Editor's Note: Over the next 10 days, we will try to provide a number of different perspectives on Halloween. The views in these articles do not necessarily reflect the beliefs held by the staff or management of Crosswalk.com

The Bible does not mention the term "Halloween" or the mystic Druidic rite "Samhain" from which Halloween is derived and was originally observed about 4,000 years ago. It is the Druidic New Year celebration.

 

Some view Halloween as a harmless holiday in which children dress up in costumes and participate in various traditions. In American schools, more time is given to Halloween-centered activities than any other holiday.

In a recent letter to Ann Landers, a parent expressed concern that a fourth grade teacher asked her students to write about how they would most like to celebrate Halloween. Eighty percent said they would like to kill someone or something. In business, Halloween is a multi-billion dollar industry and is heavily marketed.


Is it just scary fun? Should Christians participate in it? Let's take a look first at Halloween's origins.

 

Many Halloween customs come from pagan superstitions relating to Samhain. The druids were the priests, sorcerers, and magicians of nature-based Celtic religions that prevailed in early times in northern Europe which permeated Celtic culture for about 2,000 years until the rise of Christianity.

In the 9th century, the Roman Catholic Church changed All Saints' Day, designed to pay tribute to Christian martyrs, to the beginning of November in an effort to offset the pagan holiday of Halloween. It had previously been observed in May. Some Protestant churches also observe All Saints' Day.

 

The practice of "trick or treat" comes from the Celtic tradition of giving food for blessings from spirits of the dead. Failure to provide food supposedly invoked demonic retaliations.

 

Jack-o-lanterns come from carving demonic faces on turnips and later pumpkins. Candle-lit pumpkins or skulls signify the occupants were sympathetic to these spirits and would receive mercy from these spirits if displayed.

Druids believed black cats were reincarnations of evil dead souls with supernatural power and knowledge.

 

Bobbing for apples is part of the druidic New Year's sexual divination of fertility.

 

Broomsticks are part of some wiccan "circles" and originally considered to be phallic symbols which transformed sexual energy into psychic energy.

 

Contact with spirit beings, through seances, is thought to be highest at Samhain in spirit beings are invoked for personal power.

 

At the Druidic New Year's celebration, there were human sacrifices at midnight. Children were thrown into huge fires while others danced around. By morning, only ashes and bones remained. These were called "bone fires" which is where we get our tradition of bonfires.