As a child and even when my kids were little, I always loved Halloween. Why not enjoy an evening where you dress up and ask for candy? Why not visit your neighbors house for the single reason of begging for a treat? Sounds perfect to me. But not everyone feels that way.
The question is, how should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season–are they overreacting?
I did some research on the Pagan Origins of Halloween: The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted to “Hallow-e’en,” which became “Halloween.”
As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in “Christianizing” a pagan ritual–the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That’s what happened to All Saints Eve–it was the original Halloween alternative.
Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That’s not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighborhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but some “adults” take the celebrating too far. Some take the holiday as a reason to do foolish things, and that is where Halloween gets its bad reputation today. Not in the pagan rituals of years ago, but in the costume parties that sometimes get out of control.
So tonight, I am praying that the trick-or-treaters have a fun and safe evening. I pray that they enjoy the holiday the way a kid should enjoy everyday. I pray that everyone makes good decisions, so that everyone else can have fun. I pray the worse thing that happens tonight is some upset stomachs from too much candy.
Tonight I simply ask that you keep everyone safe.