The celebration of Halloween is a mixture of religious rituals that consolidates the interests of harvest observances of Christians and pagans. The practice of “trick or treating” has roots in the Middle Ages.
Halloween invokes the rituals of the Roman goddess Pomona who is the deity over the fruits and seeds, the observance of “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day”, and Celtic practices that were somewhat influenced by Christian traditions.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween
Since the beginning of the Christian Church, major celebrations and feasts as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, were vigils the evening prior to the celebrations which consolidated the eve celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day and became known as Hallowmas. The term Halloween means hallowed evening or holy evening.
At the end of the 12th century, these days became holy days of obligation throughout Europe. Groups of poor people, mostly children, would go door to door collecting “soul cakes” as a way for praying for the souls in purgatory. It was believed that the souls of the departed wandered the Earth until on All Souls Day where the membrane between the dead and living was believed to be the thinnest.
Those concerned about being bothered by these spirits would wear masks and costume so they would not be recognized. Other pagan traditions of the fall feasts were incorporated into these “Hallowmas” celebrations over the centuries until the practice evolved into the current practices of today.
Authentic Wiccan believers or witches actually have a distaste for Halloween due to the stereotyping of witches riding brooms incorrectly, having greenish skin with warts, and being hideously ugly. The practicing witches of today tend to ignore Halloween even though it falls on their high holy day of Samhain which is a pagan observance of the summer’s end.http://ezinearticles.com/?Esbats-and-Sabbats---The-Holy-Days-of-Witchcraft&id=3347061
The Celtic Druids, or priests, had a tradition of terrorizing the common people during their pagan festival where they would go door to door collecting tribute or gifts on unsuspecting people. If the tribute was deemed unacceptable, they would harass the offenders, sometimes even taking a virgin from the household for their disposition.
Not having a gift of sufficient worth would result in a “trick” if the treat did not measure up to standards. Similar ideals came to bear as people not receiving a good enough treat would then play a trick on the offending household.
Soaping the windows of your house or throwing eggs seems relatively tame compared to the severe penalty of confiscating your children. The mischievous pranks of today cannot be compared to the acts of yester year.
The Christian church of today engages in more tame aspects of the harvest time in order to give parishioners the option of avoiding the dark side of the Halloween season. Partaking in the demonic side of October 31st is something church frowns upon. One typically sees harvest parties and other harmless observances that the Christian churches used to do.
Although Halloween is relatively safe, the US Department of Safety declared that during the past decade, more pedestrians under the age of 21 were hit and killed on October 31st than October 30th or November 1st, so greater care should be taken while out trick or treating.
Whatever the choices one makes during this time of Halloween celebration, it is tough to beat the tradition of dressing up and going door to door for free candy.
Have a safe harvest celebration!!