Is evil lurking behind the tasty candy, clever costumes and rowdy celebrations of Halloween? What does the Bible say about celebrating evil?
Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is celebrated in a number of countries around the globe. In 2022, Halloween spending in America grew to an all-time high of $10.6 billion.
To an outside observer, the popularity of Halloween in modern Western nations must seem strange.
Why would people with a Christian heritage celebrate a holiday steeped in demons, witches, ghosts and goblins?
Why would people in modern societies revel in ancient pagan customs?
Why would parents who try to teach their children to do good things—and eat healthy food—allow them to dress up as bloodthirsty, frightening and evil characters—and selfishly demand unhealthy treats?
But most people don’t really think about these incongruities. It seems like everyone is celebrating this dark holiday, so it is dismissed as just letting off steam, benign playacting and innocent fun.
But is it? Is Halloween harmless, or is it evil?
What is evil?
Evil is often defined as the opposite of good. In that sense, the devil is seen as the epitome of evil.
But, according to a recent Ipsos survey in 26 countries, an average of only 41 percent of people believe the devil actually exists. Many believe the devil is only a metaphor for evil.
But who defines what is actually good and what is evil?
Halloween promises mischievous fun. Is Halloween really bad enough to be considered evil?
The history of good and evil
Evil has a long history. In the ancient text of the Bible, the word evil first appears just after the creation in the story of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). The story highlights mankind’s choice between defining good and evil for ourselves (represented by the forbidden tree) and accepting the Creator’s definitions (represented by the tree of life).
Interestingly, the beliefs underpinning Halloween go all the way back to this time and the first recorded lie.
God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The evil serpent then lied to Adam and Eve: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).
God instructed His people not to follow the practices of pagan nations. Pagan religion is an abomination to God. The Creator God is truly the only One who has the authority and wisdom to permanently define what is good and what is evil. He knows what will bring good results and what will produce pain and suffering.
When Adam and Eve chose the forbidden fruit, in effect they chose to define good and evil themselves. This has too often led to calling evil good, and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). With their sin, our present evil age began (Genesis 3:17-19; Galatians 1:4). Disobedience to God has caused the evil and suffering in the world today.
Who told that first lie?
The lying serpent in the Garden of Eden is identified as the “serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2). This fallen angel rebelled against God and became the adversary (Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18).
Satan is real. We are warned about him throughout the Bible. For more information, see “God Allows Evil—But for How Long?”
Satan, the enemy, revels in leading people into suffering and, ultimately, death. But he is still successful in deceiving many people into thinking we won’t really die.
Satan’s first lie blossomed. Religions taught that people have an immortal soul. People told ghost stories of wandering souls. Séances were conducted to try to contact deceased relatives. Holidays for the dead flourished.
Dead souls do not roam
Halloween continues that first lie by promoting the idea that dead souls roam the earth.
But what the Bible actually says is surprising to many people. The same Hebrew word nephesh, which is translated “soul” to refer to people, can also be translated “creature.” The word can refer to any living being, both human and animal (Genesis 2:7, 19). It’s also used in this striking statement: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
God tells us, “The dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Jesus described death as sleep, a state of unconsciousness (John 11:11-14). He also taught that no one but Himself has been to heaven (John 3:13). Saints like King David are dead, buried and not in heaven (Acts 2:29, 34).
Dead souls are still in their graves awaiting the resurrection—the time when Jesus Christ will bring them back to life (John 5:28-29).
Since Adam, all have died. The resurrection of God’s faithful saints will occur at Christ’s second coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). For more information, see “Do Humans Have an Immortal Soul?”
Where did modern Halloween come from?
Modern Halloween came from the Celtic festival of Samhain, held when everything began to die for the winter. Celts believed the veil between the living and the dead was drawn back on Samhain. The dead could cross into the land of the living.
Around A.D. 735 Pope Gregory III moved All Saints’ Day, a nonbiblical holiday seen as honoring dead “saints,” to Nov. 1, coinciding with the older pagan festival of Samhain, which honored the dead. Later Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration of All Saints’ Day to the entire Catholic Church. The night before became known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or Halloween.
For more information, see our article “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?”
Didn’t the Catholic Church make Halloween Christian?
When Pope Gregory III moved All Saints’ Day to Nov. 1, did that make Halloween okay?
No. God never told us to celebrate a day to honor saints. The Bible doesn’t define saints the way the Catholic Church does (see “How to Become a Saint”), and they are not alive in heaven. We are not to pray to them (see “Should We Pray to Saints?”). All Saints’ Day is itself based on a lie (see “3 Reasons Not to Celebrate Halloween”).
And God instructed His people not to follow the practices of pagan nations. Pagan religion is an abomination to God. God hates these religions that even included human sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was appalled by Celtic human sacrifices (Commentaries on the Gallic War, 6:16), so it’s quite possible that the original Halloween bonfires may have had human victims.
God instructs us not to add to or take away from what He commanded and inspired (Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18-19).
Halloween is a pagan counterfeit
Modern Christian holidays often include a mix of Bible stories and pagan festivals that are still recognizable. But Jesus told His followers not to teach the doctrines of men (Matthew 15:9).
Halloween mixes honor for dead “saints” with ghosts, goblins and ghouls. Satan has once again tricked man into following the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). On Halloween, people even dress like demons!
Satan seeks to transform himself to seem like an angel of light, complete with false apostles—deceitful workers claiming to be followers of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Do Halloween’s origins matter?
Many people think that Halloween’s origins do not matter.
But Halloween matters to God because it is based on a lie that takes people away from God. It celebrates evil and selfishness.
God’s people should stay far away from the evil of Halloween.