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Should You Let Your Kids Celebrate Halloween?

Updated on October 9, 2007

Many people are confused about Halloween. Is it a fun excuse to dress up the kids and round up candy, or something sinister to be avoided? Is Halloween innocent tradition or wicked ritual? Learning about the history and symbolism of the holiday gives a historical background and can help you decide if it's something you want to celebrate within your family.

Many people view Halloween as entirely secular, but some opponents are challenging our right to celebrate Halloween to court. And the Christian Broadcasting Network has a whole website devoted to opposing Halloween.

Just What Is Halloween?

There many origins for what we now celebrate as Halloween. Here is an excellent article about the many traditions that have contributed to our modern American Halloween. If you want even more detail, Wikipedia has quite a large page dedicated to the different cultural beliefs and celebrations that have been folded into our current holiday.

Granted, there is some dark stuff out there, but for the most part our modern Halloween has become the kickoff of the holiday season. The air is changing and we are looking forward to all kinds of indoor celebrations. Halloween has become so commercialized that whatever it may have meant in the past, we can be assured that today's festivities are nothing more than an observance of fun.

In fact, when a secretary in a Puerto Rico government building filed suit (Rivera-Alicea v. Gonzalez-Galoffin) because she felt she was being singled out for her anti-pagan views, the court ruled:

"Halloween decorations, like valentines, Easter bunnies, and egg hunts are all secular displays and activities that neither convey religious messages nor constitute religious symbols. Halloween lost its religious and superstitious overtones long ago. It has become instead a commercial holiday enjoyed by communities in its many forms of entertainment."

Beliefnet has a large collection of articles that address specific questions surrounding Halloween and faith from diverse perspectives.

Alternatives to Halloween

Many people are opposed to celebrating Halloween on religious grounds and some churches provide safe alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Kids are encouraged to dress up and attend a fall festival where candy is distributed. But is Halloween by any other name not Halloween? It's just the latest tweak on this ancient celebration of the change of seasons. If it makes people feel better to re-define the holiday that's fine, just don't ask anyone else to turn off the spooky sound effects.

If you're dead set against Halloween, you can attend a hallelujah night in many parts of America. At one of these family friendly parties, there's no scary stuff allowed. I wonder what they would think about Casper the friendly ghost? Some churches put on alternatives to haunted houses called hell houses. Inside they act out scenes of human depravity that lead to an eternity in hell. The idea is to scare kids with what the church sees as the evils of this world. However, if you prefer your frights to be make-believe, you're not alone.

Decide For Yourself

Don't let anybody tell you what to do. Not the culture or your preacher either. In the end it comes down to what you believe. Do you think that by dressing up your child as Peter Pan, or even a blood-dripping vampire, that you're making a statement about your spiritual beliefs - or just having a good time? It's all fantasy. If Halloween is out, then what about violent video games? Or even cartoons? Timmy Turner has fairy godparents. Does that go against your grain?

Everyone needs to decide for his or her own family what is best. But Halloween is not going away. In taking your stand, remember not to take yourself too seriously. There are ways to instill your values onto your kids without making them rebel. But if it's important to you, then stand your grand. Choose you battles and if Halloween is one of them then fight the witches with all your might.

More Halloween Treats

Kids Halloween Party Ideas

Halloween Recipes for Kids

How to Start the Halloween Boo in Your Neighborhood

Halloween Jokes For Kids: Sorted by Type

Kids Halloween Costumes: Quick and Cheap Homemade

Comments

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  • profile image

    halloweenbeliever 

    9 years ago

    this comment is for HillbillyGardener u make it sound like perticipating in halloween is a bad thing I still celeabrate halloween and so does the rest of my family. I did some resurch of my own and found out that a pope finalized the holiday of halloween and it was also celeabrated to keep away bad spirits.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 

    10 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    For those who practice earth-based religions, All Hallows Eve aka Samhain (pronounced "sow ain") is THE most sacred holiday of the year. It's the night to *remember* and *honor* the dead...as in dead ancestors, or recently-deceased loved ones. Think Pagan Memorial Day. It has *nothing* to do with raising the dead or other scary things depicted in horror movies to fill the coffers of movie companies taking advantage of an uneducated public.

    As Hillbilly Gardener pointed out, all "Christian" holidays are pagan in origin. Pagans were simply people who lived in rural areas - "on the heath" - and therefore also known as "heathens". Being agricultural communities, their religious celebrations revolved around the cycles of the sun and the moon. Oestera, the beginning of the growing season in spring, was "hijacked" by Christians as "Easter". Winter Solstice marked the beginning of longer days, but by moving it a few days, it became the "Christian" Christmas.

    Personally, I find it the height of hypocrisy that Christians want to ban Halloween because of its (incorrect) connection to raising the dead for one night, when one Sunday each spring they flock to churches to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. Same for their aversion to anything "supernatural" in the secular world. Aren't "miracles" supernatural????

  • desert blondie profile image

    desert blondie 

    10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

    As Halloween is just around the corner, holiday-wise, I appreciate having this column "at the ready" for all the opposers/defenders that pop up ad nauseum every October. When my girls were little, I would tell them that Nov. 1st was All Saints Day, very special day to remember really good people, and that as little goblins, their job was to run around and scare off any ol' goblins that might want to ruin All Saints Day. Just like the horribly ugly gargoyles on the Catholic Churches ... which were carved to "scare away" bad spirits from a sacred place. That made as much sense to them at the time as setting out cookies and milk for Santa. I love this "summer's over, fall's here" holiday...a nice break as we all count the days to celebrating Christmas season!

  • HillbillyGardener profile image

    HillbillyGardener 

    10 years ago from Bolivar

    Normally I try to avoid being intentionally offensive, but on this issue there is probably no way to avoid it. So in this case, I’m just going to say it and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t understand at all the apparent lack of education on the part of some folks regarding any holiday. Nor do I understand some folks willingness to exercise outright hypocrisy regarding any holiday. Yes I said “Hypocrisy”! There are so many folks anymore that refuse Halloween on religious grounds that it is bewildering. Especially when these same folks will go all out for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, New Years and Thanksgiving. All of which have roots deeply embedded in a pagan culture at some point in its history. Many of the symbolisms of each of these holidays can also be traced directly back to a pagan culture before Christianity made a concerted effort to “highjack” and manipulate them for their own purposes. Remember this, it was the very same early Christians that instituted “All Hallows Eve” at the same time as the Celtic feast of “Samhain” that also forced countless thousands to convert to Christianity at the point of a sword and killed those who opposed them. Many of the creatures to which so much opposition is placed are not a part of the original celebrations at all. But are the product of modern day imaginations. Even the very institution of “All Hallows Eve” is based on the celebration of the past life of the dead saints. Yes I said the DEAD saints. Which the celebration of the dead is the basis of the original holiday. Now remember it is the Christians that instituted “Halloween”, so you put the correlation together.Years of investigating every scrap of evidence I can find from every imaginable source has revealed that there are very few so-called Christian holidays that do not have some “Pagan” roots running throughout. In many, if not most of these holidays, the roots were already ingrained in a pagan culture and it was the Christians attempting to “force” their beliefs on these peoples that led to the holidays as we know them today. Yet these very people who are the most vocal about Halloween are normally the very ones who are the most ignorant about holidays in general and therefore the least qualified to utter an opinion. I fail to understand the willingness of so many people to blindly follow the misguided and uninformed lead of others rather than learning the facts and making an informed decision on their own. If you wish to oppose something on religious reasons, that’s fine. But at least make your decisions on COMPLETE facts and not because someone who often knows less than you do tell you what to believe. And for goodness sake don’t show me your hypocrisy by “cherry-picking” what you want from history just to make a point.For more on a condensed overall history of Halloween, it’s characters and some of the folklore, here is a very good site to read up on it. It is compiled from many sources. http://www.icelebrateholidays.com

    The “Hillbilly Gardener”

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