Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated on what is called “All Hallows Eve” on October 31st each year, which occurs before “All Saints Day” on November 1st. The day itself has become big business. The value of sales by businesses for all the costumes, lights and Halloween candy has doubled in the past 10 years. In fact, a quarter of all lollies are sold in the lead-up to Halloween each year. According to Forbes, during 2019 in the USA alone, Halloween was worth $US8.8 billion. That is around $US84 per head on average! What was once shunned by the puritans of New England in the 16th century has become big business in the present day
Interestingly, the value of pumpkins sold in 2020 came to $US686 million. It was not for food—but to cut spooky faces out of the pumpkin gourds and place a light inside to make it scary for anyone participating in the Halloween festivities who is coming to trick or treat and ask for lollies. Traditionally these Jack O’Lanterns were thought to ward off evil spirits.
Halloween evening in Australia usually sees children run around in Halloween costumes made of horror robes and witches masks. Some are even more gratuitous with outfits depicting skeletons and visible intestines; even decaying heads and hanging bodies. Voodoo outfits are common as well as vampire, skeleton and grim reaper outfits. Are these Halloween traditions just innocent fun? A chance to blow off steam? Or does the real story show a darker underbelly?
Halloween night has the highest rates of vandalism. Property crimes in the United States increase by some 24 per cent on Halloween night, while vandalism also sees an increase of 19 per cent.
This is compounded by authorities’ warnings that there is even more danger—as children dressed in these weird outfits cannot see as well when crossing streets. With flames in pumpkins displays, some Halloween costumes have been known to catch fire too easily.
You might say, but there are risks anytime you take your child out on the street. Correct, which is why the core issue with the Halloween season lies with its relation to the occult.
A strange facet of human nature is our obsession with darkness. This is exacerbated by popular media—with Hollywood a known promoter of Halloween in a variety of horror movies. One such film series, the Fear Street Trilogy, was shot back-to-back and was released on Netflix in July ahead of Halloween. Another horror film, Malignant, was released last month. The title alone raises red flags! But to cap it off, Universal Pictures is releasing the latest in the horror series following serial killer Michael Myers, Halloween Kills, on October 15, just a couple of weeks prior to Halloween.
Many of these films carry an MA15+ or R18+ rating, and Australian Classifications does not recommend parents show these films to their children. To know what is fact and what is fantasy is not always understood by children. Without adequate preparation, such films or incidents may leave scars on their minds.
Halloween’s origins have been traced back to the beginning of the 8th century with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, in the areas of the world that would later become known as the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. This Celtic celebration occurred when it was the end of the harvest season and the darkest time of the year was approaching. People dressed like the dead and ghosts thinking that by doing so, the ghost or spirit would ignore them and they would be protected. Because of this, it was commonplace to wear animal heads and skins at this festival.
This contrasts greatly with the biblical account of what happens to people when they die. The Bible says “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), while also warning of interfering with dark forces in the spiritual realm. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but . . . against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). There are additional warnings: “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them” (Leviticus 19:31).
All this raises the question why anyone would spend time dwelling on ghosts and people from the dead coming back? The Bible makes clear that even praying for the dead won’t change anything as they just sleep until a resurrection comes with Jesus. Dressing up in costumes of animals, witches or anything else as part of the occult can be a “gateway” to a world involving suffering and pain. You only need to read former clairvoyant Cathy Hookham’s testimony to find out how destructive a life with the occult is.
Perhaps if you are considering being a part of Halloween activities on October 31, a better question to ask yourself would be: do I even want to be associated with anything that is seen to be satanic or of the dark side of the world?
Scripture has a number of references to this end. The apostle Paul wrote to those who lived in Thessaloniki, “Reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Another comment from his pen says, “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27), and “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
While in the present day, many participate in Halloween, an event which has been passed down over the centuries, its dark history contrasts with Paul’s words to those at Philippi to seek to bring people to the light.
He says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). If I follow this advice, I would choose to avoid all the horror and grotesqueness of Halloween. Let’s make the world a better place.
Interested in learning more regarding what the Bible says about the state of the world? Why not try this free course to learn more.
Harold Harker is a retired Seventh-day Adventist church leader and pastor; and frequently published author. He lives in Australia’s Lake Macquarie region.