When I was nine years old, my friend asked if I worshipped Satan.
It was the day before Halloween and I was telling her about the costume my mom had made me. It wasn’t anything exciting. In fact, I’m pretty sure I dressed up as a lamp that year, but her reaction was enough to make me believe my soul was in danger.
As the daughter of a pastor, I was no stranger to this reaction from families who opposed Halloween. I had several friends whose parents believed Halloween truly was Satan’s holiday. They forbade costumes and trick-or-treating and refused to even think about setting Jack-O-Lanterns on their porches.
And I mean, come on, Halloween is obviously satanic. It has to be — why else would thousands of girls wearing abnormally large, blonde braids run around screaming the words to “Let it Go” over and over again? That devilish scene has frequented neighborhood streets since Frozen was released in 2013 — and will probably continue to do so until the Lord has deemed fit to end this trial.
The negative connotations surrounding Halloween, however, are not rooted in PTSD flashbacks to horrific Disney cinema. They stem from myths about the holiday’s origin. The false belief that it must have begun with witches dancing around a boiling pot, singing praises to Lucifer is just not true.
Somewhere in the halls of history, Halloween, originally known as All Hallows Eve, was reimagined. Halloween began as a day to prepare for All Saints’ Day — a festival honoring all the saints who died — and had nothing to do with pagan beliefs, candy bags, or costumes. It had a religious focus — its name is even rooted in the term “hallowed,” defined as “sacred” or “holy.”
This Christian celebration became confused with Samhain, a pagan festival in which the Celtic druids believed a lord of death attacked humans by assuming disguises. These pagan connections cause many Christians to opt out of the holiday, despite its Christian heritage. This seems a bit dramatic, considering both Christmas and Easter are also Christian holidays with pagan connections. The Christmas tree and the timing of Easter, which falls after the spring solstice, both have pagan roots.
Christians wary of Halloween also argue that its pagan connections open the door to the occult. In their book “Halloween and Satanism,” evangelists Phil Phillips and Joan Hake Robie write that many Christians believe if children are scared by a haunted house or witch costume, their “natural curiosity will soon lead them to read books and watch movies about the things that scared them.” This, according to Phillips and Robic, sets children on the path to Satanism.
This claim is more outlandish than the families handing out carrots during trick-or-treating. Just because children are spooked by a pointy-nosed, green-skinned witch costume doesn’t mean they will be drawn toward witchcraft, much less become a witch.
Unlike adults, children tend to take things at face value. They are more concerned with stuffing their pillowcases with candy than thinking about whether the spider webs on the bushes are an invitation to Satan.
Of course, there is an unquestionable connection between Halloween and horror. Many people love to scare and be scared, and Halloween presents the perfect opportunity to do both. Although the desire to get your wits scared out of you is admittedly strange, it’s a stretch to claim it’s connected with sorcery or Satanism.
By condemning Halloween, Christians are missing out on an opportunity to celebrate imagination. Children are able to dress up as anything they want — future professions, fictional and biblical characters, terrifying creatures, even a lamp — and are then rewarded for their creativity. The costumes put all children, dreams and nightmares alike, on equal footing as they run from door to door in search of the largest candy bar.
Instead of reading sinister and evil meanings into Halloween, Christians should take full advantage of it. As a community, let’s encourage ingenuity, originality, and the once-a-year glorification of gluttony instead of seeing Satan behind every set of cat ears and Elsa braid. After all, everyone should take full advantage of free candy while they can.
Kaylee McGhee is a senior studying Politics and Journalism.