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The Tricky Topic of Halloween

Halloween is approaching, a time for many to stock up on candy, pick out costumes, and deck their halls with spooky decor. But is this holiday an occult extravaganza or a harmless celebration?

Halloween’s origins

Halloween can be traced, in part, to the ancient Celtic winter festival “Samhain.” Around October 31, pagans commemorated the harvest, winter, and the physical cycle of death. Activities included placating trickster spirits with “treats.”

But Christianity has also influenced Halloween. Its name comes from “All Hallows’ Eve,” referring to the evening before the celebration of All Saints’ Day (November 1). Viewing Halloween as only a pagan holiday is inaccurate.

Believers need good reasoning to support convictions. Condemning Halloween on the basis of pagan origins commits the genetic fallacy, where something is evaluated solely in terms of its origin, without considering how it has changed over time.1

Does Halloween open a door to the occult?

The occult world is real and energized by demonic powers. Christians must recognize and resist this realm. Spiritual beliefs and actions bear consequences in this world and the next. However, I distinguish a clear difference between the occult traditions of spiritism, magic, and divination and the modern customs of trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and bobbing for apples. The occult realm must be entered by human interest and initiative. General Halloween practices do not draw people into sinister activities.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that trick-or-treating constitutes spiritistic racketeering. It seems difficult not to heartily treat a young child dressed up as “Optimus Prime” or “Hannah Montana.” Even the recognized Christian authority on cults and the occult, Walter Martin, said, “If Big Bird comes to my door, he’s definitely going to get a treat.”

The intent here isn’t to engage in hairsplitting over potentially dangerous activities but rather to make logical and moral distinctions. If any Halloween practice is perceived as violating one’s conscience and commitment to biblical truth then that person should rightly and quietly abstain.

Suggestions for Christians when it comes to Halloween

– Test the points made here with Scripture and logic (1 Thess. 5:21). Accept or reject them accordingly.

– Not everything is a morally black-and-white issue. Allow people to follow their own conscience on the issue of Halloween.

– Discuss ways families can handle questionable cultural practices, such as planning alternative events that show Christianity as a faith that encourages fun.

  1. T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning, 3d ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1995), 36–37.

For more tips on using logic and reason to support moral choices, check out Ken’s podcast, Straight Thinking.