Index by Subject

Doing the First Works: Observing Religious Holidays?

Christians from the very beginning have had to decide whether or not to honor the holiday observations of religions other than that of Christ. That first generation of Christians, being Jews, were confounded by the insistence of some that they continue to observe the “laws and ordinances” of the law of Moses. But this was soon answered by the apostles (Acts 15:24-31; Ephesians 2 15; Galatians 5:6) who plainly defined the old law as dead. Therefore the observation of special days and practices under the old law were now only matters of indifference. Continue reading » Doing the First Works: Observing Religious Holidays?

Halloween Traditions

Halloween means the evening before All Hallows or All Saint’s Day, which is observed November 1st by Catholics, Lutherans and Episcopalians, to remember all the saints who have died, known and unknown.

There is little agreement as to the “true” origin of Halloween. There is so much folklore, myths, wives’ tales and tradition involved, that this yields multiple accountings of proclaimed “true origins” to this festival. Some things are known to be true about it, while other items reported often as “facts” have no supporting evidence, as we shall see. Even many encyclopedias repeat the myths without supporting evidence or consulting more recent studies.

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The History of Halloween

Every year, on October 31st, our dark neighborhood streets are flooded with candy starved children dressed up as cartoon characters, sports figures, movie stars, witches, ghosts and goblins. How did this strange activity begin, what does it represent and should Christians take part?

Celtic Roots

Centuries ago, the last day of the Celtic calendar year fell on October 31st. The Celts, ancestors of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish, believed “on this night ghosts and witches were most likely to wander about” (H.F. Vos, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 493). Of course, no sane villager wanted to interact with ghosts and witches, so on October 31st the Celts disguised themselves as departed spirits as a means of protection. They also left gifts of food for the goblins at the edge of town, hoping that these “otherworld” creatures would take the food and be on their way. It is easy to see some parallels to our Halloween holiday today when neighbors distribute treats to children disguised as ghosts and goblins.

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