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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 24 2019

Trick or Treat: Is it harmless?

Halloween, observed annually on the evening of October 31, has traditionally been enthusiastically celebrated in the United States but, in the last few years, it has also become very popular in Australia.

It all looks like so much fun and seems so harmless -- children in masks and costumes often representing demons and goblins, go door to door soliciting treats. But what’s the origin of this bizarre festival and is it just harmless fun?

The Encyclopedia of Religion explains that originally Halloween was the eve of Samhain, a pagan celebration to mark the beginning of winter, as well as the first day of the New Year within ancient Celtic culture. The time of Samhain consisted of the eve of the feast and the day itself (31 October and 1 November). It was a time when --- "Fiery tributes and sacrifices of animals, crops, and possibly human beings were made to appease supernatural powers who controlled the fertility of the land . . . Samhain acknowledged the entire spectrum of nonhuman forces that roamed the earth during the period" (1987, pp. 176-177, "Halloween").

It was, bluntly put, a day devoted to appeasing demonic spirits and the dark side of the spirit world -- something in which no Christian should have any part. Ephesians 5:11 instructs us: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

So how did this dark celebration continue into modern times, and why was this particular date chosen?

Again The Encyclopedia of Religion explains: "Samhain remained a popular festival among the Celtic people throughout the christianization of Great Britain. The British church attempted to divert this interest in pagan customs by adding a Christian celebration to the calendar on the same date as Samhain. The Christian festival, the Feast of All Saints, commemorates the known and unknown saints of the Christian religion just as Samhain had acknowledged and paid tribute to the Celtic deities" (p. 177). Thus a pagan celebration was relabeled as Christian.

Halloween is one of many human traditions that cloud biblical teachings and keep people in the dark from God's truth that can set us free (John 8:32). It is not a harmless celebration for us or for our children.