Is it a trick, or is it a treat?

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As I walked in and out of shop, after shop, the other day, I was confronted with the same thing—witches, devils, ghosts, blood, vampires, masks, skeletons, death and the underworld, each one worst than the last. I almost thought I was in the US again but I had to remind myself I was back home in Australia. 

I wondered why Australian shops had these hideous items for sale, why Australians are preparing to celebrate a very American Holiday? Americans don’t celebrate Australian holidays. The question for many is, does it really matter if we celebrate Halloween on October 31?

Halloween is comparable to walking in a cemetery amid the headstones and observing a bizarre combination of evil and fun, then wondering who on earth organised it.

In reading God’s word there is always more—an origin, in the beginning God. I decided to investigate the origin of Halloween. It definitely didn’t begin with God. Instead it was initiated by the Celts, and their elite intellectual class known as druids, who served as priests, judges, law-makers, and scientists. This pagan group of devil-worshipers in Ireland, Britain and France, celebrated the fire festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-en), where human sacrifices were offered to the gods marking the end of summer and celebrating the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The Celts believed that on this night, the barrier between the natural world and the supernatural world was removed. Ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies and demons were thought to be roaming about the land allowing the spirits of the dead to move freely among humanity. Evil spirits prowled the land and attacked humans, playing nasty tricks and rejoicing as the sun god grew pale and the Samhain grew stronger. 

Halloween was set aside to honour the lord of death—Samher. On this day countless bonfires where lit on the hillsides, and the Celts would wave burning wisps of plaited straw high on pitchforks, with the belief that this would scare away the evil spirits of the souls of the dead, who had died the year before and who would rise from the grave to haunt the living. Failing the burning of straw, the druids were convinced that in assuming grotesque and terrifying disguises resembling the spirits, they would frighten off the demons, witches and spirits as they walked around with them all night, undetected, blending in with the spirits. The Celts believed when these spirits visited your house, if they did not treat them (leave out food) then they would trick you. 

In order to appease Lord Samher, the druids held cruel fire exercises. Prisoners of war, criminals, or animals were burnt alive in odd shaped caskets. The observance of the manner in which each sacrificial person or animal died, allowed the druids to see omens of the future, whether good or bad.

God on the other hand says in Leviticus 20:6-7—“As for the person who turns to mediums and necromancers (speaking with the dead), to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut them off from among their people. You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.” 

Many centuries ago in the year 835 AD, Pope Gregory IV, moved the church’s “Feast of All Saints” from the spring to November 1, replacing the observance of Samhain. The old practices of the druids died hard and were denounced by the church as witchcraft. The night before, which featured a sacred vigil in church, became known as “All Hallow’s Eve”, or Halloween, also known as a witch’s holiday. Trying to Christianise a pagan holiday didn’t work. “All Saints Day” has almost been obliterated in favor of Halloween and most people have never heard of it. 

Many Christians celebrate Halloween thinking there is nothing wrong with this celebration, but the fact is; Halloween is comparable to walking in a cemetery amid the headstones and observing a bizarre combination of evil and fun, then wondering who on earth organised it. The question is: What do murders, witches, demons, vampires and blood have in common with the people of God, who Paul refers to as “children of light” found in Ephesians 5:8? Shouldn’t we think more seriously about glorifying Satan and his evil angels?

In former years this pagan holiday would have been banned, but in the 21st century Halloween has taken off. It is now seen as the norm, a fun day, a time to scare each other, eat lots of junk food and walk around with blood somewhere on the body or face. This along with the popularity of vampirism and special powers made popular by the Twilight series draws humanity to occultism. Satan is perverting the meaning and importance of blood, desiring God’s children to forget its importance, and what it represents. Blood is sacred to God, the children of Israel understood the meaning of it in the sacrificial system, just as we today understand Jesus shed blood for our sins and the sacredness God holds to it.

Today’s Satanists and witches still consider Halloween to be their “high holy, Sabbath day”. During this time they cast spells, look into the future and communicate with the spirits of so called dead relatives, offer animal sacrifices, honouring their master—Satan, in the same way they did centuries ago. The purpose of Halloween is to portray fear, and horror, infiltrating our culture causing anxiety, and deterioration.

The pagan traditions continue, disturbingly it is not adults that continue the rituals so much, as innocent children who don’t know any better. They are encouraged by their adult peers to dress up to go “trick or treating”. Should children, who are an “inheritance of the Lord, be dressed up in these Satanic representations?

This is one night when children truly experience fear. I remember working as a nanny in the USA and having to deal with the fear of a little girl I was looking after, for months, after trick or treating with her parents. Not even her fears and nightmares would stop them from involving her in Halloween.

Halloween is strongly associated with the occult and a preoccupation with the dead—two influences that Scripture and the church have always warned against. Recent research has shown that the numbers are increasing amongst teens (including Christian teens) when it involves the supernatural world and dabbling in witchcraft desensitising them, they then fall prey to occult practices disguised as harmless party games. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:11 tells us “Avoid every form of evil even if it looks innocent. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  

The culture in which we live challenges Christians and their lifestyles every day. It’s amazing how many Christians follow Halloween and don’t see the pitfalls of this celebration. When children and adults are accustomed to occult doctrines and observances involving death and violence, they become numb to the evil in Halloween’s celebrations.

The fact is celebrating Halloween is dishonouring our risen Savior. God says stay away from these things. In North America, the yearly observance of Halloween amounts to a multi-billion-dollar industry, second only to Christmas. The sale of costumes, food items, party supplies, greeting cards, tours of so-called haunted houses, and other forms of entertainment make up the sales.

When questioned why some Christians celebrate Halloween, their response is, “It’s okay, it’s only having fun, everyone else is doing it”. Obviously, this is a problem, and the problem is wider than just Halloween. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

While those around you may celebrate witches, haunted houses and ghosts, we need to strive to—as Isaiah puts it to; “open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS” (Isaiah 42:7, emphasis added).

I posed the question to several Australian teens asking if they fully understood the meaning of Halloween with its trick or treat, they all said no. They assumed it was innocent enough. When I explained the meaning they were shocked. Halloween is not fun, it is evil to the core, and Jesus wants us to stand against it with His name and power.

Satan hates to be mocked. He relies on fear and anxiety to underwrite his illusions of power. When fear is taken away and is replaced by confrontation—“put on every piece of spiritual armour the Lord has given you so you can stand your ground against the devils schemes. We are not dealing with an enemy here on earth that we cannot see or get our hands on, but with the darkness of spiritual beings who were once in heaven and are now using their authority and power to try to rule the world (Ephesians 6:11-12)—Satan’s ultimate futile attempts to claim October 31, or any other day as his own, are undermined, and the truth and goodness and love of God shines through. 

Evil is overcome because Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Never again will there be any tricking by Satan telling us that this world is all there is to offer, and to live for the now, because the only thing left is death and fear in his dark underworld.   

Jesus on the other hand informs us how we will be treated. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Standing up for what is right does make a difference.  

Let’s promote life in Jesus Christ and not death in Satan and put a light into what could be a very dark October 31st day. “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).
 


Dr Jessica Trevithick is assistant pastor at Para Vista church, South Australia.