I have been a believer in God as far back as I can remember. I began to believe Yeshua was the Messiah in 1973. When I first began to believe in him, I was neutral to Christian holidays because they were not what I grew up with. They seemed foreign, but fun, yet were not mine. They didn’t really bother me, and to the extent that they surrounded me during the holiday seasons, I enjoyed them.
When I was younger, I participated in Halloween. My mom made sure we had costumes just like the other kids did, and we canvassed the neighborhood collecting candy, just like the other kids did. The rabbi who taught my Hebrew school class said we shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it was a Christian holiday. No one in our class believed it. There was nothing Christian about it. It was just a candy gathering holiday. Everyone in class went trick or treating and we weren’t worshiping the Christian god, we were in it for the candy.
Later when I became a follower of Yeshua, I had people coming out of the woodwork to tell me that I shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it was “the devil’s holiday,” and it came from pagan origins. I had other people who came out of paganism who told stories of devil worship associated with Halloween. I listened to them as well as I listened to my teacher. Nobody I knew was worshiping the devil. Everyone was in it for the candy, and the fun of dressing up. I never worshiped the devil a day in my life, and wasn’t about to buy into people’s superstitious notions. Besides, if I wanted superstitions, my mom had plenty and those were at least Jewish superstitions. She still puts a red ribbon on every family picture to ward off the evil eye, and it doesn’t hurt to put one in the car either.
When I led my congregation in Phoenix thirty years ago, a woman who attended our services told me she loved our congregation, but commented on what a shame it was that the Jewish people adopted the “star of a Babylonian goddess” as our symbol. I tried to explain to her that the Star of David was a symbol of the Jewish people and that no Jewish people were worshiping a Babylonian goddess, but she bought that like I bought the idea that Halloween was pagan. Fortunately, she couldn’t deal with it and left.
The number one targets in the paganism paranoia is of course, Christmas and possibly Easter. People point out that Yeshua was probably not born on December 25th. They say that Constantine took Saturnalia, a pagan solstice holiday and adapted it. They attack the Christmas tree, as bringing in a pagan Asherah pole; and are quick to point out that the giving of gifts have nothing to do with the Biblical story. My response: I don’t care if Yeshua wasn’t born on December 25th. People who celebrate Christmas are not in it for Saturnalia or for Asherah poles. They are in it for the presents, and for the time of year where people wish each other well, and for beautiful music and decorations, and family and food. They are not worshiping the devil, and not becoming pagan.
If Christmas is bad, Easter is worse. The anti-paganists have a field day with Easter. They start in by saying the name Easter comes from Ishtar, a Babylonian fertility goddess. They point to the Easter bunny, and Easter Eggs as pagan symbols of fertility. I never really got into Easter, probably because the idea of Easter Ham turned me off. I did like the peeps and chocolate bunnies though.
I have to admit: I don’t care about the pagan origins of anything. The reason I don’t care, is that the Scriptures teach that God looks upon our hearts, or in other words, he looks at our heart intentions. If your intent is not to worship the devil, then you aren’t. If your intent is to lift up remembrance of God in all you do, then all you do becomes holy.
I was so pleased when First Fruits Of Zion put out a terrific CD set on Paganism that discusses the issue with sanity and intelligence instead of paranoid fears that see the devil in everything.
In Kohelet, (Ecclesiastes) it says that the gift of God is the ability to enjoy the good things the Lord has given us. Many people have good things but can’t find it in themselves to enjoy them. I seek to look at the good and enjoy the blessings of God.