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Who's Getting Tricked by Halloween?

Why do witches, goblins, jack-o'-lanterns, cobwebs, graveyards and symbols of the occult surround this holiday? You need to know the real story.

by Ken Treybig

There's a knock on your door one night. When you open the door, the darkness and a covering hide the person's face. All you hear is a voice calling out to give something or face the consequences.

Your mind quickly races to assess where you're vulnerable. Your car is in the driveway. The family dog is in the backyard. On the side of the house are the fruit trees and the little garden on which you've worked so hard. Spending hours cleaning egg off your house and car, picking broken glass out of your yard or removing toilet paper from your trees is not an enticing prospect.

You quickly decide it is better to simply pay. In modern language, that's called extortion. But on the evening of Oct. 31, it's called "trick or treat." Of course, many would explain that they're happy to give treats to the children, so what's the problem? Isn't it just a harmless night of fun when people get to put on costumes?

Come along with me as we briefly explore this topic of Halloween. Where did it come from? What's behind its practices, such as dressing up and going "trick-or-treating"? What about the decorations with the focus on witches, goblins, jack-o'-lanterns, tombstones, cobwebs and items of the occult? Where did this theme originate? If it's just a harmless night of fun, why are many churches now teaching against its observance?

First, we should note that Halloween has a huge economic impact. Estimates are that it earns around $7 billion (U.S.) for retailers each year—$2 billion for candy alone. Only Christmas surpasses it in financial impact. So there is a strong incentive for merchandisers to emphasize the event, vying for their "slice of the pie" of money spent on costumes, decorations, candy and other related items. Large Halloween-themed store displays begin well in advance of Oct. 31.

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