Tis the Season for Trick-or-Treat (Part 1)
Tis the season for Trick-or-Treat. Many believers ask me at this time of year how I, they, or the church should respond to Oct 31st. We can either
- Participate fully in.
- Convert it into a church version.
- Replace it with a church function.
- Ignore it altogether.
- Condemn it and those who participate in any fashion.
My concern is to identify the Christian response.
Christians respond to Halloween in different ways, but we should seek instead the truly Christian (God honoring) response.
Identifying the specific pagan origins of Halloween is not important. Different people and different books say different things in who started what and did what in what way.
The common thread found among all of them which is a historical fact is that most pagan religions have some sort of celebration/observance/rituals associated with the change of seasons or other natural events during the year. Three that come to mind and are the most relevant are:
- The change from summer to winter (Halloween)
- The winter solstice (Christmas)
- The beginning of spring (Easter)
As noted in the list, the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of high-jacking pagan holidays and converting them into Christian holidays as they converted the people.
We could discuss the level to which the secular world has reclaimed those holidays, but I’ll save that blog post for Christmas.
To summarize: All Hallows Eve, Christmas, and Resurrection Sunday are all purposefully associated with the pagan origins of Halloween, the Winter Solicits, and Easter to replace the pagan holidays with significant Christian observances.
However, while Christmas and Easter have retained significant Christian ideas, Halloween has not, at least for Protestants.
The Roman Catholic Church named November 1st as “All Hallows Day” to honor the dead saints. October 31st is simply “All Hallows Eve” because it is the night before All Hallows Day just like December 24th is Christmas Eve before Christmas Day, December 25th.
Children would go from house to house and would receive sweets (treats) and in exchange, they would pray for the deceased loved ones of the house to shorten their time in Purgatory.
According to the Roman Catholic Church, Purgatory is a place that is neither heaven nor hell, where believers go when they die to pay for unconfessed sin or to pay for sin which they have not paid for on earth. The living could say prayers or perform good works on behalf of those in Purgatory to lessen their stay and get them into heaven faster. Getting people out of Purgatory is also the job of those Saints who have since gone on to be with the Lord.