So far, my research has shown that today’s modern Halloween is a combination of old pagan practices and early Catholic traditions.
Just like the Christmas tree (originally a pagan symbol) has become a symbol of Christmas and under which Christians put presents today in America, partaking in this tradition does not mean that they are honouring a pagan god. In the same vein, kids dressing up, going around the neighbourhood, and coming home with enough candy to last a month, doesn’t mean that they are worshipping a pagan holiday. Yes, costumes originated because people believed that spirits would not be able to recognize them on Samhain if they were dressed in a similar fashion after dark. However, you and your kids aren’t afraid of spirits recognizing you after dark, so it’s not like you’re paying homage to that tradition. You’re just having fun. So long as the outfit is appropriate, I don’t see the issue. Heck, I have a lot of friends who dressed up as angels for Halloween. There’s nothing inherently dark about being an angel. Nothing bad about being their favourite cartoon character. For kids, they are taking part in something that is a part of the American culture, not a religious festival. They’re just having fun with their friends.
I say, enjoy yourself, Christian or not. Celebrate the holiday how you choose. If you’re not comfortable, don’t do it. But, I don’t really see a reason for changing Halloween into a “Harvest Festival,” which just ties it back to Samhain (the final harvest festival of the year) that much more. Especially not with how secular the holiday is today. Christian or not, children in America celebrate Halloween as a time to have fun with friends, eat candy, and play dress up. In my mind, letting children participate, while explaining the history of the holiday so that they have an understanding of the real meaning, shouldn’t make it any different than Easter or Christmas, which most Christian Americans celebrate as both secular and religious holidays. So, Happy Halloween everybody!