Does God Celebrate Halloween?

Thomas Griffin 10/31/22

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Pumpkins, jack o’lanterns, skulls, and spiders mixed in with some screams, fake blood and tales of witches. What do we make of Halloween as Christians and where did the popular celebration come from? More importantly, is God a fan of Halloween?

The term was coined from the phrase, “All Hallow’s Eve” marking the day before the Catholic Church’s celebration of All Saints Day on November 1st. The roots of the day go back to a Celtic feast named Samhain which marked the beginning of the harvest season. Celts are the ancestors of the Irish who lived roughly 2,000 years ago. They believed that this day marked the end of one year and the beginning of another. From this day forward the days began to get colder and darker.

On the brink of the darkness, Celts believed that the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living was faded. Ghosts of the dead were rumored to appear on this one night out of the year. In order to scare off these spirits, the celts would wear masks in order to protect themselves. 

Over time, the day took on more features such as trick-or-treating and American culture monetized the celebration with movies, costumes and so much more. Halloween is often a day for children to get together with their friends, be kids and eat some candy. 

What is interesting about the feast, is that for most of the year our culture tells us that invisible realities are not important and that the only things that are real are what you can see with your own eyes. While many movies and vocabulary surrounding this day are playful and childish, the culture knows, deep down, that the topics of death, God and the after life are on their minds. The after life awaits us all and the question that haunts every person is vividly clear: what happens to us when we die?

Famously, it is said that most people would rather be the person laying in the coffin than the one giving the eulogy. At funerals, we often make small talk about weather and sports and weekend plans rather than confronting the topic of death. On Halloween, most people think that it is cute that their kids dress up in costumes with blood or as the grim reaper. These things are fine and it is nice to have traditions that revolve around celebration and community. The crux of our discussion here, however, is do we ever stop and actually think about death and evil?

In medieval times, many academics and even some saints would place skulls on their desks as reminders that one day they too would leave this earth. Practices abound across history and cultures that involve human beings coming to terms with their own death so that they can live better lives. Perhaps, Halloween can serve this purpose for Catholics. Maybe it can help remind us of the truth of invisible realities and of the belief in life after death despite this fallen world. 

We firmly believe in invisible realities: angels, demons, spirits, etc. Foy many reasons, but notably because Jesus is God and Jesus spoke about angels and drove demons out of real people. If he is God then it is impossible for him to have told a lie or taught something that was incorrect. 

Jesus said in reference to taking care of children: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father,” (Matthew 18:10). This passage creates one of the foundations for belief in Guardian Angels. We also know that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the news that she would become the Mother of God (Luke 1:26).

Jesus drives out many, many demons from people during his public ministry (Ex: Mark 1:21-28; Luke 8:26-39; Matthew 12:22-32). In fact, Jesus comes to earth to destroy the power of Satan’s grip on human souls. He is called the deceiver for many reasons, and the Devil’s greatest lie (which he convinces people of everyday) is that he is not real. That is what he wants us to think.

Maybe this is why Jesus drives out demons so many times and why he references Satan with such clarity during his teachings and ministry. These can be unpopular topics and passages to focus on, but that does not mean that they are irrelevant. Here, we must note that toying with the evil one through Halloween would be one of the dangerous aspects of this day. Christ comes to destroy evil so we should never take its power lightly. If the power of death could have been destroyed easily, then Jesus would have never been born. 

God probably does not dress up in costume like so many will this month, but He can always use a celebration which is so attached to one of the greatest feast days of the year (All Saints Day) to bring about some true good. In the midst of the fun, candy and screams let us remember that the cross and resurrection stand in the background victorious.  

Let us always remember: God is real. Jesus is God. Jesus died for you and he rose from the dead to destroy the power of evil. Life after death is real and the offer to us is to live in a perfect relationship with God forever. 

The saints made this truth run through the fabric of all that they were. Let us weave it through the fabric of our souls, and our costumes as well. 

Thomas Griffin is the chairperson of the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island where he lives with his wife and son. He has a masters degree in theology and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Empty Tomb Project: The Magazine. He writes for several media outlets.

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