It seems rather strange how excellent and well meaning ideas and practices can degenerate into injurious and unwholesome ways of action. The cause may be by misconstruing the original purpose or carelessly permitting it to depreciate or become corrupted. This happened to the public observance of All Hallows Eve and also to Thanksgiving Day, to some extent.
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween in the fourth century, was in the first century a day of remembrance of those who suffered martyrdom for their belief in and faithfulness to Jesus Christ. So large a number died as martyrs that a day was appointed to honor all of them, All Saints Day.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in remembrance of their belief in Jesus Christ. The date was changed from May 1, the early date of All Saints' Day to November 1.
All Saints' Day become one of the holy days of the Christian Church. The evening before was called Holy Evening and also Hallowed Evening, and was changed to Halloween.
Later it became associated with a legend that on Halloween evil spirits, demons, ghosts and witches were abroad on this evening, and it became a secular festival with little or no association to its original meaning or purpose. In time, it developed into an evening of mischief and vandalism, injury or destruction of personal and public property. Often it was used to destroy or injure the property of a person in the community as an act of vengeance or reprisal. Vandals also injured and defaced many public buildings in acts of plain mischief.
Due to the increasing incidence of personal injury and damage to property, a concentrated effort has been made in recent years to give the occasion a more constructive and socially beneficial observance.
Children and youth parties, social events and public celebrations in parks and schools have changed the occasion into a more peaceful and constructive festival. One common practice is for children accompanied by parents or adults to go from door to door asking for a "trick or treat" hand-out gift. There has been no popular effort to renew the original purpose of Halloween when Christians remembered those who gave their lives for their belief in God and Christ.
Benjamin Weiss, Founder of the National Educators Fellowship
1980 Vision Magazine