This is the weekend your children are all excited to go out in costume in search of the perfect Treat. What a seemingly bizarre custom. Have you wondered about its origin?
Like so many of our modern customs and holidays, the roots of Halloween come from ancient times. There are several possible sources of its origin, but the most commonly accepted one is Samhain, a Celtic festival marking the end of the 'lighter half' of the year and preparation for the 'darker half' of the year.The Ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the 'Otherword' became thinner at this time of the year, allowing spirits to move more freely from one world to another.
Thus, the practice of wearing scary costumes emerged, in an attempt to frighten the spirits who might come back from the 'Otherword' attempting to do harm. At the same time, the Celts celebrated the potential return of their loved ones and the ability to connect with them more easily at this time.
The practice of dressing up in costumes on holidays and going door to door asking for food, dates back to the middle ages. Trick-or-Treating is like the Medieval practice of "souling" when the poor would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1st) and ask for food in return for prayers for the dead...to help the lost souls escape purgatory and enter into Heaven.
Regardless of your personal spiritual beliefs, invite your children into understanding that there is a long history to this holiday. Perhaps you can invite or suggest to them that they offer a part of their allowance to a food bank, to help to feed the poor at this time. Or, ask them to say an extra prayer for the spirit of a deceased loved one (a grandparent, a pet or someone they knew). No matter how young your child may be, it is not too soon to guide them to a larger understanding of the historical significance of this otherwise apparent excuse for binging on sugar.