It’s a simple enough question: is the celebration of Halloween a sin? After all, Halloween is the American adaptation of the Day of the Dead celebration. Legend has it that the Day of the Dead was the annual time of year when your dead ancestors and relatives came back to life to haunt you. The trend then was to dress up like scary monsters and creatures, and decorate your house with scary features in hopes that you might scare the ghosts away. As is common these days, of course, American consumerism has turned a religious festival into a market driven holiday (complete with candy corn)! The question that has been presented to me, however, is the standard: should Christians celebrate Halloween?
Some are totally against the celebration, saying that it is tantamount to “Satan worship.” Their arguments stem from the historical origins of the holiday. I think such an answer is an over-reaction. If we were to press these same people on the celebration of Christmas I am quite sure they would want to honor the holiday, and express how much disdain they have for the “liberal media’s” anti-Christmas campaigns that we hear so much about around that time of year. But the origins of the actual Christmas celebration have their roots in the pagan winter solstice celebrations. Under Emperor Constantine the Roman Empire adopted the celebration as a Christian festival, but our Christian forebears for centuries following were strongly opposed to the celebration of Christmas. In fact Benjamin Keach, an early baptist father, would be appalled that his most famous hymn is sung as a “Christmas Hymn!”
So the issue then is why it is okay to celebrate Christmas and not Halloween. One can hardly find an adequate defense of such a concept. At the heart of the matter for me and my family is the reality that Halloween does not mean what it once did. It is no longer considered among Americans as a fight against evil, nor was it every considered worship of Satan. American Halloween is simply a time to dress up, play games, and eat tons of candy! It’s part of the American heritage that we’ve all come to enjoy from living in this country.
If we can change Christmas to mean something good, I am not sure what the problem with Halloween is. Perhaps it is again another attempt by conservative Christians to simply attack the culture we live in (we seem to be good at that). It’s hard to say, but perhaps we could all be better served by simply celebrating Reformation Day instead…or at least dress up like Martin Luther for Halloween.