What is Halloween

Pastor Ron Burcham

In late August and early September I kept hearing references to pitch forks and I thought, wow – they are advertising for Halloween early this year! Eventually I figured out they were talking about Arizona State Football, not Halloween. However, from what I heard, their first game was a bit of a nightmare!

Now of course, since it is October, there’s a lot of talk of Halloween. Children are planning out their costumes. Junior High kids are trying to determine when are they too old to go trick or treating? Moms and dads are devising a good reason why they get to stay home this year. All this, while some of you will sit smugly congratulating yourself for living in a 55 plus community.

Halloween can trace its origin back to the Celts around 2,000 years ago. For the Celts, November 1 was the first day of the New Year. This was marking the end of the harvest time of year and moving into the dark, cold winter months. They believed that the night before the New Year the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred so ghosts and the dead returned to earth.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as All Saints Day to commemorate all those who died in the Christian Faith. All Saints Day was also known as All-hallows day and the night before All-hallows eve. All-hallows eve eventually became Halloween.

Many traditions have blended together to come up with the community type celebration that we observe today, where children dress up in costumes and go trick or treating. Of course we still have the scary movies and images of ghost that are prevalent as well.

Now I have no doubt that there are spiritual forces, frankly evil forces, still at work today. How else can we explain some of the things that human beings do to one another? So I take heart in knowing this:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

I also have no doubt that those who die knowing the grace of God, in Jesus Christ, are the saints in heaven. We remember them, sometimes with a heavy heart because we miss them, but also with joy knowing that they have just gone on before us.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

Halloween is a fun time for children as they dress up and have fun with their friends. It is also not a bad reminder that there is no force of this world, or otherwise, that can take away God’s love for us. Not even death, for in death there is life in Christ.