“Trick or treat!” We ran up to our neighbour’s door and knocked on it. Dad sat waiting in the car as my brothers and I waited for the door to open. We heard someone approaching, the door handle began to turn and the door creaked as it began to open. “Trick or treat” we called out as Hattie Bonnyman peered out at us. “Come in”, she said as we timidly entered the farmhouse kitchen. Lloyd Bonnyman sat there in his chair watching us. They were expecting us and other children from the community to come by. They probably would have been disappointed if we hadn’t. We were all dressed up as ghosts, cowboys and hobos. They probably didn’t have too much problem figuring out who we were. There was a lot of talk and laughter as we stared back at them through our masks as they admired our costumes. Then the candy bowl was brought out and we were able to pick some Halloween kisses to put in our brown paper bags. We heard them still laughing as we ran out the door to the car to go on to the next neighbour’s house.
That was Halloween as I remember it growing up in Central New Annan. It was a lot of innocent fun, carving a jack-o-lantern, putting a candle in it and placing it in the window. It was something we looked forward to, something the neighbours talked about for days afterwards and of course there was lots of candy! But is Halloween really so innocent? Halloween has changed over the years, especially the way I remember it. It has gone beyond little children’s costumes to having a cemetery in your front yard with a body hanging from the roof, or tree limb by a rope around the neck. Bright red blood pouring out of wounds and death is emphasized. Not just kids, but now adults dress up as zombies and demons and witches with brooms. Razor blades are put in apples, candy is poisoned, and children are injured.
Many years ago when we were living in Boa Vista, Brazil, I decided to show my kids how to carve a jack-o-lantern. We went to the farmers market and picked out a nice big yellow pumpkin, cut out the top, dug out the seeds. I then carved out the eyes, nose and a big mouth with teeth. Our kids thought it was so funny! We put a candle in it and at night you could see the eyes, nose and mouth glowing in the darkness. It was an object of conversation
One day Pastor Paulino, a Macushi pastor from Contão, came to visit at our home. I invited him in and we sat in the living room talking. From where he was sitting he could see into the kitchen and could see the jack-o-lantern on the table. It’s gaping mouth and triangle eyes were facing him. The candle shone from within. Paulino all of a sudden became silent and after a moment said, “Pastor Terry, …what …is …that….?” “Oh, that is a jack-o-lantern,” I replied explaining our custom. Paulino didn’t see it that way. Burning candles inside objects is what spiritists do along with other false religions. “Hmmm”, I thought, “if this offends my brother in Christ, never again will I be a stumbling block to him.” I got rid of the jack-o-lantern that day and haven’t made one since.
Although we weren’t celebrating Halloween at that time, it sparked my interest to discover what exactly is this day that is part of our customs. To me when I was growing up, Halloween was just a fun time of dress up and candy. Down in Brazil I discovered that Halloween in Portuguese has a more sinister meaning. It is called “Dia das Bruxas” or “Witches’ day”. As I began researching the subject I discovered its pagan origins involved the druids and the celtic priests, idolatry, offerings to the gods, witchcraft, casting spells all with its religious intonations and symbolism. It is a day that has over time become part of our culture. A day where Satan has subtly used commercialism to focus on the ugly and the demonic. The big issue of Halloween to me is that it takes our focus off of Christ and opens us up to Satan who desires our attention.
While Halloween isn’t mentioned in the Bible, there are biblical principles given that we can learn from. In the Old Testament witchcraft was punishable by death. In the New Testament the occult is opposed to Christianity. Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24. While there are differences of opinion on the subject, each one will give an account to the Lord one day as to the position they take. Just remember, Satan seeks to blind minds and cause people to fall.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” I Peter 5:8
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11