Halloween is not pagan. There, I said it.
Halloween, linguistically, is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, or Hallows Evening, or Hallowe’en. We should recognize the word Hallows from the Lord’s Prayer: “hallowed be thy name.” It is a celebration on the evening before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints Day, November 1st.
It is not pagan; it is Christian.
Jesus Christ came into this world; he was incarnate. We celebrate his incarnation on Christmas. Jesus Christ, living in this world, defeated death, sin, hell, and Satan. We celebrate his victory on Easter. The Church, united to Jesus Christ, continues what James B. Jordan calls the “mop-up operations” of Jesus Christ’s victory. We celebrate our victory on All Saints Day (and Hallowe’en) by remembering the saints who gave up their lives for that victory.
Hallowe’en, then, is the evening in which the Church lives out Christ’s victory and celebrates that victory in her own right.
The Church celebrates that victory by giving liberally. At one point in history, Christians would take food door-to-door to distribute it to the poor. As the Church grew in numbers, people began coming to the homes of Christians to receive distribution of food and treats.
The Church celebrates that victory by loving life. We give not just food to the poor, but treats to children and join in the fun and joy they receive by receiving treats liberally from us.
The Church celebrates that victory by mocking Satan in mocking disguises. Some have pointed out that this is the advent of the red, horned Satan with a silly tail and cartoonish pitchfork. Satan’s sin is his pride, and we laugh with Christ in his victory over Satan by mocking him with cartoonish disguises. Christians join in the fun and joy that comes with Christ’s victory by mocking Satan and his minions in this way, as well as by celebrating saints and biblical heroes as we wear costumes representative of them. There is no harm in wearing costumes representative of other figures as well: princesses, fairies, and others.
Hallowe’en is under the dominion of the Church because it is under the dominion of Christ. Christ rules Hallowe’en just as he rules Christmas, Easter, Sunday, and every other day. The Church participates in and exercises this dominion when she celebrates Hallowe’en, and especially when she celebrates it with more joy, gusto, and vigor than a secular world that completely misses the true meaning of this day–missing it by either assigning no meaning to it, or by assigning false meaning to it.
Learn to love this day. Love it by joyfully giving liberally to the wonder of little children. Love it by joining the saints in all times as we mock the pride of Satan and his defeat at the hands of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. Love it by loving the life and creation that God has graciously and bountifully bestowed upon us.