Hebrew Roots/Neglected Commandments/Idolatry/Halloween
Every October 31st, hundreds of thousands of children dress in costumes, which range from the cute and sweet to the macabre and satanic. Every year this custom is repeated because it has always been done. That is what makes it a ritual. After all, it is all harmless fun.
But where did the rituals come from?
- Why do people carve jack-o-lanterns?
- Why do children dress in costumes?
- Where did the tradition of bobbing for apples at parties originate?
- Why, when children approach a stranger's door, do they enthusiastically exclaim, "trick or treat"?
- How did the custom of orange and black as the colors of Halloween get started?
Some form of Halloween was observed by the ancient Romans and Greeks and many others all kept a Halloween festival.
The Druids of Britain, celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the eve of the Celtic New Year, which began on November 1st. The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed ahead. The Druids believed the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail.
"Because the Celtic day started at sunset, and ran to the following sunset, the festival began on the eve of 1 November, when the souls of the departed were supposed to revisit their old homes in order to warm themselves by the fire and to comfort themselves with the good cheer provided for them in the kitchen or the parlor by their affectionate kinsfolk. All Hallows Eve, as the beginning of winter and the dying time of the old year, was a night when the dead stalked the countryside. Offerings of food and drink were put out for the ghosts," Man, Myth and Magic, Vol. 1, p. 67.
It was believed by the Druids that during Samhain, the dead would play "tricks on mankind and caused panic and destruction. They had then to be appeased. Part of this appeasement process involved the giving of food to the spirits as they visited the homes. This formed the foundation of the modern practice of "trick or treat." Man, Myth and Magic, Vol. 4, p. 440
The ceremony of Halloween underwent an infusion of other pagan influences when the Celt homeland was absorbed by the Roman Empire. While Rome allowed the Druid priests to continue all their ceremonies, "except human sacrifice," new rituals of Roman origins were also incorporated. "Chief among them was the worship of Pomona, goddess of the harvest. Representing bounty and fecundity, Pomona was shown in art sitting on a great basket of fruits and flowers, a horn of plenty at her feet. Apples were the sacred fruit of the goddess, and many games of divination involving apples entered the Samhain customs through her influence. One of the most popular involved bobbing for apples," Common Boundary, Sep./Oct. 1993, p. 30.
Michael Judge, writing for the New Age periodical Common Boundary, explains, Halloween probably began between 1000 and 100 B.C., among the Celtic people. The actual holiday was a commemoration of their new year (Sep./Oct. 1993, p. 29). It was at this time of the year that Baal, the Celtic god of Spring and Summer, ended his reign. It was also when the Lord of the Dead, Samhain, began his reign.
The History Channel reports some interesting background on Halloween: "The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter."
Incorporated into the Church
"Grafted onto one of the Church's great holy days, Samhain became All Hallows Eve, contracted over years of usage to All Hallows Een and, ultimately, Halloween," Common Boundary, Sep./Oct. 1993, p. 31.
Celebrations were marked by bonfires, parades, and people dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
There isn't a lot that has changed from the past. During the 19th century, there was a move to center Halloween on family and community, but the roots and traditions of it proved to be too entrenched to change it.
The Origin of Trick-or-Treating
It's been suspected that the act of going from door to door to get candy traces back to the All Saint's day parades when during the festivities, the poor would go around to peoples' houses begging for food. Families who answered the door would give them pastries called "Soul cakes" in return for their promise that they would pray for family's dead relatives. This practice was eventually given over to children and intended to replace the tradition of leaving out food for "roaming spirits".
Halloween also serves as a time for those involved in the occult, witchcraft, and demonism commemorate their own sacred rituals. Covens gather and the worshiping of spirits commences.
The Scriptural Stand on Halloween
Aside from trick-or-treating, the fruit of this holiday is arguably not heavily weighted towards "community". The abundance of haunted houses, witches, devil, and ghost costumes, seances, scary stories, and the general presence of "death" is not something edifying for believers to be engaged in.
As a Christian, we are not to make idols of the dead. We honor the dead, but we don't worship the dead. There is only one who gets the "worship" in this deal and it's God. The dead are dead. Let their bodies be in the grave and their souls rest in heaven or hell.
Occult practices are an abomination to Yahweh, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, and Witchcraft was something that Yahweh determined should be completely eliminated from a believing community, Exodus 22:18.
The New Testament Scriptures also gives several examples of what our response to the Occult should be - Acts 19:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14