Halloween is the day that kids dress up as their favorite heroes and go from door to door asking the same question: "Trick or treat?" Some people gladly dispense candy to add to the kids' collections. Some people see it as an opportunity to provide tracts explaining the occult origins of this holiday, and encourage the reader to come to Christ. Others completely shun the day and explain that those who participate in the festivities are enabling Satan to corrupt yet another generation of young people.
Should I or Shouldn't I?
Even though Halloween is not what it used to be (celebrated by the majority as an occultic holiday), I find myself still trying to figure out whether to recognize it or not. My family never participated in Halloween celebrations when I was a kid, so participation is foreign to me. Generally, I'm not a fan of the holiday because it uses way too many dark images and figures that are meant to instill fear in people.
Fear is an emotion that stimulates the pain center of the brain. Any time that the pain center is stimulated, it is because something is happening that needs to stop before further damage is done to the person. When something scares us, that is why we tend to run or discover the source quickly- the sooner the fear subsides, the sooner our pain center is no longer being stimulated. Disturbing or fearful images and experiences affect some people more than others, but it is not always easy to determine who will be affected or how (not everyone who is affected will admit it, or if they do, to what extent). That is what repels me from the holiday.
Of course, many people do like the adrenaline rush that comes from the experience of fear. Most people go to haunted houses not for the sole purpose of being scared, but to feel the rush and excitement they get when they are frightened. There are other ways to get the high- like skydiving. But I know people to want the high but would rather walk through a dark, cold, and creeky mansion than jump out of a perfectly solid airplane. My point is that fear is not bad in itself but is rather an indicator to possible further damage.
I have no problems with kids dressing up in cute costumes to get candy (heck, we make them dress up in stupid costumes for school plays and family photos- without getting candy!). Adults show their creativity in the original costumes that they wear (I don't like that the creativity is used in dark fashions most of the time, but it is still creativity nevertheless, also the fact that I don't like it doesn't make it wrong). I love seeing the costumes that make me laugh (check out the "illegal alien" costume). (The pumpkin carving contests that come around this time of year are becoming quite entertaining too.)
The Occult Connection and Parties
I recognize that many people still do celebrate Halloween as being tied to the occult. These people do practice witchcraft, divination, and devil worship. But they do this stuff year around, Halloween is just the time for them to get attention for it.
If a Halloween party has people who are explicitly practicing occult rituals, then it is not a good idea to go there. It is your responsibility to know what is going on at a party. If you are aware of occult practices, and still choose to remain, you are inviting trouble. If you find that a party is nothing but costumes and carnival games, there is no reason to be scared of it (there is nothing unbiblical or anti-biblical about wearing costumes or playing games- unless they are explicit in their anti-biblical or anti-Christian message).
Are Pagan Connections Relevant?
Some Christians argue that the fact that some people still practice occult rituals is why Halloween should not be even recognized by Christians. I don't agree with that. Every religious holiday has a pagan attachment or origin (Halloween just maintained its roots longer than the others). If one is to disassociate with a holiday because of pagan connections, then to remain consistent, they would need to disassociate with practically every religious holiday.
On the other hand, other Christians argue that since Halloween has fallen so far from its roots, it may be recognized by Christians without any concession to the occult. Halloween is all about the costumes and the candy, these days. In like manner, Thanksgiving and Christmas have turned from their roots to being all about food and family getting together (though, very few know for what reason). If someone is to use this argument for celebrating Halloween, they certainly cannot complain that Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving have lost their original meaning in the collective consciousness of America.
People can use the pagan connections (or lack thereof) as an argument for whichever side they wish to take. They just need to recognize the implications if they desire to take a specific position based on such an argument.
I've heard a lot of Christians argue that by allowing our kids to go trick-'r-treating or by opening our doors to these kids, we are giving into the devil and will eventually be led into Satan worship and other occult practices. If trick-'r-treating necessarily leads to occultic obsession, there should be many more who claim the practice. Even though Christians may feel like they are giving in, there is little evidence to support the idea that the "giving in" has the claimed negative effect.
A Devious Strategy
In my mind, I see this whole "AAHHHH! Its Satan in the flesh!" attitude as actually working against Christianity. When Christians turn up their noses at cute kids in innocent costumes, it sends a message to our neighbors that we are "holier than thou"- not exactly an invitation to hear the Gospel. I mean, have you ever been attracted to or wanted to listen to someone who obnoxiously told you that they were "better" than you? When people see this attitude in Christians, they are turned off and don't even want to be around us, much less, hear what we have to offer them. Jesus did not tell the tax collectors or the prostitutes to change their ways before he would speak with them; he allowed them to come to Him as they were but commanded them to change after. The more that Christians act in the opposite direction of what Jesus did, the more people will distance themselves from the Gospel. Christians will be used as a weapon against what they know to be true until they wake up and realize that they are being used. Ironically, for those who think they are avoiding demonic influence, they may very well be already under the influence in such a sophisticated way that it would be next to impossible to detect (that's the strategy of a devious- and successful- war general).
Christians need to carefully use their minds when approaching this subject from a Biblical perspective. We need to make sure that when or if we decide to stop or start participating in Halloween celebrations, it is for sound reasons. If the reasons are not sound, then we need to consider the rejection may be accomplishing the opposite of what we desire. We are not called to avoid culture, yet we are not called to be indistinguishable from it. We are called to live in the culture, while confronting it with the truth of Jesus Christ.