It's October again. Crisp air, landscapes are exploding in golds, reds, and oranges, and ancient tales of ghosts and hauntings are recounted across campfires and bed tents. Across the United States haunted houses are popping up in everything from barns to abandoned warehouses, and nearly every child in between is trying to decide what superhero or monster they 're going to dress up as for Halloween.
Rooted in ancient Celtic traditions Halloween was originally called Samhain (pronounced sow'-een) which means Summer's Eve. The old pagans believed that during this time, which coincides with the autumnal equinox, the veil between this realm and the spirit realm is at it's thinnest. In order to ward of evil spirits people would dress as goblins and ghouls to 'blend in', ritualistic sacrifices were also know to be performed to appease the spirits, and treats were left at door steps in hopes the goblins would take it and leave.
Granted much of this information is based off of folklore how it came to be the modernized holiday that it is now is another story. During the Middle Ages the Catholic church authorized November 1 to be designated as All Saint's Day, where prayers for the martyrs were said. In addition November 2 is All Soul's Day, a day in which prayers were said for the dead in exchange for small cakes, and large bonfires were lit. Again, turning to tradition and folklore, It was during this period of the Middle Ages that the Catholic church attempted to Christianize the pagans in Ireland and began to blend the two holidays into one.
There are many people who will dispute the assertion that this cultural blending ever happened. Regardless of how it came to be what does it mean for a Christian in a modern context? Is it permissible to allow your child to dress up and go door to door? The argument that just because you allow your child to dress up doesn't mean that you are actually observing ancient ritual is a pretty solid argument.
Today's trick-or-treaters are in it for the candy. Most are under 16 and could care less about ancient rituals and observances. They want to dress up and be a fairy princess, or a transformer, or a ninja warrior. Not because they are scared of ghosts carrying them off, but to show off to their friends.
So as a Christian parent you face a bit of a conundrum. Is it OK to allow your child to participate in a holiday that may or may not have pagan roots? Before you are so quick to answer consider this: is it worth turning your child away from God because of a principle? As my grandmother would say: “Pick your battles”.
The Enemy invades all aspects of our lives. Participating in a holiday that celebrates whimsy, spookies, and candy is not going to lead your child into a life of damnation.