Halloween: Is It Against Religious Beliefs?

By Brianna Gleghorn

Halloween can symbolize carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, but some children may not participate in the holiday festivities.

While not all people who practice a religion believe celebrating Halloween is wrong, there are some who believe the origins or meaning of the holiday are against their faith.

Corey Andrews, associate English professor at Youngstown State University, said the name of the holiday is a Scottish word that means “hallows’ eve.”

“Halloween was actually coined in 1745,” Andrews said. “‘Hallo’ means saint, so it becomes All Saints’ Day.”

In Andrews’ research, he found Scotland and Ireland played a big role in the history of Halloween, and the holiday has similar traditions to the ancient pagan festival, Samhain, celebrated by the Celtic people.

According to Andrews, the festival begins at dusk, comparable to Halloween, and children would “dress in disguises to ward off ghosts.”

“There becomes a kind of crackdown on the practice of pagan rituals and a lot of those customs become funneled into Christian practices,” Andrews said. “Then began the practice of All Saints’ Eve.”

In Andrews’ opinion, Halloween has become commercialized, and he believes the holiday is misunderstood.

“I think it’s based on a misunderstanding of where this holiday comes from, what it’s meant to do,” Andrews said. “In association with horror and so on. Those are all fun things I love about Halloween, but that’s not really where it comes from.” 

Jacob Labendz, assistant professor of Judaic and Holocaust Studies, said that Halloween is not considered a Jewish holiday, therefore it isn’t featured in the Jewish calendar. 

“Many American Jews, perhaps the majority, don’t think twice about participating and would not consider their Jewishness a barrier to doing so,” he said. “For some, it may even be a sign of their integration into America as Jews, particularly if they choose Jewish-themed costumes.”

As a child, Labendz said he compromised with his mother when she didn’t allow him to participate in trick-or-treating.

Instead of dressing up and going door to door, Labendz would dress up to greet the trick-or-treaters knocking on his door for candy. 

Suzanne Diamond, professor of English at YSU, said the season surrounding Halloween adds to the “feel of the holiday.”

“It’s the season when things are dying,” she said. “There’s a sadness to October, and I find Halloween as an unhappy time.”

In Diamond’s opinion, Halloween has a connection to the “sublime, something that enchants us and scares us.”

“In British culture … they talked about a thing called the sublime,” Diamond said. “There are things that both terrify and tantalize us, interest us and scare us. There’s something sublime about the season.”

Alyssa Cuprik, a senior communication studies major, said she didn’t celebrate Halloween growing up due to her family’s beliefs.

“Growing up, it was a little bit frustrating to not be allowed to trick or treat,” Cuprik said. “I wanted to be included with the other kids who were dressed up and went out trick-or-treating, but I also learned to value faith from a young age.”

According to Cuprik, although her family didn’t participate in the holiday, they would still buy candy and have fun in other ways.  

“I still got candy from Walmart and we always had fun but, as Christians, my parents didn’t want us to participate in Halloween because of what it stands for.”

In Cuprik’s opinion, whether or not someone decides to celebrate Halloween doesn’t determine the quality of their faith.

“It isn’t something all Christians do,” Cuprik said. “No one is a better or worse follower of Jesus for subscribing to Halloween being bad.”

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