Halloween is almost upon us. It is a day celebrated throughout the United States, as well as other various countries (e.g. Ireland). A holiday known for its jack-o’lanterns, trick-or-treating, and ghost stories. Most people view the holiday as a harmless time for the aforementioned customs. Some people (citing their religious beliefs) view the holiday as evil. Needless to say, Halloween has its share of controversies, whether it be religious views, vandalism, or poisoned candy. The controversy regarding religious views will be the focus of this article.
As previously mentioned, some people do not want anything to do with Halloween on religious grounds. But if one were to look at the history of Halloween, he or she will understand that there is nothing evil about it.
Halloween’s roots can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a combination of celebrating the harvest, as well as the ancient Celts honoring their pagan gods and their dead (whose spirits were said to roam the land at the time). Various foods and beverages were left out for any unfriendly spirits- which paved the way for the trick-or-treating. Meanwhile, the Romans had a similar harvest festival, known as Pomona. When the Romans invaded the British Isles, it is likely the two festivals became intertwined.
When Christianity came to the British Isles, the Roman Catholic Church tried to phase out the pagan festival through a variety of tactics. The most notable was declaring November 1 to be All Saints’ Day (honoring all Christian Saints). Since October 31 was the eve of All Saints’ Day, it became known as All Hallows’ Eve — Halloween. In addition, November 2 was declared to be All Souls’ Day to commemorate all other people who had died. These holy days would also be observed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches after the schism in 1054 and even by some Protestant Churches (it should be noted that October 31, 1517 was when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of a church, hence setting off the Reformation).
Thus, Halloween is not a day of evil, despite any pranks, poisoned candy, or razor blades in apples (the latter occurrences have proven to be few and far between). Its name has Christian roots, and it resulted in many pagans converting to Christianity. This is something that everyone (Christian or non-Christian) must understand.
Costume parties, participation in trick-or-treating, and telling ghost stories or other activities (e.g. visiting haunted places, watching horror films) are not considered to be harmful, with the exception of a few horror films. Costume parties have taken place not only around Halloween but at other times throughout the year. The same can be said for stories, movies, and locations.
So in conclusion, Halloween is a Christian holiday, and like any Christian holiday, it should be met with prayer and education (particularly its history) as a reminder of its roots. Doing so will preserve its true meaning. But one should also free feel to partake in Halloween’s traditions of trick-or-treating, decorations, costume parties, and ghost stories.