From the earliest days of human history, sinful man, separated from his Maker, has sought the supernatural. This longing to touch regions beyond himself has been a byproduct of man’s innate understanding that there is something about him that transcends this natural world. However, blinded by sin and with his sensitivity to spiritual things deadened, man’s efforts to get in touch with the eternal aspect of his being has historically ended in disaster.

Cultures around the world have developed rituals and holidays that involve attempts to contact or appease the dead, or spirits that inhabit a world that is undetected by our natural senses. One such festival was celebrated by the ancient Gaelic people in what is now known as Scotland and Ireland. It was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-win or Sow-in), and it was traditionally observed beginning the evening of October 31. November 1 was regarded as the end of the summer season and the beginning of winter, when the harvest was completed and flocks and herds were brought from their summer pastures to wintering grounds.

Rituals associated with Samhain included bonfires, divination, food sacrifices, and the habit of going door-to-door dressed in costume asking for food or treats. Visitors would be dressed either to imitate the dead or to disguise themselves from entities from the spirit world. They would carry candles inside carved vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, and later pumpkins) to light their way. Samhain was nearly universally considered to be a time when the distinction between the natural world and the spirit world was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to visit the world of the living.

Of course, you can see the similarities between this ancient festival and the modern observance of what we know as Halloween (a mashup of the term All Hallow’s Eve), the night before the long-standing church holiday All Hallow’s Day or All Saint’s Day, which is November 1.

I would never suggest a ban on sugary treats or honoring the memories of departed family members and others who have been close to you. The sacrifices they made helped us to become the people we are.

However, I believe it is important to avoid Halloween’s traditional emphasis on ghosts, spooks, hauntings, and other references to the dead being involved in our world or in our lives. These are nothing more than the adversary’s efforts to infuse our minds, and especially our children’s minds, with a fear of the unknown, and a dread of the supernatural. If you doubt this, take a look at the decorations in many suburban neighborhoods during the Halloween season. Ghosts, witches, Jack-o-lanterns, wolf-men, skulls, skeletons, and other even more bizarre displays seem to be everywhere.

For those who know Christ as Savior, death has lost its sting, according to 1 Corinthians 15:55. While the supernatural world of spirits certainly exists, we have nothing to fear from them. If we want to know something, all we need to do is ask the God we love and serve, who knows everything. Listen to these words from Isaiah 8:19-20 (NLT): “Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.”

If you want to have a campfire and make s’mores on Halloween, by all means, help yourself. However, at all times and in all places, remember that Jesus is the light of the world, and He has risen from death’s grip to deliver us from fear in all its forms. His light shines in us, and if we will allow it so shine through us, it will not only illuminate our lives, but also our homes, our families, and our communities.