The celebration can be traced back to the Druid festival of the dead. The Roman Pantheon, built by Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 100 as a temple to the goddess Cybele and other Roman gods, became the principle place of worship. In 609, Emperor Phocas seized Rome and gave the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV. Boniface consecrated it to the Virgin Mary and kept using the temple to pray for the dead, only now it was “Christianized,” as men added the unscriptural teaching of purgatory. In 834, Gregory IV extended the feast for all the church and it became known as All Saint’s Day, still remembering the dead.
Samhain, a Druid god of the dead, was honored at Hallowe’en (“All Hallows Eve”) in Britain, Germany, France, and the Celtic countries. Samhain called together all wicked souls who died within the past year and who were destined to inhabit animals. The Druids believed that souls of the dead came back to their homes to be entertained by those still living. Suitable food and shelter were provided for these spirits or else they would cast spells, steal infants, destroy crops, kill farm animals, and create terror as they haunted the living. This is the action that “Trick-or-Treat” copies today. The Samhain celebration used nuts, apples, skeletons, witches, and black cats. Divination and auguries were practiced as well as magic to seek answers for the future. Even today witchcraft practitioners declare October 31 as the most favorable time to practice their arts.
Many Christians use Halloween as an opportunity to reach the lost by giving candy and gospel tracts to trick-or-treaters. What other day do scores of people come to your door for gospel tracts?