Light vs. Darkness

Since Halloween is at the end of this month, I thought it would be appropriate to share the true history with you and also discuss how as Christians and teenagers, we could take part in a celebration with our friends, without conforming to the wickedness that was originally intended for Halloween.

According to, Halloween dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1 and this day marked the beginning of the dark, cold winter––a time of year that was associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead were blurred and the ghosts of the dead could return to earth. They would have bonfires and wear costumes and attempt to tell each others’ fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

In the seventh century, November 1 was designated All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was called All-hallows and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. On Halloween, it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, and, to avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants helped popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow.

While I have read many different versions of the history, most of them follow the history given above. Things that are generally associated with Halloween (i.e., witches, soothsayers, vampires, etc.) came into effect with the mesh of all the cultures that came to America.

Whether others celebrate this holiday as witches, warlocks, or vampires, as Christians we must reject these ideas. “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (NAS)

Although most of us don’t celebrate it as a religious holiday, many of us have celebrated or are familiar with the celebration of Halloween. Growing up, we would dress up in usually-handmade costumes that we had been planning out for months in advance and would try to find the biggest pillowcase or bag to collect candy in. We never even associated the holiday with evil or witchcraft.

When I became a teenager (and was too old to trick-or-treat), my friends still dressed up on Halloween, but they did it to cause trouble. They would go out late at night and toilet paper and egg houses, smash pumpkins, and generally make a mess around town––their reasoning being that since they were too old to get the “treat” they now get to “trick.”

“Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:7-11 (KJV)

This is where today’s teens come in. Perhaps instead of going out “tricking” with your friends this year, why not hold a different kind of party on Halloween? Choose something that is geared to the good rather than evil. Maybe have a costume party where everyone wears something that portrays a positive outlook rather than an evil one. Make foods that are associated with the time of year. Candied apples, roasted pumpkin seeds, and hot apple cider are wonderful in the cool autumn air. Have a hayride and bob for apples. These things you can do without being caught up in the negativity that is usually associated with the Halloween holiday.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that God wants us to walk in the light–– not in darkness!

By Sarah J. Ancheta

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  1. You did a fabulous job of giving a Halloween History lesson without being boring. This entire article was so interesting to read, from start to finish, and I learned so much! I’ve been debating back and forth about the Halloween issue, and really trying to figure out what I should do about this holiday. You did a great job of telling how to have fun without the sinful aspect of it. This year I will pass out candy, but there will be no ghosts, witches, vampires, or seances at my house!

  2. My favorite thing to do on Halloween is to hand out candy to kids! They love it and it’s an easy way to get to know some of the people of your neighborhood. Plus I usually eat some of the candy while I’m waiting for more kids to come by. Then we take lily out trick-or-treating.

  3. This is all real interesting! i never knew halloween was Celtic! my family always thought it was Mexican, but i guess that’s something else. i’m glad i know the history, and i can spread truth to people in question. thanx!

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