We previously discussed the religious history of Halloween, but it also has a connection to astronomical events. Halloween is a cross-quarter day halfway between the equinox and the solstice. The equinox is when day and night have equal lengths, and the winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night. (Groundhog Day is also a cross-quarter day.)
Humans find all kinds of reasons to celebrate visible astronomical events. Some cultures have given each of the seasonal cycles some great religious significance. Neolithic builders erected Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, over a period of 1500 years, perhaps to commemorate the summer and winter solstices. That structure shows a great understanding of the equinox and solstice, and it was, and still is, a place of worship.
Other cultures have used astronomical events to govern their religious beliefs. The pyramids of the Egyptians and the Aztecs are examples, and there are many others. Even the celebration of Christmas has astronomical connections to the winter solstice. Several cults have tried to attach great significance to astronomical events, almost always with disastrous results.
The Bible makes it clear that the followers of Jesus must not be swept up in the celebration of heavenly bodies. Acts 1:7 tells us, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” The message of Christ is a spiritual one, not locked into watching what happens with the Sun and the Moon. Colossians 2:16 tells Christians, “Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or the sabbath days.”
It isn’t that Christians aren’t interested in what happens in the design and function of the universe, but we are warned not to engage in idolatry. Worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator is idolatry (Romans 1:25). God’s word is the guide we should follow.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: apod.nasa.gov for 10/31/23.