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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.


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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween - its origin and connection with Ireland

This is the outline of a sermon preached on Halloween on 30th October 2005 in Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church. 

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations, Deuteromony 18:9. 

We are all aware of the type of celebration that goes on at this time of the year. People dress up in the most hideous clothes and masks, they have their lanterns, they go tricking and treating, they talk of ghosts, haunted houses and supernatural happenings and all things spooky.

Have we ever asked ourselves the question: where did this all come from?

An insight in the origin of halloween can easily be discovered when we remember that this festival is one of foremost important to the old pagan religion that sadly is still practised in society today. The Druids and those involved in witchcraft look upon the festival of Halloween as being of great importance.

That in itself should make the child of God very vary of it. It is no innocent little bit of fun. Nothing is ever innocent that involves the spirit world and particular the evil spirit world. We are reminded in Scripture to flee the appearance of evil.

The word ‘Halloween’ actually has its origins directly in the Roman Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of 'All Hallow Even'. November 1, ‘All Hollow Day’ (or ‘All Saints Day’), is a Roman Catholic day of observance in honour of dead saints that don't have a special day of their own.

Consider then the origin of Halloween and its connections with ancient Ireland:

I. Halloween stems from the Romish practise of christianising pagan festivals 
Halloween is but one of many examples of Rome taking heathen practices and seeking to Christianise them. Easter, Christmas and Halloween have all the same origin. They were originally pagan festivals christianised by Rome.

The legacy of Constantine the Great. Constantine was a Roman general who set his sights upon being the Roman emperor. In the war that raged to bring this about, he reportedly saw in a vision the shape of a cross in the sky accompanied by the words: by this sign conquer. He duly put the symbol of the cross on all his banners and shields and won the emperor’s throne. In 333 AD he decreed Christianity to be the official and preferred religion of the Empire.

Thousands of people who were never conquered entered the professing Church because it was now expedient and advantageous for them to do so. They brought with them their male gods and female goddesses. Sadly many Church leaders made no distinction between Christian and heathen practices, they just re-directed this devotion to the saints and Mary. Statutes and festivals once dedicated to these heathen deities now were employed and observed in what professed to be the Church of Jesus Christ.

The decree of the Pope. In the early part of the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated 1st November as All Saints' Day, a time to honour saints and martyrs. The day before would be known as 'All Saints' Even' later 'Hallowed eve' or 'Halloween'.

He ordered that the Pantheon, a pagan temple in Rome that had been dedicated to all the gods, should be converted into a Christian Church and the relics of saints be placed there.

Romish practice in Ireland. By the ninth century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. The pope attempted to replace the Celtic festival of remembering the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned 'holy day', or 'holiday', a day to honour dead ancestors. This festival was celebrated with bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. The Irish immigrants exported this festival across the world.

II. The specific pagan practices of the ancient Celtic Druids 
With the decline in Bible religion in our nation the ancient nature of the pagan festivals is being re-asserted. Halloween is no different. Those involved is Spiritism are again laying claim to their ancient festivals and accusing Christians of taking them from them and turning them into Christian festivals.

The pagan, Celtic, Druid festival of the dead. Halloween's origin dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The ancient Celts, celebrated this feast on 1st November. This was also their new year. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with death.

These Druids believed that on the night before the new year commenced, the boundary between the world of the living and the dead became blurred. They believed that on the night of 31st October the spirits of those who had died the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the incoming year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. This spirits therefore were believed to roam the land seeking for bodies to possess for the coming year.

Their practices. In order to deter these departed spirits taking over their bodies they engaged in certain practices:

[1] They would light bonfires, dress up in ghoulish outfits and make ugly faces on pumpkin lanterns etc. This was to drive away the departed spirits. They believed that the departed spirits would not want to be around anything so gruesome and hideous.

[2] They would create disturbances to drive them away as well. This is where the playing of pranks upon others and their property as part of celebrating Halloween has come from.

[3] Trick or treat. The people would leave out food, hoping that this would please the spirit world. If they did not leave a thing, then the spirits would play evil ‘tricks’ on the living in that house. If this was not obtained at the chosen homes, then a hexagram was painted on the door in blood calling upon the spirits to cause all kinds of evil to fall on the home.

These practices have since been incorporated into Romanism and in many lives there is a complete unawareness of their pagan origin.

III. The great gulf that is fixed between this world and the next 
The underlying principle in both paganism and Romanism is one that the Word of God knows nothing of. 

There is no movement between the spirit world and this world. People depart from this world into the next and they certainly do not come from that world to this one. The rich man in hell discovered that there was no way back. No one could visit him and he could certainly not leave the place called hell. 

Even when he wanted to warn his brothers of the terrors of hell and have them avoid coming to that awful place, there would be no messenger from beyond the grave.

Communication from the spirit world. Not only is there no movement of people, there is no communication between the dead and those alive on the earth. Sadly more and more this is something that is believed and practised. However, there can be no communications from those who have gone out into eternity. There is a great gulf fixed.

It is a lie of the devil to say otherwise. Those who practice this type of behaviour are either charlatans, who cleverly draw out from their clients information that they can use to deceive them that they have a message from the dead or else they are under the control of the devil and he is using them to deceive. The devil is real and his activity in the earth is real. Israel were commanded to avoid the abominations of the heathen in the land of Canaan. among those abominations were the 'necromancers' or those who inquires after the dead: There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

Contrary to Paganism & Romanism nothing can be done for the dead. Men and women settle their eternal destiny when alive in this world. No prayers or masses or the grace of departed saints registered to their accounts will do them any good. It is what men and women do with Jesus Christ that counts. He must be believed upon to the saving of the soul to know any good. Christ alone can do helpless sinners good. Only Christ can meet the need of our hearts and lives. To Him alone we must go and seek for salvation. Saints, Mary are all in need of salvation themselves and totally unable to help anyone else.

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