Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Christians and Halloween

Ghosts and witches. Jack-o’-lanterns and black cats. Scary masks and things that go bump in the night. Typical frightening Halloween fare. But the day is not called Scary-ween.

So what is the “hallow” in Halloween?

Hallow is not a frequently used word these days. When something is hallowed, it is sacred or holy, set apart from common use. We think of the phrase, “Hallowed be your name” from the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9. When we pray this, we are asking God to set apart His name in a special way. To hallow God’s name is to treat it reverently, approaching it as most precious.

Yet a holiday that has the word hallow in its name is celebrated with representations of goblins, witches, and vampires. Children—and adults—dress up and beg for candy, threatening “tricks” if they don’t receive what they want. These threats are usually harmless. However mischief and vandalism have long been associated with Halloween and the night before Halloween, often called “Mischief Night” or Devil’s Night.”  While these activities can include pranks such as toilet papering houses and trees, they can escalate to egging and ultimately to vandalism and arson.

Halloween has its roots in an ancient Celtic Feast called Samhaim. It began as a druid celebration of the beginning of winter and was believed to be the one night each year when spirits of the dead walked the earth. Spirits of family members were welcomed and honored, while other spirits were warded off with the use of costumes and masks to impersonate an evil spirit and avoid harm.

Christians and Halloween

In an effort to stem these activities, the early Christian church chose November 1st as All Saints’ Day and renamed October 31st All Hallows’ Eve. Christians taught that costumes and masks could not protect them from evil spirits. Protection is found only in Jesus Christ because of His victory on the cross over sin and death and the devil.

Yet as the centuries have passed, we find our culture celebrating Halloween with all the verve of the ancient druids. Debates rage in churches as to whether it’s appropriate for Christian families to allow their children to trick-or-treat. Are costumes okay as long as they’re not scary? Are alternatives such as Harvest Festival costume parties the answer?

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. Perhaps we should focus once more on the Hallow of Halloween. The world sets apart one day to glorify evil spirits, mischief, and vandalism. We can rationalize these activities, or we can choose to set apart the day to hallow the name of our glorious God. We can use this day to remember that Christ alone is our protection from evil. Where we have the opportunity, we can share the truth of God’s Word. People still need to know that not only is God holy and set apart, but He sets apart His children to represent His light in a dark world.

What are your plans for Halloween?

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  1. Yvonne Morgan

    Thanks Ava. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject on Christians and Halloween. I think the hard part is when you have small children and they want to get candy like all their friends. We usually go to our church’s event (fall festival) the weekend before Halloween.

  2. Pam walsh

    Just like Peter, In Acts, you can use what we see culturally unclean to bring God glory and speak truth. Taking the opportunity for a teachable moment with the kids. I told them that when you come to Jesus, God will take all the yucky stuff out of you and replace it with his light. I told them that when we sin we get yucky inside and God scrapes away all that yuck when we accept His son and turn away from evil. It isn’t easy to tell kids who haven’t been to church that they can’t do Halloween so I use this opportunity to shed light on it. I love the history you shared as well. I will use it also. As always Ava, I love your posts

  3. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Pam. Love how you take what the enemy meant for evil and use it for good!

  4. Julie

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Jessica Brodie

    AWESOME, Ava! I love what you said, “We can use this day to remember that Christ alone is our protection from evil.” So very true. THAT is the part of Halloween that I cherish!

  6. Ava Pennington

    Me, too! Thank you, Jessica!

  7. Melissa Henderson

    Thank you for your thoughts. We will be enjoying our two years old grandson seeing the neighborhood decorations.

  8. Beth Bingaman

    Interesting thoughts on the word “Hallow.” It grieves me to think about how so many words have been robbed of their truth. Great observations here. Thanks.

  9. Diane Kitts

    Ok..well you hit my nerve here. I have been preaching this since the early 80’s. Most thought I was nutty then. Too radical. No fun. But when will the church set some standards for families to follow? Just like everyone else our church passed out candy and celebrated this fun day with neighborhood kids. Thank you for speaking the truth. Doesn’t Jesus want us to be in the world but not of the world. It saddens me.

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