Can we just file this one under “would you please stop saying that.”
In spite of practically every horror movie that references the Devil and way too many Christian dramas about the anti-Christ and end times, the Devil has no birthday. He doesn’t have a son either. (Nor does he have the power to pre-ordain the birth of the anti-Christ, but that is a matter for another post).
So, could you please stop calling Halloween “the Devil’s birthday.” I am sorry you got your understanding of Halloween (and Catholicism, and role play games, and so many other things) either directly or second hand from Chic Tracs. But it just isn’t true.
Halloween is literally “All Hallows (that means holy/saints) Eve” It is the night before all Saints Day. All Saints is the day the church historically celebrated all the saints, every one of those unknown, unnamed, forgotten, faithful servants of Jesus like we see in Revelation 7:9, the “great multitude which no one can count, from every nation…standing before the throne…clothed in white robes.” These are part of the “great cloud of witnesses” that Hebrews calls up as examples for our lives in faith.
And here is the real irony. All those Halloween-phobic Christians that insist upon calling their Halloween events “Fall festivals” are more in line with the pagan label than those of us who celebrate Halloween. There is no denying that nearly every human culture in history has had a day of the dead that aligned with religious fall festivals, but the church in one of her early great missionary efforts denounced the day of the dead and replaced it with a day for those who never die.
In fact, our custom of dress up quite possibly comes from the power encounter that drove the demon Crom Cruich from the shores of Ireland. Tradition tells us that Patrick in the power of God destroyed the idol of Crom Cruich on Samhain, the day of the dead (October 31). When nothing evil happened to Patrick when he struck and broke the idol with his cross, the Crom Cult that demanded human sacrifice to appease their bloodthirsty fertility god lost its hold on the people. Because Patrick and his company literally mocked the demons and false gods, similar to the way Elijah mocked Baal, the mocking of evil through dressing up in costumes that ridiculed the “gods” and forces of darkness became part of the new custom for Celtic Christians on October 31. (Note, update 2017: Since writing this I have not found the source where I originally read of the dressing up as a mockery, though I did read it years ago, however I have found more discussion of the relation of dates Halloween. Interestingly, the October 31 date does not seem to have been especially or universally important to European Pagans, though some maintain that it was in Ireland.)
No doubt in the early days some people blended the customs and the meanings, but we still have every reason to make any and every day about life rather than death.
I know the modern pagans are just as infatuated with death as their ancient ancestors, but don’t let them have our holiday.
Please, let’s drop our bad theology, become more missional, and celebrate Halloween.