Halloween: Can Christians honestly participate in it?

1. Introduction

Before we answer that question, let’s look at some facts about this day that may help to shed light on the answer:

  • Halloween is a pagan festival, not a Christian one.
  • Centuries after the apostles, the Roman church adopted this day into the ecclesiastical calendar, mistakenly thinking they could safely absorb heathen practices and translate them into honoring God in a manner of their own choosing.
  • Any encyclopedic reference can easily confirm these facts.
  • The Bible has much to say about compromising with the traditions of the cultures in which we live.

We will look at details regarding these facts, and then ask some questions that any true seeker of Biblical knowledge will need to answer for themselves.

2. Halloween is a pagan festival, not a Christian one. 

It is almost beyond belief that a simple statement like that needs to be voiced for believers today, yet it is nonetheless true. Consider the following authoritative historical facts regarding the history of this day.

  • The word comes from medieval England’s All Hallows’ eve [Old Eng. hallow=saint]. However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back to Celtic practices associated with Nov. 1, which was Samhain (sä´wĬn), the beginning of winter and the Celtic new year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of dainty foods and sweets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid demonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of Celtic influence today, such as the United States where children go from door to door in costumes demanding “trick or treat.” – “Halloween.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Hallowee.html
  • Samhain the first day of November, celebrated by the ancient Celts as a festival marking the beginning of winter and the Celtic new year. The name is Irish, from Old Irish samain. – ELIZABETH KNOWLES. “Samhain.” The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Oct. 2013 <http://www.encyclopedia.com&gt;.
  • Samhainis a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice… – “Samhain”, Wikipedia.com, 27 Oct 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain
  • Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain…Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. It was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination rituals were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples…Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday… – (“Samhain”, Ibid.) 

3. Almost a thousand years after the apostles, the Roman Catholic church adopted this day into the ecclesiastical, or “official Christian” calendar.

  • In the 9th century, the Roman Catholic Church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged and helped to create the modern Halloween… – (“Samhain”, Ibid.)
  • Halloween is of pre-Christian origin, being associated with the Celtic festival Samhain, when ghosts and spirits were thought to be abroad. Adopted as a Christian festival, it gradually became a secular rather than a Christian observance, involving dressing up and the wearing of masks. These secular customs were popularized in the US in the late 19th century and later developed into the custom of children playing trick or treat. – ELIZABETH KNOWLES. “Halloween.” The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Oct. 2013 <http://www.encyclopedia.com&gt;.
  • A Christian festival on 31st Oct., the evening before All Saints, 1 Nov. It absorbed and adopted the Celtic new year festival, the eve and day of Samhain… – JOHN BOWKER. “Halloween.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Oct. 2013 <http://www.encyclopedia.com&gt;.

4. The Bible has much to say about compromising with the traditions of the cultures in which we live.

To even consider a day set aside to focus on death, with all of the frightening images, characters and pagan practices is somehow “okay” for Christians to participate in shows how far many Christians already compromised with the world. In the Old Testament, compromise with local cultural paganism was to be avoided at all costs.

Deu 18:9-149  When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.10  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,11  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.12  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.13  Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.14  For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Lev 18:24-3024  Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:25  And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.26  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:27  (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)28  That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.29  For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.30  Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and : I am the LORD your God that ye defile not yourselves therein.

From these passages it becomes apparent that the Lord takes very seriously the behavior of his own people in the land where they live. He does not allow them to participate in these things, so that they will not defile themselves. They have been separated from these things to be wholly dedicated to him.

Lev 20:7, 26
7  Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
26  And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Lest one think that this level of separation was a requirement for Old Testament believers only, I refer you to the following New Testament passages:

Eph 5:6-11
6  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7  Be not ye therefore partakers with them
8  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9  (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10  Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them

Some would think that we can still be “friendly” to these supposedly “harmless traditions and customs” without being influenced by them. However, God, speaking through James, says:

James 4:44  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The apostle Paul also makes this clear, writing to the church at Corinth:

2 Cor 6:14-18
14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

As the temple of the Almighty God, believers cannot have fellowship with the paganism and idolatry of this world. He graciously gives us his Holy Spirit to discern these things, so that we can accomplish not our own ways, but his righteous and holy will in this world.

Rom 12:1-2
1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Dear reader, the Savior and Lord of all desires his own people to be obedient and faithful in this world. Dare we push aside his holy desire for our lives with the potential defilement that comes from participating in worldly and carnal customs and traditions for the sake of our own desires?

5. What now?

If you have read this far, you will no doubt be wondering, How does this information affect me? Believe me, I sympathize with you if you are now in a dilemma. Many years ago I was in just such a situation. If all this about Halloween is correct, then how must I react? To ignore truth is obviously not a safe policy to follow: especially when it concerns the choice between pagan practices on the one hand and obedience to the commandments of God on the other. Perhaps you should do what I did when I first learned the truth about Halloween: Go to the library and check it all out. Read as many encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference works to see if all this is true. And, when you have really studied the matter, make your choice to go along with the pagan festival of Halloween, or obey the Almighty’s commandments.

3 John 1:11
11  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.


  1. Halloween is a pagan festival, and has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity at all. It is based on the Celtic festival of Samhain, where it was believed the souls of the dead would revisit their earthly homes, and people went door to door reciting verses in exchange for food. Neopagans and Wiccans consider this an active religious holiday to this day.
  2. Halloween was adopted by the Roman Catholic church into the ecclesiastical calendar almost a thousand years after the apostles, in an attempt to compromise with the heathen population.
  3. According to both Old and New Testament Scripture, God’s people are not to compromise, but to be holy and separate from the defiling nature of these abominable practices. By not conforming to the world, believers can have their minds transformed to determine the perfect will of God.

May the Lord bless you and guide you as you seek to understand the truth of his word, and how to rightly apply it in your life.