Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!

When I was a kid, Halloween was just the time to trick-or-treat in a cool costume and get candy.  When I was real little, we trick-or-treated from one Sunday School classroom to another.  And I grew up in a fundamentalist church!

Nowadays, Halloween is the “Devil’s Holiday,” a day for Christians to avoid at all costs and complain about.

Where did this come from?  It’s not based on truth.  Maybe it came from The 700 Club, since that’s where I first heard it was “evil” (late 1980’s).

But according to Kenneth C. Davis, writing for USA Weekend, this is the true story of Halloween: basically an ancient harvest festival, no worse than the pagan traditions absorbed by Christmas and Easter celebrations.

(Please note: This is NOT the same as calling Christmas and Easter baptized pagan holidays.  See below.  It simply means that over the centuries, pagan traditions have merged into Christian holiday celebrations, whether deliberately or naturally, for various reasons.)

Here is even more information, from the Religious Tolerance website, which strives for accuracy and fairness.

Apparently, according to this person who asked an official church source, the Orthodox Church allows Halloween fun.

But according to James Jordan in Halloween: A Distinctly Christian Holiday, Halloween’s roots are actually Christian, not pagan.

David Commini makes the same point in On Halloween, noting that All Saint’s Day originated before it was placed on November 1.

In checking Commini’s sources, I note here that All Saint’s Day was first celebrated on other days, and that scholars disagree on why it was moved to November 1.  Another source, All Saint’s Day, makes the same charge as critics of a pagan origin of Christmas: that it’s based on bad Victorian scholarship that turned into the assumed “facts” of today.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a brief article on the subject, which–unlike its Christmas and Easter articles–doesn’t go into pagan elements of the day.

Tim O’Neill of History for Atheists has an extensive article about it as well.

Now, I always figured Halloween was just a secular holiday with unknown origins when kids trick-or-treat.  That it had absolutely nothing to do with religion in the first place.

My only religious holidays as a fundamentalist Protestant were Christmas and Good Friday/Easter; everything else was secular/national.  I was neither Catholic, Orthodox nor Pagan, and didn’t celebrate Samhain or All Saint’s Day.

Now as an Orthodox convert, I still don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day on that day, but on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

So it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.  But I am interested in Truth, whichever direction it goes.

Written between probably 2005 and 2006

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
Cat and Dog Theology
Raising One’s Hands in Worship
Christian Music
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings
The Message Bible
The Purpose-Driven Life
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
Republican Party
Abortion Protests
The idea that God has someone in mind for you
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse
Other Resources

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship?
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church