Monday, October 24, 2011

Christians and Halloween

Halloween - possible origin.
Under the Roman Empire, the early church had many martyrs, and later some of these were recognized as "saints". Around AD610 the church dedicated May 13th. as "All Saints' Day" or "All Hallows Day" or "All Hallowmas".
The point was to recognize, remember those 'saints' who had died for their faith.

As Christianity spread into Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, the church found the Celts celebrating an ancient pagan holiday called Samhain/Sôw ên' - which literally meant 'Summer's End'. This was held on Nov. 1st - the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of dark winter. It was celebrated with bonfires, sacrifices, etc. They believed that disembodied spirits walked about that night looking for a body to occupy.

Around 741 AD, the church changed "All Hallows Day' to Nov. 1st. to combat the pagan holiday of Samhain/Sôw ên' Therefore, October 31st. came to be called "all Hallowed Eve" --> 'Hallow 'een' or "all Hallows Eve".

As often happens, the customs blended..... Similarly to Christmas -- (the time, tree, mistletoe, yule log all had origins in the pagan celebration of winter solstice) The date for Christmas was selected to combat the pagan celebrations. Also, with Easter and fertility goddess, eggs, bunnies, etc.

Origin of Halloween traditions?? Hard to be sure....

#1. Spooks - various pagan cultures' notion of evil spirits and disembodied spirits being especially active on the eve before "Sôw ên' ".

#2. Costumes - Celts & costumes? Possibly dressed to fool the spooks or throw them off. Christians dressed as 'saints' of old - called "guising" During the Middle Ages, went door to door asking for food in exchange for prayers for the deceased - called "souling".
Example: Shakespeare's comedy "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (1593) "puling (whimpering, whining) like a beggar on Hallowmas".
"Guising" (disguised in costume, going door to door) goes way back in Scotland (recorded in 1895). Kids visited homes in costume seeking treats and carrying lanterns made of hollowed out turnips with an ember in it for light.

#3. pumpkins/Jack o' Lanterns - comes from an old Irish fable about a man called Stingy Jack who, when the devil came for him one night, conned him into climbing a tree to get him one last apple. Jack then quickly put crosses around the tree so the devil could not come back down. He then made an agreement with the devil, first of all to let him live longer, and when he did die, not to take him to hell. The devil agreed so Jack let him back down out of the tree.
When Jack died, he went to heaven but he was so bad that he couldn't be let into heaven so he went to hell, but, the devil remembering his agreement, wouldn't let him in there either, so there was no place for Jack to spend eternity. So, he was destined to wander between heaven and hell for the rest of his life. When he complained that he needed some kind of lantern to give him some light, he was given a hollowed out turnip with an ember in it.
When the Irish immigrated to the United States they found a much better vegetable to use for these lanterns - the pumpkin. So they became known as "Jack o' lanterns".

Trick or treat???
Tricking goes way back - mostly harmless pranks, mischief done by kids to 'blame' the Halloween spirits.

#4. Trick or treat seems to be an American or North American original - ie: show up in costume with the threat of "treat us or get tricked". In the U.S. it became common by the 1930's and was known originally as "Beggar's Night".

How should Christians react to Halloween? Deal with? Obviously, it's not directly addressed in the scripture.

Opinions vary from "this is pagan, honors Satan, is very bad" to "this is common fun, mocks Satan, no harm in it".

Christians and Halloween.

#1. Evil spirits exist. Satan is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation (and is a key figure in each)
Demons are especially evident during Christ's earthly ministry, and again in Revelation.

#2. The unholy spirits are actively opposed to Christ and Christians. - Satan vs. the Jews, Satan vs. God's people. Rev. 12:17 Eph. 6:12 - ultimately our enemy is not our neighbor, spouse, child, etc. It is Satan.

#3. We are to have no unnecessary involvement with unholy spirits. Deut. 18:9-13
Lev. 19:31, 20:27 Isa. 8:19-20
A. We are to seek no power, authority spiritual benefactor but God. (including Holy angels which are sent as directed by God. We are not to seek them!!)
B. All powers, authority, spirits outside His realm are evil.... therefore harmful and detrimental.

#4. most people observing Halloween are just having fun...NOT seeking, involved with, honoring, worshiping Satan, demons, the dead, ghosts, etc. They are having fun with and making fun of the realm of witches, ghouls, goblins, ghosts.
Make the distinction: ghosts, ghouls, zombies, witches, etc. don't exist!! They are make believe!!
There are demons and spirits, etc. but there are only two powers - holy and unholy.

Contrast trick or treat with playing with an Ouija board, seances, tarot cards, etc. With the latter, you are requesting spirits speak to you and are opening yourself to the spirit world. Very dangerous.

Also note:
#5. how little attention Satan and the demons get in post resurrection scriptures!!! Why??? Because he's been defeated at the resurrection of Christ!!
Example: Rom 1 - 8 deals extensively with sin, wickedness, evil... BUT with no mention of Satan or demons! Ex. Rom. 1:29-32

WHY??? Satan and his minions are defeated!!! He still is to be taken seriously, but not to be feared. Just stand firm.

So, again..... Christians & Halloween? Should we observe? ignore? oppose? The decision is really yours. But, another option is Redeem (customize, hijack - to make a pagan holiday ours...)

Whatever you do, 2 passages are relevant........
1. 1 Cor. 8 - 10 - regarding meat offered to idols. Summary verse: 1 Cor. 10:31

2. Rom. 14 & 15 - observation of days, diets - summary vs. Rom. 14:1, 12-13 (a)

The important question is NOT which day? eat or abstain? observe or ignore?
The important question is Who IS your Lord? How will you SERVE HIM???

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