by Pastor Dan White
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Sacred days in the Christian calendar are misused for materialistic gain by American retailers.
Take Christmas for example. There is an all-out assault to take Christ out of Christmas. Who would have ever thought thirty or forty years ago that the Christian celebration of Christmas would be found to be a Constitutional violation of the separation of church and state by American courts?
Every manger scene is subject to a law suit if a government entity displays one. Just a few years ago, the beautiful manger scene at the Columbia County Fire Station on Fury’s Ferry Rd. in Evans, Georgia, in my home county had to be taken down and has not been seen since. Why? The threat of a law suit brought it down.
Christmas has been made into a Santa Claus commercial to buy and lavish family and friends with gifts ignoring the Christian celebration of “A Savior is born.” This has happened in my life-time. For example, my late Mother, who was born in 1926, told me many times that all they received at Christmas was an orange, an apple and maybe a doll. Now Christmas is secularized and a billion dollar business.
Halloween is another Christian holiday perverted by our culture. Halloween is also a big billion dollar business. Sales related to Halloween in 2012 reached 8 billion dollars!
On the Christian calendar, November 1 is “All Saints Day.” October 31st is “Hallowed Eve.”
"All Saints Day" has its roots in the Apostles’ Creed in the statement, “I believe…in the communion of saints.” The history of this celebration dates back to 373AD. It was and is supposed to be a time to remember the “saints” or Christians who have gone on before us including family members who were believers and to thank the Lord for the Christian heritage they and others have passed to us. Worship services were often held at a cemetery. This act of remembrance also celebrated the sure hope of the resurrection we have through Christ.
The night before All Saints Day was called "Hallowed Eve" and early Christians often fasted and prayed through the night in thanksgiving for the testimony and sometimes martyrdom of Christians and loved ones.
Like Christmas, "Hallowed Eve" has been perverted into money-making Halloween horror movies, video games, and other Halloween occultism-type merchandise that makes tons of money for retailers and movie studios. Themes of evil, the devil, and horror are now front and center in this aberration of "Hallowed Eve."
So let us take back our Christian heritage and the celebration of "Hallowed Eve." Visit the graves of loved ones and place fresh flowers on them. Pause to meditate and thank the Lord for their Christian life and influence on you and others. If you can’t go to their graves, take time to thank God for those in your family who are now gone on to be with the Lord, and thank God for all those who passed the faith to you. Finally, attend an All Saints Day church-sponsored worship service in this season of remembrance.
Don’t let the devil steal Halloween from you.
You are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses encouraging you to run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Remember them and be grateful for the sure hope of the resurrection we have in Christ and make it hallowed eve.
Addendum: As Robin Ulbredtch pointed out in her comment on my article, Halloween is indeed rooted in paganism as is Christmas. The Roman Catholic Church "Christianized" both of these pagan practices. December 25 was established as the birth of Christ by Pope Julius in 349 A.D. December 25 was already a widely celebrated day in the Roman World. On that date citizens observed the Natalis Solis Invicti (the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun) in honor of the Sun God Mithras. The festival took place just after the winter solstice of the Julian calendar. Scholars believe that Pope Julius selected December 25 as the date of the Nativity in order to win over followers of the Sun God Mithras, as well as giving Christians an opportunity to honor Christ on his birth date.
All Saints Day and "Hallowed Eve" also has pagan roots. Its origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhein which marked the end of harvest and the beginning of winter which is a time of year associated with death. The pagan Celts believed that on that night, the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead blurred, and the ghosts of the dead returned to the earth. It was a night for preternatural communication with the dead, various forms of divination and prophecy, and sexual rituals.
In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV decided to remember all martyrs. Originally, the 13th May was designated as the Feast of All Holy Martyrs. Later, in 837AD, Pope Gregory IV extended the festival to remember all the saints, changed its name to Feast of All Saints and changed the date to 1st November in order to "Christianize" a pagan holiday.
Another example is the magnificent Pantheon built by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, in 125 A.D. for the purpose of pagan worship. Statues of gods filled the place, and animals were sacrificed and burned in the center. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface consecrated the Pantheon as a Christian church. It was the first pagan temple in Rome to be Christianized.
Isn't this what the Church is supposed to do? We are to spread the Gospel of Christ and "Christianize" a pagan world. Christ is conqueror through grace, truth, and love and His kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. This truth is graphically portrayed in the Revelation of Christ as given to the Apostle John.
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).
The King of kings conquered the "unconquerable" Roman sun god and now millions celebrate His birth instead of worshipping the sun god. He conquered the Celtic festival of Samhein and now those dear Christians who have gone before us are remembered and honored giving glory to Christ and his mercy and salvation.
Let us continue proclaiming and sharing the matchless name of Christ. The gates of hell cannot stand against the onslaught of His love. "O Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!"
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great article filled with good facts.
Pastor I think your article was well written and I agree that Christmas has become too focused on material goods and Santa Clause. The world has perverted this special day of celebration of our Lord's birthday. However, I disagree with your information on Halloween. I did research on the history of Halloween and it's orgin is in pagan religions. It, as far as I know, has never been a Christian holiday. From as far back as I could find, Halloween was a dark, spiritual holiday. I would love to know where you got your information on this subject. As far as I know, Halloween is one of those patterns of the world that we should stay away from. We don't need to support our adversary! I know many Christians celebrate harvest at halloween time. I think thanking God for a great harvest and His provision can be a wonderful way to counteract the world's "Halloween." A great and timely article. It gives us food for thought. Hopefully people will think about what they do to celebrate Christmas!
Last night we had some 'Trick or Treaters' rang the door bell. Because I had read your article, I was able to share the story of 'All Saints' day with them. In that group I spoke with was a child from my son's class. How timely was this article! It proves that we are all connected to each other and so what we do affects others. Keep teaching...Thanks again and God bless!
Thank you for this educative piece. I'm often on the search for articles for the younger generation to understand this topic. I've found one I can use--Thank you and God bless you.