by Dan Namanya
The history of Halloween reveals that its celebration has no root in God’s Word. Its pagan origin and practices seem to have been forgotten today and made light of.
Is it OK for Christians to celebrate Halloween? Does the Bible provide any guidance relating to this?
Many people feel excited about celebrating Halloween. Others wonder whether celebrating Halloween gives glory and honor to God. Let us examine what Halloween is all about, in light of Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NKJV).1
Halloween is among the most celebrated holidays around the world.2 In his 2003 book, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers wrote, “Halloween at the end of the millennium has become a major party night for adults, arguably the most important after New Year’s Eve.”3 He also raises some questions regarding Halloween: What is it about Halloween that causes people to spend so much on costumes and decorations? Second, is Halloween just about having fun, or is there more to it of which even those who celebrate may not be aware? Third, how can we make sense of the increasing popularity of Halloween, not just among children but also among adults?4
Some writers today view Halloween as a way of having fun, though it was not the case in past generations.5 Other writers associate Halloween with paganism and witchcraft, which creates mixed feelings about the appropriateness of celebrating the holiday.6 As Christians we ought to ask ourselves whether the Halloween celebration draws us closer to God or farther away from Him. Another important question to consider is whether the Halloween celebration creates an atmosphere that welcomes the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives.7 It is commendable to have fun and socialize, but we should never dishonor our Creator and drive the Holy Spirit away as we engage in “fun” activities.
Some who celebrate Halloween say that positively affects mental and physical health because it relieves stress and refreshes the mind. They suggest that the celebration brings natural healing to the body. On the other hand, Bible followers denounce Halloween as an event that glorifies Satan, whether consciously or unconsciously.8 A deeper and clearer understanding of Halloween will help us to know why we as God’s children should stay away from it.
HALLOWEEN AND ALL SAINTS’ DAY
November 1 is set aside in the Roman Catholic Church calendar as All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Day, which commemorates the saints who have not been assigned a special day in the calendar. From this, we get the term Halloween, which occurs on the eve of All Saints’/All Hallows’ Day.9 It is a time when people dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, and carve jack-o’-lanterns from hollowed-out pumpkins. Ghosts, witches, and vampires are popular costumes of the children who go from house-to-house shouting, “trick-or-treat!” and threatening a “trick” if they do not receive a treat. The treat is usually candy.10
HOW HALLOWEEN STARTED
Although the Halloween celebration may be entirely about fun today, it had nothing to do with fun when it began. Halloween had its origins in ancient festivals held during the autumn season, to mark the beginning of winter.11 Its celebration began with the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. The Celts worshiped the Sun, among other gods, and were concerned with the seasons when there would be no sun. They came up with different theories; one of which was that Samhain, the god of the dead, fought with and triumphed over the Sun, making the Sun disappear. They saw winter as a sign that the Sun had lost the battle and had no power to shine. The Celtics believed that during this time, the dead would walk on the earth in the power of their god, Samhain. It was a frightening time for the living, as they believed that the souls of the dead were choosing those who would die next.12
Since their lives were at stake, the Celtics looked to their priests, the Druids, for protection because they believed that Druids had magical powers, to fight against Samhain. To scare away the dead, the Druids would light huge fires and lead people to wear scary costumes. People also wore ghostlike masks to keep themselves from being recognized, and thus avoid being picked as the next ones to die.13
When the Romans conquered and ruled the Celtics, they adapted Halloween and turned it into a special holiday of the dead.14 The Roman Catholic Church later adopted November 1 as a holiday to honor their saints who had died. became known as in time, Halloween began to be celebrated on the evening preceding All Saints Day.15
THE BIBLE AND HALLOWEEN
Though the Bible does not directly address the issue of celebrating Halloween, it offers principles that will guide us in ensuring that everything we do pleases God. Based on the origin and history of Halloween, it is clear that this celebration has nothing to do with worshiping the Creator or bringing us closer to God. Instead, it is more about paganism and occult practices that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible, such as the belief that the dead are not completely dead. The Bible clearly teaches that the dead know not anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5).
Bible-believing Christians must be careful not to participate in any celebration that has evil or satanic origins. Partaking in such activities means worshiping the devil indirectly, instead of God the Creator (Psalm 24:1).
The Word of God admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We are further instructed: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
Knowing that Halloween, with its pagan origins, does not glorify God should alert Christians to shun any kind of involvement in celebrations of this holiday. Children should be guided well not to find joy and happiness in the things of the devil. It is dangerous to enjoy anything that promotes the worship of the devil, either directly or indirectly. Only God deserves our honor and worship. Above all, any type of celebration or activity that is condemned by the Word of God should have no place in the life of a Christian.
Although many people may not believe in the existence of the devil and evil forces, the Bible tells us that we must be careful, for there are indeed evil principalities and powers in this world (Ephesians 6:12). From Genesis through Revelation, we come face to face with the great struggle between light and darkness, between Christ and Satan (Genesis 3; Job 1:6–11; Matthew 8:28–32; Revelation 12:3–9). The things we do every day determine whose side we are on.
The history and origin of Halloween reveal that this celebration is not rooted in the Word of God. It is of pagan origin and is surrounded by pagan and occult practices, a fact that seems to have been forgotten today and is often made light of. In his evaluation of Halloween, Gerhard Pfandl in a thoughtful article in the Adventist Review16 observed that many people today no longer believe in the existence of a devil and demons. They feel that there is no harm in taking part in the fun activities of these “‘religious relics of the past.’” “Children are taught that there are no such beings as witches and evil spirits and that it is just fun to dress up as ghosts or goblins.” Pfandl adds that “the modern denial of the existence of Satan and demonic forces is clearly contrary to the Scriptures,” and he warns: “Participation in Halloween customs may seem innocent fun for children and adults, but it is one more way Satan can use to deceive people into thinking there is no harm in playing a little bit with the world of spirits and demons.”17
If there ever was a time when we needed to take this instruction seriously, it is today. Ellen G. White warned that “there are many who shrink with horror from the thought of consulting spirit mediums, but who are attracted by more pleasing forms of spiritism.”18 The devil has many ways of making evil things seem so attractive that anyone can easily become enticed. However, as God’s children who desire to do His will and live in harmony with Him, we need to test everything with the Bible. We have to be alert to practices such as Halloween with origins whose practices are contrary to the Word of God. Our best course of action is to let the Word continue to remain a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).
Dan Namanya (DMin, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Philippines) is Pastor of the SolaFide English Seventh-day Adventist Church. BSD City, Greater Jakarta, Indonesia. E-mail:
Dan Namanya , "Halloween: Should We Celebrate? ," Dialogue 35:2 (2023): 10-13
Notes and References
1 All Scripture references in this article are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Different sources vary in their ranking of the most popular holidays, worldwide, but most list Halloween in the top 10.
3 Nicholas Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 6.
4 Ibid., 8–10.
5 Halloween is celebrated every October 31. On that day, many people decorate their houses with pumpkins and imaginary ghosts. Some adults and children wear costumes and masks. They go door-to-door to get sweet treats. They have fun. But long ago, Halloween was not fun at all. See Alice K. Flanagan, Halloween (Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2001), 24-28.
6 John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Dillon Burroughs, The Facts on Halloween (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 6.
8 Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night.
9 Gerhard Pfandl, “What Every Christian Should Know About Halloween,” Adventist Review (October 24, 2015): https:// adventistreview.org/news/what-every-christian-should-knowabout-halloween/.
10 Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v., “Halloween”: https://www.britannica. com/topic/Halloween.
11 Ibid.: Pfandl, “What Every Christian Should Know About Halloween.”
12 Martin Hintz and Kate Hintz, Halloween: Why We Celebrate It the Way We Do (Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 1998), 11–13.
14 Ibid., 13.
16 Pfandl, “What Every Christian Should Know About Halloween.”
18 Ellen G. White, Evangelism (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1947), 606.