Halloween and Christians

Ben Witherington

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Download this one page discussion guide to use in small groups or Sunday School. You may make as many copies as necessary for local use. 

Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” which is also known as “All Saints’ Eve.” As with other holidays, Halloween seems to have a mixture of both pagan and Christian origins. It is a testimony to the uneasy relationship that the church has often had with the culture it inhabits. Historically, there are several festivals and traditions around the time of November 1st. Most of them harken back to the anxiety that pagan cultures felt around harvest time, which led them to practice rituals that attempted to ensure their survival through the winter and to fend off unfriendly supernatural forces—as was the case in the Celtic festival of Sanhaim. The last several hundred years people have practiced unrelated cultural events such as masquerades, pranking, and courting for partners during the transition to winter. The church, however, has used this season to honor saints of the past and to prepare for Christmas. In the 20th century, these unrelated practices mixed together to give us the bizarre and other-worldly holiday known as Halloween.

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