October is here and in full swing. The air is beginning to get colder and crisper and the trees are beginning to display their fall foliage. In just about a week and a half it will be All Hallow’s Eve, otherwise known as Halloween.
It’s a time of year when kids go from door to door and collect candy from both neighbors and strangers; businesses will decorate for Halloween and some may even have a Halloween party for the children of the employees (mine is one of them). Some schools partake in the festivities by having a the kids parade around the school grounds in their costume of choice.
There are many stories which explain the origin of Halloween. Most of them seem to have a common theme among them.
Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic pagan tradition known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sow en’). This day is considered to be the highest holy day for pagans. For them, this is the day where the barrier separating the living from the dead is the thinnest and both the living and the dead can cross over into the other’s world. It’s thought that ghosts, goblins, witches, and demons of all kinds come out to play along with the spirits of the dearly departed.
The origins of the Halloween costume are numerous and varied but I will narrow it down to the three most common ones I have found:
1) The costume was worn so that it would disguise the wearer from identification during their participation in the Samhain festival.
2) The costume was designed to attract the evil spirits to the wearer in an effort to commune with that spirit and have that spirit (or demon) become part of the wearer.
3) The costume would cause the wearer to take on the personality of the costume they are wearing.
The Jack O’ Lantern
There are a few different origin stories for the illuminated pumpkin but the one told by Irish folklorists is that of a man named Jack who tricked the devil into climbing a tree and picking an apple for him. While the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the trunk of the tree. Thee cross prevented the devil from coming down out of the tree. Jack made the devil swear that he would not try to steal Jack’s soul. The devil reluctantly made the promise.
When Jack died, he went to Heaven but God didn’t accept him because of the drunk and stingy lifestyle he led. The devil didn’t accept him either because of his promise to Jack. As Jack was leaving Hell, munching on a turnip, the devil threw a red hot coal at Jack. Jack caught it and put it inside the turnip as a way to light his way while he wandered the earth looking for a home. We now use the pumpkin as a substitute for the turnip as it’s a lot easier to carve.
Today, kids can be seen roaming the streets going from door to door asking for candy. If no candy is provided, then they must perform a trick on the homeowner as a way of getting back at them for their confectionery oversight.
It is generally believed that this started as part of Celtic tradition. Many believed that not all of the spirits roaming the earth were necessarily good ones. They left treats out to appease the evil ones from doing harm to them.
Halloween has changed from its original Celtic pagan roots into something more palatable, having gained some of these changes from Roman Catholic influences. Some churches have even gotten into this more modern approach to Halloween by having activities such as ‘Trunk-or-Treat.’
As a child, I used to dress up and go out and collect candy from all the neighbors. At that age and time, I didn’t know any better. Now that I’ve been saved and my eyes have been opened, I realize that we are participating in the celebration of the occult.
Each family needs to make their own choices and decide if they want to participate in this. For me, however, the Bible is pretty clear on this:
” There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. ” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
To me, it’s pretty clear where God stands on this. My family has chosen not to participate in this tradition. As Christians, I think we should all strive to do the same.