas. 🙁

  40. Of course we can’t just add a bit of Jesus to something evil , or baptize a Pagan feast and call it Christian, but that’s not what has happened to Saturnalia (Christmas) or Samhain (Halloween). It is Jesus who adopts the Pagans (our ancestors) filling them, and their old festivals with himself. Samhain where is your sting? Saturnalia, where is your victory?

    So, lets all go out and make ghouls of ourselves, remembering that Halloween is actually a gift from our pagan ancestors, and St Paddy and his friends. The former came up with this funny idea, but it was the latter who made it fun.

    Love your stuff – Dan

  41. Also recall Winnipeg Halloweens, the warmth of open doors and welcomes to “Hall-o-ween Ap-ples!!” Years of having to recite a poem, sing a song, tell a joke before the treat was forthcoming. I stopped giving out candy years ago, after living thru the viral aftermath of a sugar holiday with my Grade 2’s. Living in rural Cherryville, BC meant the holiday was celebrated in spectacular fashion, one year a gang of us adults dressed as a band of aliens with a space ship we carried , the craft and our costumes were built of silver fabric and we had gross papier mache heads. We won the costume prize at the Lumby dance..Glad I experienced these things, now as I age I passed this year’s Eve at Vernon Alliance church, in a service led by Corey Doak, then went to a Kal Lake lookout to photograph the fireworks. I passed on the dance to stay home and listen to my 2 new Corey Doak CD’s, and my Jodi King CD.
    Nanci, that barfing pumpkin was like nothing I ever imagined. I hope you used it to bake with! Suzy Homemaker tip: How to get into hard shelled squash: place squash in a cloth bag and whack it on a cement surface, if that isn’t quite enough, jump on it while still in the bag. Then you have chunks to steam to get the skin off. I eat mostly vegs and I am eating a steady diet of roasted together parsnips, yams and squash, sometimes carrots too. very tasty and satisfying in cooler weather.
    Leila

  42. Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve shifted all over the map on the Halloween issue depending on where I’ve lived and the life stages of me and my kids. When my son was terified by masked kids coming to the door, we decided to avoid the day. We’ve also gone to a church party, and been in community parties because travelling the streets was not safe. I’ve also dressed up and provided supplies for other revelers. Some of the creativity I’ve seen is awesome. The whole evil side is bothersome, but trying to ignore or redeem the day is bothersome as well. However, the cheap candy available after the day is my favourite part!

  43. Oh my, i really enjoyed the article on halloween. Thanks for taking us through the process of looking back and figuring it out more accurately. The idea of being out there and generously participating in this fun event makes alot of sense to me!

  44. Halloween night is an amazing time in our community in Edmonton. Adults dress up with their kids, the streets are alive with everyone chatting and laughing and it’s great to connect. We have taken our firepit out front and had chairs and hot chocolate set up. This year the plan was for the teenagers on our block to set up carnival games for the young kids along the front of our houses. Unfortunately the flu hit a few houses and we are planning for the games for next year. Thanks for your words. Let’s get to know our neighbors and be a part of God’s kingdom in our neigborhood.

  45. Amen! I’m not sure we can find any custom without something pagan or dark in its origins. But we did grow up in a home that outlawed anything to do with Halloween. And my older kids complain that it took until our youngest for us to just jump in. Why not celebrate the good in something that can include an entire community, and I loved the part about St. Patrick – that part of the story isn’t well-known. We had very few out this year, but I think it is because so many have the flu. Yet another bit of wisdom from “The Well of a Minstrel” – my phrase for Steve’s works :).

  46. Hey Steve… I like your article but i would like to suggest that the origins of Halloween are not in the Celtic Culture. i believe that culture was imitating something that was real and perhaps scary but originated somewhere else.

    The bible tells us that when Christ died, a spectacular event happened. Matthew 27:50 ​​ says, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”

    I think the world and Satan have been trying to imitate and distort this amazing victory over death ever since. Imagine the city at the time… relatives long dead show up at the door for tea! It was scary but also a celebration. Perhaps we in the church have missed something and given away the resurrection moment the same way we gave away Easter in general, and Christmas and ?

    I dont think we should participate in the imitation, but rather in the real! Just some thoughts from an old red head. By the way, i know your uncle Steve and Blance. I learned a great deal from them growing up!

  47. Thanks, Steve. We are working on the concept of helping new believers think through replacing their old religious holidays with new celebrations, and this discussion was very helpful. Of course, hearing about the old days in Drum is also fun.
    Rod

  48. Me again! I find every comment here of value. This Halloween tug and pull (and Christmas can be the same way) seems to grab our sensibilities year after year. I especially was intrigued by the parallel made to the events at the crucifixion – something that I’m sure I’ve even studied in the past but hadn’t thought of in years. I’m not sure you can make a connection. But there is food for thought there. As I approach 40 years of the Christian dance, I find myself relaxing into the simplicity of it. It really is about a day to day journey, with our hands firmly in the Father’s, and with the enjoyment of Jesus’ occasional (or daily) wink. And as I write this I’m listening to Al Gore talking to Charlie Rose about the environmental crisis we face – another very emotional and heated debate.. There are such huge issues for us in this day. Way beyond whether we should be carving pumpkins or not.

  49. Your wife’s the vomiting pumpkin was excellent. She could have won a competition, I give her the blue ribbon. Loved the article too. You truly have a gift for writing. I enjoy all that you write.

  50. Thanks Steve for a well reasoned Christian’s response to dealing with Halloween – to be involved rather than disassociating ourselves from an opportunity to connect with our community.
    Appreciated the perspective of St. Patrick that you brought to light. I agree that the Church ought to be actively encouraging believers to engage the community in the various cultural arenas.

  51. This was a very good blog – I have thought for a long time that Halloween or another festival or time of celebration doesn’t have to be given over the satan or the world. We have the power of Christ to redeem anything from evil’s temptation or the flesh’s lust. Instead of banning things…let’s look for creative ways to engage the culture with redemptive joy and dare, I say: “fun”.

    And I LOVE the barfing pumpkin – superb job. Gotta love ya Nancy, Karen Flack-Buettner.

  52. I appreciate your argument, and I think I agree – that rather than simply retreating from Halloween, Christians can participate, but in our participation still show our difference.

    But I thought the vomiting pumpkin undermined your point – if Christians are going to participate, then we shouldn’t join in celebrating what’s dark, disturbing and disgusting. Where’s the antithesis then?

  53. I think you’ve touched on a valid point; though as you realized the principal is far more reaching then just halloween. When Jesus said: “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). He was not only speaking of salvation but the freedom of it. That there would be liberty to experiance life outside of the normal confines of the “fold”.
    In the next verse that follows Jesus says that the thief does not come except to steal; kill and destroy; while Jesus says “…I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJ).
    Now in contrast to Jesus’ light yoke and easy burden that He brings to ones life (Matt. 11:28-30). The Pharisees as their name implies were separtists isolating themselves from the greater community in which they lived in the hopes of purfying themselves. A similair group mentioned briefly in the N.T. was the Essenes. They are believed to have been those who started the community at Quram (i.e. where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered). The result though of such isolation whether in Jewish; Christian or even Musilm circles historically never seems to have positive effects on their adherents.
    While in contrast the Lord Jesus was always engaging of the culture He step into. And it was often because of His contraversial assocations with known sinners that He fell into the disdainful regard of such individuals. Yet His purpose was not to be contraversial.
    Rather it was for healing and repentance of many that He took such risks (Matt. 9:9-13). If it meant His reputation or Person would be called into question. He bore it. For love demands action, not isolation (Luke 15:3-7).
    I guess for us as individual believers or would be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we must decide for ourselves just what our comfort zones are. But engagment of our culture, if done wisely and tacfully, can never be a bad thing. For both might come to a better understanding of each other and who they are. And we just might become greater agents by which God plants seeds of grace, hope and life through us as well.

  54. Steve, I was not aware of St.Patricks contribution to reconditioning halloween by giving instead of taking when last year my wife had that idea and took our children out to encourage the elderly/shut-ins,etc w/ a visit and goodies. That was a last minute thought, so planning ahead, we hope to expand on that and do more this year. That article was encouraging , THANK YOU for sharing & GOD BLESS, James.

  55. Hi, How much I enjoyed Nancy’s pumpkin! I have always loved dress up parties. Every Halloween our greater family has a party where we are all dressed up from age 86 down to babies. We do not encourage scary and evil looking costumes rather fun and crazy ones. Our costumes range from lobster fishermen to Barbie dolls to farmers to bumble bees. We all have a great time eating halloween treats, bobbing for apples, and laughing together. Our participation in Halloween is another way to enjoy our family. We are a Christ centered family , but do not find that it is evil to enjoy this holiday.

  56. Halloween is one of mixed emotions for me..Like you, I remember great times filling pillowcases as you did. The costumes then were so simple, clowns, hobos, trailn engineers, the odd witch etc. Nowadays, they are the most grotesque mix of evil. From hideous demons to the worst hollywood monsters, nothing is left to the imagination. And some houses become the most haunted, warped environments you could think of. I often wonder how the real young ones react to this.

    But I still do get a charge out of seeing the little ones dressed up having fun. The teenagers who can’t be bothered to even wear a hockey sweater get me.

    I guess we can find paganistic origins in almost everything. The wreath, is considered a sign of the female sex organ and imlies sexual invitation in some groups, or it is a complete circe, representing the circle of life, or re-incarnation in others. Do we stop using them at Christmas or Remembrance Day because of a small percentage of interpretation.

  57. Thanks to Nancy for the pumpkin and Steve for the positive spin on what is increasing becoming a scary time of adult debauchery around where I live.

    For Christians, any other celebration on October 31 should completely overshadowed by the remembrance of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses on the Wittenberg door. What a shame that we allow such a pivotal moment in church history to escape us as an opportunity to celebrate our faith and the liberty God has brought us through the scriptures.

    I agree we should put Christ back into October 31 but instead of hallowe’en call it Reformation Day

    Blessings

  58. Hi Steve,
    After reading your blog about Halloween, I have to say that I do not partake in this day or the night before. It’s roots are in the occult and when Christians take a “well, we will give it a Christian look to it” is dangerous. There is a battle between darkness and light. The human sacrifices that are going on at this time is real. We need to be on the offensive with prayer and fasting against the powers of darkness everyday and especially on this day! I will not compromise what the Bible says about the darkness that is all around us. True, people can say the same about “Santa” and all the other garbage that this world has polluted but as for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!! At that means we aren’t going to partake in a satanic holiday as this! I had the same view as your until I sat and listen to a celtic and his teaching on the origin of this day. At the time, I was also a Deputy Sheriff and a short time later, we came upon a sacrificial alter with human remains on it just a short distance from our community. There is still activity going on in this world on that day and every day for that matter. But we as followers of Christ are to stand against the powers of darkness and to walk in the Truth and Righteousness of our Lord.
    I know not everyone shares in this, but at the end days, I don’t want to have my participation
    in this day being display before me unless it is showing me in prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord!!

    God Bless.

  59. I am personally torn when it comes to celebrating “Halloween”. I don’t like the idea of celebrating darkness … actual lack of light or otherwise. I really do want to be a part of my community … I love especially seeing the little ones dress up. On a practical level, leaving the light on means that I’m available to take part – in whatever fashion seems suitable. If my light is off … it means I’m “cowering” (as you put it). It’s hard to make a free choice it seems without being somehow branded. I guess the real question for me should be: “what is God actually requiring of me regarding this issue right now?”, as opposed to what others think.
    Just a thought with regards to Jesus and the contemporary culture He entered and took part in. Scripture only refers to the Jewish feasts. He did not take part in any of the Roman/Pagan events – it should be noted that none of the apostles or disciples did either. The Jewish feasts had (and still do) have great relevance to the life of Jesus, then, now and in the future. They were in fact designed by Him. Not only did He take part, but He often clarified the feasts true meaning by referring to Himself and His real identity.
    What then should we do with the cultural events of the day?
    From a cultural perspective, this (Halloween) is a purely (how ironic) Western and mostly North American cultural issue. If this was celebrated (the veneration of the dead) in Mexico (Dia de los Muertos) or Haiti, for example, it would take on a completely different meaning than, for example, how we see Halloween celebrated at Wal-Mart. Ancestor Worship, Spiritism, Voodoo are some of the examples of real world issues surrounding the celebration of “souls”. What is the responsibility of a Christ follower when it comes to these issues? One thing is for sure, we should not make an effort to substitute one culture with another “culture” (aka. Texas style Christian culture introduced to a Laotian Hill Tribe). However, truth with a capital “J” should prevail when it comes to the person of Jesus that defies and transcends culture.
    In the end it amazes me in terms of what “we” are known for and the extent of offence both inside and outside of the Church when it comes to efforts to “integrate” vs. “the Person of Jesus”. Jesus almost always offended the sensibilities of both those who followed him as well as the religious opposition. His Spirit in the lives of believers clearly did the same with the non Jewish community (See Acts 19 “Goddess Artemis”). It’s my firm belief that He will continue to offend everyone, especially those that are more concerned with a social Jesus than a King Jesus.
    It’s so hard to be popular with my community and be a follower of Jesus … what’s a Christian to do?
    The prime objective is to love Jesus (first) … and then our neighbours. Loving our neighbours is defined by the way we love God. Let’s not forget that please!

  60. Kudos to Nanci… that’s a work of art!!! Seriously, I love it. Ever thought of hiring out your carving skills? Could make some nice coin off the neighbors… haha

    And Steve, you don’t get off that easy; we want to see pictures of the centurion.

    Muhaha! 😉

  61. Wow! Couldn’t agree more …. you’ve put down in words what I always thought about Halloween. It’s about community, neighbours, love, fun and seeing beyond …. I had no idea about St. Patrick and think that’s totally cool! Thanks so much for your insight! And Happy Hallowe’en!

  62. I agree wholeheartedly. “Sweets” should be be handed out as the norm . Choice morsels to go deep within the soul , the very fibre of our being.God ‘s word is sweet and needs to be shared all the time , yet how many of us sit and wait for what would seem to be just the right time – only to find out that we’ve waited too long. Each day needs to be a Hallelujah Day we gladly celebrate by handing out salvation sweets.
    Side note – if my stomach had contents like those of Nanci’s pumpkin I think I’d be right in there beside him/her .
    Happy Halloween

  63. Fantastic post! 🙂 (I’m not just saying that only because I agree with you.), Really well said.

  64. great post! I shut away from Halloween for years not knowing exactly there to stand with it! So Thanks! And that pumpkin was awesome! great work!

  65. Loved and agreed with the whole posting. Thank you Steve! I am a practicing progressive catholic. I have always had fun on Halloween night and made sure my children enjoyed it also. I have Celtic ancestry and have just recently read a book on Druids. I found this ancient culture absolutely fascinating because first and foremost, the Celts believed in the eternal soul and thus this would explain their obsession with and fear and love of the dead. Having said that, I am also grateful that some traditions have not survived! I say, keep Halloween clean and fun and yes, make it a family and community night!

  66. I disagree here is why
    I would like to start my descussion with a simple scripture from the book of Romans chapter 11 verse 16, which says:
    For if the first fruits be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
    Although we call it “halloween” or “all Hallow’s eve” the orgins of what many are celebrating, nomatter how innocent it may appear on the surface, have very heavy Druid implications. “First fruits” in the above passage of scripture, I am relating it to as the very first foundation set in this celebration day and looking at the abundant fruit that it has produced.. on this day, many people playfully, and many meaningfully celebrate the lord OF death, which you can see the fruits of that when you look at the costumes that many people are wearing; example: Ghosts, goblins, demons, witches, devils, zombies, warewolves, vampires skeletons, sculls, 666, pentagrams..etc this is the mainstreem in this celebration day. Even haunted houses, and right down to the goodies are tell tale sighns of this druid celebration. In the Druid cult directly.. the 31st is litterally taken as a hallowed day for worshiping the lord of death and the way that they worship, is through disguising themselves in grotesque costumes and masks.. sometimes carrying on the tradition of danceing around bonfires to scare away evil ancester spirits while setting out treats for the good ancester spirits to welcome them into their midst. Later many engage in the offering of human sacrifices to the lord of death.(Yes this is still going on in this day and age). The jack o lanturns as we call them, is believed to be used with the witches use of a scull with a candle in it to light the way to coven meetings. There are witches in the druid cult that do jump around with broomsticks between their legs for the purpose of enhancing their phychic abilities,(i won’t go into details of how they actually use the broom stick) they also comunicate with the dead on this occation, and engage in seances and necromancing and i could go on and on, but i would only run out of space and i wouldn;t be able to conclude. For a lack of writting space i have left out many commonly told folklore about halloween, and the carved out pumpkin which was originally a turnup, and the legend of irish jack, but i really just wanted to get to the hard core of this day that people celebrate and disect it and expose it’s fruit.
    In closing i would like to quote one last scripture and it is from is from the book of Luke chapter 6 verse 43 and 44 which says:
    For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit
    For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes
    If one wants to celebrate Jesus and life on this day that’s awesome! But i really don’t think that people are totally celebrating Him if they are engaging in the celebrations that resemble the druid practice.

  67. Hi steve, i appreciate your heart in the matter, to you it is about familly, fun, and entertainment… but, i strongly disagree because it conflicts with Biblical principal. i ran out of room on my blog below so i am adding this in now and now you can read the blog bellow

  68. Wow! Thank you for your perspective on Halloween and the history behind it! How interesting! Thank you, Steve! I like Halloween too, when you keep Christ in Halloween and I agree, should we not be out doing acts of kindness in the name of Jesus in the public marketplace? Have a blessed and wonderful day!

  69. I am saddened by what you have written. Why do you feel the need to make Halloween permissible to Christians ? Tell me how does this glorify God ? Halloween is less and less about kids dressing up and getting candy and more and more about Adults behaving badly. Oct 31st is now a day where anyone can be as evil or slutty as they want to be. It is a day for teens and adults to act out . There is nothing , NOTHING about Halloween that is glorifying or pleasing to God.
    It is a poor excuse to say that giving out treats is a Christian witness. Please ! You should be encouraging Christians to get out and help their neighbor, and to be a shining example or what is good and of love. Too many Christian leaders are preaching this cotton candy gospel of “all things are permissible under the grace of God” . Too many Christians are running around in immoral sin thinking they are all good with Jesus and will go to Heaven no problem, because they have a ticket to sin. Does the blood of Jesus mean so little to you ?
    Your article is just another example of excusing bad behavior.

  70. Just wanted to share our experience. Our church meets Sunday early evening-so we decided as a church, rather than hide out together-we’d take the “treats to the streets”.
    So some people went out in groups of 3’s looking to bless the adults out with their kids, and a few stayed back at a house-handing out candy-coffee, and hot chocolate. Our goal was to be light! So at the house-we laughed,played “switchfoot” on cd-and had fun, giving out candy and praying for people who wanted prayed. The “street people” ended up going to doors of those looking for kids as there were not many out. We gave the adults “fancy chocolates” and offered to pray for them. This was well received by all-even if they didn’t want prayer-they were so surprised that “Christians” would just give something with no expectations!
    We were all a bit surprised at how open people really were and decided we’d do it again!
    Many of us had concerns about participating in what has been designated as “evil” but at the same time it’s hard to reconcile that with Jesus and who HE hung out with-not the church crowd! We decided we want to BE salt and light-so we have to be where there is lack of those 2 things. We just want His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and to live in the opposite spirit of the age-which means to love and bless!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  71. Rob Adams, I totally agree with your comments.(Oct 6th)
    Steve, thanks for sharing this, now I have background information in regards to Halloween.
    May God give us the wisdom in doing what is right in His eyes.

    Christian greetings …

  72. Steve, this article reflected many of my sentiments as I have tried to reconcile my own pleasant memories of Halloween and my desire for my own kids now to have those kind of memories with the condemnation of Halloween that seems to be coming from the church these last two decades or so. We also want to be a light in our neighbourhood by handing things out to kids. Thank you!

  73. I agree with Steve. Halloween is just one of the areas we’ve removed ourselves from. We need to engage people where they are and walk out our faith in all areas of endeavour – the arts, business, social justice, education and the day to day life people are living.
    I grew up with the fun of Halloween. We kids were out laughing and scoring some candy and the parents were chatting and being neighbourly.
    Somehow we began to huddle in our houses or churches and missed out on our community.
    If anyone should be out in streets it should be the Jesus followers who are seeking the good of their city and their neighbourhood. To those who say it’s the devil’s night, well let’s take it back! He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world, right?
    How do we get to connect with people if we don’t hang with them? And as far as that goes, let’s use the gift of hospitality given by the Spirit and give out the best stuff! How about setting out one of those portable canopies and having coffee or hot chocolate for the adults and candy for the kids. Let’s use Halloween to sow the love of Christ and get to know our neighbours. Jesus knew a good party when He saw one and he was the friend of party goers (or sinners as some called them).

  74. Thank you! We have decided that instead of hiding out, we are going to hand out candy and treats this year as well as Adventures in Odyssey and Paws and Tales discs to the kids who come to our door!

  75. Very interesting article…..so many Christians run from the very thought Halloween…..

    The pumpkin doesn’t think to much of it eithe….. (it’s probably Mennonite…LOL

  76. My 11 year old granddaughter went ot a costume partty Tuesday evening dressed as a Reese’s Cup carrying a large spoon. She was sad that few were able to figure out her creatiivty! (Reesee with her spoon….get it?)

    Probably should have been a withering spoon. – SB

  77. I too miss the good old days when it was a night for the kids to have fun going from house to house and filling their baskets full of candy. I come from a different era Mr. Steve, we had baskets, pillow cases were to come years later. The only part of the modern Halloween that I do not like is that most homes are decorated with evil decorations as compared to the forties & fifties when it was just a pumpkin with a happy face and a burning candle, I remember it being a lot of fun. My best costume was our mayor back in the day (she was a lady) with my dad and mum making all the important things for it including the ceremonial chain of Office which my dad made out of all these gold looking metal things, it was just too cool. At the school party before we went out I was to tie with another costume for first place….yea for my mum and dad, because it was their idea and they were the ones that made it all work. On October 31st have a safe and happy night.

  78. I think it is naive and incorrect to assume that we can avoid the devil, demons and their followers by not taking part in Hallowe’en. The devil has his fingers in many things, even those that Christians believe belong to them. To go out on Hallowe’en and change the meaning of the day to an opportunity to extend the love and grace that Christ extended to us is what Christ tasked us to do. It is up to us to make this day a celebration of Christ and Community and not a celebration of death. For those who choose to act irresponsibly on this evening, we see these actions in all people and on all days and evenings, not just on Hallowe’en. Again, it is our job to be examples of Christ and hopefully those that act irresponsibly will see another way to enjoy this (or any other) celebration without acting irresponsibly. To obstain from this celebration in the name of Christ is to exclude our neighbours and to do the exact opposite of what Christ did.
    Thank you Steve for posting this very controversial subject. I enjoyed reading it and the comments that followed, from both sides.

  79. I enjoyed the article and I agree. Let’s be hospitable, and celebrate truth, beauty and goodness wherever we may find it, letting our lights shine into the dark places. Thanks for encouraging us to do so! (OS – Creativity is one of the best parts and your wife’s pumpkin is evidence of that!)

  80. I agree… the entire reason for Christ coming to earth was to save the lost, to love and He went into hell for our freedom. He sat amongst the sinners and His priority was loving the lost. While turning out your lights and attending the fun activities at church show your fellow church members you are still with them, is it not your neighbors that do not believe that you are called to reach? The least we could do for our communities is let our lights shine, encourage and love our neighbors and their children. Would Christ sit in a church or turn the lights out on a day some call the darkest of the year? I don’t think so.

  81. I chose not to participate in Halloween for years due to the stance of my church. However, when I learned about the pagan roots of many Christmas traditions, (the history of the wreath, mistletoe etc.), my view of Halloween has altered. Some Christians choose to not celebrate Christmas for the very same reasons that many Christians do not participate in Halloween. If I must discard Halloween because of its roots, then I should also discard Christmas, which is really rooted in a pagan holiday, the Solstice. Instead, I choose to create traditions in my home that have meaning and significance for us now. Just because mistletoe was used to entice the god of fertility does not mean that I am opposed to mistletoe now. I don’t know if this all makes sense . . . .
    Your article is a breath of fresh air and I thank you.

  82. “This is the day the Lord has made! I will REJOICE and be glad in it!!!” This is one more day to celebrate and live the abundant life that Jesus offers us – to love Jesus; to love others.

    I will NOT give the devil the satisfaction of letting him claim this day as his. It is a day made by God. I claim it!

    Thanks for your very wise words. We need to take note and listen to wisdom instead of our fears.

  83. Sure glad we have Ro. 14:3-4 & 22, so let’s be just as gentle with those brothers and sisters in Christ who think differently than we do as we claim to be with those who don’t know Christ at all.

  84. Thank you for explaining so eloquently what is on my heart as I try to tiptoe around this issue as a Christian preschool teacher. Children from several denominations attend, and it’s always a concern–do we have a Halloween party, a pumpkin party, a fall party (as we did this year), or nothing? Do the children wear costumes (many have their hearts set on showing off their costumes at school), or not (others are offended by it and think it shouldn’t be allowed)….

  85. I too remember Halloween as a fun night! My mom made the most incredible costumes for me. My friends and I would roam the neighbourhood streets and collect enough candy to keep us going until the next Oct. 31 rolled around. Mrs. Lawrence, one street over decorated her house and dressed up as a witch. She gave out full sized candy bars if you sang her a song. We always had a tune planned for her. Now I have my own little house in the ‘burbs and I hope a few cute kids will show up at my door on Monday evening! Thanks for your refreshing perspective on Halloween and the world!

  86. Thank-you Steve! I too miss the fun of Halloween. We adults are so consummed with nonsense sometimes. Our kids must scratch their heads in wonder. we love Halloween here, but sadly our little community has opted for the Hallelujah party…. 🙁 I miss little neighobr princesses popping by!

  87. Bah. You have a point but it feels like justification to me. I like to follow Health Canada’s mantra: “When in doubt, throw it out”.

    It is nothing to do with fear. I also don’t celebrate Yom Kippur or Ramadan. So? It is those who wish me to participate in Halloween that make it such a big deal. I’m trying to ignore it and go swimming or something, but there is always so much pressure to join in. Why can’t I just quietly abstain like I do for so many other things?

    And I am not judging anyone who does participate. I think a percentage of them wish they would have the guts to take a stand, but just can’t do it. So your article makes them feel better and that’s why they like it. Others really don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s their choice. It is not as black and white as some people are making it out to be.

    So, like I said in the beginning, when in doubt, throw it out. I want to please God out of love for Him, not out of fear. Fear has nothing to do with it.

    Ha! That’s the first comment I’ve seen that started with “Bah!” Awesome! Donna – do as you please, obviously. My argument is simply that folks need not abstain from participation on the basis of Christian principle when the spread of the very tradition in question is largely because of Christian conviction that Christ has conquered death and triumphed over evil. – Steve

  88. Halloween is Great opportunity to share Christ where kids are at. I know some kids who have dressed up as Saints like St.Patrick and quickly shared a neat thing about his life to those who asked who he was.

    We as a family are in full time kids ministry and my wife wanted to hand out candy as well as give kids a choice to choose a free CD or DVD from our collection of kids resources we produce to help kids experience the beauty and richness of knowing Christ.
    47 kids in our small community.received the ‘sweetness’ of Christ by getting a christian CD/DVD.

  89. Just a great post! Especially this part:

    “Personally, it makes me sad that the Church (in part) seems to have retreated into the very fear-based isolation St. Patrick’s lively faith contradicted.”

  90. Hi Steve, A Good read, thanks! I learned recently to use the carving of the pumpkin as a lesson on how we are full of messy sin like the seeds etc and Jesus is the only one who can really clean us out inside. When we are clean we put in the light of Jesus love that shines through us to others. I wish I had known about this when my children were little, it would have been a great way to carve and learn at the same time.

  91. The pumpkin doesn’t think to much of it eithe….. (it’s probably Mennonite…LOL

    Was there something funny about Mennonites? Because I guess I didn’t read that part.

  92. Thank-you Steve. My lovely sis-in-law sent me a link to your site and this article about Halloween and it’s been very helpful. My birthday is a couple days before Halloween and growing up I had a number of costume theme birthday parties, etc because of it. I have children now and have always made a point of emphasizing the things God has created that have become symbols in Halloween decoration: black cats, bats, pumpkins, spiders and even skeletons (we all have one!). We go out in our communtiy and try to make connections with our neighbours and also enjoy welcoming them to our door and generously giving them a treat. This year my children were unfortunately exposed to a prank someone played where a motion sensor set off some scary music and set some scary ghosts on wires in motion. One of my children screamed and the other nearly fell down the staircase leading to this woman’s door. It was only 6:30pm! Also, there were a lot of yards decorated with headstones and coffins with vampires or zombies in them, etc. I ended up not sure about what we’ll do next year and am concerned about the images I have allowed my children’s sweet innocent eyes to take in. My plan is to jump right into Christmas now and try to keep the focus on Christ alone. We have a number of traditions we follow that work well. One is our Jesus wreath. We decorate it with ornaments that represent parts of the Christmas story from the bible and read the story before and after we decorate it. It hangs in our entry way and is a great reminder throughout the season of what Christmas is all about. Thanks again for your wisdom.

  93. Oy veh! How can we keep Christ “in” something that He was never part of?

    Okay, I oscillated for a few days, debating whether or not I should respond to your blog (I rarely respond to blogs). My initial reaction was, “Hey Steve, what were you thinking? And what ‘possessed’ you to do such a thing?” LoL! Surely you weren’t surprised by the hits you would receive?

    I read several posts on your site and expected to see a range of emotions/opinions, (Scripture quotes, indicating how Yahweh feels about pagan celebrations etc.)

    I can understand and appreciate what you are saying, with your emphasis on doing something “Christ-like” on that day, (as any other day) but for those who do not feel obligated to do something on that day or those who choose to abstain from having anything to do with Halloween, we would like to offer another alternative. There is another way, a better way and we prefer to take the discussion to another level.

    We recognize that there are Believers who understand the true origins of this day, that this ‘celebration of death,’ actually pre-dates Irish/Catholic/Druidic roots, as you know. Ancients Danites (from the tribe of Dan) migrated to northern Europe and the British Isles, and embraced Babylonian “mythos.”

    The ancient Babylonians had a pagan god called Samas. “…from the Amorite period the major name for Satan was Samael” Jewish legend says ‘Samael-Samiel’ is the angel of death and the head of the devils. The Greek rendering of the word ‘Samael’ is ‘Sammane’.” (The Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 5, page 1020 and Vol. 14, page 719)

    My point is simply this. I understand where you are coming from, with respect to your beliefs about St. Patty’s approach, but rather than look for alternate ways for people to interact or find other virtuous deeds to do on that day or “Christianize” or baptize this pagan celebration (in some way), and you cannot avoid having people feel that they are compromising their faith (knowing from His word how Yah feels about Israelites embracing pagan religion), we simply prefer to tell people the truth about these pagan days and share the TRUTH with them regarding Yahweh’s festive celebrations ( His holidays or Holy Days).

    Yahweh calls them “My Feasts” in Leviticus chapter 23 (they are not feasts of the Jews, although the Jews are among the few who observe them).

    We observe the very same festivals that Yeshua (Jesus) observed, the same festivals that the Apostles and the early church observed. My personal beef with those who look for ways to “re-interpret” or Christianize pagan days, is this. Pagan celebrations teach absolutely nothing about God’s plan of salvation for mankind, whereas God’s Holy Days do! All seven Festivals are very rich in meaning and contain deep spiritual truths for Yah’s people, for those who have embraced the New Covenant in Yeshua the Messiah. Many pass out salvation tracts on this day, but few tell unbelievers the real alternative to these days.

    Understanding, observing, and walking in the footsteps of Messiah (including His Holy Days) will enrich our spiritual lives and lead us to a greater understanding about Yahweh, His Son, and His plan for all mankind.

    As Yeshua said, those who worship the Father, will worship Him, in “spirit and in truth,” as the Father is seeking such, who will worship Him, His way. IF Yeshua is the Lord of our lives, then he is certainly the Lord in our observances!

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. Love to all. Thanks again for your recent concert in Winnipeg; we have always enjoyed your music ministry and God-given talents.

    Shalom,

    Randy

  94. It really is depressing reading half of these comments. Thanks for your post, Steve, I say let’s thumb our nose at the devil and enjoy living under grace each day! The enemy is bound and just flailing about trying to make a ruckus, but his time is short.

  95. 1 John 4:4
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

    We as Christians should have no fear because we are over comers in Christ. In our current society where public speaking of Christ is forbidden we have to make our actions speak. Not welcoming neighbours on halloween or joining in the festivity may be interpreted as fear especially to young kids in Christian families. In Christ like behaviours and decent costumes we can reach out to many people during halloween.

    As Christians lets kick fear out, let us see the sights of deadly and evil symbolic representations of things around us-(death, fear, horror, coffin, etc) as things we have overcome through Christ Jesus.

  96. I see nothing in the Bible that backs up the celebration of Halloween. I see no scripture verses in this article to back up Halloween either!

  97. I was just touched by the way you explained your experiences as a child and even more so, because we happen to live in a small town in SK and still have half the town out and about all night, old ladies handing out homemade popcorn balls and men sticking around at some places for a beer or so. 😉 I am from Europe and my church background wouldn’t agree with Halloween, but since we live in Canada, we got used to it more and more and reading your post just made me grateful for the community we live in and the way Halloween is celebrated here. Thanks

  98. Steve, I respectfully disagree. I hadn’t heard that story about Saint Patrick before and suspect it is a myth designed to permit such behavior. Halloween is really only strong in North America and I suzpect heavily promoted only to sell candies and costumes as its commercialization has taken over good sense.
    And because I disagree about celebrating its origins, it doesn’t mean that I am an old sourpuss, conservative Christian.
    I there are many, far better traditions to celebrate.

  99. Thank you Randy,
    Yea and Amen to your response to Steve’s blog. When I came to Christ in 1972, after searching for a couple of years and dabbling into the occult in that search, the Lord led me to read a little booklet “From Witchcraft to Christ” by Doreen Irvine (now gone on to glory). It speaks about Halloween night and the things that are happening in the spirit realm and therefore in the natural. Truly depraved humanity at its best.
    I have 10 children and since the reading of that book never participated in trick or treat, but had a movie night, yes with lots of candy and prayed for peace upon the household.
    I so appreciate your response as it reassures me again that we chose the right thing for that night over the past years. Today my grandchildren are participating and we pray for them and their parents for safety and that their eyes will be opened to the reality of this horrid feast. It all seems so innocent but if we as Christians just had our eyes opened to the spirit realm at that night, we would be praying in earnest for protection and the Blood of Jesus to cover us.
    Thanks again. I will print this off and keep it for future reference to anyone who are in search for the truth of this feast.
    Cornelia

  100. Congratulations, Steve for this delightful & much needed assessment of something good & wholesome having been morphed into something bad & “dangerous”. It’s high time we reclaimed it “for good”. I’d like to use your story, but in certain skeptical circles of judgmental fundagelicals, this would be folly without “documentation”. So where can we find confirmation of St Patrick’s role in the original transformation of Samhain? I’ve looked all over & can’t find anything specific. Thanks!

  101. So a few questions to challenge your logic…
    Do you celebrate birthdays? Do you celebrate anniversaries? Do you wear green on St. Patricks day? Do you go to concerts? Museums or art shows? What about restaurants? Festivals? Do you put Christmas lights up and decorate a tree?
    The Bible says nothing about any of these things either! So does that mean that we disengage from the people and place that God has planted us for His purposes?
    The Bible says to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, Soul and Mind and love your neighbour as yourself. It also gives example after example of how Jesus engaged with and loved people of all walks.

    I used to be caught up in the church “witch hunt” against other believers bonding with neighbours and handing out candy at Halloween. The whole “avoidance so as not to appear sinful or evil”.
    Sigh. So over it.
    I knew all the history of Halloween and am embarrassed to say I got caught up in the fear -based panic that swept through the church about Halloween. Preaching at anyone who would listen of the evils of dressing up and handing out candy!! Very fundamentalist and destructive. I have since seen the light.

    I trust in God and how He is showing me to love and care for the people in my neighbourhood. I no longer trust in a fear directed avoidance based on rules.

    I completely agree with Steve’s article.
    Maybe this will stir up something in you? But I understand we are all entitled to our opinions and way we want to live out our lives.

  102. So true Sally! I love what you said! I would rather be a loving witness for Christ and his grace that saves sinners, than a righteous and religious person that condemns innocent children for dressing up in cute costumes. Let’s chase back the darkness and instead of spreading hate and condemnation, share Gods love.

  103. As a boy we attended a large baptist church in Guelph, ON. The Halloween was seen as an opportunity to spread the gospel. With each treat a tract was given. The city was blanketed with invitations to come to church. Although I cannot provide stats as to their effectiveness, I can say we had 22 school buses combing the city Sunday morning bringing over 600 adults and children to hear about what God had done for us in the person of Jesus Christ.
    The first time I heard Steve perform he closed with “Feeling Groovy” by Paul Simon. Not a “Christian” song by a “Christian” writer. I believe he played this song to the glory of God. We are to be “in” the world , not “of” the world.
    If we isolate ourselves from worldly events rather than using them as opportunities to reach the lost for Christ we will end up with churches that cease to grow. Wait a minute…

  104. As in all areas of life, we Christians are called to respond in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s promptings…Where the Spirit leads, we follow.

    As we see over and over again, how we Christians do life can, at times, be different from each other. We see how God will convict people and confound people according to His plans and purposes…even as crucial as Judas betraying our Lord, such a critical part of the death of Christ. Imagine how the other Disciples (closest friends) felt when they saw what Judas had done. Even Judas himself couldn’t believe it (or live with it).

    So, (I know you agree) what’s important is the emphasis we put on “following” Him. We do not need people’s opinions about issues that may not be outlined as such in the Bible. We need reverence of God and obedience to act according to His Spirit who guides us…in all things. We are accountable to each other to steer one another towards Him in prayer. As you and your family had peace about your participation in Halloween, here’s what happened to us:

    On Saturday, our family was wrestling with staying home and participating in the Halloween event on our street.
    It was not fear. It was a real struggle for each one of us. With prayer and strength, because we did not have peace about staying at home, we finally left the house at 4:30pm. I couldn’t believe what happened next: In the car, my husband prayed a powerful prayer of protection over us, our neighbourhood, children and people any where who were “stuck” or in harms way…that people would discern when it was time for them to leave the party, get away from that crowd, refuse to do evil, prayed into the darkness, etc. etc. It was an awesome prayer…and within moments of driving away from our street, the Peace of God that passes all understanding flooded our souls (each one of us felt it). We were relieved and the Joy of the Lord encompassed our evening of fun, food & fellowship.

    For us, we then understood that the Spirit was calling us out of our home and away from the event on our street. All day the enemy was trying to distort our thinking causing us to feel like we needed to be a part of the very thing we somehow knew we, as a family, should not be a part of. Amazingly, the rest of the night, we did not encounter any offensive “Halloweeny” or “evil” stuff at all. God honoured our obedience, protected our time & energy, and blessed us with His peace. It was like just another beautiful day…as we loved on each other and anyone we came across. We knew that our prayer was profound and spirit-led. That was the channel through which we experienced God’s peace.

    So it should be with any issues that we bring to Him…and when we follow Him, His peace prevails.

    So, I’ve come to understand that why our family has not participated in this event, and what we “think” about the roots of this pagan ritual, is actually irrelevant. Our human opinions don’t really matter. His ways are greater than ours. His thoughts are not our thoughts…so the blessing comes when we act in Faith, do what He calls us to do (or, in this case, not to do) and trust in Him fully.

    I am so grateful for the wonderful time we had as a family that night…united in Spirit. And I’m so grateful that we did the right thing for us (spirit-led)…and we did not offend any of our neighbours in the process 🙂

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