As we approach Halloween later this week, I want to point you towards an article regarding the origins of Halloween I found very illuminating. It’s probably not what you’re thinking. In essence, my view (and the view of this article) is that Halloween has deep Christian roots and can be celebrated in a very historic, Christian way.
Halloween is short for “All Hallow’s Eve,” which refers to the beginning of the celebration of All Saints’ Day (Nov 1), when, since the late 300s, Christians have celebrated the victory of the saints in union with Christ. Here are some quotes from the article:
The Festival of All Saints reminds us that though Jesus has finished His work, we have not finished ours. He has struck the decisive blow, but we have the privilege of working in the mopping up operation. Thus, century by century the Christian faith has rolled back the demonic realm of ignorance, fear, and superstition…
The concept, as dramatized in Christian custom, is quite simple: On October 31, the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is banished by the joy of the Kingdom.What is the means by which the demonic realm is vanquished? In a word: mockery. Satan’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. Thus, to drive Satan from us we ridicule him. This is why the custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. Nobody thinks the devil really looks like this; the Bible teaches that he is the fallen Arch-Cherub. Rather, the idea is to ridicule him because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over us…
The gargoyles that were placed on the churches of old had the same meaning. They symbolized the Church ridiculing the enemy. They stick out their tongues and make faces at those who would assault the Church. Gargoyles are not demonic; they are believers ridiculing the defeated demonic army.Thus, the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is associated with Halloween. For this reason, Martin Luther posted his 95 challenges to the wicked practices of the Church to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He picked his day with care, and ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.
Similarly, on All Hallows’ Eve (Hallow-Even – Hallow-E’en – Halloween), the custom arose of mocking the demonic realm by dressing children in costumes. Because the power of Satan has been broken once and for all, our children can mock him by dressing up like ghosts, goblins, and witches. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR!
Do yourself a favor and read the whole article (ht Michael Spencer).
And go ahead and dress your kids up as ghosts and goblins and devils, and go trick-or-treating! Mock the devil and he shall flee. It’s a Christian holiday. Celebrate Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness.
While I agree with some of what is said, I wish the author of the article would had given a few references for what seems like mostly a bunch of assertions. I can’t tell what is his opinion and what is historical fact. I guess I have to do my own research to verify.
I also wonder how many kids who dress up like ghosts and goblins really understand that they are mocking and not impersonating.
Ben Sternke says
Agreed, Merv: not enough sources, especially for an article that contains a lot of information many people would find new.
And I doubt most kids are consciously mocking the devil when they dress up, but the light-hearted nature of Halloween creates that kind of vibe around the holiday.