Today is October 1st.
In Michigan, that means leaves have begun to turn from green to red, yellow, orange (and brown). The weather is (mostly) chilling down after a hot Summer. The days are growing a bit shorter, the nights a bit longer.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love Autumn for all the reasons listed above.
However, for most people the beginning of October signals something far different. A month long celebration of all things dark, sinister, or deadly.
Ghosts. Goblins. Witches. Spiders. Vampires. Monsters.
These are what find emphasis throughout displays in grocery and department stores, candy shops, and in decor finding it’s way onto the porches of people’s homes. Even when using light hearted or fantasy characters (princesses or superheroes), or adding bright shades of purple to the more traditional orange and black, the significance which girds the celebrations taking place on October 31st remain the same.
Spooky. Scary. Frightful. Dark.
Why? Because the month of October is (pretty much) dedicated to a holiday which thrives on those themes (and remains unaltered in this way from its origins):
This annual holiday finds its deepest roots in an ancient Celtic fire festival called Samhain. It was a celebration of Summer moving into Winter, a preparation for the long dark of that season. The Celts were a people who believed in spirits.They believed the veil between worlds was thin on Samhain, so they would wear masks to protect themselves from tricksters who meant them harm. Divination would be used to determine the future on Samhain, and families would re-light their hearth fires from a bonfire used to sacrifice animals (most likely cattle).
When Rome conquered the known world (including Celtic lands) various cultures with similar harvest celebrations incorporated one another’s traditions into their own. This is why “bobbing for apples” is a familiar harvest game, along with using an apple peel to determine the first letter of a future spouse’s name.
In time, Christianity became the religion of (Constantine’s) empire. Somewhere between the 3rd-8th centuries, the church fathers sought to bring familiar traditions and festivals still observed by the people into the church calendar by changing the emphasis to Christian teaching. This is how Winter Solstice became associated with Christmas and Spring Equinox with Easter. November 1st was set aside as a day to remember faithful Christians who had died the previous year and for prayer. October 31st became “All Hallow’s Eve” (Halloween), reserved for Autumn harvest revelry to be observed before the more pious “All Saint’s Day”.
Irish immigrants brought their Halloween traditions to America in the 1800′s but it didn’t truly catch on until the later half of the 20th century. Halloween has become a popular, secular holiday among children and adults with trick-or-treating, parties, and events. Throughout October a myriad of haunted houses or spooky corn mazes are available for tours. Extra candy (individually wrapped pieces) is available everywhere. Television programming offers even more paranormal (ghosts,psychics, mediums) fare, along with a variety of horror and shock-thriller movies.
Additionally, Samhain has became part of Halloween once more for many Wiccans, neo-pagans, and witches. October 31 is considered to be a time between with access to great power. The veil between worlds is thin so many attempt spirit communication on this night. Satanists also claim Halloween as a holy day.
The question a Christian must answer is this: Do they honor God by participating in traditional Halloween festivities?
Is it reasonable to offer an alternative to the frightening or occult themes by focusing on harvest (as kind of an extension into Thanksgiving)? Is it better to ignore the day altogether? How about using the night to pray for those who are lost and in need of JESUS for salvation? Many Christians are choosing to celebrate October 31st as Reformation Day by holding festivals and re-enactments of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany.
As for me, in the past I have opened my door to Trick-or-Treater’s on Halloween, offering candy and a little booklet about faith in Jesus or a Gospel of John. Some years, I have volunteered at a church sponsored alternative event. This year, I’m going to be telling anyone who will listen how deceptive the occult is and how God’s mercy can deliver them. And I’ll be praying for those still caught in Satan’s snare.
The point is this.
We should all seek God’s leading in how best to handle Halloween. More importantly, we should be a light into this dark world, shining the truth of the gospel and peace of Christ for all to see.
Congrats: Melissa Miller on winning this weeks contest. Next weeks contest will start on Monday.
I’m give away one free autographed copy of my book, Escaping the Cauldron plus 3 free downloads, each Friday of this month!
A random drawing of entries will be held each week and the winner announced each Saturday.
For a chance to receive one free autographed copy of Escaping the Cauldron plus 3 free downloads THIS WEEK, please leave a comment on how you have been led to address the issue of Halloween for yourself and/or family.
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Learn how God’s relentless love freed me from the snare of witchcraft, spirit communication, and ghost hunting in Escaping the Cauldron, and how we as Christians should respond to the occult influences in our culture affecting our families. Now available on Amazon,Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Family Christian, and in stores everywhere.