What Are the Origins of Halloween?
The Bible’s answer
The Bible does not mention Halloween, a holiday that many observe on October 31 each year. However, the ancient origins and traditions of Halloween conflict with Bible teachings.
In this article
Halloween’s history and traditions
Samhain: The origin of Halloween can be traced to this “ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people over 2,000 years ago,” states The World Book Encyclopedia. “The Celts believed that the dead could walk among the living at this time. During Samhain, the living could visit with the dead.”—See “ Why Is It Called Halloween?”
Halloween costumes, candy, and trick or treat: According to one source, some of the Celts wore ghoulish costumes so that wandering spirits “would mistake them for one of their own” and leave them alone. Others offered sweets to the spirits to appease them. a
In medieval Europe, the Catholic clergy adopted local pagan customs and had their church members go from house to house wearing costumes and requesting small gifts.
Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and zombies: These have long been associated with the evil spirit world. Referring to them as “supernatural monsters,” the book Halloween Trivia states that such creatures are “closely connected with death, the dead or the fear of dying.”
Halloween pumpkins, or jack-o’-lanterns: In medieval Britain, people “moved from door to door asking for food in return for a prayer for the dead,” and they would carry “hollowed-out turnip lanterns, whose candle connoted a soul trapped in purgatory.” (Halloween—From Pagan Ritual to Party Night) Some sources say that the lanterns were used to ward off evil spirits. During the 1800’s in North America, pumpkins replaced turnips because they were plentiful as well as easy to hollow out and carve.
Do the pagan origins of Halloween matter?
Yes. Although some people view Halloween as harmless fun, the practices associated with it are in direct conflict with Bible teachings. Halloween is based on false beliefs about the dead and invisible spirits, or demons.
Notice the following verses that show how God views the beliefs associated with Halloween:
“There must never be anyone among you who . . . consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead.”—Deuteronomy 18:10-12, The Jerusalem Bible.
Meaning: God does not approve of efforts to contact the dead or even of giving the appearance of trying to have contact with those who have died.
“The dead know nothing at all.”—Ecclesiastes 9:5.
Meaning: Because the dead are unconscious, they cannot contact the living.
“[Do not] be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.”—1 Corinthians 10:20, 21, New International Version.
Meaning: Those who want God’s favor must avoid any connection with demons.
“Stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil; because we have a struggle . . . against the wicked spirit forces.”—Ephesians 6:11, 12.
Meaning: Christians should oppose wicked spirit forces, not pretend to celebrate with them.
a See the book Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, page 4.