Why we don’t celebrate Halloween.

***Note:  There are photos below that are not appropriate for children.  So, go hide in a closet and read this or make sure your kids are out of the room! 😉

Each year I say I’m not going to post on this subject again but then I change my mind for one reason or another.  People are constantly landing on my blog this month by searching things like ‘Orthodoxy Halloween’ or ‘Do Orthodox Christians Celebrate Halloween’.  There are even the occasional folks just in search of a ‘pumpkin recipe’ and good ‘ole google sends them my way.  For those of you who did land here by mistake and not in search of a religious discussion on Halloween, here is my favorite pumpkin recipe.  You might want to click that link now.

I think people search these sort of things mostly because they are confused (with the exception of the pumpkin recipe folks) about what to do and there’s plenty of people out there expressing their opinions on why they think we should celebrate.  So, I’d like to express the beliefs of at least one family standing on the other side of the fence.

This post is not to meant to engage differing opinions or spark the same debate we’ve had already over the past six years but simply to put the word out that there are Orthodox people who do not participate and their children do not consider themselves deprived or left out.  Quite the opposite, really.  Ace said just yesterday how he can’t wait until it’s over and all this demonic stuff is out of his face everywhere he goes.  He and Lucky have always turned their faces from it all, many times I’ve caught their lips moving silently with the words of the Jesus prayer or seen their little prayer ropes moving between their fingers.  And I thank God they are aware of the spiritual battle that wages against them every single day, but even more so during the month of October.


Let Your Light Shine

In this year’s post, I am not even going to touch on the origins of Halloween or the amount of people who come out publicly and admit that for them it is a Satanic celebration and even go on to describe the ways they worship that night, and trust me there is  p l e n t y.   All spiritual aspects aside, I still do not understand what the big deal is.  Sure, dressing up is fun and candy is always good, though not necessarily good for us, I get that part.  I really do.

If you’ve read my past posts on this subject, you know that my family celebrated Halloween until I was 18 so I do know what it’s all about, I’m not just someone on the inside looking out (get it?) 🙂 .  I’ve had my share of haunted hayrides, houses and witch walks throughout those years (even though I hated those things even then).  I also took part in my fair share of mischief too, but we were as clueless as the next family as to how spiritually dangerous this celebration was.  Our church even had Halloween dances and parties, thus making us feel like the Church had no objections to our participation.  My mom and grandmother went all when making our costumes.  I masqueraded around town as Rainbow Brite, a nerd, a hobo, a giant pumpkin, tootsie roll and even did my time as a Spice Girl (thank God there aren’t any photos of THAT, that I’m aware of anyway, lol).  We carved our share of jack-o-lanterns, too.  But then we learned more what we were really celebrating and decided that it was not appropriate for an Orthodox Christian family.  So we stopped dressing up, stopped passing out candy (because that is still participating even though it is a big step in the right direction), and it all ended there.

But what else?  What exactly makes parading around neighborhoods disguised as graveyards, filled with creepy sounds, cobwebs and with the majority of people painted with bloodied faces, heads, etc., fun?  I understand there are a few “cute” witches or superheroes but does that even matter?  They are by far not the majority and your children are exposed to that violence and evil no matter what they are dressed up as.  And do you think when they grow into older children and teenagers they are going to continue wearing those cute costumes?  Where does it stop?

I’ve heard all the arguments including how some children are dressed as saints or bible characters and so that makes it okay.  Personally, I think that’s a band-aid for a guilty conscience.  It allows people to do what they want, even though they partially disagree, and dressing in supposedly religious costumes makes them feel like they haven’t completely crossed the line.  But please forgive me, I think that’s like telling our children it’s okay for them to go to a strip club as long as they keep their own clothes on and wear a cross.  It’s ridiculous and quite honestly, blasphemous.  I don’t think any saint would have ever given permission to participate in such a demonic holiday.  People will argue that not everything you see is scary or demonic and I agree with that thought in the same way I agree that not every scene in a horror movie is scary.  But my question is, where do you see God in Halloween?  What role does Christ play in the whole celebration?  The little girl dressed up as an angel, perhaps?  I don’t see God ANYWHERE in Halloween.  I had one person tell me it is the spirit of giving.  Everyone gives candy and is happy.  Seriously?  More like the spirit of gluttony and excess.  And regardless of if you don’t dress up and just pass candy out at home, you are still participating, on a lesser level perhaps, but it’s participation nonetheless.

In my opinion, you’re either in or out.  There is no in between.  Society has done too good a job convincing us that we can remain neutral without betraying our beliefs and that simply isn’t true.  Christ warns us in Revelations 3: 15-16 what will happen to those of us who are lukewarm.  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

I did a few google searches to see what the current costume trends were in recent years and because I wanted a neutral view of the holiday.  Not from anyone against, not for anyone in favor, just fair and neutral perspective to present in this post.  Who better to ask than Google?   This is what I found.

When searching just the word ‘halloween’ this is what pulled up.  Nothing terribly ugly, just dark.  Dark and scary but nothing that would give you nightmares.   For many people, this is all they allow themselves to see happening on Halloween even though there is so much more.


Then, I searched ‘children’s costumes’.  Other than the little girl with the hatchet in her head, the majority of them were not gross.  I think for the most part these are the innocent little costumes, along with some clever homemade ones I’ve seen floating around the internet, that most parents prefer to dress their little ones in.  And note that I said most, I’m seeing more and more little ones dressed with stitches on their faces and makeup to resemble skeletons and the dead.

Kids Halloween Costumes

Next I searched ‘halloween costumes’.   I think it’s safe to say this is how most kids teenaged and up want to dress.  Girls want to be sexy and scary at the same time (third photo in first row is perfect example).    This is the stage that I think many parents who are unsure how they feel about Halloween are going to see the bigger picture–when their teenagers grow out of their pumpkin costumes and into ones similar to these.  Then what do you do?  Tell them Halloween is no longer so innocent?  Or continue allowing them to participate? The girl with the can coming out of her head is exceptional.

Halloween Costumes

My last search was for ‘scary halloween costumes’ because let’s face it, that is the point of Halloween.  To be scared.  Hence, all the Halloween Horror Nights and other similar activities.   Notice that several of these photos include children.  How on earth can anyone say that Halloween is NOT demonic??  Are we serious people?

And again, I understand that your level of participation may not be anything like this.  But you need to understand that this is still what you are participating in.  How can you control what your children see?  So many of our saints warn us to guard the doorway to our heart, our eyes, against evil.  What if your child sees something like this, and I think the chances that they will are quite good. Those images will never be erased from their memory.  Is that worth some free candy?

Adult Halloween Costumes

And just in case you couldn’t see the fourth picture in the third row, here it is.    Panagia mou.  I can’t even imagine how much the demons rejoiced when this costume was created.  Lord.  Have.  Mercy.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 12.27.05 PM

While that costume is totally off the wall, my point is that this is still what’s out there. This is what more and more people are dressing like every year.  The evil does exist.

The main reason our family chooses not to celebrate Halloween is because we believe it goes against everything we believe as Orthodox Christians.  This is not a matter of debate, it is a personal decision we have made for our family.   I don’t judge or look down on people who do celebrate it, that’s their choice.  And this is ours. 

All year long, we teach our children to fight against the powers of darkness and evil, yet once a year we make an exception.  How does THAT work?  I get emails from parents asking if I know of any prayers for a child experiencing nightmares or if I have any book or movie recommendations that will get their child to lay off the horror or other inappropriate movies but then they’re taking them out trick-or-treating.  Forgive me, but I just do not get it.  It makes my heart so so heavy.   And the fact that are Orthodox clergy who give permission to their spiritual children to participate totally breaks my heart.  I’ve tried so hard to understand this but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the Scriptures or writings of the saints that would indicate such permission.  Again, it’s quite the opposite.

Christ teaches us to be a light in darkness!  And that does not mean wear a cute costume during Halloween!!  It means the darker the world becomes the harder we must fight to let Christ’s light shine through us!  The more we wallow and justify our sins the less reflective we become of that light. 

I have heard of some people leaving a basket with pamphlets explaining why they don’t celebrate and I think that is a great idea.  Most of the pamphlets might get tossed on the side of the road with hundreds of candy wrappers but if even just one person reads it, a seed will be planted.  It only takes one person to make it worth it.   I was actually hoping to create one for you to download and print out but didn’t have the time.  I’m still going to do it and I will add it to this post for whoever may want it for next year.

It says in the holy scriptures,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

and again in (2 Corinthians 6: 11-18)

Be Holy

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

We are so very much like the Corinthians St. Paul wrote to– totally restricted by our own affections.  Why is it so difficult for us to stop doing something we like and enjoy, even if we know deep down it is wrong?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?

That’s not to say that I think everyone who celebrates Halloween knows it is wrong.  In fact, I know that is not the case at all.  Most people do not believe it’s wrong, hence the debate and struggle by so many each year.  However, I also know that many hearts are in doubt and if that is the case for you, I encourage you to read through some of my past posts on Halloween, including the links included in this post  which were written by various priests, etc. 

Today is just another typical day for us.  We will not go anywhere special or do something out of the ordinary to make our kids feel like we’re making up for something they’re missing out on because we know they’re not.  We will finish our day as normal, with the addition of the reading of the lives of some of the saints we celebrate tomorrow or the life and miracles of Sts. Justina and Kyprianos (patron saints against witchcraft and sorcery) after Small Compline.

Either way, however you choose to spend this evening,  I pray you have a safe and blessed night.

54 thoughts on “Why we don’t celebrate Halloween.

  1. I LOVE this wonderful post! My little one is very attracted to the dressing up & candy of Halloween, and I’m looking for stuff to explain to her why we don’t celebrate it – without encouraging her to look down on those who do. And, I certainly don’t want to discuss the “origins” of Halloween with her, as I believe this only gives the Evil One more attention than he should have!

    I really like your point “Where is God in Halloween” – and that is a point she can relate to!

    As to the pictures you posted, though, I would ask you to take them down, and share links instead. I try VERY hard to keep my eyes away from evil things – as the Scripture commands – and more importantly to avoid having my little one – who often looks over my shoulder while I surf, from inadvertently seeing something evil that might scar her for life. Some of these pictures qualify. Please move/hide them & post a warning. Thanks. In Christ, -Anna

    1. I agree, the close up picture should be removed at least. I don’t believe it’s necessary for this post.

  2. “But my question is, where do you see God in Halloween? What role does a Christ play in the whole celebration?”
    This is exactly it. It is all that needs to be asked. Fr Seraphim Rose in “Religion of the Future” says that if you’re ever not sure of how to discern something, ask if Christ is at the center or not. It is a pretty straight-forward approach, and i’ve found it so helpful.

  3. We do not celebrate Halloween either… In fact we never have. My boys are almost 16 and 12, and for them Halloween is still just a gross and scary time that they have to wait all of October to get past. (They are autistic and very sensitive to anything Dark or Evil.) Thankfully, this year, it hasn’t been as huge of a deal since we moved to Platina, CA – and so far we really haven’t seen any decorations or anything here. Just in case, we won’t be having our porchlight on tonight (there might only be like 11 kids in town, but I’ve no reason to think that they won’t go trick-or-treating) – and we won’t be home either because there’s a Vigil at St. Herman’s Monastery for the Feast of St. John of Kronstadt tomorrow (the Serbian Jurisdiction is Old Calendar)… and then first thing in the morning we’ll have a Liturgy at St. Xenia’s Skete with the nuns. I’m so thankful my boys aren’t freaking out today like they would be if we were anywhere else. This is the first year in ages that I’m actually looking forward to tonight – and that has nothing to do with Halloween – we absolutely love the Vigil Services with the monks. It’s going to be a good night afterall. 🙂

    1. It’s great that you can live near the monastery in Platina and can visit it regularly. I grew up a few hours away. I look forward to going home soon and visiting the monastery to start off the Nativity Fast.

  4. Thank you for this. It was very well written and a comfort to me. This past Sunday at the end of the service our priest addressed why he thinks it’s OK for us Orthodox to participate in Halloween, and it really surprised, saddened and confused me. Thank you for adding for your voice to this dilemma that has been ongoing in my head.

  5. Great post. Like you, I celebrated Halloween when I was younger even though I was raised Orthodox. Now that I’m engaged and getting married soon, my fiancé and I have put a lot of effort and discussion into how we would like to raise our family. We’ve recently spent more time reading the teachings of the church to not only better ourselves as Orthodox Christians, but also for the future of our family. With that, we’ve come across the church’s view on Halloween and have read your articles on the topic. We don’t plan on participating in any Halloween activities, and we hope to use today to read up on the life and teachings of Saint Luke, whom we commemorate today according to the old calendar. Thank you for the wonderful insight. It’s truly appreciated.

  6. Well, I tried resisting for the first two years of my daughter’s life; it’s now year three, and I’m giving the Trick-or-Treating thing a go. I’m honestly a bit confused about my own feelings towards this. I might follow-up later with a comment about my experience tonight. Wishing you all the best, and I’ll see you on Instagram. 😉 (AKA “OrthodoxDaily”)

  7. I just want to add to a few of the comments, that I myself and my family are not Orthodox Christians, but we are Christians nonetheless, and I do not participate in Halloween either. I agree with the other women, that you made such a good point when you asked the question, Where is Christ being celebrated in this holiday? I was just asked recently why I didnt celebrate it, and I said the same old response as always, its demonic, and I dont believe in participating in something of that nature, but your response makes it so clear and to the point… Love this article. BTW dont forget the one time you were a geisha, your makeup was award winning lol! Love you!

    1. Bridget, I read the link you posted and have to disagree. I am in no way mistaken. If you noticed in the article you posted, it could not give the exact origins of the American celebration. It said “It probably…” The article mentioned jack-o-lanterns but did not go on to explain their origin, which was used to carry flames from human sacrifices home to light the hearth. The faces were carved to look like the dead. What about the Satanic rituals that continue to this very day? You say I am mistaken, but I have yet to see ONE thing that is of Christ in Halloween.

      And to be honest, I don’t care what the origins were. Christmas trees are of Druid origin but are now a symbol of Christian Christmas. My concern is what the holiday is today. It is a satanic holiday. Satanists come out again and again (see the documentary trick or treat), I even had the granddaughter of a priestess comment on a past post, if you look through them you can still read it, saying how she remembers her grandmother mocking Christians for being so pathetic in their faith that they celebrate their ‘holy’ day. This is not a joke, it is not make believe or fun and games. It is real and it is not of God.

      I appreciate you posting your thoughts but in my opinion, that article is just another sad attempt used to encourage Christians to participate in something that is clearly demonic and feel good about it and shame on the priests promoting it.

  8. Out of curiosity, what are your views – Halloween removed – of the horror genre of movies/television/literature. In such cases, there is no participation in a holiday, but it is a form of entertainment. Do the same ideas discussed above transfer? This may be a dumb question, but I’m wondering if it is different since in this case, it’s not a “celebration.”

    1. Sheena, No such thing as a dumb question! I personally don’t like them for many of the reasons mentioned. It’s not a holiday but it still subjects us to the same sort of things I believe we’re warned to stay away from.

  9. Hi Sylvia

    Thank you for this great truthful post. We live in Australia and sadly it has travelled here as well.

    We educate the children not to talk to strangers and receive sweets, but here they are encouraging the children to do this.

    Makes you think this is hypocritical.

    We totally agree with you

    God bless you and your family.

    Angela – Australia

  10. My question is how old are your kids and how did you get them trained in saying the Jesus prayer when they face scary or undesirable situations? That’s amazing. Do you have any posts about this or other practices to start with kids? God bless!

    1. Hi Sherry, my boys are almost ten, six and two. I don’t have any secrets on how to get them to pray and we still have to remind them a gazillion times during prayer times to stop fighting, stand straight, and any other number of things but we do begin to teach them the Jesus prayer from the time they’re able to utter words. They all started by saying “touli mercy me”. (Christouli is Greek endearment for Christ) My littlest one will just say His name over and over again right now…touli, touli, touli. 🙂 But we try to help them understand that the Jesus Prayer is appropriate at all times. Happy, sad, scared, or even just when you sense something is not as it should be. I have a post here on teaching our kids to pray http://www.orthodoxmom.com/2009/06/02/raising-orthodox-christians-teaching-our-children-to-pray/ Prayer is the greatest gift we can give our children!

      1. Thanks so much! This really encouraged me. I have 3 boys as well! (6,4 and 18 months) and I also have to remind them not to fight, play, etc during prayer so I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with that. I’ve been teaching them to say “My Lord Jesus Christ, help me” when they are scared, but I hope that this will be a habit (by the grace of God) that will be deeply rooted in them as they face the world. Thanks again, and I will definitely read the post above! 🙂

        1. Sadly the fighting and bickering never seems to end – our children are 10, 13, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 25 – they still bicker and fight during prayer time *sigh* So prepare for that ladies! Lord, have mercy.

  11. While I don’t completely disagree with what you said, I think we are both heading in the same direction but arrived at different conclusions. If Christmas was a Druid holiday and has now become a Christian holiday (arguably going backwards into a corporate business holiday) then I can see the same thing happening here. There are TONS of “Fall Festivals” to participate in and to host for other families looking for ALTERNATE venues. My own children – ages 5, 4, 3, 2 (I know, I know, my poor wife) have been able to have LOTS of fun dressed in innocent costumes. Superman, Flash, Ironman and the Little Mermaid respectively.

    Now, we can either sit in our homes and choose not to take part in any of our cultural holidays. Let’s face it, there is no Christ ins the 4th of July, no Christ in New Years, no Christ in Presidents day, no Christ in birthdays, no Christ in most holidays. What do we do? We allow Christ to take over those things. Birthdays are days to be thankful for life,Presidents day is day to be thankful for a history of mostly good leaders, July 4th – thanks for the freedoms we enjoy etc etc.

    You see, if we are truly left with two options: serving God or serving Satan. Then we cannot view staying home as a service to God. Perhaps we are to be culture-changers. Perhaps fall festivals or a Christian-themed party is a good way to implement our faith.

    Here, we are becoming the warriors for Christ. Here, we are becoming witnesses and mob-evangelists. Let Satan gather them up to worship him, we’ll steal the show and prove that Satan can’t even have one day to himself. I never recommend the defense. The last few generations have become defensive in their faith and have let down my generation and the generations following. Let’s go on the offensive.

    1. Hi Bryan, first let me say that your wife is my hero. God bless her, she must be one busy woman! 🙂

      You made several points that I want to address. First, I totally agree about finding alternate venues during the fall season. We go to several different corn mazes and pumpkin patches that are not Halloween oriented. I personally choose not to do that ON Halloween because I don’t want to even acknowledge the day because I feel like that would be subconsciously teaching my children that they’re missing out on something when I don’t believe they are. Dressing up no matter where you go, to me is participation at a lesser degree.

      The holidays you mentioned like 4th of July, New Year’s, President’s Day, etc, in my opinion are not an equal comparison with Halloween. Those are national holidays, quite different from religious holidays. And while they may not be centered on Christ, they also do not go against Him. He teaches us to respect our governments and those in authority over us. While Christ may not be prevalent on those days, neither is Satan, which surely we can agree is not the case with Halloween. And I do believe we can still bring His teachings into those national holidays. Quite often my boys and I will make homemade treats to deliver to our local police, fire departments, etc. thanking them for their service to us and our country.

      And look, in theory I agree with the concept of being culture changers, and in small ways I believe that we can. And should! However, the reality of it is we cannot change what will happen. (The recent presidential election was proof of that, lol) It is written in the Bible that Christians of the last days will be persecuted, just as they have been all through time. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force but that does not mean we force our beliefs on others, it means we force our way in through the working out of our individual salvation. The world is going crazy whether or not we are ready to acknowledge or admit it. The fighter in me wants to stand right along side you and change that course, but deep down I know what is going to happen, what has been prophesied and written. Therefore, my responsibility is not to put all my time in effort in changing a culture that does not want changed, it is to teach the children God has blessed me with about the promises of Paradise and what is required to earn a place there. With that in mind, I have to say staying home on Halloween is a very important service to God.

      As far as the last few generations moving to the defense… I don’t think it’s a matter of offense or defense, I think various situations will require both from us. There are times we must be on offense and others where we must be on defense. If you think they’ve become defensive as a general rule, I can agree with that too but I will say it’s because the world has placed us there. When you begin to be persecuted for the things you believe, you have no choice but to become defensive. The world is teaching our children that the teachings of Christ and the Bible are old fashioned and not to be taken seriously. We must defend ourselves! Our saints and martyrs are the perfect examples–they were on the offense in the sense that they showed the utmost love and kindness to those around them, they spread the light of Christ everywhere they went! Yet, at the same time when matters of the Faith were in question they were on the defense even to the point of having their lives taken and their blood spilled. My prayer is for these future generations to become more of both! May they show love and peace but I also pray they have the strength to defend what has been given to them to preserve.

      In your second comment you said, ” If it is bad, let’s make it good. Nothing evil exists that wasn’t first a good thing created by a good God. Think of any sin, at its root, it is a thing God meant for good. Halloween can be the same way if we can lay down our petty differences and create a unified front against ghouls, ghosts and goblins.”

      How I wish this was possible! I do agree, obviously, that nothing evil existed because God created everything to live together harmoniously. Absolutely! Unfortunately, I do believe the world is too far gone and if not for the prayers of the few holy people left on earth, we would be done by now. I wish Halloween could be like you say–a unified front against ghouls, ghosts and goblins–but unfortunately we are not the majority. All those people dressed in grotesque costumes with homes decorated like cemeteries do so because they want to. By trying to fight that all we are doing is exposing our children to horrific images and environments. I think the most effective way to fight it, is honestly to stop all participation. Let’s not dress our kids up, let’s not go trick-or-treating, let’s not pass out candy. Let’s pray. And pray some more. That is how all battles are truly won.

  12. One more thing. These verses were ringing in my head while I was typing that up. I hate it when people yank verses out of their context but I think an argument can be made that these can be used and the context remain pure:

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5

    Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Col 2:8

    I send you out as sheep among wolves… Something about Christ saying that just makes me think about where we are and what we are doing. Are we trying to hide from the wolves or are we trying to bring wolves under the submission of the Shepherd? The warrior in me says the latter. I am never a proponent of simply “not engaging” or “not participating”. If it is bad, let’s make it good. Nothing evil exists that wasn’t first a good thing created by a good God. Think of any sin, at its root, it is a thing God meant for good. Halloween can be the same way if we can lay down our petty differences and create a unified front against ghouls, ghosts and goblins.

  13. ” I was actually hoping to create one for you to download and print out but didn’t have the time. I’m still going to do it and I will add it to this post for whoever may want it for next year.”
    Please, don’t forget this idea and share with us (Cincinnati Orthodox moms). You are a children author and you can do it much better than any of us. Thank you.

  14. Thank you for this wonderful post. I was so disheartened when the GOA Facebook page released an article yesterday that stated that not only is celebrating Halloween ok but that those of us who do not celebrate may just be plain WRONG. Like you said, there is absolutely no reason to judge or look down at others because of their choice.

    1. Yes, Katerina, quite a few people were upset and confused by their post. Several people actually told me about it and I went to read it myself just a few minutes ago and responded. It’s sad that we’re taught not to judge yet they seem to be doing quite a bit of that lately. Funny how you can’t say anything about not taking our Faith seriously enough, but others can say whatever they want if they happen to think we’re taking it too seriously. Wonder how the martyrs would really fare in their eyes today instead of just in stories they read. All we gave up was Halloween, they gave up their lives.

  15. Thank you for this post. My family always did Halloween things when I was growing up, but I never liked it much. Now that I am a mother I like it even less. We have done trick-or-treating and even did it this year, because my husband used to enjoy Halloween, but this year it seems he has had a change of heart. We have decided not to participate in future. Glory to God! I’m so thankful for his change of heart and I’m glad that my children will not (continue to) grow up being part of all the chaos that is Halloween.

  16. Here in Oz (Australia), we now have to contend with Halloween taking on more and more momentum every year, so much so that every type of decoration and food now fills the stores

  17. Also, if possible please Sylvia… I have been searching for the information on the origin of the Jack-o-lantern, which was used to carry flames from human sacrifices home to light the hearth, with no success. If you have a link to this info, I’d like to read further. Thank you my sister in Orthodoxy, God bless you for your good works +

  18. Thank you so much for this! I have been against celebrating Halloween as well, and it was good to read this, especially after hearing about the article someone mentioned in the comments.

  19. Thank you so very much for this post. So many people in my community were shocked by the post mentioned in previous comments by GOA Youth on Facebook. It is now being circulated by the very people who mock us for not celebrating Halloween, even though we’ve never pushed our beliefs of made them feel bad for their choice to celebrate it. Several of us are actually considering visiting a nearby Russian church next Sunday. The Greek diocese is slowly starting to make our parish feel like a foreign place. 🙁 God bless you for standing ground and being brave enough to go against the crowd. -Samantha

  20. A freind of mine told me about this post today after church and the comment from Samantha really left an impression on me because that is exactly how my family felt and we DID go to a different church today but not Russian one. It was Antiochian. I read their arguments and misuse of words of our holy fathers and the Bible and am shocked. God bless you sister and shame on these people who are destroying our ancient faith without even knowing it. God have mercy on us all and may He reveal His truth in their hearts as well.

  21. My first post didn’t entirely load up, this is the story I wanted to share…
    Here in Oz, we now have to contend with Halloween taking on more and more momentum every year, so much so that every type of decoration and food now fills the stores

  22. ….Our youngest boy, 10, started caving on the last day, even though he knows very well why we don’t participate in Halloween. His final argument was that he only wanted to join his friends and have fun with them.
    It seemed I needed to find another way to make the message hit home and this is what I reminded him of; his determination to fight the good fight against the antichrist.
    I put it to him that how does he expect to win that fight, should it be in his lifetime, if he can be so easily weakened in his faith by dress up costumes and the lure of lollies.
    The result was instant!
    If we are in the last days, I explained that we would do best to treat this event like a training ground to strengthen our hearts and minds in our pursuit to live our lives according to God’s will, because if we cannot resist missing out on lollies today, how well will we fare when faced with real adversity from a world that will exile us for non- conformity.

  23. We always participated, and did so this year as well. My daughter questioned it now that she is old enough to really put thought behind the teaching of the church (she is 10). I can honestly say I will not be participating any longer. I cannot see the Christian in it either, and making fun of the dead by dressing up as them, of which my family is not innocent, is wrong.

    Thanks for helping me along in my decision.

  24. I just ran across this blog from another Orthodox blog – very nice post. I just came into the Orthodox Church a few months ago and the priest at my first parish was having a halloween party at his parish for the children. They were encouraged to come to Church in their costumes and then trick or treat after the Liturgy – I thought that seemed very odd for a Christian parish. I’ve since left that parish for a more conservative Orthodox Church and after the Divine Liturgy our Priest stopped everyone and reminded them and encouraged them not to participate in any celebration. This was the first time in my 8 years of being Roman Catholic and now Orthodox that I’ve actually had a priest standup and tell us not to participate in the evils of that holiday.

    Great post on your part. I’ll be a regular reader I’m sure.

  25. For at least the last 100 years, Hallowe’en has been an entirely secular event, drained entirely of its origins devoid of all its original meanings, and in the largest Greek Orthodox community in North America (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) it lasts, as it does in all neighborhoods of Toronto, for about two hours flat – 6 to 8 pm. Ho-hum. Kids in masks knock on the doors of local houses wearing turtle costumes and receive a chocolate bar in their plastic bag for their troubles. If one is lucky, they might admire a candle, carved pumpkin with an eerie face or a black cat silhouette taped in a window.

    One of the most important aspects of healthy childhood development is the innoculation at a young age against irrational fears – giving children small, controllable “thrills” (amusement park rides are another example) of events that can seem intimidating and frightening at first glance, but which allow them to learn to control and deal/cope with the dark, the scary, the unknown. In western culture, this is one of the purposes to which Hallowe’en has been relegated. What alternative steps do you take for children of trick-or-treating age to help build up their coping abilities — with what might otherwise seem mildly or deeply sinister — within a controlled environment?

    1. Todd, after your last comment on using plastic spoons during Holy Communion to avoid contracting diseases, I am not sure why I am even responding to this one. I will just say this. I do not believe our children need “thrills” to develop properly and learn to cope with life. I believe life takes care of teaching them to cope quite well on its own. What did they do in days when trick or treating or roller coasters did not exist? I actually think giving them small thrills as children will teach them to seek bigger thrills as they get older and that is not something I want to encourage my children in and is quite the opposite of Orthodox, in my opinion.

  26. Everytime I start to think that maybe I’d be better off in the Orthodox church, I visit your blog. My “maybe the grass is greener” thoughts vanish instantly. Thank you for that. But in answer to your question – I see Christ in the delighted faces of those who open the door to us and freely offer a treat to my children. I see Christ in my children who have been taught not to fear because Christ is with us. For us, Halloween has always been a delight. I will never forget the joy and delight on my grandmother’s face when I would bring her great children to see her all dressed in their homemade costumes.

  27. Donna

    I think what you say is unjustified.

    What Sylvia has written is the truth.

    Don’t you teach your children not to talk to strangers or even receive sweets from strangers? The schools teach this.

    And here you are going around knocking on doors and asking for food! Really??

    Sounds very hypocritical to me.

    Go to the shops and buy some sweets or whatever for you children. Its much safer.

    Don’t you hear about the evil that people do? The boy who bite an apple and glass was wedged in, what about the poison they inject?

    You say that you see Christ face when you do this. Christ is against this, so how can this be so?

    You will see Christ face if you teach your children to help a poor person or bake a cake and take it to a nursing home, or even teach them to visit the sick in a hospital.

    I think you are just trying to justify what you are doing.

    Please re think this, as you are hurting your childrens souls.

    Sylvia, thank you for a great blog and all the great ideas you share with us.

    I hope God enlightens you Donna, to seek the truth (the greener side) which is Orthodoxy.

    God Bless

  28. Donna,
    Please don’t give up entirely on looking into the Orthodox Faith! Gather information regarding Orthodoxy from a multitude if sources, not just here. Particularly, speak with cradle Orthodox (those born into the faith) to compare and contrast views of Convert Orthodox Christians. I think you would find that there are many ways in which we see things differently. Having grown up Orthodox, in a part of the country with many Orthodox parishes, I never knew one Orthodox family that did not celebrate Halloween. That was a concept that I was completely unaware of until moving south, as an adult, and seeing the huge amount of Bsptist or born-again parishes that denounced Halloween as demonic. I think, upon researching, you would find that the majority of Orthodox Christians that do not celebrate Halloween likely are converts from the Protestant sect of Christuanity. Often converts bring Protestant ideas into Orthodoxy or favor very strict or monastic Traditions (such as women covering their heads, churches with no pews, the Old Calandar, The Jesus Prayer, etc)
    Oddly, on the other hand, many converted Orthodox Christians post excitedly about fasting options (ie. vegan dessert substitutions)…..A get-around so to speak. For most of us raised Orthodox, Fasting is presented as a time to eat little more than is absolutely necessary – to develop restraint and a physical reminder of those who actually did not have food. I never had a “fast approved dessert” during Lent! Seemingly, this would defeat the purpose of eat simple and nothing that you do not absolutely need. Again,Lenten approved desserts, appetizers, party ideas, etc. have only come to the forefront in more recent years due to a large number of converts and a misunderstanding in the original fasting traditions of the Orthodox Church.
    Please continue to look for an Orthodox parish that might be less convert- driven. We do exist! I promise!!

  29. Donna,
    I tried to write a response to you, but it was unpublished. Too contrary, I suppose.
    Let me just try to voice the beginning of my comment again…
    I am second generation American and come from a Russian Orthodox background. I was born into Orthodoxy, raised in a large Russian Orthodox family and in several large Orthodox Churches. It was in an area that had many Orthodox Churches to choose from and you could see the church domes as you circled the city via highway. A beautiful site.

    Let me say, at this point, that I did not know any Orthodox Christians that skipped the Halloween festivities. The trick-or-treating of small children, running through the fall leaves (or snow, as it sometimes was!), bears absolutely no resemblance to the pagan holiday of long ago. Just as many of celebrations – Christmas trees, “Easter,” etc were also once pagan festivities. I agree with Donna. Sometimes someone can look so hard for the devil, they will find him anywhere…

    I hope this presents my views in a more acceptable way. To Donna, please don’t give up on the feelings/thoughts/reading that seems to be tugging you toward the Orthodox Faith. I am heartbroken that every time you feel like you should look into attending an Orthodox Church, you “just visit this site” as a deterrent.

    1. Cheryl, I am not sure what gave you the impression that your comment was too contrary but Donna’s was not….

      All comments left on this blog require approval before being visible. This is done because of the enormous amounts of spam that is attempted to be left on each post. I have never and will never delete or disapprove a comment simply because someone is rude or disagrees with me. So rest assured…

      I was not going to respond to your post because I didn’t think there was anything I could say to you that would change your mind but since this thread has continued I will say this. Forgive me for giving you a bad impression of Orthodoxy. I am not sure how often you visit my blog, but I will assume it is not often as I have only posted controversial posts a handful of times in the nearly six years I have been blogging. No one who reads this blog has ever accused me of being negative, quite the opposite to be honest. I’ve have always worked to make this blog a place where people can find a positive perspective, wisdom in the writings of the saints and encouragement to go on fighting the good fight, which is becoming more and more difficult for today’s Christians. So, I’m not sure what posts continue to deter you, but I encourage you to look to the Church and the writings of the saints and the Holy Scriptures when making a decision as large as joining a new church family. Not blogs. We are sinners and everyday people just like you.

      As far as the grass being greener, I will agree with Angela. Actually, in my opinion I believe that the only grass that is green period is in the Orthodox Church. How can one belong to a Faith and not believe that? And forgive me for my boldness, but you felt bold enough to express your feelings and now I will too. If you are having doubts or issues with your current church, and I believe you are since you have expressed a desire to leave on more than one occasion, and Orthodoxy is repulsive to you when you visit this blog, I think it safe to assume that maybe the problems your experiencing are personal ones rather than on behalf of any specific church.

      And Cheryl, this applies to your way of thinking too… One of the biggest problems facing Christianity as a whole today is that people are passive and want their salvation handed to them on a silver platter. Christ’s death was not enough for them. They do not want to struggle or be told they are doing something wrong. They look for a faith that will allow them to continue living the lives they are living with good consciences, not one that will try to correct them and make them more Christ-like, therefore struggling to earn their salvation. Cheryl, Halloween has NEVER existed within the Orthodox Church, only within various cultures that belong to it. So, please do not discredit converts for bringing in the belief of not celebrating. We can thank our cradle Orthodox just as much as the converts. (BTW, I am a cradle Orthodox of many, many generations in case you are not aware of that) Certain members of our church, in a sad attempt to keep people in, have made allowances for certain things in hopes of “keeping the people in the church”. I do not agree with this at all because, as your statement has proved, now many Orthodox people believe this is the way it always was, and that simply is absolutely untrue. While there may be different traditions within each culture of Orthodoxy, the Traditions of the Church are unchanging.

      And as you both can see from the comments before you, there are a great many people who feel the same way I do and all my post did was voice an opinion from this side of the fence. I am still confused as to how it provoked such anger.

      True Orthodox Christianity is not supposed to change to fit each of it’s members. It is us who are required to change to make ourselves real members of the Body of Christ. If we refuse to change change and/or if we are not constantly struggling to change for the better, we are not Orthodox.

  30. Hello again.
    I think that the frustration (or anger, in some cases) that this particular post provokes is due to lumping an Orrhodox Christian who chooses to participate in Halloween together with those you personally feel “refuse to change” and “are not constantly struggling” therefore “not Orthodox.” Kind of a mathematical proof so to speak: If a=b, and b=c, then a=c, where “a” is an Orthodox Christian who celebrates Halloween and “c” is an Orthodoc Christian who is not actually Orthodox.

    Absolutely, the Orthodox Church does not change over time. Not now, not ever. That is what provides us a rock to grasp and hold dear. However, I doubt that the fact that I chose to participate in Halloween tells you much about my standing in The Church, or the amount of spiritual struggling I’ve worked through as ai Christian. It only tells you that we happen to disagree on minimally, this one thing. It tells you that where you see the devil, I see community & family time. Where you see demonic influence, I see Christ in each person ringing my doorbell. We just disagree…. To propose that persons, not in agreement with you, are not truly Orthodox because they aren’t struggling hard enough is what I think the perception of your opinion is and therefore, might be the root of the frustration (or anger) that has been provoked in a few.

    It seems there are a plethora of blogs that follow this same approach and pronounce people failing Orthodox Christians for any number of reasons these days. Does your church have pews? Then, you’re not truly Orthodox. If you are female, do you cover your head? Especially in church? If not, you are not truly Orthodox. Do you eat shellfish? Celebrate the Christian year based on the new calendar? Wear pants or other male oriented clothing if you are female? Then, you are not truly Orthodox. And the issue at hand, do you participate in Halloween? Then, you are not truly Orthodox.

    I think that some may be missing the forest for the trees and seeking the devil where he is not present until one places him there. This is just my opinion, within the confines of what my spiritual advisor, Orthodox Tradition, Church Canon/Law and The Bible have provided me. And although we all fall short and fail miserably in our endeavor to live a Christian life, I feel God truly does notice and guide our collective effort. We each have the heavy duty of scrutinizing our choices. Sometimes, even with the same exact information available, this results in one Orthodox Christian making different choices than another Orthodox Christian. In the end, God alone will judge who is or is not Orthodox.

    1. Cheryl,

      I am not going to address each point you tried to make… I have never said that someone is failing as an Orthodox Christian, I agree there are a great many instances were we must simply agree to disagree and do what we feel is best for our family. This blog is MY thoughts and MY beliefs. I, unlike others, am not making statements on behalf of the Church as a whole, though the Church is split in opinion on this matter. I chose to explain why I don’t celebrate Halloween (hence the title of the post) and you find it perfectly acceptable for someone to come and basically tell me they turn from the church because of me and that’s okay. Yet, you’re going to twist and turn into an entirely different discussion trying to discredit me because you feel it was wrong of me to voice my opinion about a holiday I choose not to participate in? Perhaps you can tell me what makes it okay for someone to judge me as a person but NOT okay for me to make a judgment about a holiday that I believe to be entirely demonic.

      It amazes me that people will come here and challenge MY beliefs, and then accuse me of judging them when I have done no such thing. Do I think people make excuses to feel good about doing things they want? Absolutely. We all do this at times! Is there judgment in that? Honestly, I think most of this stems from guilty consciences. The amount of pride involved with controversial topics is astounding.

      I have always welcomed friendly debates and discussions about differing opinions, I believe we all learn from them and I respect each person’s opinion. There is no false hope on my part to convince every Orthodox Christian in the world to stop celebrating Halloween or to agree with any other of my beliefs.

      And the reason I wrote this post to begin with was precisely because of what you referred to as a lumping together of Orthodox Christians, but the flip side of that coin. Orthodox Christians who choose to participate are very doing a very good job at lumping those of us who choose to abstain together into a pot of extremism or fear of this ridiculous holiday, which is unfair and ignorant. Have you read ANY of the comments prior to Donna’s? Did you read how people have LEFT their churches because of the pressure and lack of love and understanding by various people? Would you like to read the emails I receive EVERY SINGLE YEAR by people who chose to celebrate and now have children waking up in terror in the middle of the night and want to know where they can find prayers to help their nightmares? You see Christ in the children who come to your door. What do you see in the woman on my blog who has an open womb and is eating her child? Do you see Christ? Certainly she was made in His image but she IS not representing Christ. That is absolutely demonic. Whoever wants to go on pretending that all they see on Halloween are pretty fairies and smiling pumpkins is free to do so. But they are fooling themselves.

      If you disagree with my statement of, “If we refuse to change and/or if we are not constantly struggling to change for the better, we are not Orthodox” than that is your choice is well. But I believe that concept of the Christian struggle to be true, as did our holy fathers as this is written in countless books including the Bible.

      God alone will judge each and every one of us. You are right about that. However, as far as Halloween is concerned and this WAS what this post is about, I am confident that if it turns out that it is NOT wrong to participate, I still am not committing a sin by NOT participating. If it IS wrong, than I do well by abstaining.

    2. Also, Cheryl, in response to your last paragraph… In all of your missing the forest for the trees, etc. be sure you are not looking the devil square in the eyes and missing him for an angel. Your opinion will be respected but disagreed with. I do not believe it to be in agreement with Orthodox Tradition (as Halloween is not Orthodox), Church Canon/Law (by any stretch of the imagination), or the Bible, just as you obviously do not believe mine are. I think this is where we should simply agree to disagree. I wish you a blessed Nativity fast and please forgive me, I am not trying to challenge your beliefs but am simply voicing mine.

    1. There are a great many ways to twist the truth to suit or own desires. It’s much easier than admitting we are wrong and changing ourselves.

      As I said in my post, the origins even though I believe them to be pagan, are almost irrelevant. Even as we celebrate today, Christ cannot be found.

      I encourage people to read that post. I also encourage them to read through the comments and decide for themselves what is fact and what are excuses.

  31. you make some very salient points. But one must take great care when using Revelations as a source point. There are reasons why this particular bit of scripture is not read liturgically, I won’t get into it, books have been written on this, but I would caution against using it as the main scriptural reference.

      1. Hi Matushka,

        There was no reason your comment was not published immediately. Forgive me, if you were offended. The way the system works is if you’re not a frequent commenter or use a different email address to comment the system automatically reserves it to be moderated. I’ve been out of town for a family wedding and am just now checking in here.

        I agree that Revelations should not be interpreted in most cases, I do however feel like the one verse I used is pretty clear. And even if we did not use that verse, there are many other verses, some of which I already included, from the other books of the New Testament to support the point I was trying to make.

  32. My church, St. Anthony the Great, in San Diego, will be hosting our 3rd annual Harvest Festival as an alternative to Halloween. We’ll be teaching and dancing different ethnic folk dances to attendees and hopeful create stronger communal bonds in the process. I think it’s helpful to provide alternatives to people who are used to doing something on Halloween night.

  33. I am in the process of converting to Orthodoxy from Catholicism. I still do not know whether it is right to celebrate Halloween as an Orthodox Christian because most of the arguments against Halloween come from Jack Chick’s comics (https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0011/0011_01.asp) and other fundamentalist Protestants who thinks that Halloween is “Satan’s Birthday”. But, it is still a fact that Halloween is based of Samhain, which an Orthodox priest thinks it translates to “Satan” in English, which is incorrect. The real English translation of “Samhain” is “Summer’s End”, not “Satan”. However, still Samhain has creepy origins with beliefs that ghosts, zombies, ghosts, and spirits fly around to find bodies to possess and people wear costumes to keep them away. The celtic pagans believed that Samhain started the dark season lasted until Imbolc (which was what Groundhog Day is based off). Halloween and Samhain do emphasize on darkness and death. Personally, the themes hit me more because I kinda get depressed when fall comes and summer happens to be my favorite season because in the fall days get shorter (it should not be surprising because fall is sometimes known for depressing, dying themes). Even though there is misinformation on Halloween, I am still praying to God to tell me what he really thinks of Halloween in the light of all I just said? Thanks 🙂

  34. Thank you for this informative blog and everyone’s comments. I know this is an old post but just came across it now!
    Sylvia do you have the same opinion of Apokeries?

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