"Oh, I know that. I just thought that you might have had a fall festival or something."
Think about the implication of those words. Here was a lost man asking if a Christian had celebrated Halloween by attending a fall festival. He knew that some Christians used such festivals as a substitute for the Halloween activities, and he viewed the two as equal.
Of course, some might say that my coworker was simply mistaken; that he did not know that the two were not equal, but is that the case with other holidays? If you know someone to be a practicing Jew, someone that you have worked closely with every day for the past three months, would you ask him if he had a merry Christmas? Of course not. You would ask him if he had a happy Hanukkah. Neither was this man making a simple, cultural error in asking me if I had a happy Halloween.
I know of many good churches which host a fall festival every year, and I have even participated in such festivals myself, but this simple, innocent question from a lost man has ignited a torrent of questions within my mind.
Why do we celebrate Halloween with church-sponsored festivals? If the goal is to protect our kids from the spiritual and physical dangers of the world, then why do we not gather together for prayer on this dark night as the saints of old used to do? If we are providing an alternative to the world, then why do we ask our children to dress up in costumes? How are we demonstrating to the lost world that we are not celebrating Halloween? The lost have chosen this day to revel in the power of Satan on this earth. What are we celebrating?
I am sure that many people will try to equate the joint Christian and worldly celebration of Halloween with the same partnership that exists between the Christians and the world in celebrating Easter or Christmas, but there are no similarities between them which justify our actions. In the case of Easter, we have simply the occurrence of three distinct holidays on the same day: the resurrection of the Lord, the sacrifice of the passover and a day of worship for Ishtar. The first two occurred on the same day because Christ is our passover lamb. The latter holiday is completely unrelated to the others. It is a Babylonian holiday commemorating the goddess of intercourse and fertility (thus the abundance of rabbits and chickens in the world's celebration). There is no relation between the two beyond their occurrence on the same day.
Christmas is also the nearly simultaneous occurrence of three distinct holidays (as well as the modern holiday of Kwanzaa): the birth of Christ, Hanukkah and the winter solstice or saturnalia. None of the three are related in any way. The birth of Christ is celebrated on December 25th because of a miscalculation of the date of his birth by the gentile Christians sometime during the third century (it is referenced by Origen c. AD 245). The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates a miraculous event in 165 BC in which the temple menorah stayed lit for eight days on just one day's worth of oil. Occasionally, one of the eight days of this holiday falls on December 25th. Saturnalia was a Roman celebration of the winter solstice. It consisted of a week of festivals from December 17th to the 23rd, and was first observed in the third century BC. Once again (and in spite of much speculation), there is no direct relationship between the three celebrations except for their occurrence within the same month.
In each of these two periods of celebration, a clear distinction is made between the Christian holiday, the Jewish holiday and the pagan holiday. All three occur on or near the same day, but they are seldom confused with each other. Regardless of the dates chosen for these holidays, they are celebrated by Christians in commemoration of specific, Christian events: the birth of Christ, and His resurrection. What specific, Christian event is celebrated on October 31st?
If we cannot present the world with a clear, Christian event to be commemorated on the same day as Halloween, then they will continue to assume that we are celebrating the same thing that they are celebrating. Would it not be wise to refrain from fall festivals until such a time as we are able to provide a distinction between our actions and the worship of Satan? How does a fall festival teach people "the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean"? I have decided that unless I can answer this question, my presence at a fall festival is not worth the risk of an offense to God and a ruined testimony before men.