We have reached the time of year where the secular world prepares and glorifies Halloween, while as Christians we are called to be set apart from the world. I hope to quickly clarify that what we know as Halloween today started as Samhain, how All Saints Day grew separate from this but also ties in to the confusion, and what the Christian viewpoint should be on Halloween. Quoting from ROCOR Hierarch Archbishop Kyrill (Dmitrieff):
“Many do not know its spiritual roots and history, and why it contradicts the teachings of the Church. The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples of Great Britain, Ireland and northern France. These pagan peoples believed that life was born from death. Therefore they celebrated the beginning of the “new year” in the fall (on the eye of October 31 and into the day of November 1) when, as they believed, the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. A certain deity whom they called Samhain was believed by the Celts to be the Prince of Death and it was he whom they honored at their New Year’s festival. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, we can see many diabolical beliefs and practices associated with this feast which have endured to this time. It is then evident that for an Orthodox Christian participation at any level is impossible and idolatrous, resulting in a genuine betrayal of God and Church.”
The Celtic pagan tradition called Samhain (pronounced sah-wen) which would last from October 31st into the morning of November 1st, is about “normal order being suspended” where the veil between the spirit world and physical world is extremely thin. Many people wore costumes of ghouls and demons in hopes of fooling the evil spirits (Aos Sí) to leave them be or to blend in with them. Divinization and ritual games involving apples were played during the festival (Hutton, Ronald (1996) Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press).
According to Doc Marquis, a former occultist turned Christian (not Orthodox) before his death, he states the feared Druids of the time would go door to door telling every family “trick or treat,” the treat being a sacrifice or offering from your family, and if you refuse the trick will be played on your house. As they mark it with a hexagram signaling all evil spirits of the night to afflict those who did not offer a sacrifice. If you do offer a sacrifice, a face was carved into a turnip (now modern-day pumpkins) signaling all the evil spirits summoned of the night to leave them alone. Doc states disputes range on whether or not the mark on the house was a hexagram or a pentagram.
Doc also has a darker take on the bobbing for apples ritual, which he claims victims that were to be sacrificed and burned alive in the Wicker Man (yes like the 1973 movie) are lined up in order to bob for apples in a boiling hot cauldron. If they grab an apple on their first try they will be let go, not without irreparable damage done to themselves, and if you did not get the apple on the first try you were beheaded immediately.
Many modern druids and pagans are quick to affirm their influence on Halloween but quick to denounce any sacrifice or wrongdoing being done during this. It’s frequency can be debated, but the fact is that blood sacrifices occurred (Rogers, Nicholas. Halloween – From Pagan Ritual to Party Night page 17). Other sources that assert sacrifice performed by Druids are found in the works of Lucan, Pharsalia i.450–458; Caesar, Gallic Wars vi.16, 17.3–5; the Greek geographer Strabo, Suetonius, Claudius 25; Cicero, Pro Font. 31; Cicero, De Rep. 9 (15);cited after Norman J. DeWitt, “The Druids and Romanization” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 69 (1938:319–332) p. 321).
Some contest the validity of the Greco-Roman accounts, however there is archaeological evidence from western Europe that has been widely used to back up the idea that human sacrifice was performed by the Iron Age Celts. Mass graves found in a ritual context dating from this period have been unearthed in Gaul, at both Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in what was the region of the Belgae chiefdom. The excavator of these sites was Jean-Louis Brunaux. There’s also reports in 2018 of human remains found under Stonehenge in 56 pits circling it, to which Doc Marquis back in the early 2000s was stating places like Stonehenge were used as ritual sacrifice. For more context on this, I implore you to look for yourself. Also if you’re unaware, freemasons are the modern druids, I plan to do a separate article on this at some point.
“Freemasons are our modern druids,” from a freemason himself Albert Churchward’s book titled Signs & Symbols of Primordial Man (page 189).
Notice the same one eye symbolism like the Freemasons.
The Christian Perspective
All Hallows Day also known as All Saints Day is observed by Eastern Orthodox Christians on the first Sunday after Pentecost, while Western Christians (Catholic and Protestant) observe on November 1st beginning in the evening of October 31st. Pope Gregory III moved this in the 8th century from May 13th to November 1st. The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced with certainty, as it has been observed on various days in different places by different churches. But what we can trace with certainty is that dressing up as demons, watching evil movies full of killing and violence, trick or treating, etc was not done in this tradition. So while All Hallows Eve did grow independent of paganism, it has no justification in the form of celebration we see many modern Christians participating in today just because it shares the same date for Western Christians (again not Eastern Orthodox). This is where confusion occurs from those who claim All Saints Day is pagan, and conversely those who say Halloween is okay in modern practice because it’s All Hallows Eve. Both being in error.
“That one must not join the heathen in celebration of holidays and festivals, and share in their Godlessness”.– Canon XXXIX of Laodicea
Even if Halloween has become watered down from the extremes of Druidic times, what benefit does celebrating Halloween have for a Christian? “Yeah but Halloween doesn’t mean that to me,” how many Christians are justifying it because they don’t see anything wrong with it? “At first, people play with the evil spirit as a joke, but then they begin to play seriously with these things,” Vsevolod Chaplin, a leading Orthodox Church official, told LifeNews, a website believed to have ties to the country’s security services. “Then the serious problems start: sickness, despondency, and despair.”
I would champion a call to be set apart from the world, not conformed to it. Since when do we adhere to the world? Evil spirits do exist. The demons do exist. Christ came into the world so that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil. (Heb 2:14). This call is not only to counteract evil on Halloween but zealously throughout the year. Anything that isn’t of Christ is of the wicked one.
“Man should not be upset about the blasphemies of the devil, but only about his personal sins, and to hope in God’s boundless mercy, for where hope in God is absent, the devil’s tail is present.” – Elder Paisios the Athonite