When I was a kid Halloween was a big day celebrated by all people from young to old, but especially the young. As children the day would begin with just about every kid in school dressed up in some kind of costume. The older we got the more fancy or clever the costume. Grade school children would dress up like cartoon or comic book characters, Scooby Doo, Batman, Spiderman, Fred Flintstone, etc. In middle school the entire school would gather in the auditorium where each class would pick the best costumes and the student would also pick their favorite costumes from their teachers. Towards the end of the day just about all the children in the neighborhood would go out trick or treating. Kids rang the doorbell continuously throughout the night yelling "Trick or Treat". At the end of the night one would count his/her candy and afterwards make their best effort to make that candy last as long as they could. At least I would.
But I remember each year during the Halloween season, on the Sunday before the holiday my pastor would always preach to his church a powerful reminder. He would tell us what the true meaning of Halloween is. That this is a holiday meant to celebrate witches and goblins. That this is a night where witches and true satanists held ceremonial rituals praising the devil as well as the dead. He would tell us that some people take this day seriously like Christians do Christmas. He would remind us that every piece, slogan, ritual of the holiday came from some kind of pagan custom or ceremonial observance. Terms like pagan druids, Celtic priests, ghosts, spirits would fill the sermon. Explanations of how Celtic druids wore animal heads and skins to acquire the strength of certain animals and how people would provide food, or treats to the spirits at night for fear of receiving malevolence or some sort of dire consequence for failure to provide properly for them.
Now as an adult after long moving far from that area I have realized a major change in the holiday. I don't know if it is just this area or society in general but Halloween is not celebrated as loudly as when I was a kid. My children tell me that in their school less than half of their classmates dress up in costumes. There are no school parties, no costume dressing contests, no large gym or auditorium meetings. There is not even any casual passing of candy. During Halloween night only one family knocked on the door to say "Trick or Treat". I know that it is not the neighborhood because in the previous neighborhood we lived in about 3 years ago the trick or treat traffic was similar except there may have been a couple more families knock on the door and these were people we knew. Anyways there was nowhere near a continuous traffic. Halloween just is not what it used to be. But who knows I may be wrong. It may just be because I now live in the south or because I live in suburb of a large metropolitan area. It may be because the city I grew up in was a small town and people were more carefree and trusted each other. Maybe most people in the metro area would not dare allow their children to knock on their neighbors' door and trust what they would place in their bags. Or it might be because the neighborhood is more religious and people here simply are not interested in celebrating a pagan holiday. Whatever the holiday is not the same and I am fine with it. I have no interest in celebrating the devil and make sure to remind my children each year how I feel about this day and why they will never catch me celebrating it. Well one family happened to knock on our door and I was happy to give their children some candy. I was also happy to pass along a fun but informative tract explaining my feelings about the holiday and why a some people do not celebrate it. I hope the message works.