When I was young, I went out to celebrate trick-or-treating, aka “Halloween”. For me it was all about the candy, for some of my friends it was about the crazy costumes they could create! My friends and I would see how many treats we could procure from an evening of going door to door. The mission: how quickly we could run from door to door and how many large chocolate bars or cans of pop we could drag home in a pillowcase. For me it was a great time to get treats that I could have for the next two months. Due to my European descent and money being tight we didn’t have a lot of junk food at home. So Halloween was a time to be able to feast on junk food like the rest of my classmates. I had always disliked the spooky costumes, decorations, and scary movies, but this was not enough to keep me from the yearly trick-or-treating adventure. I never considered it as anything more spine-chilling at that time.
It wasn’t until I had my own kids and had become a Christian that I even considered the possible issues or history of Halloween as something other than just fun. I dimly remember my mom had reservations about Halloween when I was growing up. But she never forbade me from trick-or-treating, so I just brushed it off.
My kids are much older now, we went through the different stages of celebrating Halloween and not. When they were really little, it was easy to avoid as I had never been much into the spooky stuff anyways. Sometimes the kids would dress up as adorable little angels or soft and fuzzy bears, horses, or the like. Other times we would go to a Harvest Festival where the kids would partake in games and activities , but it excluded the scary stuff and the kids loved it just the same. And there were lots of treats so they never felt like they missed out.
When I was asked to write about the history of Halloween, I had mixed feelings about it. I went on the web to see what information was out there – I kind of got sucked into a wormhole. There is so much information. And it doesn’t all seem to be invariable. Just like with anything else there are two sides to the story. Lets look at some simple examples below.
“The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.” (source) Essentially, this site tells us the Samhain was when Celtics wore costumes to ward off spirits, not to invite them in. It makes me think this was not against any Christian principles. It sounds like it started in Christian roots.
Another site states something a bit different. “The early pagan holiday of Samhain involved a lot of ritualistic ceremonies to connect to spirits, as the Celts were polytheistic. While there isn’t a lot of detail known about these celebrations, many believe the Celts celebrated in costume (granted, they were likely as simple as animal hides) as a disguise against ghosts, enjoyed special feasts, and made lanterns by hollowing out gourds (hence, the history of jack-o’-lanterns). Over time, as Christianity took over and the pagan undertones of the holiday were lessened, the basic traditions of the holiday remained a part of pop culture every year; they simply evolved and modernized.” (source) So this would have us believe that Samhain was a ritualistic ceremony to connect to the spirits. Something a lot darker than the first idea. When we look at this explanation the bible would be against trying to connect to spirits/the dead.
Wiki shows both aspects – some seen as something with pagan origins and others seen as being started in Christian. The bible doesn’t explicitly say to not celebrate Halloween. It says to avoid evil and not participate in the things of darkness. ttps://www.biblestudytools.com/3-john/1-11.html The bible also tells us not to fear evil and to let our light shine in the darkness. Some Christians take this time and use it as an evangelism tool to tell others about the love of Christ. https://www.biblestudytools.com/psalms/27-1.html It is for each person to decide if they will choose to partake in Halloween and to what extent. It can be seen as a fun, treat getting commercialized holiday. It can be observed as a spiritual day to honor the dead like the name all “Hallows-Eve” suggests. It can also be seen as a darker and more sinister holiday that honors Satan. Just like with everything else, free choice is used to make the decision to celebrate or not.