Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pagan Holidays

Astro had a post asking if Christians should celebrate Halloween. Quite a few responses and I thought I would put my thoughts over here.

Just what is a holiday? Simply put it comes from two words, holy and day. From its roots then, the term was for religious holy days. Quite obviously the term is broadly applied to include entirely secular days such as the 4th of July and Labor Day, and this might cause some confusion about days like Halloween where many apparently assume it is a secular holiday with some slight religious overtones. I am not going to deal with those holidays that are entirely secular in nature. National holidays like those mentioned above are not religious and therefore irrelevant to the conversation. It is the pagan holidays that I want to address. Three in particular are Halloween, Christmas, and Easter.

From the Druidic celebration Samhain (pronounced sah-ween) we get Halloween. Samhain is the day when the veil between the living and the dead is at its weakest and the dead are able to cross over. Families would put out food for their loved ones and the 'good' spirits, this is where the giving of treats comes from. To ward off the evil spirits the Druids set bonfires and would don scary masks and costumes. Various gourds were hollowed out and candles were placed inside to light the way to the covens (gathering of witches)

A pagan nature celebration of the rebirth of the world. Of life coming to the dark world. Evergreen plants play a prominent role as they are alive all year long and hold the promise of the life to come. Evergreens are often cut down and brought inside and decorated as part of the festivities. Other plants that are important are holly ivy and mistletoe. Mistletoe was thought to increase fertility which is why it is hung upside down so that its powers would flow into the couples who kissed beneath it. There is also the burning of the Yule Log (I dont really know the signifigance of that, yet!)

This is from the celebration of the goddess of fertility, Ishtar. As she was the goddess of fertility the symbols used are things like eggs and rabbits. Eggs because they contain life and rabbits because they are so prolific. It seems to me that there was either not much to this celebration or that not much has survived.

All three holidays are pagan in origin. All three still contain many pagan symbols and rituals. The Church has attempted to co-opt these holidays to varying degrees of success. But can the Church cleanse or sanctify these holy days? Can a celebration to a foreign god be consecrated so as to give it to the Most Holy? We find in the Scriptures no precedent nor justification for doing so. Rather we find a G-d that is jealous, that allows for no worship of other gods. He demands complete and total obedience from His followers. So from the standpoint of the Scriptures I feel it is quite obvious that we Christians are not to dabble with foreign gods nor the celebration of or worship of foreign gods.

Christians and Jews were given numerous Feasts/Holy Days to observe and take part in. All of which point not only to G-d the Father but to the Savior of the world, the Messiah Himself. We should be chasing after His holiness but instead we chase after the things of this world, instead of being set apart for Him we don the cover of this world and "do as the Romans do."

Every year we debate over what to do, and how much to compromise with evil. And every year we come up with the answer that it is okay and it is just a little bit and it really isnt dabbling with demonic spirits. We come to the conclusion that we will somehow be a light to the world while doing no different than the world. What a sad commentary on the state of the Church.