On the Matter of Holidays…

In response to my post regarding Halloween, a reader posted a comment concerning other holiday practices that have their roots in pagan traditions.  I felt his insights needed to be addressed as there may be others with similar concerns.

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Marc’s Comment
“I feel you have some interesting insights into this, but there is something I feel led to share. Please note that I have yet to make up my mind on whether or not I will let my children partake in Halloween when they are old enough.
“Your argument for not observing trick-or-treating and Halloween in general is because of what it once represented. However, let me ask you this…do you put a Christmas tree in your home? Do you decorate with lights and holly things of that nature? Do you celebrate Christmas on December 25th? All of these things stem from pagan worship celebrations and ceremonies, which over the years were adopted by Christians and had their purpose and meaning changed to reflect worship of Christ as opposed to pagan gods. All of the verses you posted for why you shouldn’t partake in Halloween would work the same for the traditions we have surrounding Christmas. Yet today you are more likely to get strange looks from those in your church for NOT putting up a Christmas tree and decorations than FOR putting up these things. Why? Because they no longer represent what they once did. Are there still people who partake in pagan worship celebrations on December 25th? I don’t doubt it for a moment. Is that what Christians are doing? Not at all.
“The same thing could be used for celebrating birthdays — something that was reserved for pagan gods for centuries.
“My point is not necessarily to discredit what you are saying, but merely to show that for your thought process to be consistent, you would need to exercise the same views when it comes to every other celebratory tradition present in our society today that stems from false religions.”
My Response
It is true that much of our society is still influenced by Greco-Roman culture and its pagan practices.  I mean, even the days of the week are named after their gods!  It’s hard to completely get away from these things, even after all these centuries.  However, through the centuries the Church has been able to redeem some of these practices and use them to serve the cause of Christ.
You mentioned Christmas.  While it may be true that Jesus was not born exactly on the 25th of December (although Alfred Edersheim makes a pretty compelling case for it in his Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah), and the date may have been associated with the pagan winter solstice, the church chose that date as the celebration of Christ’s birth and to replace a pagan celebration.  When you mention December 25th today, no one (for the most part) thinks of the previous pagan practices associated with it.  They think of the celebration of Christ’s birth.  The same can be said about the Christmas tree, the decorations, etc.  These things have been divorced from their pagan roots and made to serve a godly purpose.
Here, in my mind,  is the difference.  Halloween has never been divorced from its roots.  While it is true that few people would ever think of it in terms of its original meaning, it is still a celebration associated with death, darkness, demons, witches, violence, fear, etc.  All the symbols still point back to its occult origin.  There is nothing godly that can be associated with Halloween.
In the End…
I really appreciate you sharing your insights, Marc.  In the end, it really boils down to a matter of conscience.  If a person, in all good conscience, feels the Lord approves of them participating in Halloween, then I guess that’s between them and the Lord.  If a person has any doubts, however, it is best to refrain from participating (see Romans 14:22 – 23 in its context).  For myself, I cannot endorse the holiday or encourage its practice.  I do not believe Halloween has any place in the life of someone seeking to live in the Reign.
M
PS It should be noted that some insights from my good friend Chris Jordan of New Life are reflected in this post.

2 comments

  1. Great answer! I grew up never really participating in Halloween either. However, my church did sometimes do a more Biblical-based spin on the Holiday. (Like a fellowship where you dress as something/someone from the Bible). I’m not really sure on where I stand on the “Christianized” versions of this day, but I tend to agree with you that the holiday must be divorced from it’s origin completely if we’re going to have any part of it. Which means no ghosts, witches, goblins, or even jack-o’lanterns. And I’d like to stay away from the name “Halloween” and the phrase “Trick or Treat”, because those terms are DEFINITELY still associated with death and evil.

    I’m a newlywed, and no kids yet. So my husband & I haven’t really made a decision about this for our future kids. I’m happy to say that at the very least, we are both of the same conviction that none of the evil practices associated with Halloween will EVER be a part of our home.

    But as for really cheap November 1st candy…..that can’t be a bad thing, right? 🙂

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