Guest Post: What Is Halloween?
I am so excited and honored that Kristine McGuire agreed to post another article for me this month. I really admire Kristine, her testimony, and the way God is using her to shine His Light into the growing darkness. With Halloween upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the whole idea with a former practicing witch…
When I was growing up Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I looked forward to it every year. The entire month of October was dedicated to planning my homemade costume (most often a Gypsy Fortune Teller), coloring pictures of black cats, and decorating our house with tissue paper ghosts.
I had a Disney record (yes—it was vinyl) called Trick or Treat. It was filled with stories and songs about Halloween. I would sit in front of my record player listening to the adventures of Donald Duck with a witch, a tale from the Haunted Mansion, or sing along with silly songs about goblins.
When October 31st arrived, my school would spend half the day in parties. All the classes from 4-6th grade would parade through the school for the younger children and teachers. In the afternoon, I would scoop seeds out of a large pumpkin my mother had cut the top from so we could design a Jack-O-Lantern. It always seemed so cheerful in the light. Later in the night, as I pondered it’s eerie orange glow which permeated the darkness, a chill would work it’s way down my spine.
After supper, I’d don my costume and race out the door with a plastic pumpkin shaped bucket. I’d meet up with my friend at her house. We would troop up and down our quiet country road in the gathering dark, bellowing “Trick-or-treat!” before each neighbor’s door.
Halloween is a secular holiday introduced to America by Irish immigrants in the 1800′s. This annual holiday finds its deepest roots in an ancient Celtic fire festival called Samhain. It was a celebration of Summer moving into Winter. A preparation for the long dark of that season. The Celts were a people who believed in spirits. During Samhain, the veil between worlds was it’s most thin. This made for an opportune time to seek the future through divination but also meant spirits of the dead, as well as harmful elementals could, could pass through to the living. So the Celts would wear masks to protect themselves from tricksters who meant them harm. They set food out for lost or wayward souls. Families would also re-light their hearth fires from a bonfire used to sacrifice animals (most likely cattle as part of the final harvest in preparation for lean Winter months).
When Rome conquered the known world (including Celtic lands) various cultures with similar harvest celebrations incorporated one another’s traditions into their own. This is why “bobbing for apples” is a familiar harvest game, along with using an apple peel to determine the first letter of a future spouse’s name.
In time, Christianity became the religion of (Constantine’s) empire. Somewhere between the 3rd-8th centuries, the church fathers sought to bring familiar traditions and festivals still observed by the people into the church calendar by changing the emphasis to Christian teaching. This is how Winter Solstice became associated with Christmas and Spring Equinox with Easter. November 1st was set aside as a day to remember faithful Christians who had died the previous year and for prayer. October 31st became “All Hallow’s Eve” (Halloween), reserved for Autumn harvest revelry to be observed before the more pious “All Saint’s Day”.
Halloween has grown in popularity in secular society since the mid 20th century. As a result, every October there is an emphasis throughout displays in grocery and department stores, candy shops, and in decor finding it’s way onto the porches of people’s homes which is spooky, scary, or dark. Even when using light hearted or fantasy characters (princesses or superheroes), or adding bright shades of purple to the more traditional orange and black, the significance which girds the celebrations taking place on October 31st remains the same. Imitating (or glorifying) those things which frighten us as a means of “whistling in the dark”.
In addition, there is a spiritual element which occurs on Halloween because many now claim it as a religious observance. Wiccans, neo-pagans, and witches practice ritual and spell on this day (Samhain) because it is still regarded as a time of great power and an opportunity to remember or commune with those who’ve died. Satanists (and there are different beliefs within this religion-some who worship Satan as a deity, others only as a symbol as they worship themselves) also claim Halloween as a day of power and ritual.
Christians must answer this question when it comes to October 31st:
How will they honor God this day?
Is there truly any difference from this one day to the next? Should a Christian allow their children to trick-or-treat, wear a costume, participate in Halloween activities? Is it better to offer an alternative to the frightening or occult themes by focusing on harvest (as kind of an extension into Thanksgiving)? Should the night be dedicated to prayer for those who are lost and in need of JESUS for salvation?
The wonderful thing is we have so many options on how to respond or to ignore the day. Many Christians are choosing to celebrate October 31st as Reformation Day by holding festivals and re-enactments of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany.
As for me, in the past I have opened my door to Trick-or-Treater’s on Halloween, offering candy and a little booklet about salvation in Jesus or a Gospel of John. Some years, I have volunteered at a church sponsored alternative event. This year, I’m going to be sharing my story, telling those who are listening how deceptive the occult is. How God’s mercy can deliver them.
And I’ll be praying for those still caught in Satan’s snare.
The most important thing is to seek God’s guidance in how to best honor Him every day through our words and actions. I suppose the real point is all days belong to the Lord. October 31st is no different. Since the beginning of time, it remains a testament to His glory.
is an inspirational writer and speaker,sharing her testimony and encouraging others in their walk with Christ. A gifted writer, her work has been featured on Positively Feminine, Faithful Devotions, and Praise & Coffee Magazine (Fall 2011). Kristine ‘s first book, Escaping the Cauldron
, is an informative memoir and Bible study, recounting her journey from committed Christian to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years until restored to faith in Jesus Christ. Kristine is a wife and the mother of two adult daughters. She enjoys writing, spending time with her family, long walks, listening to music of all kinds, and experiencing God’s daily gift called life. You can read her blog at Kristine Remixed