For many, Halloween is the time of year for people to dress up in silly costumes, go trick-or-treating and enjoy spooky activities. To others, it is viewed as the “Devil’s” holiday where children and adults alike come together to worship the antichrist. Why is it that Halloween has such different reactions from people, and should people who are religious participate in it?
Halloween is a holiday rooted in paganism. According to the Library of Congress, it was originally a part of the ancient Celtic festival named “Samhain,” which welcomed the harvest of crops that would occur at the end of every summer. Wearing scary costumes was an important aspect of the holiday as the Celtic people believed it would ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Since then, Halloween has evolved into what we know today.
With roots in such seemingly tame practices, how did Halloween gain such a bad rep in the first place? To certain religious institutions, the modern imagery and symbolism go against some of its beliefs and values. The United Church of God states, “Fortune-telling, Ouija boards, astrology, voodoo, clairvoyance, black magic, and the like can all be related to occult, satanic forces or the worship of natural phenomena and are forbidden in Scripture.” So, should those who practice religion really be participating in holidays like Halloween?
Leilani Wheeler, a non-denominational Christian, said, “I can understand the many perspectives people have when it comes to whether Halloween should be celebrated. However, the bottom line for me is, what is the intention behind it, and where is your heart at?” She continued, “God encourages us to enjoy each other’s company, have fun and have thoughtful experiences. However, there may be a point where our experiences no longer benefit us mentally and physically. That’s the only case when I think celebrating begins to go against godly values.”
There are ways to be respectful of one’s religion while still participating in Halloween. Wheeler explained, “I have celebrated Halloween ever since I was a child. With the exception of me not being dressed as anything supernatural like a witch, devil, or vampire, [my mom] would always let me pick my costume and go to events.” This type of compromise between religion and still enjoying holidays still upkeeps one’s values.
Additionally, though the imagery of the supernatural does exist in the Halloween atmosphere, it does not necessarily mean the holiday is evil in nature. Misty Melendez, a Christian UNLV student, said, “I don’t think Halloween is for or against religious values. For me, it’s a man-made holiday for kids. Dressing up and eating candy for one day won’t lead you closer to the enemy. In my eyes, every intention should be with God. Asking him to keep you safe and to have a good time isn’t wrong.” Viewing Halloween as a religiously neutral holiday can help make it easy to decide whether or not one should participate in it.
The celebration of Halloween is a controversial topic within religious communities. To answer the question of whether or not it is right for Christians to celebrate Halloween, if one feels like it is the right choice for them, then there should be no shame or feeling less than in their beliefs of their God. Wheeler concluded, “I honestly believe no one religion has all the answers. We all only know what we are told and yet our human understanding will never surpass God’s (Isaiah 55:8).”