|The Dark Side of Halloween|
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by: Wayne Lee
Key Verse: Galatians 4:8-11
(1) What’s going on? The streets are filled teeming with children, masquerading as every imaginable creature and character. There is Batman and the Joker, Wonder Woman, witches, devils, ghosts, skeletons and even the razor fingered mass murder, Freddy Krueger. These children are going door to door shouting “Trick or Treat” hoping to collect a ton of candy before the night is over.
(2) The houses that they are going up to are strange too. Eerie grinning Jack-O-Lanterns watch as the children approach. Skeletons, witches, black cats and more decorate the houses.
(3) There is a “haunted house” in the neighborhood, and parties at many people’s houses which may even included a game called “bobbing-for-apples”.
2. The History of Halloween
2.1 Background – The Druids
(1) The Pilgrims knew about Halloween and they banned celebrating Halloween in America. In fact, Halloween was not celebrated in the United States until 1845. Why 1845? Because thousands of Irish emigrants came to the United States because of the potato famine in Ireland. With them, they brought the old Druid holiday of Halloween. Gradually, the celebration spread throughout the country.
(2) To understand the celebration of Halloween, we have to go back in time, far before Christ was born, and look at the history of the ancient Celtic peoples which include the Britons, Gauls, Scots and Irish. The Druids were the ancient high priests of these Celtic people. One of the remaining historical sites of these Druids is called Stonehenge, believed to be some type of structure constructed for sacrificial ceremonies.
(3) The Druids observed the end of the summer with sacrifices to Saman, the “lord of death and evil spirits”. The celebration marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
(4) Depending on your source materials, this “lord of death” is called Saman, Samana, Shamhain, or Samhain. His “holiday” was called “The Vigil of Saman”. You have probably seen a modern day version of Saman without even knowing it. This pagan god was shown as a ghostly skeleton holding a sickle in his hand, who later became known as the Grim Reaper!
(5) The “beginning of the Celtic New Year” corresponds to our November 1st. And the “Vigil of Saman” was celebrated on the day before, October 31st.
(6) The Celtic people considered November 1st as being the “day of death”, because the tree leaves were changing and falling, days were getting shorter, it was getting darker sooner, and the day’s temperatures were dropping. The Druids taught that Muck Olia, their sun god, was loosing strength because Saman, the “lord of death”, was gaining strength and overpowering Muck Olia.
(7) The Druids believed that on October 31st, Samhan assembled the spirits of all who had died during the previous year. These people had been confined to inhabit animals’ bodies as punishment for their evil deeds. On the eve of the feast of Samhain, on October 31st, they were allowed to return to their former homes to visit the living and protect them. Druid priests let the people in worship ceremonies in which horses, cats, black sheep, oxen, and, yes, even human beings, were rounded up, stuffed into wicker cages and burned to death. This was done to appease Samhan and keep his spirits from harming them.
(8) Records have been uncovered that this festival was celebrated some 300 years before the birth of Christ. In fact, when the Romans conquered the British Isles, and the Roman records give a detailed account of the Druid Priests.
(9) Alexander Hislop, in his book, The Two Babylons, states that the practices of the Druids came directly from the priests of Nimrod or Baal, which are found in our Old Testament.
2.2 The Church
(1) In the eighth century, the Pope moved the holiday “All Saints Day” from May 1st to November 1st in an attempt to “Christianize” the pagan holiday.
(2) This was never a Christian holiday, but a Catholic holiday, to worship and pray for the Saints who were dead, which is idolatry. The Pope apparently hoped that the similarity of meaning would cause the people to accept “All Saints Day” as a substitute and abandon the “Festival of Death”.
(3) This attempt to end the “Festival of Death” follows us and causes trouble today because its location on the calendar has led many people to believe that this holiday is a Christian observance. But, nothing could be farther from the truth.
(4) “All Saints Day” came to be called “All Halloweds” in Britian, since it was a day to worship all the “hallowed ones”, a term used to describe the Christian dead. Since the “Festival of the Dead” occurred on the night before, it became known as “All Halloweds Evening”, then “Halloweds E’en”, and then evolved into the word “Halloween” as we know it today.
(5) Because of the relationship in the names, and the adjacent dates, many today entertain the completely unfounded idea that Halloween is somehow a Christian holiday. This has been made much easier for this ungodly festival to move right into our churches and even flourish there.
2.3 History of Some Practices
(1) Jack-o-lantern – In their celebration of the “Festival of the Dead”, Druids wound dress in hooded robes and would carry a large, hollowed-out turnip on a strap over their shoulder. Inside the turnip would be an oil lamp. Carved on the outside of the turnip would be a face, the likeness of the demon spirit they believed dwelled inside the turnip. This spirit was the Druid’s spirit guide, his personal little god, who directs and empowers his life. When the Celtics immigrated to America, they found pumpkins much easier to hollow out and carve than our smaller turnips. This hollowed out and carved pumpkin became known as “Jock (or Jack) of the Lantern”, referring to the spirit guide (Jock or Jack) who lived inside the pumpkin.
(2) “Trick or Treating” – The Druids had strange dietary restrictions and on the night of the “Festival of Death”, they would go from home to home demanding these peculiar foods. If the people would comply, the Druids would pass on in silence. But, if their demands were not met, the people and their homes were cursed with trouble, sickness and death. In later years, Irish farmers went house to house begging for food for their ancient gods. Good luck was promised to all who donated, but threats were made against those who would not give.
(3) Costumes – The Druids ordered the people to put out their hearth fires and then they built a huge bonfires of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops and human beings as sacrifices to their sun god, Muck Olia, and Samhan, the god of death. The people would put on the animal heads and skins as costumes. Then, they went from house to house singing and dancing. Their masks and costumes were meant to keep evil at bay, or more likely, were visible representations of the ghosts and spirits that lurked in the night. Another source (Christianity Today, October 22, 1982) says that the only way these people could escape from the evil spirits was by assuming disguises and looking like the evil spirits themselves.
(4) Bobbing for Apples – Since the “Festival of the Dead” was the beginning of a new year, many things were done to invoke “good luck”. One form became very popular and that was to kneel around a tub of water with apples floating in it, and the first one who could get an apple without using hands or teeth would have good favor with the spirits in the coming year. Then each would peel their apple, trying to get the peel off in one piece which gave the peeling particular power and gained special favor with the spirits.
(5) Bonfires – originally came from these nights of human and animal sacrifices where they would throw the remains of the bodies into the fire. The next morning, all that was left were the ashes and the bones. Thus, the name of these fires were called “bonefires”.
(6) Black cats – The Druid priests believed that cats were once human beings but were reincarnated as a punishment for evil deeds. Because of this, they held cats sacred and involved them in their idol worship. They particularly held black cats in high esteem.
(7) Witches – what would Halloween be without witches? The witch is, without doubt, one of the most enduring figures in superstition and literature. Whether portrayed as an aged crone astride a broomstick off on some mission of evil, or else a young girl dancing naked with her companions in a wooded grove, the witch can be found in carvings of antiquity or the columns of today’s newspapers since the Middle Ages. Witches are an enemy of humanity, a solitary being able to compact with the Devil to work all manner of supernatural powers.
(8) Count Dracula – He is not a literary creature, he was real. According to a book called Dracula, A Bibliography of Vlad the Impaler, 1431-1476 by Radu Florescu and Raymond T McNalley, Dracula was a real person, a maniac monster, the “Hitler” of his day. During his 6 year reign, he massacred 100,000 men, women and children. Dracula decapitated, cut off noses, ears and privates, plus limbs. He would invite beggars, sick, old, lame and poor people to a feast at a palace. Then, he had the palace boarded up and set on fire.
3. The Harm of Halloween
(1) Halloween emphasizes violence and death. Just look at the “scary” films that are always introduced around this time of year. From “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Halloween”, to the “Friday the 13th” series are very popular but their theme involves violence and death.
(2) Halloween emphasizes horror and fear.
(3) Halloween emphasizes the occult.
(4) Halloween in no way glorifies God
4. What Does The Bible Say
(1) Lets see what the Lord commanded in Deuteronomy 12:2 – 4
(2) And who could forget the famous confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal found in 1 Kings 18:19-40
(3) Not only in the Old Testament, in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 we find:
(3) 1 Peter 4:1-3 tells us to follow the Will of God
(4) Ephesians 5:6-11 gives us the warning of following disobedience.
(5) In Luke 16:13 we find that we cannot do it both ways:
(6) In Luke 9:23 we find the following admonishment:
If we cannot deny ourselves celebrating “The Festival of the Dead”, how can we make it through persecution and the trails that the Bible says we will have to endure?
(7) In Luke 17:1-2, Jesus warns us not to cause others to sin:
(8) 1 John 2: 4-5
(9) In Titus 2:1-12, we are taught to avoid all ungodliness
(10) 1 John 2:6
(1) Information on Stonehenge: http://www.christiaan.com/stonehenge/
(2) Information on Halloween:
(3) Articles on Crosswalk.com:
(4) Complete resource document: http://www.logosresourcepages.org/halloween.html
(5) Links to many more references: http://www.annieshomepage.com/halloweenlinks.html