The Pagan Roots of Halloween; and Easter and Christmas

trick-or-treatJust like the Internet Monk rants here, I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist home.  We read the King James Bible, went to Sunday School, prayer meeting, revival, and every other time the church door was open.  We didn’t wear shorts at my childhood home, nor go swimming in mixed company.  My dad went to the public school and had me excused from the two weeks of swimming our P.E. class had in August.  Dad was a street preacher, standing on the corner of a downtown city block shouting the Gospel at passing traffic.  (He still does that once a week, but I no longer hand out tracts to pedestrian passersby.) 

But you know what my parents did let us do?  Go trick-or-treating.  I dressed up for school on Halloween all the way through 6th grade.  I remember going to at least one church sponsored haunted house.  Other church members handed out candy.  And I remember well the day that Halloween was taken away from us.  I was about 11 or 12, and don’t remember everything said in the sermon that night, but one point was how that putting a jack-o-lantern on your front porch was a sign that you had sold your daughter to Satan.  The “Halloween is the Devil” sermon was an eye-opening experience for my parents, and marked the death of it’s celebration in our home.

Yes, there are pagan festival roots to the celebration of Halloween.  Most of those roots are either barely or in fact no longer visible in our Americanized children’s version of the day.  Let me ask you this: every struggle with a child’s question about what hiding eggs has to do with Jesus?  How do you deal with “Was Jesus birthday December 25th?”  If you’re tossing Halloween and all things pagan from your house, Easter and Christmas are gonna’ have to go as well.

The changing of seasons and phases of the moon have always had significance in pagan belief and practice.  Each spring as the world reawakened, pagan worshipers observed a feast for Beltane.  Springtime is all about fertility, and new life, and… you don’t want me to go into it here.  That’s what the eggs are about.  In simplest terms, the early Christians were well aware that a big party was going on that they were not allowed to participate in.  So rather than worship Beltane, they decided to have their own celebration – scheduled to coincide with the Beltane rituals – and make it about Jesus.  That’s why our celebration of Easter is all mixed up between sermons of resurrection and the coloring and hiding of eggs.  “We” took a pagan holiday and Christianized it; we stole Easter from pagans.

The same with Christmas.  Why is it on December 25th?  The dates for Easter and Christmas were set long ago, well before the Protestant Reformation by the Catholic Church.  That ought to be enough to send fundamentalists over the edge, who don’t believe Christians existed prior to Protestantism and that the Bible was written in 1611.  The first day of winter, just like spring, was a significant marker on the pagan calendar.  I’m going to close with a passage of scripture from Jeremiah 10.  My dad quoted this each year when we asked about a Christmas tree.  Like the holiday itself, we Christianized the tree.

Thus says the Lord:

“Learn not the way of the nations,*
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples are vanity. 
A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.  -Jer 10:2-4

*KJV says “way of the heathen”

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “The Pagan Roots of Halloween; and Easter and Christmas

  1. I thought about writing another post titled “In Defense of Easter and Christmas.” I’m not saying we do away with those holidays nor our traditions. Let’s just be aware of where they came from. Celebrating Easter and Christmas is extra-Biblical; we’re not told in scripture to do either. As believers, we’re told to be baptized and take the Lord’s supper. We celebrate the resurrection each time we worship on Sunday rather than the Sabbath.

    I’m saying that if we keep Easter and Christmas, despite their pagan origins, why are we pitching a fit over the pagan roots of Halloween?

  2. I agree with your take on the celebrations of those holidays, but I am a little confused about what you are saying in your last paragraph about fundamentalists.

    Can you explain what you mean by “fundamentalist?” I’ve been called a fundamentalist, or “fundi” more often than I can count, but never bothered to learn exactly what that is supposed to be.

    Thanks!

  3. The article comes off a little harsh on fundamentalists, and I don’t mean to be. I grew up in fundamentalist churches, and my parents are still there today.

    The fundamentalist label gets applied to any group interested primarily in the “fundamentals” of Christian faith. There is not a rigid set of parameters, but fundi’s typically read only the King James Bible, have strict dress codes (women don’t wear pants, sometimes no one wears shorts), and they tend to be legalists. Fundi’s tend to draw very narrow lines around who is really saved, lines that would exclude most other Christians, such as Catholics, Anglicans and Episcopal church members. Some, but not all, are ignorant of church history, and the origins of Biblical cannon. Fundamentalists would never build a gym next to their church,

    I should write a “You might be a fundamentalist if…” blog post sometime.

  4. Ah but remember , Christmas Trees are not condemned by the scriptures. it is the making of an idol. Verses 2-4 ALONE TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT are used to describe Christmas Trees but again the context of the passage is a wooden idol (without foliage) which were used to worship heathen gods and goddesses. See this link

  5. Paul, you responded without reading my post didn’t you?

    Many Christians are opposed to any type of Halloween celebration due to its pagan origins. I’m simply trying to raise awareness about where most of our “Christian holidays” come from. Easter and Christmas, as we celebrate them now, have pagan roots as well. The verse in Jeremiah is not talking about Christmas trees, most obviously because it was written a thousand years before Christ was born. The verse condemns pagan idol worship. What were the pagans doing? They were bringing in trees, fastening them up, and decorating them.

    Some of the same Christians that put up Christmas trees and hide Easter eggs today condemn trick or treating on Halloween. The dates of Christmas and Easter even correspond to the summer and winter solstices; how does anyone miss the paganism there?

  6. Exactly! Because this is the same argument made by false cults like the God never commanded David to build a temple. It was David’s idea. David felt that since he lived in a palace, the ark of God should be in a temple. David was not condemned for this. God supported the project but choose to have David’s son Solomon build the temple.

    In the book of Esther we find the Jews being victorious over their enemies and establishing a day of celebration where they thanked God, feasted and exchanged gifts among themselves. This celebration is still observed and is known as the feast of Purim. God did not command this, nor did God condemn it. The Maccabees, in celebration of their victory over Antiochus, established the Feast of Dedication. We see this feast being celebrated during the time of Christ as recorded in John 10 and it continues to this very day as Hanukkah. This is not something God commanded; neither do we see God condemning it.
    . That is the problem with some websites, they apply their negative point of view to thers who DO celebrate when none of this exists in the minds of the people. My advice to individuals who condemn others is that if you think that a tradition is too steeped in paganism or too evil to honor Jesus then by all means forsake that tradition but don’t throw stones at other people who really in their hearts want to honor Christ. Many people use pagan things everyday. It’s like this,’ Do you have eggs for breakfast?’ or ‘Do you supposedly have a palm tree in your front porch?’ These things pagans have used and have some kind of connection we could all point to. I DO NOT DENY IT. I agree with you and I KNOW that many things that we use in everyday life were formerly associated with paganism. If Halloween must go we should also stop eating pumpkins and using candles, but again we can use pagan items with a good conscience because look at this, If we are to apply Deuteronomy 12 in some universal sense, then Israel would have been prohibited from having a priesthood, doing sacrifices, tithing, having festivals, practicing circumcision, building a temple and a host of other worship practices that pagans also did in their idolatrous worship. God never commanded David to build a temple. It was David’s idea. David felt that since he lived in a palace, the ark of God should be in a temple. David was not condemned for this. God supported the project but choose to have David’s son Solomon build the temple. In the book of Esther we find the Jews being victorious over their enemies and establishing a day of celebration where they thanked God, feasted and exchanged gifts among themselves. This celebration is still observed and is known as the feast of Purim. God did not command this, nor did God condemn it. The Maccabees, in celebration of their victory over Antiochus, established the Feast of Dedication. We see this feast being celebrated during the time of Christ as recorded in John 10 and it continues to this very day as Hanukkah. This is not something God commanded; neither do we see God condemning it.
    If every form of paganism was a sin then we would be in real trouble. God never commanded David to build a temple. It was David’s idea. David felt that since he lived in a palace, the ark of God should be in a temple. David was not condemned for this. God supported the project but choose to have David’s son Solomon build the temple. To criticise Halloween is to throw the baby out with the bath water. If Jehovah’s Witnesses detest all pagan customs why do they not harp on wedding rings also?

  7. Exactly! Because this is the same argument made by *false cults like the *JEHOVAHS WITNESSES.*God never commanded David to build a temple. It was David’s idea. David felt that since he lived in a palace, the ark of God should be in a temple. David was not condemned

  8. Yep I agree with Paul “An attempt to condemn Halloween is to get rid of the good parts as well as the bad parts of something when you are trying to improve it.” Off the top of my head though, Jehovah’s Witnesses also have “inconsistencies” in their ideology. Just focus on what you believe in and pray for wisdom and guidance.

  9. Paul, this is a comment thread. If you can’t say what you need to in a paragraph, write a blog post and link it. If you don’t have a blog… I think it’s time you start one. You have a lot on your mind.

    I can’t tell if you are arguing with me or agreeing with what I’ve said. I AM NOT condemning Halloween; to those that have nothing to do with Halloween (claiming it’s pagan) I’m simply reminding them where those other holidays they like came from.

    And for that matter, the days of the week.

  10. But I AM agreeing with you. Neither do I condemn Halloween. The months of the year/ days of the week came from pagan origin. Like I said if people try to condemn every pagan item, it’s equal to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  11. ” I am the Lord Your God,… you will have no other gods… ” He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. .. why would dancing around a Golden Calf be wrong for some and not for others… God wants us to be set apart. NOT LIKE the world. If it isnt wrong why so difficult to give it up? Enemy has deceived Gods children. .. sin is wrapped up to look fun… did Jesus celebrate pagan days? HE said ” Follow me…” He was Jewish and said man made laws are too much. .. not everything else….

  12. The premise of my post was a response to those that declare Halloween to be historically pagan but do not think twice about Christmas and Easter. The celebration of even Christian holidays are extra-biblical.

  13. Halloween is pagan. Easter is Pagan. Christmas is pagan. St. Valentines is pagan. The wedding rings are pagan. Sunday is NOT the day of the Lord; God created the Sabbath day as His special day to be worshiped, not Sunday. And no, it was not created for the Jews since they were not in Eden when God created the world. God DID NOT change His law, but man did. Period. Period. Period. Everyone is FREE to do and celebrate as they please. Men always say: “I think”…we can “think” all we can. In the end is not what we think, it’s what God says.

  14. The Jews were not in the Garden of Eden when God created the world. But God did not command Adam and Eve to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” That was the fourth commandment he gave the Jews at Mount Sinai. Those commands are the Law. We don’t live under the Law.

    Paul dealt with Judaizers in his letter to the Galatians. The Judaizers told gentile Christians they needed to be circumcised and keep the Law that God gave to Moses. Paul responded by pointing out that Abraham was made righteous by his faith 430 before the Law. The Law is insufficient to make one righteous before God.

    You are right in saying God did not change his Law. But Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and he has become our righteousness. Now that you have received grace do not turn again to the elemental things of the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s