Trick or Treat...Right or Wrong?

Lisa Goodyear's picture

In a just few days children all over the U.S. will dress up in costumes and go from house to house to receive a treat from participating neighbors.  After the sun goes down on October 31st, sidewalks everywhere will be full of children dressed up in all sorts of costumes…walking around the neighborhoods and knocking on doors in an effort to receive as many treats as they can carry.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31 every year in the United States and is considered one of the most favorite and popular holidays for children and their parents.  As the shadows grow long and the sun dips below the Western horizon, children and their parents…all dressed up in a wide array of costumes…will go from house to house and door to door asking for a treats, never fully knowing the significance of this holiday.

Why and when did this tradition start? 

According to the Wikipedia, The word Halloween was first recognized in the 16th century from the Scottish word All-Hallows-Even (evening) which refereed to the night before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day.  All-Hallows-Even later became Halloween when the‘s’ & ‘v’ were removed and the word was shortened.

The tradition began in the 19th century when Scottish and Irish immigrants brought their customs and beliefs to North America.  Dressing in costumes and going from door to door “trick or treating,” was incorporated from the tradition of “guising” in Scotland and Ireland.  Scottish and Irish children would dress in costumes to disguise themselves as they went from door to door requesting food or coins.  The first known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in North America occurred in 1911 in Kingston, Ontario.  Later, in 1920, the ritual continued to grow and was reported to have taken place in Chicago.  Since then, dressing up in costumes and going from door to door “trick or treating” has continued to this day. 

Many symbols are associated with Halloween and have become part of the North American culture and Halloween tradition.  One such tradition is pumpkin carving.  Pumpkins are carved with faces from comical to scary.  The pumpkins are placed on the front porch or door step with a lighted candle, so that the face will shine and glow.  Did you know that the tradition came from the carving of turnips or gourds back in Ireland as a source of “souling,” which commemorated the souls in purgatory?  They were also used to ward off evil spirits.  Later in North American a change was made from turnips to pumpkins, mainly because they were easier to carve and they were more readily available.  Thus, the carving of the face in a pumpkin, which is now called a Jack-O-Lantern, was adopted from this practice. 

Many other traditions, symbols, and practices are attributed to Halloween and are only observed on October 31st.  Some Christians believe Halloween as just another holiday with no threats towards Christianity or inappropriate practices that would misrepresent or hinder beliefs.  On the other hand, many Christians are concerned that Halloween promotes pagan and evil practices and do not participate in or celebrate in this day.  Those Christians believe it has connection with paganism, the occult, or other practices that reject the Christian faith.  Thus, many churches offer alternative children’s programs on the day of Halloween, which includes games, food, arts and crafts, along with a Biblical lesson.  This special event is offered by churches as a way to teach and minister to children and their families the Christian faith and connect them with our only source of hope, Jesus Christ. 

Do you participate in this celebration?  Is it right or wrong?   The Scripture says, Jesus is our source of hope and has overcome death.  (Romans 6:9)  He is our source of power and the light of this world. (John 8:12)  With Him there is no darkness.  (John 12:46)  He is the only one that can deliver us from evil.  (Galatians 1:4, Psalm 97:10, Colossians 1:13)

Teaching our children the truth about Jesus Christ, the son of the Living God, is necessary and vital if we want them to develop a Christian worldview and stand firm in their Christian faith from generation to generation.  When allowing children to participate in activities, ask this question, is this an activity that promotes Jesus Christ and will it contribute to the Christian worldview you wish to implement into the training of your child.  How can this activity benefit your child and promote and teach them the Christian faith?

The decision is yours...Trick or Treat, is it right or wrong?

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