The Historic Origins of 31 October “Celebrations”

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Bible, Other Writers
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“Halloween is shortened version of “All Hallows even” meaning “the night or evening before All Hallows Day” or “All Holy Day” or “All Saints Day.”

The celebration of this day in a positive way has a long tradition in various branches of Christianity. Reformed churches tend to celebrate 31 October in remembrance of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church on that day in 1517.

There is a “dark side” to this day: goblins, witches, macabre costumes, etc. For the general public, an aura of death pervades the day. “Trick or Treating” has a “downside” component. Many Cable TV movie channels run a string of “horror” movies that negate anyone’s sense for decency, sound mind, and good taste.

There is a long tradition in many cultures of the “Festival of the Dead.” It occurs after harvest (in late October) and it is a celebration or honoring of deceased members of the community. This festival seems to be the origion of many of our modern day Halloween accoutrements and practices.

Since this “festival” is resident in so many cultures, there would seem to be some justification for discovering its true origins. We have hints to this origin in the Bible.

In Genesis 7:11-12, we read “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

Note the detail of the dates. First, the age of Noah: 600 years. At age 600, Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, was 969. The year of the Flood was the year of the death of Methuselah, the man who lived the longest according to Scripture. And, Methuselah’s name means “when he dies, it shall come.” This analysis reveals the long-suffering of God (cf. I Peter 3:20-21) since the display of His wrath is denoted in Scripture as His “unusual task” (Isaiah 28:21), not against His nature as Lord of all, but against His first intention as Creator, to shower the created order with His goodness.

Second, note the date of the commencement of the Flood: in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month. When was this in terms of our dating system? In the Hebrew civil calendar, this is the month of Marchesvan or Heshvan. The 17th day of this month equates with the end of October … Halloween.

On this day, those who did not heed Noah, the preacher of righteousness, died in God’s judgment. Since that day, it would be reasonable to conclude that all cultures, tracing their starting point to the descendents of Noah, in some way recognized this day. As these cultures turned away from the light and walked in darkness, the celebration of the “Festival of the Dead” (the original dead of the Flood) replaced the celebration of the salvation of God through Noah.

Speaking of God’s salvation through Noah, there is another important date in this narrative. As noted in I Peter 3:20-21, the ark of Noah is linked to the resurrection of Christ. At the baptism of Christ, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove (cf. Luke 3:21-22 with Genesis 8:8-12) indicating that, in Christ, a new world (or new age), rooted in judgment on sin, was about to burst forth. In Genesis 8:4, we read that the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th day of the seventh month (the Hebrew month of Nisan, our April) … the exact day that Christ rose from the dead centuries later, a day that demonstrated the triumph of Christ on the Cross and the commencement of the Age of Messiah, Anno Domini, the Jubilee Year of our Lord (Isaiah 61; Luke 4:18-19).

In conclusion, as Biblical Christians, let’s learn to celebrate God’s Reign of Triumph past, present, and future as we recall the demonstration of His justice and salvation on 31 October, so many years ago.”

(Written by Professor James Nickel… his website is http://www.biblicalchristianworldview.net/)

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