October 3


The Shocking Truth that Many Christians Are Ignoring About Halloween

By Anna Joy

October 3, 2016

Its fall. And Halloween is right around the corner.

Love it or hate it, you won’t be able to ignore Halloween this year. It’s everywhere.

It’s waiting for you at the grocery store. It’s evident on billboards. And, it might even be found in the decorations in your neighbor’s yard.

How should Christians respond to Halloween? What should Christians do with a holiday that celebrates death, evil, and darkness?

How can Christians respond to Halloween in a way that glorifies God? The Apostle Paul gives us an example - and it just might surprise you!

There seem to be two views on this:

  1. We can either say that it is all in fun, it’s not a big deal, and celebrate like our unsaved neighbors do.
  2. Or, we can send out scathing Facebook posts attempting to raise “awareness” and “conviction” in our friends’ hearts about the evils of Halloween, then sit in our basements with the lights off on October 31st, hoping no one will dare to ring our doorbells.

But, what does the Bible tell us about Halloween?

When the Bible was written, “Halloween” as we know it today was not celebrated.  However, cultures in the Bible still worshiped evil things and celebrated darkness. How did Christians handle it back then?

How can Christians respond to Halloween in a way that glorifies God? The Apostle Paul gives us an example - and it just might surprise you!

A Beautiful Opportunity

I believe that the Apostle Paul offers us a beautiful example of a way that we can respond to Halloween and glorify God on a “pagan” holiday.

In Acts chapter 17, we read about the Apostle Paul waiting for Silas and Timothy in the city of Athens – a city full of idols and idol worshipers. As he walked around Athens, Paul’s spirit was “provoked” by the spiritual darkness and the worship of evil that surrounded him.

What did Paul do about this? Well, he didn’t immediately start  condemning the “evil idol worshipers” and trying to show them the absolute wickedness of their actions.

He didn’t flee back to his “hotel room” and slam the door to keep the evil out.

But, he didn’t join in their worship either.

Instead, Paul looked around and saw souls that were lost, confused, and in desperate need of the truth. Paul knew that these were people whom God loved so much that He sent His Son to die for them. And, without the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation, these people had no hope of forgiveness of their sins and eternal life.

So, Paul mingled with these people. He spoke with them and compassionately shared the Gospel with them.

But, do you know what is most SHOCKING in this passage? Paul graciously used a pagan altar (gasp!) as an object lesson to point people to Christ.

Which makes me wonder…

Can we, as Christians, use Halloween (a “wicked” and “pagan” holiday) to compassionately and graciously mingle with our neighbors and even share truths from God’s Word with them?


Using a Pagan Holiday

Here’s the truth: Many of us struggle to get to know our neighbors. We live in a culture where people prefer to drive into their garages, close the garage door, and engage in virtual relationships and entertainment rather than real, face-to-face relationships. We are all so “busy” that we feel we have no time to develop relationships with the people around us.

My neighbors almost never knock on my door. In fact, there is only one night out of the whole year when many of my neighbors consistently come and knock on my front door. And, that night just happens to be October 31.

In her thought-provoking post, “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween“,  Brittany Ann of Equipping Godly Women notes, “I don’t know how it goes in your neighborhood, but Halloween is the ONLY night of the year when you can have tons of strangers come knock on your door and when you can go knock on tons of strangers’ doors and be welcomed.”

What if we saw Halloween as an amazing opportunity to share God’s love with our neighbors?

Practical Ways to Share the Gospel on Halloween:

How can we share the good news of salvation on Halloween? Here are some ideas:

1. Intentionally Pray

Set aside some time during the month of October to pray for the salvation of your neighbors. Maybe you could even make a habit of praying a quick prayer for the salvation of your neighbors and acquaintances each time you see a Halloween decoration.


2. Be Welcoming

Let your light shine on Halloween night – literally! If you live in a town or city, chances are good that many people are walking past your door Trick or Treating on Halloween. Make your front door and porch a place of light and warmth, an inviting place for people to stop.

Put up strings of lights and fun fall decor and reflect a little of God’s light and grace on a dark and scary night.

3. Be Bold

Pray and think about some ways that you can step out in faith and boldness.

I am not saying that you should preach to every Trick or Treater who comes by. We need to be wise and gentle about sharing our faith and that does not include ramming our faith down people’s throats. Instead, look for a quiet and gracious way to let people know that you are a Christian.

This can be as simple as including a small tract or Bible verse with each treat that you hand out. You might also consider purchasing bookmarks or pencils with Bible verses printed on them. Maybe you could hand out tracts from your church with the church address stamped on them. God can use even these humble means as the first step in bringing people to Himself.

And, who knows? Perhaps, when your neighbor has a question about spiritual things, she will remember that verse you handed her one Halloween night… and come knocking on your door again.


4. Be Generous

If you are going to be bold and use Halloween as an opportunity to share God’s goodness, please please please do not hand out a tract with one vanilla-flavored Tootsie Roll.

Instead, offer the best treats on the block, treats that are reflective of God’s generosity and grace. Go above and beyond, looking for creative ways to be generous to your neighbors.

Consider setting up a hot chocolate and coffee station. What about offering a basket of hand warmers to keep those little hands toasty in their pockets? Maybe you could hand out glow sticks to light up your visitors’ dark walks.

Look for ways to be unexpectedly generous.


Giving Satan a Scare…

What if we saw Halloween as an opportunity to share God’s goodness with our neighbors? What if we used it as a time to pray for our neighbors? What if we stepped out boldly and shared our faith with our neighbors? What if we were welcoming, approachable, and unexpectedly generous for the sake of our God and His testimony?

Maybe, by God’s grace, we could give Satan a bit of a scare on Halloween night….

Now that would be a change!

A Gift for You:

Would you like a super simple way to share God’s truth with your neighbors this Halloween? Sign up for Path Through the Narrow’s newsletter below and you will receive free downloadable copies
of the Halloween Treat Tags pictured above. They are available in KJV, NASB, and NIV Bible versions and include a space to write or stamp your church’s address or phone number, if desired.

May God bless you!



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  1. Surprise: Halloween’s Not a Pagan Festival After All!

    The holiday and its customs are completely Christian, and some are uniquely American.
    We’ve all heard the allegations: Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.
    It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on October 31–as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints, or “All Hallows,” falls on November 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to November 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland.
    The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, “All Hallows Even,” or “Hallowe’en.” In those days Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.
    In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in southern France, added a celebration on November 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

    So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory. What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland at least, all the dead came to be remembered–even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the church calendar.
    But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday center on dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague–the Black Death–and it lost about half its population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife.More Masses were said on All Souls Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality. We know these representations as the danse macabre, or “dance of death,” which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people–popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc.–into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life.

    But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s, when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades an even more macabre twist.
    But as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did “trick or treat” come in?
    “Treat or treat” is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.
    During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.
    Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against the oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on November 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.
    November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!
    Guy Fawkes Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But by the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to October 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.
    The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the United States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.
    But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already “ghoulish,” so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed.
    So too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was Druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.
    The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.Father Augustine Thompson, O.P., is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia.

  2. I love those ideas! Let me tell you what my 8 yo daughter wants to do. She came up with an idea to invite the neighborhood kids to bring a pumpkin to our house while trick and treating and leave it in our driveway. Then, while the trick/treaters come by, they can vote which pumpkin they like. the winner will get a prize, of course the prize will be stuffed with an encouraging note/bible/small treats/ and a invite to our church. We are praying because while handing out fliers, the neighbors were shocked and a bit taken back that another neighbor would be so welcoming and invite them over. You are right, we are blessed to live in fairly safe neighborhoods yet do not even know our neighbors names? I invite people to pray for my daughter Lily boldness, and our small neighborhood in northern VA! May you shine bright this holiday!

  3. As I live surrounded by atheists and people who think themselves Christians yet not living their faith, I found your article so helpful. I must admit, I never thought of Halloween as an opportunity to share the Gospel. I love it. Thank you Anna.

  4. A nearly great article. All of the ideas and suggestions are wonderful. However, the one thing I do object to is the historical side. Ironically, this, the most shunned of holidays by Christians, is actually one of the few which actually have Christian roots.

    Halloween, as some others have stated, literally comes from All Hallow’s Eve, which was originally a celebration honoring Catholic Saints. It was customary for children to dress up as their favorite saint, and go door to door, praying for the families’ loved ones, in exchange for baked goods. It was NOT a biblical command, it was simply a tradition made by men, but it was based on biblical ideas and foundations. Over time, the influence of the world distorted it, as happened with many holidays, and what we see today celebrated as Halloween is a far cry from the original holiday. But does that mean we should abandon the Christian roots and hand it over to the devil and his crowd? What if, instead of “trick or treat”, our kids knocked on doors and said “prayers for treats!” Of course, you’re going to get some odd looks, but then you can explain quickly about the history, and your kids can offer to pray for any needs they might have. Who is going to turn down a cute 4 year old offering to pray for them? Some other objections have been made about how people dress up. Now, I definitely don’t advocate dressing up as demons and evil things, but I heard someone with a very good idea that his family uses. Based on Paul’s teaching “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”. Everyone needs the gospel. So, have your kids come up with a reason for their costume. Ok, you want to dress up as Nemo? Why? They might say “So that every fish in the sea can know about Jesus”. But the point being, don’t throw something good away just because the world is using it for evil. Because, if we did that, what other things would we have to discard of?

    In conclusion, people really need to study their history. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. That includes mine, as well. Do the research, but ultimately, see what the bible says, and examine the heart. And, something else to bear in mind, one of the reasons that God instituted festivals is to show people that it’s OK to have fun! If you’re sacrificing chickens and making oaths to the dead at Halloween, I would advise rethinking that… but does it harm the Kingdom if I put on a pirate costume and get together with some friends, and have a night of Godly fellowship? Getting together with friends and having a night of Godly fellowship isn’t a problem is it? So then the only objection would be my costume. I don’t remember “Thou shalt not have fun once thou hast surpassed thy childhood” in the commandments. I think it was in 2nd Traditions chapter 6.

  5. This is exactly what my friend does! She lives in town, and has lived there for about 25 years. She goes all out and makes her bags the best there is–and includes a tract. She is friendly and welcoming–and has never found a tract thrown on the ground near her home. Who knows what seed she has sown?

  6. This article is wrong from the beginning. Pagans DID NOT worship evil and darkness. Evil is a Christian concept.

    1. You realize your entire response is fallacious? It is merely opinion and arbitrary assertions based on your worldview. You assert that the article is wrong, not due to facts, but your opinion. You assert that pagans did not worship evil and darkness, but this is based on your worldview. You assert that evil is a Christian concept. Well, a concept, by definition is an abstract idea. You can’t empirically test right/wrong, good/evil, so the only way to say ANYTHING is right/wrong good/evil is to have a presupposition that there IS right and wrong, and if you have such a presupposition, you’d better have a reason for it; something to base that presupposition on. Christians have the bible. It clearly states what is right, what is wrong, what is good, and what is evil. So, the first thing you need to admit is that all of your assertions are immediately reversed if the bible is true, and unfounded if it isn’t. So, either way you have no rational basis for anything you said.

  7. This is an interesting viewpoint and certainly more Christ-like than condemning and lecturing. I do not agree with it though. We have never celebrated Halloween in our home and I PERSONALLY could not in good conscience do so. I believe we, as Christians, use the “being salt and light” excuse too often to expose our children to and involve them in things that Christian children are better off not being involved in. It is not our job to convert other people’s elementary school children. It is our job to witness to the PARENTS so that THEY can reach their own children. I believe a better approach is to reach out in love to your neighbors the other 364 days then they will (as our neighbors do) respect your decision to not participate. Also, maybe your neighbors are more “tolerant”, but we have people in our town who do exactly as you describe and I have heard non-Christians repeatedly say one or all of these three things 1. Unsaved adults are angered and insulted by someone trying to proselytize their little children. 2. Having a Bible verse attached to candy means the verse AND the candy go in the trash because unsaved people often see Christians who proselytize in this way as weird and predatory, which makes them trust the safety of the candy LESS. and 3. Because of 2, I have heard parents say they just won’t ever go to that house again. I think that if you are really convicted that you need to redeem Halloween, take your own kids trick or treating and while you’re out share Christ with the PARENTS.

    1. Tam, I have handed out verses with the Halloween treats the last two years, and I must admit that I had some of the same reservations about whether it was appropriate to hand verses out to kids when their parents might be in disagreement. However, I have never had any further contact with the kids themselves, but I have had three or four parents come back with questions or responses to the verses. So, it can be an effective way to reach out to parents. And, if some people are offended by it and decide to throw away the candy and never trick or treat at my door again – I am OK with that. We live in a “politically correct” culture where we are never supposed to offer a differing view point, and Satan can use this atmosphere to pressure us to be quiet about our faith. Is the Gospel offensive? Will some people be offended?…. Yes. (Which, honestly, is why it is so hard to speak up about the Gospel.)

      I totally respect your decision to not participate in Halloween and to look for ways to reach out the other 364 days, and I also respect your perspective of taking the kids out trick or treating and trying to share Christ with the parents. It is super important that each one of us assess the climate of our individual neighborhoods and look for the best way to reach out in the place where God has placed us. May God bless you!

      1. As an added note, Tam, while the gospel itself is offensive, Christians should present it in a loving and gracious way. If I had neighbors down the street who were using Halloween to “proselytize” in a way that is less than gracious and loving and was turning unsaved people against Christianity, than I would stay completely away from Halloween as a means to share Bible verses, simply because I wouldn’t want to be identified with them. I wonder if that might be part of what you are facing in your neighborhood?

        1. I come from a Hindu background from India and with Sikh heritage. I grew up with many Muslim and Buddhist friends. And have found some wonderful people from Christianity. I love your post, the tone, and the ideas to share Christian faith. I love your heart’s intentions of showing love and grace. But where I do want to speak to you – Anna and to others reading this post, if I may for the circle of my friends and family & relatives, please don’t use Halloween day to tell us of your beliefs in scriptures in some candy. Instead please get to know us. Come to our house, let us serve you and treat your family well. Then as trust develops over time, tell us about Jesus as we tell you about our beliefs. Relationships. What I find from Christians are these “events” where they “market” Jesus. It makes me sad because we need to come before God in fear and trembling and not how Christians in America show us. So, please get to know our kids as we get to know yours and through that share your faith.

          1. And I just remember about the main point that got distracted by why I wrote the post in the first place. I agree with Tam that it seems like a very evil and materialistic holiday. That is what I wanted to write first. So, I would rather respect your faith more and your choice by disassociating from an evil than taking part in it, even though there are good intentions to love neighbors. I have been arguing with my wife to not get sucked in this dress-up immoral culture as our kids have been after us. So, yes, the remaining 364 days of the year, please be “present” to visit our homes, and invite us to yours the rest of the year. What my community finds that everybody is so busy all the time with their garage doors shut. Many of my friends love and respect Jesus. Just don’t undersell him in marketing events but get to know us. Thanks for taking it in the right way. -Suresh

          2. Suresh, I am deeply moved by your comment. Thank you so much for your beautiful reminder. Yes! We need to make sure that we are developing relationships, and not “marketing” Jesus. What an important point. Jesus Himself reached out to people in this way and spent time building a relationship with them – and I am so thankful that He does that for each of us. May God bless you and your family.

      2. I agree. I dabbled in occult when young, I know the truth behind halloween, and the Catholic Church’s all hallows eve, which really isn’t a scriptural holiday either. I will not participate in anything remotely related to halloween. Nor do I see a reason to do trunk or treats, etc. I have seen many churches’ halloween attempts to make an impact, but none of them are any different as there are many improper costumes, and still mischief and even evil coming in and mocking. God said we are in this world not of it, we are to be a peculiar people, but we have compromised sooooo much. My heart has been breaking over the churches’ continual “blending” worldly ways. Where is our holiness? Please people, be honest with yourself and God, are you wanting to be accepted by the world, or are you willing to suffer for Christ. The world will hate those who truly seek after and follower The Lord. May God have mercy on us for wanting the comfort of the American dream more than sacrificing this world’s pleasures for God’s holiness and power in our lives.

  8. Great post! One year, our church made these plastic gold coins with John 3:16 on them to give out. We made treat bags and included one of those coins. The kids loved them! They thought it was pirate treasure. I thought it was a great idea that the kids would be likely to hold onto. Thanks for the tags! I think we will use those this year!

  9. As a Christian mother whose chosen not to have her children celebrate Halloween in the conventional sense, I loved this article!

    First and foremost, many Christians intentionally observe – or choose not to observe – Halloween. Loving one another in grace and understanding is fundamental to the Christian walk.

    Because we live in the country at the end of a quarter-mile driveway, we don’t get “trick-or-treaters”; if we did, we would definitely follow your great suggestions in this post. Instead, we take our kids “reverse trick-or-treating” – where they give baked treats to our elderly friends and neighbors along with tag similar to yours. Like you, we figure this is a great opportunity to share God’s love with others.

    Thanks for writing a post encouraging Christians to be intentional about Halloween. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him.” (Col 3:17)

  10. The word “Halloween” was originally All hallows eve. it was the eve of all Saints day(saint and hallowed, both meaning holy) that we as Catholics celebrate. Over the centuries, Halloween has changed from the superstitious belief that evil/death comes looking for soul the night before all Saints day and so people disguised themselves so the evil one wouldn’t find them to what it is today… little ones dressed up as lions, ballerinas, a cardboard box robot….. As parents we have to ask ourselves what are we teaching our kids if we let them dress up as hideous monsters or evil beings… are we teaching them love of neighbor or to glorify the darkness. Today many Catholics and probably some non Catholics are choosing to dress up as saints, holy people, Gods creatures and celebrate All Hallows Eve (Halloween) in a more Christian way.

    1. Yes! Thank you for your insight, Robin. Each of us being intentional and examining what we are teaching our kids according to the light of God’s Word – that’s the heart of the matter right there!

  11. I thought this was an excellent piece. Well done and well thought out. I wish more believes thought like you do. Have a great day.

  12. as a Christian, from a Christian family that dressed up and trick or treated for halloween her whole life, i find this article teetering on absurd. no Christians are celebrating death, evil & darkness. if you keep it to dressing up fun (not evil or sacrilegious) , Halloween is just that, cute and fun. Getting really tired of these kids whose parents think Halloween is for the evil telling my kids that they are participating in celebrating the devil.

    1. I think that this is a gray area where we need to extend grace to each other. I agree with you that I find it hard to imagine that my preschooler dressing up as a lion and asking for candy on October 31st is “evil”. However, there is also undeniably a dark side to Halloween that Christians should have no part in. So, where do each of us draw the line? I think that this is something that we need to be in prayer and in the Bible about, as we each seek to educate our own consciences and follow God’s will. Those Christians who do celebrate with clean consciences and those Christians who choose to have no part in Halloween need to extend grace to each other rather than pointing the finger and trying to judge each other. In this post, I simply wanted to suggest that Halloween may be a great time to reach out to our neighbors with the truth of the Gospel. May God bless you and your family, Lily.

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