Halloween in North America: Some interesting facts about the celebration of Halloween (Continued):
Some Evangelical Christian churches offer alternative methods of celebrating Halloween:
Some urge their members to distribute Bible tracts along with or instead of candy treats.
Light the Night is an Evangelical Christian outreach in which
trick-or-treaters are invited into a home where they watch a puppet
show. The theme is the Gospel, interpreted from a conservative Christian
perspective. The sponsors note that Halloween night is "an excellent opportunity to take back ground in
which the enemy has controlled for too long." (The site's
webmaster clarified that the "enemy" here is Satan) They say that by "...allowing our
'light' to shine on a very dark night, it is a very simple way to combat
that darkness with the love of Christ." 1 As of
mid-2002-OCT, the program has sold "Light the Night" kits to
people in 146 cities in 25 states.
Others have "Trunk or Treat" parties in which members
park their cars in the church parking lot, distribute treats from the
trunks of their cars and invite the children into the church hall for a
Other congregations hold parties for their families. Costumes are
allowed, but expected to be appropriate for a Christian environment.
Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA, has been offering a Family Fun-Fest since the early 1990s. Each year they expect 5 to 10 thousand visitors who
consume close to a half-ton of candy. 2
Verbal attacks by conservative Christians
appear to reach a peak at this time of year. They are often directed against followers of two
very different groups of religious traditions: Wicca and other
Neopagan faiths, and Satanism. This form of religious hatred is often based on
beliefs that can be traced back to religious propaganda during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, when the Church actively
burned tens of thousands of Witches, Pagans, and other heretics at the stake.
A growing Halloween tradition among Evangelical Christians is to provide a type of horror tableau which promotes public awareness of conservative Christian concerns. In
Arvida, CO, the Abundant Life Christian Center built a haunted house for Halloween
1997. It includes simulations of:
The Home Sewing Association released its "Top Ten" list
of costume ideas for the year 2001. They are:
Wizards on the theme of Harry Potter -- the
most popular; they were rated #6 in the year 2000.
Witches. They were not among the top ten in 2000
Rock stars (Britney Spears or J. Lo)
Professional sports figures
A uniform of your own
Super heroes and action figures
Historical figures (Henry VIII, Cleopatra)
Vampy and Sultry (from the movie "Moulin Rouge")
Halloween in Mexico
In the fall, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to Mexico and the shelter
of its oyamel fir trees. The beliefs of the Aztecs live on in many contemporary Mexicans
who believe that the butterflies bear the spirits of their dead ancestors. It is these
spirits that the people honor at this time of year, during "Los Dias de los Muertos" (The Days
of the Dead). 3
It is a joyous, happy holiday - a time of remembering past friends and family who have
died. It is celebrated, during Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, OCT-31 to
NOV-2. Altars in the homes are decorated with bread, candy, fruit, and flowers. Candles
are lit in memory of their ancestors. The people dress up as ghouls, ghosts, mummies and
skeletons. They parade a live person in a coffin through the streets. Vendors toss fruit,
flowers and candies into the coffin. Families visit the cemetery carrying tools to spruce
up the graves and decorate them. They stay over-night.
American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this traditional celebration.
Halloween in Other Countries
Halloween is celebrated outside of North America, particularly among American
emigrants, but not to the extent that it is in the U.S. and Canada.
In England, some of the customs of Samhain are seen on Guy Fawkes Night
each NOV-5. The celebration is also known as Bonfire Night; "Bonfires
burn in almost every street in England." 4 These are
in memory of Guy Fawkes who attempted to
blow up the House of Commons in London in 1605 CE. He died a gruesome death, imposed by the courts.
"It was believed that the pope of the time was using the revolutionaries
to restore Catholicism in Britain. Most bonfires burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes."
One city, Lewes in East Sussex in southern England, still burns the Pope in
effigy." In 1999, Jonathan Quinn, secretary of the Lewes Bonfire
Council, told the Catholic Times that they were commemorating an
historic event. They are not angry with Pope John Paul II. He commented that
Roman Catholics in Leeds are not offended by the celebration. 4
Darkness, cars, drunk drivers, and children dressed in costumes with limited visibility
can make a deadly combination. Harvard University's Police & Security Department
have prepared a list of "Halloween Safety Tips for Kids."5 The U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission has a list of "Halloween Tips."6
The American Animal Hospital Association has a description of some of the
hazards that this holiday can pose for family pets. 7
The following information sources were originally used to prepare and update the above
essay. Unfortunately, the sources have all since deleted their essays.