Each year, October 31 brings the celebration of "Halloween" when children and adults alike dress up in silly and sometimes frightening costumes, attend parties, and go "trick-or-treating." Schools have special games for the children, perhaps bobbing for apples and telling ghost stories. The name itself means "hallowed" or "holy" evening because it takes place the day before "All Saints Day." All these things in the name of fun and games—or are they? Did you ever think to wonder where these customs come from? If November 1 is called "All Saints Day," then surely it should have some religious connotations and be scripturally-based, right?
Is this a day that Yahweh's people should be observing in any manner whatsoever?
As with so many of the world's recognized holy days, there is no scriptural authority for observing this day so you cannot find specific reference to it in Yahweh's words. That should throw a red flag up in anyone's mind right at the outset and always remember what He said in Deuteronomy 12:29-31, When YAHWEH your Elohim cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' You shall not behave thus toward YAHWEH your Elohim, for every abominable act which YAHWEH hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
If you determine that the festivities around this or any other day is in honor or respect of a pagan deity, you must stop observing it immediately just because Yahweh said "DO NOT...."
This publication is intended to give you information on the origins of Halloween and All Saints Day but we at Yahweh's Assembly in Messiah strongly encourage you to research it yourself, using this as a guide. Verify the references and do a little more studying on your own—YOU must be certain. As Paul said in Philippians 2:12, So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; He did not say, "work out your brother's salvation," or your mother's, son's, daughter's, et cetera.
Since Halloween is not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures, we must go to secular reference materials to find its meaning and origin. Ironically, many folks today even KNOW where it originates but choose to participate in its festivities.
We are going to look at excerpts from several well-known reference sources to see what they say about this day. Please note that all emphasis and bracketed comments are added.
The World Book Encyclopedia, (2008), "Halloween," pages 24-25:
Halloween developed from an ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people over 2,000 years ago in the area that is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northwestern France. The festival was called Samhain (pronounced SOW ehn), which means summer's end.
It was once common for people to leave food out on a table as a treat for spirits believed to be about on Halloween. In England, people went house-to-house souling, that is, asking for small breads called soul cakes in exchange for prayers. [Where in Scripture does it say anything about "buying" prayers?]
Adults sometimes wore costumes when they begged house-to-house for a Halloween feast. In Wales, boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys to go house-to-house singing Halloween rhymes. [Deuteronomy 22:5, The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man [weapons of a warrior], neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto YAHWEH thy Elohim.]
According to an Irish legend, jack-ó-lanterns were named for a character named Jack, who could not enter heaven because he was a miserly, bad-tempered man. He could not enter hell either, because he had tricked the devil several times. As a result, Jack had to walk the earth forever with only a coal from hell to light his lantern.
The night before Halloween is known by a number of names, including Mischief Night and Devil's Night. This is a night when young people play tricks on their neighbors.... But through the years, Mischief Night pranks, which had usually been harmless, sometimes became rowdy and destructive. As a result, many communities now discourage Mischief Night activities. [Ask any police officer how busy they are that night!]
Over the centuries, people came to imagine that witches—and sometimes their animal companions, often black cats—rode through the night sky on Halloween. Throughout the ages, superstitious folk thought that fairies and ghosts could be asked for help casting spells or seeing into the future on Halloween. These supernatural creatures were not always friendly, and people sometimes carried turnip lanterns carved with grotesque faces to keep them away. [James 4:7, Submit therefore to YAHWEH. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.] In Scotland, people lit huge bonfires on hillsides to drive away evil spirits. For centuries in Europe, people remembered the dead at All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 2) with bonfires. Although bonfires are less common on Halloween today, people still mark the night with candles burning in jack-ó-lanterns.
[Regarding Samhain] Samhain was a magical time of transition when important battles were fought and fairies cast spells. It was a time when the barriers between the natural world and the supernatural were broken. The Celts believed that the dead could walk among the living at this time. During Samhain, the living could visit with the dead, who they believed held secrets of the future. [There are many scriptures that relate to the supernatural. Jeremiah 27:9, But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon.']
Many of the customs of the pagan Celts survived even after the people became Christians. In the A.D. 700's to 800's, Christians in Western Europe began to celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1. About two hundred years later, the Christian church established All Souls' Day on November 2. People made many of the old pagan customs part of this Christian holy day. [Deuteronomy 12:29-31] Some people put out food for their ancestors, or they left a lantern burning in the window so that ghosts could find their way home for the night.
Every October, newspapers carry articles concerning the various aspects of the Halloween celebration and how such activities came to us. Even though these accounts clearly explain that Halloween and the celebrations surrounding it are of pagan origin, most people plunge on with their plans to revel in a day that was never commanded in the Bible.
The Encyclopedia of Religion, MacMillan Publishing Company, New York, 1987), Vol. 6, pages 176-7:
Halloween is the name for the eve of Samhain, a celebration marking the beginning of winter as well as the first day of the New Year within the ancient Celtic culture of the British Isles. [When does Yahweh say His year begins?] This event was a crucial seam in the social and religious fabric of the Celtic year, and the eve of Samhain set the tone for the annual celebration as a threatening, fantastic, mysterious rite of passage to a new year.
Samhain marked the end of preparations for winter when flocks and herds had been secured and harvested crops had been stored.
The eve of this festival brought with it another kind of harvest. On this occasion, it was believed that a gathering of supernatural forces occurred as during no other period of the year. The eve and day of Samhain were characterized as a time when the barriers between the human and supernatural worlds were broken. Fiery tributes and sacrifices of animals, crops and possibly human beings were made to appease supernatural powers who controlled the fertility of the land.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, Vol. 5, page 646:
This date was also the eve of the new year in both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times and was the occasion for one of the ancient fire festivals when huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. [WHO controls the processes of nature?]
According to The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Vol. 12, page 646a), Wicca is "a predominantly Western movement whose followers practice witchcraft and nature worship and see it as a religion based on pre-Christian traditions of northern and western Europe." It is noted how they participate in rituals throughout the year including the "new and full moons, vernal equinox, summer solstice, and Halloween, which they call Samhain. Wiccan rites include invoking the aid of deities, practicing ceremonial magic, and sharing a ritual meal." Deuteronomy 18:10-13 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to YAHWEH; and because of these detestable things YAHWEH your Elohim will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before YAHWEH your Elohim. Notice that Yahweh says His people should be blameless before Him!
An Adopted Holiday
We have seen in each and every reference above, that Halloween was a pagan festival that has been modified, glorified and embraced by modern peoples. The old pagan customs and the Christian feast day were combined into the Halloween festival and they still are.
But how did this celebration and other pagan festivals become part of what today is embraced by Christianity?
In the year 834, Pope Gregory IV introduced this festival to the Catholic Church by adapting the pagans' "festival of the dead" (Halloween) to "All Saints' Day" (November 1) and "All Souls' Day" (November 2).
Why? When the Roman armies conquered northern Europe and the British Isles, the conquered peoples were compelled to accept Christianity. However, many clung to their beliefs and remained "faithful" to these strange rituals. Rather than forcing these peoples to relinquish their heathen worship, which neither the church nor the Roman army could enforce, the church adopted and adapted these festivals into Christianity.
This is historical fact: "Thus, at the first promulgation of Christianity to the Gentile nations, though the new converts yielded through the force of truth to conviction, yet they could not be persuaded to relinquish many of their superstitions, which, rather than forego altogether, they chose to blend and incorporate with the new faith. And hence it is that Christian, or rather Papal, Rome has borrowed her rites, notions, and ceremonies, in the most luxuriant abundance, from ancient and Heathen Rome," (Observations of the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, John Brand, Vol. 1, p. xi).
Israel Did It First
"But what difference does it make?" you may ask. "We're not worshipping demons or saints. What harm can it be? The kids are just having some fun." If Yahweh didn't mean what He said about incorporating pagan customs and witchcraft into His worship, it doesn't make any difference at all. But if He did, then it makes a big differences.
True worship must always have its basis in the Inspired Word of Yahweh. If we are claiming to be followers of Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah, we must go to His Words to find out what He says about following pagan traditions, sorcery and witchcraft.
The Old Testament contains many warnings to Israel not to follow the customs of the pagan nations around them. However, rather than following Yahweh's prescribed worship, Israel seemed to deliberately seek out and adopt heathen worship.
Yahweh does care how we worship Him. He does not want pagan rituals or any form of evil practices entangled with His worship, neither does He want His people to have anything to do with them. Moses was inspired to instruct the children of Israel to have nothing to do with the heathen. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall not act like this toward YAHWEH your Elohim (Deuteronomy 2:2 and 4).
Further in the same book, Moses stressed the importance of not following the abominable practices of the nations, When you enter the land which YAHWEH your Elohim gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations (Deuteronomy 18:9).
He goes on to describe every type of magical or spiritistic art, all of which are condemned and prohibited. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, YAHWEH your Elohim has not allowed you to do so (Deuteronomy 18:14).
These heathen practices are an abomination unto Yahweh. If we are to be counted as Yahweh's children, we must be fully devoted to Him and His way of life as He instructs, Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:32). These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which YAHWEH, the Elohim of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth (Deuteronomy 12:1).
Which Do YOU Want?
Could the Apostle Paul have had Halloween in mind when he wrote concerning the works of the flesh, Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh, (Galatians 5:19-21).
Could the Apostle Peter have had Halloween in mind when he wrote, For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries (1 Peter 4:3).
Halloween is an example of how Christianity adopted a heathen festival to accommodate the pagans and allow them to continue worshipping their abominable mighty ones and observing their detestable rituals. Is this how we are to be converted, or are we to search for scriptural truth? Scriptures make it clear that we are to stay as far away from these customs as possible.
Halloween, as other common worship in nominal churchianity, has no scriptural basis. Rather, it originated in paganism. A search of the Scriptures should make the difference of whether to observe this custom or not. YOU must choose. Concerning this Babylonish system, which is ingrained in the Halloween celebrations, we are admonished, Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; ....and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery, (Revelation 18:4 & 23).
Will you obey Yahweh, or will you choose to imitate the reprehensible customs which He from ancient times has hated and condemned as detestable for His people?
Finally, be strong in the Master and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore, take up the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-13).
May Yahweh guide you as you delve deeper into His Word.