Halloween started early in church history, even long before the reformation and before the Christian faith had any knowledge of the folk lore’s of the Northern Celtic traditions about Samhain, which some people seem to think of as the origin of Halloween. Many Christians died as martyrs in the very early church. People wanted a day to commemorate those martyrs. Though we can’t be sure about how the date for that commemoration was decided on, it seems to be that many people made pilgrimages after the fall harvest, and because of the harvest, more food was available to feed people on pilgrimage. This happened to be around the same time (according to folklore) that the North Celtics celebrated Samhain.
The term Halloween comes to us from the Old English vocabulary. “Hallow” means “holy” and evenings in Old English was shortened to ‘evens’- ‘e’ens’ and ‘eens’. The evening before a specified date or before a special event were called ‘the eve of ‘whatever day or event’. So Halloween would mean the evening before that special day (that holy day or holiday- the original meaning of ‘holiday’ was ‘holy day’). Hence, Christmas eve is the evening of December 24th, the day before Christmas day. Hence, by definition, the evening of December 24th could be called ‘halloween’ as it is the ‘even’ (or ‘een’) before the ‘hallow’ day (holy day or holiday). But Halloween as it is celebrated today was originally for Christians to memorialize ‘saints’. Scripturally, ‘saints’ is used to refer to all the ‘saved’ or ‘Christians’, but in time it came to be used primarily for martyrs, and in time for other heroes of the faith.
According to lore, in England, poor people used to use this day to go to their Christian neighbors to ask for food (those with more food to have pity on the poor with little food). It was said that if one shared their food they would be blessed (the ‘treat’), but if one did not share with the needy, they would come under a curse (the ‘trick’).
Somehow in time, children were told stories about the curses or blessings (tricks or treats- probably for the purpose of teaching Christian charity). It would be impossible to separate ‘lore’ or ‘legend’ from actual historical ‘facts’ about how everything else developed around the practice of kids dressing up and going to ask for candy with the idea of ‘curses for those who didn’t give’ and ‘blessings for those who did’ (trick or treat). What is known of the pagan holiday of Samhain is purely based on ‘lore’ and ‘legend’. Yes, there is literature from that period that discusses it, however, much of the literature was based on ‘lore’ and ‘legend’ that was handed down from earlier Northern Celtic history, so it is difficult to say how precise or accurate that literature is.
In short, while there are many churches who are denouncing the practice of Halloween as a pagan holiday, well, there is some connection to the pagan holiday, but not so much as some may have you believe. I remember dressing up as a kid and going trick-or-treating and it was fun. We were still taught the Bible, and whatever other signification Halloween may have, we learned the difference between right and wrong, and did not become Satanists or pagans because we went trick-or-treating. I believe it is good for the kids to get to ‘dress up in costume’ and go have fun. However, in today’s world, we must pay much extra attention to being careful and safe than we did in my days (what was that, about 20 or so years agos?- heehee- more like 50 years ago).