What are the pagan and secular attributes of Christian holidays, and vice versa?

The intent of the following list is primarily to explain the pagan influences upon popular, modern Christian holidays (particularly Christmas and Easter) and, likewise, the Christian influence on holidays which traditionally originated from pagan celebrations (particularly Halloween, argueably Christmas). Christian holidays are generally observed holy days, not necessarily observed by governments or laws, nor allowing for the cessation of work. Many originate from the lives of saints or commemorate memorable events. The term pagan generally denotes ancient polytheistic religions -- such as Greek, Roman, Gothic, and Norse -- which worshiped nature and whose gods embodied the characteristics of celestial and earthly elements. Most of the major holidays celebrated in English-speaking countries fall on, and are integrated with, pagan festivals celebrating equinoxes, solstices, and other seasonal cycles of nature. Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are basically attempts by the Roman Catholic Church to incorporate pagan or secular traditions into Christian holy days in order to attract people to the Catholic faith, as well as to supplant the non-Christian aspects of the pagan holidays of converts. Besides St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, and Boxing Day, the feast days of the saints are not listed, of which there is just about one for every day of the year. The purpose is to help the reader come to a better understanding of what they are celebrating and why, as well as what to avoid. Several Catholic holy days are included for definition, which are generally observed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and the Episcopalian Church. All are listed in alphabetical order.

Advent Sunday

Advent Sunday is the Sunday nearest November 30 and is considered the beginning of the ecclesiastical year. Introduced at the Council of Tours in A.D. 567, it starts the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas and includes the four Sundays prior to Christmas. It is derived from the Latin advenire ("to come") which, before the sixth century, referred to the Second Coming, while during the Middle Ages it came to include the initial coming or birth of Christ. Today, the last Sunday in November through December 16 is dedicated to the Second Advent and scriptural prophecies warning of Christ's return, while December 17-24 focuses on the First Advent and scriptural prophecies heralding Christ's birth.

All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day, or Hallowmas, is celebrated on November 1 in commemoration of all saints and martyrs not accorded their own special day. It is derived from an Antiochan custom of the early Greek Church commemorating martyrs on the Sunday following Pentacost and was established in the eighth century by Pope Gregory III (some claim by Pope Boniface IV in the seventh century). It is preceded by Allhallows' Eve, the hallowed vigil or holy evening of October 31.

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day is observed by the Roman Catholic Church on November 2, the day after All Saints' Day, and is a day of solemn supplication for all departed souls of the faithful and those in purgatory. Its observance is credited to St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny, France, in the eleventh century, although it was originally celebrated as part of Hallowmas with festivities similar to those of the pagan Halloween rituals with bonfires, costumes, and parades.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church, inaugurating forty days of fasting and penitence prior to Easter. It is derived from a custom of the early Church of putting ashes from burned palm leaves (from Palm Sunday) on the foreheads of church attenders, often in the sign of the cross. Ashes symbolize repentance (a practice of the Old Testament of wearing sackcloth and ashes), as well as a reminder of our mortality, that we come from dust (ashes to ashes, dust to dust).

Boxing Day

Boxing Day, the feast day of St. Stephen observed on December 26, is a continuation of Christmas. It is a bank holiday in England derived from the medieval custom of opening the alms boxes and distributing the contents among the poor of the parish, which has continued in tradition by sending Christmas boxes containing goods or money to servants and public workers (somewhat like a Christmas bonus). Traditionally, Christmas is the day for exchanging gifts among family, friends, and those of equal status -- the day after for imparting gifts to those of lower social status. It is also observed in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.


Candlemas Day is celebrated on February 2 by the Roman Catholic Church in memory of the presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 2:21-40). It was established in A.D. 542 by the Roman Emperor Justinian. On this day, all candles to be used in Catholic masses throughout the year are concecrated. Popular belief holds that a fair and sunny Candlemas Day indicates a long winter. This is also the origin of Ground-hog Day, a superstition on which the weather can be forecast. On February 2, the ground hog emerges from its winter burrow and if it sees its shadow it will return underground and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it's cloudy and its shadow is not seen, it will remain outside in anticipation of an early spring. It is also the second day of the pagan celebration of Oimelc, or beginning of springtime (when the sheep are milked), in honor of the Celtic goddess Brigit.


Christmas is traditionally the celebration of the birth of Christ, or nativity (from the Latin nasci, to be born), practiced since the third century A.D. (Earlier Christian practices did not include the celebration of Christ's birthday, since birthdays were a pagan ritual.) Originally a simple festival, it was later set to coincide with the winter solstice (Brumalia), the birthday of the Roman sun god Solarus, and the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, celebrating the god of agriculture, Saturn. During Saturnalia, all of Rome would be decorated with boughs of laurel, wreaths, flowers, and shrubs. Evergreens were used for household decorations and in processions as a symbol of eternal life because they did not die in the winter. (The use of evergreens as Christmas decorations was banned in the sixth century due to its association with pagan festivals.) Bonfires were believed to regenerate the sun god as he returned from his winter home. A common practice of the time, known as the Festival of Kalends, was to take time off of work and exchange lavish gifts and to give presents to children and the poor. Another practice was to elect someone to rule over the holiday sports and allow servants to exercise the perogatives of their masters (one that has been affiliated with the Abbot of Misrule and the Feast of Fools). These practices were rites of the official Roman religion of the time, known as Mithraism. Not long after this, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and the Christian Church was faced with the task of converting not only Roman citizens, but their holidays to Christianity. Since then, the Christmas holiday has adopted several traditions from different cultures. During the Middle Ages, it became the biggest celebration of the year, blending pagan practices with Christian devotion.

More details...


Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the dead after dying on the cross, originally observed in conjunction with the Jewish Passover, or Pesach. As the culmination of Lent, it is observed sometime between March 22 and April 25, on the first Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox, established in A.D. 325 by the Council of Nicaea (not necessarily the astronomical full moon, but the ecclesiastical full moon fourteen days after the new moon based on a set vernal equinox of March 21, corresponding to the Gregorian calendar). The Eastern Orthodox Church observes Easter according to the Julian calendar. Although celebrated for one day, it generally lasts for fifty days until Pentecost, when the Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel (Acts 2:1-41). According to Bede, a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon historian, the name Easter is a term derived from the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, named Eostra (also the Scandinavian Oestre or German Eastre), based on the celebration of Christ's resurrection during the vernal equinox of spring. As with Christmas, Easter was an attempt by the early Christian Church to adapt pagan festivals to a Christian holy day in an attempt to supplant the pagan holiday, with the side effects being some rather bizarre traditions.

More details...


Epiphany, from the Greek epiphaneia ("appearance"), also known as Three Kings' Day, is celebrated on January 6 by the Western Church in memory of the appearance of the three Magi to the infant Jesus, and in the Eastern Church for the baptism of Jesus. It is also known as Twelfth Night, concluding the period of the Feast of the Nativity. Originally a solemn festival, Twelfth Night became a cheerful celebration in England during the sixteenth century under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Customs include the removal of Christmas greens and decorations, along with communal bonfires for the burning of Christmas trees.

Good Friday

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, believed by many to have been on a Friday, with fasting and simple church services. Also known as God's Friday, Great Friday, Holy Friday, or Black Friday, it is mentioned by Eusebius as being observed by the early Church prior to the fourth century. Most early Church fathers refer to it in one way or another as a day of mourning and bitterness. Many churches are dimmly lit and draped in darkness on this day, while paritioners wear black attire. Services are often held between noon and 3:00, when Jesus hung on the cross, and scriptural verses center around his last words. A crucifix may be paraded through the church, afterward to be kissed by all who attend. Some reflect a medieval liturgy called the Tenebrae, or Service of Darkness, in which all lights are gradually dimmed until there is complete darkness, signifying the darkness which overcame the earth prior to Jesus' death (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44), then ends with a loud noise representing one of several climactic events, such as the final cries of Jesus (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46), the series of earthquakes (Matthew 27:51, Luke 23:), the tearing of the temple curtain (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), or the closing of his tomb (Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:46). One common explanation of why it is called Good Friday (other than a variation of God's Friday) is that it is a solemn reminder that no one is good but God alone (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19), even to the point of having to sacrifice his own Son for the redemption of mankind.


Halloween, or Hallowed Evening, is derived from Allhallows' Eve, the night before All Saints' day, or Hallowmas, originally celebrated on May 13 in the Roman Catholic Church. It was moved to October 31 in the eighth century by Pope Gregory III in an attempt to supplant the pagan festivals of the autumn equinox on the eve of the Celtic new year. Also known as ShadowFest, Martinmas, Hallowtide, Day of the Dead, and Season of the Witch, it is the night on which many of the Celtic festivals were traditionally celebrated, along with the autumn equinox harvest and various ancient Roman festivals mixed with those of the Celts during 400 years of Roman occupation, including Feralia, the commemoration of the dead, and the honor of Pomona, goddess of fruit (whose symbol was an apple). Most of the modern Halloween celebrations and practices were introduced to America by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century and are derived from the ancient festival rites of the Celtic Druids of Britain and northern France from over 2,000 years ago (dating from the first century B.C.), particularly those celebrating the day of Samhain ("summer's end," pronounced sow-en), when the dead are honored. It was believed that on October 31, time was suspended and the boundaries between the living and the dead were blurred, allowing for the dead to cross over into the world of the living. Food was left outside homes to appease the wandering spirits of the dead and Druidic priests would sacrifice crops and animals to bonfires in worship of nature and observance of the season of darkness, followed by fortune telling and a costumed parade of people dressed in animal skins as ghosts of the dead in order to help guide spirits out of town. The Catholic Church encouraged participants to dress as saints rather than evil spirits and to give to the poor rather than offer food to demons (practices which were later adopted by All Souls' Day).

More details...

Holy Innocents' Day

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, or Childermas (Child Mass), is observed on December 28 in memory of the innocent children slain in Bethlehem by King Herod in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18). Supposedly numbering between 14,000 and 144,000 (although more conservative scholarship estimates the count below 20), these are considered the first Christian martyrs by the Catholic Church. Church vestments are red and purple for mourning. One custom holds that the youngest child in a family rules the day and is allowed to plan the day's festivities. It has also become a day of remembrance for the abortion of unwanted children.


Although not necessarily a holiday, other holidays are associated with Lent (Greek lenz and Old English lencten, "spring"), the forty days prior to Easter marked by penitence and alsmgiving, along with fasting in memory of Christ's forty-day fast in the desert (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-2). It is observed primarily by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and the Episcopalian Church. Typically, fasting during this time consists of one evening meal a day, with abstinence from meat and dairy products, although variations occur within the Catholic Church which, in 1966, retsricted fasting to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the Eastern Orthodox Church remains strict on fast days during Lent). Fasting is generally suspended on Sundays, considered feast days, making the entire Lenten period a total of forty-six days. Traditionally, it has been a time of preparing new converts for baptism (known as catechumens), renewing old committments to the faith, and bringing those who have gone astray back into the fold. During this time, believers are supposed to reflect upon the stations of the cross (14 total, from Jesus' trial through his burial in the tomb) and give up something that may be hindering them from more closely following Jesus. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, comprising Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. The days leading up to Lent are often celebrated with wild abandon, such as the festivities of Mardi Gras, as a last chance to party before the long, solemn, dark period of the inward, soul-searching lenten experience of self-denial.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday," also known as Shrove Tuesday in the Roman Catholic Church, is traditionally the Tuesday before Lent, allowing for three days of wild revelry before the season of penitence begins. It is typically celebrated in France, Italy, South America, Quebec, and the U.S., particularly New Orleans, Luisiana. Shrove Tuesday is derived from the word shrive (Latin scribere, "to write"), based on the act of attending confession and giving penance, originally a time of shriving or confessing sins in preparation for Lent. After confession, the remainder of the time was dedicated to merrymaking and carnival. In England, it is celebrated as Pancake Tuesday, based on the custom of eating pancakes on this day in order to use up any remaining household fat before the Lenten season.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday (Latin mandatum "command"), also known as Shere Thursday (pure or guilt-free) or Green Thursday (German grun, "to mourn," commemorated by eating green vegetables) comes from John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." It is observed the day before Good Friday during Lent in memory of the Last Supper, often with acts that took place at that time, such as Communion and cermonial foot washing. Those preparing for baptism during Lent are often baptized on this day. In the Catholic Church, anointing oils are also sanctified on this day.

May Day

May Day, also known as Roodmas ("Mass of the Cross"), is celebrated on May 1, often with two of the more modest traditions of exchanging floral wreaths and leaving baskets of flowers on doorsteps. Traditionally a celebration of fertility in ancient Rome, it is also the Celtic celebration of Beltaine (or Cetsamhain, "opposite Samhain"), beginning the eve of April 30 in honor of the height of spring and flowering of life. Like Halloween, the Druids believed the veil between the world of the living and the dead was at its thinnest, allowing for ghosts of the dead to wander freely in the land of the living. It was also the time of the year for the Fairy Queen to hunt for mortals. As a celebration of life, a custom of Beltaine was to bless a particular plot of land by making love on it. Another custom is the Maypole (often considered a phallic symbol by both critics and advocates alike), a tree cut from the forest and decorated with colorful ribbons, around which young men and women would dance and flirt. It has been said that the Catholic Church attempted to replace the Maypole with the cross, as well as attempting to replace the sexuality of Flora (or Aphrodite), the Queen of May, with the chastity of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven. The immoral festivities of Beltaine (including all-night rituals of promiscuity in the forest) were banned in England in 1644 by the Purtian-controlled Parliament. The Roman Catholic Church would supposedly hold midnight Mass on May 1 to redirect people to church rather than to neopagan May Day festivities, which also doubled as a means of determining those who were considered Pagans and Satanists by taking note of who didn't show for church service. In Germany, it is known as Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night), the night when witches are believed to fly on their broomsticks to mountaintops and dance around bonfires. It is named after the eighth-century abbess St. Walpurga, who would take her followers into the mountains on this night to perform sacred rituals. In various parts of Great Britain, it was also known as Robin Hood's Day. In 1886, it was inaugurated as International Workers' Day in commemoration of the fight for an eight-hour workday.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day, dedicated to paying tribute to mothers, is derived from Mothering Sunday, an old English custom during Mid-Lent Sunday of attending the mother church where one was baptized and offering gifts not only at the altar, but to one's own mother as tokens of love and gratitude. As an observed holiday, it is generally attributed to the suggestion of Miss Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia and was first celebrated by Methodist churches in West Virginia and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. In the U.S. it was originally called Mother's Friendship Day and was started in an effort to reconcile families divided by the Civil War. Recognized by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, it was also considered a memorial day to honor the sacrifices of women during wartime. By 1920, it was one of the largest commercial holidays. Today it is observed not only in the U.S., but in England, Sweden, Denmark, India, China, and Mexico. (Father's Day was introduced in the U.S. in 1910 as a day to honor fathers in response to Mothers' Day.)

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, commemorating the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey, who was welcomed by multitudes of people covering the ground before him with coats and palm fronds while shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-16). In the Roman Catholic Church it begins the Holy Week of the Passion of Christ -- his betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death -- with the procession of palm branches.


Pentecost, or Whitsunday (White Sunday, from the white robes traditionally worn during baptism), is the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples about fifty days after the ascension of Christ (Acts 2:1-4). It is originally the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22, Leviticus 23:15-22, Deuteronomy 16:9-10), the celebration of the grain harvest.

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is the national holiday of Ireland, traditionally the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick (Patricius), a missionary to Ireland and founder of several churches and schools in the fifth century. It is celebrated on March 17 with the wearing of shamrocks, which St. Patrick often used as a symbol of the Trinity. Some of the myths associated with St. Patrick include driving out all the snakes from Ireland (which there were very few to begin with), single-handedly converting all of Ireland to Christianity (he wasn't the first nor the last missionary), being Irish (he was from Scotland, later to be captured and enslaved by an invading Irish clan), and being a saint (he was not Roman Catholic nor ever officially canonized by the Roman Catholic Church).


Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the United States as a legal holiday commemorating the harvest and other annual blessings on the last Thursday of November. It is not necessarily a Christian holiday, but rather an autumn harvest celebration imported from England and first observed by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in the fall of 1621. Under the governance of William Bradford it was appointed as a day for feasting and thanksgiving, however, due to subsequent influxes of settlers and poor harvests, it was not celebrated by the Pilgrims again. Observed as a national holiday in 1777, it was not observed nationally again until it was officially sanctioned by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to be observed on the third Thursday of November, and later moved to the last Thursday by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. Although there are no national holidays in the U.S., the federal government may legalize the observance of certain days for federal employees and the Disctrict of Columbia. The public observance of holidays is determined by legislative enactment or executive proclamation by each state, although recommended nation-wide observance of certain holidays in the U.S. includes Christmas, New Year's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the Catholic feast day of St. Valentine, bishop of Interamna, martyred in A.D. 271, and celebrated on February 14. Traditionally, it predates St. Valentine as an ancient Roman festival of love. One such Roman festival was the drawing of partners by lot by young men and women for the February feast of Lupercalia and as sexual partners throughout the year. It is said that St. Valentine secretly married such young lovers in matrimony, for which he was imprisoned by the Roman emperor Claudius II, who had made marriages illegal for the sake of a better soldier. Legend holds that while in prison awaiting execution, Valentine signed a farewell message to the jailer's daughter, "From Your Valentine." In A.D. 496, Pope Galasius changed the Lupercalian lottery to the drawing of the names of saints, of which young participants were to imitate the lives of their chosen saints throughout the remainder of the year. Cupid was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and fertility, and a derivation of Eros, the Greek god of lust. Often depicted as a winged child with a bow and arrow, he is the origin of many modern images of the cherub (known as putti), a popular depiction in Italian Renassiance and Rococo art. Valentine cards come from the Roman custom during mid-February of giving women hand-written letters of admiration and affection. The earliest known Valentine card dates from 1415 and is on display in the British Museum. Although original, hand-made cards were preferential, by the nineteenth century publishers were printing "mechanical valentines" with sentimental verses. Another association of this festival with love is that it is the mating season of most birds.

        "I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word." (Psalm 138:1-2)

Should Christians participate in the pagan and secular aspects of these holidays?

This answer ultimately depends on the strength of your own conscience. Consider Paul's instructions about food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians chapter eight: "Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

Romans chapter fourteen explains this concept further: "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' [Isaiah 45:23]" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

Some are convinced that Christians should not only avoid celebrating Halloween, but Christmas and Easter as well -- that these holidays were not established in the New Testament, that they are pagan in origin, and that they are really the celebration of demons and the devil. The reason most Christians celebrate any one of these holidays, then, is out of ignorance. To recommend to the average Christian the cessation of Easter, however, would be blasphemous, since it is the holiest of Christian holidays. (Although Christians ought to celebrate the resurrection of Christ every day of the year.) Christmas is more convincing since the commercialization of this holiday has degraded it anyway, however, the majority of Christians will not abandon the birthday of Jesus. Halloween could probably be forgotten by most if it were not for children. Some argue that if you open your door to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, you are inviting into your home the demons and evil spirits associated with the event. If this is so, then these unclean entities could enter any other time of the year anytime the door is opened to anyone else. The ultimate protection against demons and evil spirits is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, along with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Against this and the all-powerful name of Jesus, there is no opportunity for the indwelling of unclean spirits in your home. This is not an excuse for abandoning your senses for the sake of the spirit of the seasons, but the foundation of your senses for knowing good and evil and guiding your conscience to thank God for the former and to avoid the latter. Consider these other Bible passages in light of our modern holiday celebrations...

Exodus 23:13, "Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips."

Leviticus 19:26, "Do not practice divination or sorcery."

Deuteronomy 7:25-26, "The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."

Deuteronomy 12:2-7, "Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you."

Deuteronomy 18:9-13, "When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God."

Deuteronomy 12:29-31, "The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods."

2 Kings 17:29-41, "Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. The men from Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men from Cuthah made Nergal, and the men from Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They worshiped the LORD , but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies." They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did."

1 Chronicles 16:25-26, "For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens."

Psalm 96:4-5, "For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens."

Psalm 97:7-9, "All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols -- worship him, all you gods! Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O LORD. For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods."

Jeremiah 10:2-5, "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

Ezekiel 13:17-23, "Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.' Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.' "

Hosea 3:1, "The LORD said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.' "

1 Corinthians 10:18-33, "Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he? "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake -- the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God -- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved."

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." [Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27] "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." [Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, 41] "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." [2 Samuel 7:14] Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

Galations 4:8-11, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God -- or rather are known by God -- how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you."

Ephesians 5:8-21, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." [Isaiah 60:1] Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Ephesians 6:10-18, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Colossians 3:13-17, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

Colossians 2:20-23, "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."

1 Peter 4:1-5, "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do -- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."

Revelation 22:14-15, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

Some of the scriptures are fairly straight forward (1 Peter4:1-5 would obviously target Mardi Gras, for example), others apply more towards non-Christian practices, such as sacrificing children (Deuteronomy 12:29-31), while most would require judgment and discernment regarding the observance of popular holidays. Many of the Old Testament scriptures about paganism dealt with outright idol worship, while the holidays of today of which many Christians celebrate have all but lost their pagan meaning. Does this still make it acceptable or permissable? Some argue that the pagan and demonic affiliations are still present, just more hidden and subtle. Others claim that if the honor is given to God, then it doesn't matter. Referring back to 1 Corinthians chapter eight and Romans chapter fourteen, it then becomes a matter of conscience. Let the celebrating believer understand what it is that they celebrate and why, rather than do so simply out of tradition, popularity, and ignorance (or avoid it altogether out of fear). Christmas and Easter blur the significance of their Christian and pagan influences to a point where it is difficult to separate the two. Halloween, on the other hand, is more conspicuously pagan and demonic. This has raised objection to any Christian taking part in any aspect of the holiday. What should believers do on Halloween since it is so widely celebrated and taken from door to door? Here are some rational and practical suggestions:

  • Pray for what to do and how to do it. Pray for evangelism. Pray for those who celebrate the demonic aspects of this season, that they may come to know and fear God.

  • Attend a harvest festival devoid of outright Halloween festivities and costumes. Many churches host such fall or harvest festivals and provide "alternative" activities for children.

  • Hand out Christian tracts or small printings of New Testament gospels to trick-or-treaters (preferrably with some candy, unless you want your yard littered with your own tracts).

  • If children participate in trick-or-treating, their parents could also hand out Christian literature or publications to those who open the door to them. Costumes should probably not be demonic in appearance, rather biblical charicatures instead. (Most Christian parents who object to taking their children trick-or-treating more than likely do so out of concern for the begging aspects rather than for any pagan affiliation.)

  • Turn out all the lights and hide in the basement on October 31. The least you could do is pray for your neighbors every time the doorbell rings.

        "Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." (1 Corinthians 5:8-11)


Reference sources for this page come from a wide variety of websites from all over the Internet, especially those about Christmas. One particulary helpful site regarding Christmas is How Stuff Works (http://www.howstuffworks.com/christmas.htm). Information about Halloween was gleaned from such websites as ReligiousTolerance.Org (http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_ev.htm) and The Witches' Voice (http://www.witchvox.com/holidays/xsamhain.html). Articles from Christianity Today were referenced for various Catholic holidays (http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/features/holidays.html).